A First, But Ben Hopes Not A Last

SCI.net's Mike Prisuta came through with the most in-depth interview of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this offseason. Here, Roethlisberger talks about his meeting with Art Rooney II and much more.

A first but not a last Ben Roethlisberger emerged from his much-anticipated, face-to-face sit down with Steelers president Art Rooney II feeling good enough about the exchange that he'd like to make such get-togethers an annual event.

After speaking with Roethlisberger for about 14 minutes the day after his Monday session with Rooney, I'm convinced the two are on the same page regarding where the Steelers are going offensively and how they intend to get there.

I'm also under the impression Roethlisberger would like to achieve a similar harmony with new OC Todd Haley, that Roethlisberger is eager to do so and that he was a little bit put off that as of Tuesday afternoon the two had yet to speak.

Stay tuned on the Ben-Haley connection.

As for the rest, judge for yourself after assessing Roethlisberger's thoughts on:

* Why the Rooney meeting was necessary: "My role has kind of changed as a leader. I want to keep growing as a leader. What better way than to go to the boss's boss and just kind of get his perspective. It's probably something we'll do ever year."

* Whether Rooney issued any marching orders or directives: "No, nothing quite like that. We both obviously feel the same way. The ultimate goal is winning games. I have an understanding of where I think he's coming from as an owner."

* Whether he has an understanding of what Rooney meant when he announced the need for Roethlisberger to "tweak" his game: "Yeah, I think so. He just doesn't want me to get hit. He wants me to stay on the field and not be injured. I feel the same way, that's why it's not too big of a deal."

* If he's open to "tweaking" his game and adjusting his style: "I'm always open to getting better. As I get older – I turn 30 in less than a month – I'm going to have to protect myself because my athleticism's not going to be there. Maybe I need to get a little bit wiser and learn how to play the position a little bit differently."

* Finding a way to stay healthy: "It's about the gameplan. It's about me protecting myself. It's about the line protecting me. It's about the backs, the tight ends; everybody who is involved in this offense can have a part in each one of us staying healthy. It probably falls on me, making sure I take care of myself. If that's throwing the ball away, if that's getting it out, whatever that might be I think we'll hopefully maybe see some signs of that in the future."

* Why he has been so determined to play the way he's always played: "To throw a TD pass is awesome. A five-step drop, hit my throw, make the completion, touchdown, that's awesome. But you know what? There's something a little bit fun about a guy hanging on your leg, and you push him off and you scramble out and a receiver breaks his route off and the defense thinks they have you sacked and the coach is yelling and then you throw a touchdown. There's just something a little special about that. It's fun to do. It's fun to see how t demoralizes the defense."

* Whether he's spoken with Haley: "Have not talked to him yet, surprisingly. Haven't heard from him, I know he's probably been pretty busy. I look forward to it. I hope that he kind of comes to me and says, ‘Hey, what's your perception of the offense last year? What would you like to see change? What did you like? What did you not like?' Not that he needs to do exactly what I say but just to get my opinion on things would be a neat start, I think, just so he kind of understands where I'm coming from and I can understand where he's coming from."

* Whether Haley's reputation has preceded him: "I've definitely heard a lot of things. I've talked to a lot of his former players. He does have a reputation that precedes him. I'm not going to jump to any conclusions until I have a chance to sit down and talk with him and kind of see how the thing plays out. I'm going to come in with an open mind, an open book, and just say ‘let's go to work,' and see what happens and form my own opinion."

* The state of the Steelers: "I think there are a lot of questions out there, on offense especially and where it's going to go. I've heard from a lot of defensive guys asking, ‘Why hasn't Haley reached out to you?' I'm just doing my best and we're all just staying optimistic and positive. We're excited for next year. We'll just kind of have to see how all this free agency and stuff plays out."

* Whether the Steelers will remain a pass-heavy team: "I hope so. If we go no-huddle I'll make sure we do. I just don't see how you can get away from it when you have the talent at wide receiver and tight end we have. It would be a waste of their skills not to use them."

* If he expressed that belief to Rooney: "We definitely talked about that. I never came away from that meeting thinking that he said, ‘OK, we need to run the ball more.' I don't think that. It was, ‘You know what? Let's just win ballgames however we need to win ball games.'"

* Whether Hines Ward will be back with the team: "I don't know. That's probably the million-dollar question. We'll kind of see how it plays out."


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