Roethlisberger for rookie of the year ?

Who says a rookie quarterback has to bide his time and learn his craft before he becomes a productive NFL starter?

Ben Roethlisberger can't do much more than what he has done in his first four NFL starts. He has led Pittsburgh from the brink of collapse to the top of the AFC North Division with a 5-1 record. Only three teams have better records in the league and the Steelers will play two of them at home in back-to-back games at Heinz Field after their bye week.

They will get a chance to show if they are for real in those two games, but right now the Steelers and fans are exulting in their unexpected success and the surprising early start to their rookie quarterback.

Roethlisberger, who likely will earn his fourth straight NFL rookie of the week honors, was supposed to sit and watch this season and maybe sneak into a few runaway games late. But a training camp injury to backup quarterback Charlie Batch and an elbow injury to starter Tommy Maddox in the second game, left coach Bill Cowher with little choice but to go with the rookie.

Now, they could not pry Roethlisberger out of the lineup. He's there to stay, barring injury. Maddox is due to return the first week of November, before their game against Philadelphia, and he will return as the backup.

"He's going to be their Rookie of the Year," Cowboys defensive end Greg Ellis said. "He has the physical and mental talent that you need. To be that young and that good, you have to credit him for that."

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