Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown team up for first Pittsburgh Steelers spring practice together

One of the league's top pass-catch duos appeared to be in midseason form by the end of their first spring workout. That, and much more in this report.

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger returned to the practice field Tuesday, following the birth of his third child last Thursday, and resumed his leadership role as the proud papa of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Roethlisberger's leadership and value to the team had clearly grown over the last few years, and this spring has been no different as he's instructed, corrected, shouted positive
feedback to both offensive and defensive players and sprinted down the field first on "Riversides," or planned reversals of the practice field.

Roethlisberger also ran off the field and into the locker room to avoid talking to reporters after Tuesday's practice, but he had done all of his talking on the field. To wit:

* "Oh, no, no, no!" when Antonio Brown zigged when he should've zagged as the two worked together for the first time in the young 2016 season.

* "I see you Pounce!" when Maurkice Pouncey got out in front of a running back.

* "I see you J.J.!" when linebacker Jarvis Jones beat rookie tackle Jerald Hawkins and got to Landry Jones' blind side.

* "I see you Bruuu!" when Bruce Gradkowski hit Marcus Tucker in stride on a post that went for a touchdown. Gradkowski responded with a "dab."

Roethlisberger's enthusiasm was contagious and several others cheered him when the quarterback connected several times with Brown -- who finished plays with panache -- late in practice in a show from both that was about a veteran work ethic.

As any coach would say, when the best players are your hardest workers, good things are bound to happen.

And that was the best news for the Steelers on the last day of May.

ANY BAD NEWS?

Cornerback Senquez Golson missed his rookie season after undergoing shoulder surgery, and fans feared the worst when it was reported Thursday that he missed OTA 3 to undergo an MRI.

But Golson -- back on the sideline Tuesday -- said his shoulder is fine.

"No, the MRI was not on the shoulder," he said. "It's just a soft-tissue issue. That's it. I'll be out a couple of days."

SLOT STUFF

Golson's absence allowed rookie safety Sean Davis more reps in the slot, and wide receiver Markus Wheaton said the same kind of opportunities are being given to the young offensive players.

"We have a lot of guys working inside," said Wheaton, who was the team's primary slot receiver last year. "We have Sammie (Coates) doing a little inside. We've got pretty much everybody working inside, along with A.B. ... Obviously at this time of year we want to see those young guys and see how they look. Everything's kind of mixed up."

Anyone catch Wheaton's eye?

"I think Eli Rogers looks real good," Wheaton said. "He's a guy that's been here but we didn't get to see much of him last year because of the injury. I think he's grown just from camp last year to this time this year."

With outside deep threat Martavis Bryant suspended for the season, Wheaton isn't sure if the team plans to keep him inside in the three-receiver sets once training camp starts. But he would appreciate the work.

"Being on the same page as Ben is the key for me," Wheaton said. "Last year it was tough because I was a little new to that inside spot and we had those big-play guys on the outside. It's really about being on the same page as Ben and taking advantage of those few opportunities that come your way."

CHAMPIONSHIP TIMBER

Don't call Ryan Harris a journeyman. He's in his 10th season and last season the Denver Broncos' starting left tackle won a ring.

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"Everyone's on a journey. right?" said Harris. "I look at it as a promotion every year I'm in the NFL. A lot of guys don't make it the next year. I've been promoted nine times. I like where I am."

The Steelers' primary free-agent acquisition has been used this spring behind Alejandro Villanueva at left tackle, but Harris hopes to change his status by the start of the season.

"I feel that I’m one of the best in the league at doing what I do," he said when asked about competing with Villanueva. "I’m going to have my goals for camp. They’re going to be separate from any individual I’m going against. That’s the way I approach competition and it’s worked out for me thus far."

NOTEBOOK

Sammie Coates made a terrific catch of a high pass in the back corner of the end zone with Donald Washington smothering him in coverage.

* Both inside linebackers were out so Vince Williams and L.J. Fort handled the workload. Fort intercepted a Roethlisberger fastball in the middle of the field and returned it for a touchdown.

* Roethlisberger's next pass hurtled toward the deep sideline where two reporters had been wondering if  it was indeed Roethlisberger who had served up the pick by Fort. And then the reporters wondered if the deep, wild pass was intentional or a mere coincidence.

* Fort showed quickness in "tackling" Brown on a short pass but couldn't prevent tight end Xavier Grimble from going up to make an outstanding catch of another Roethlisberger pass.

* A good sign about Davis, the rookie safety: Following practice, Davis worked late, was last off the field and declined an interview request. It was mine, but you have to respect that. The young man appears to be focused on what's important.


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