Notebook: Ben not worried

LATROBE – Ben Roethlisberger has a quarterback rating of 36.5 after two preseason games, which is worse than the mediocre 61.3 rating he posted in two playoff games last season.

In other words, the 2004 Rookie of the Year has been in a rut since the last regular-season ended, even though he doesn't see it that way.

When asked if "the issue" is mechanical or involves timing, Roethlisberger said it's neither.

"I don't think it's any kind of an issue," he said. "I think it's something we'll be just fine with."

Roethlisberger has quarterbacked seven series this preseason and has yet to produce any points. The closest the Steelers came to scoring under Roethlisberger was Jeff Reed's missed 26-yard field goal Saturday night.

Roethlisberger has been intercepted only once, and that, he said, was thrown exactly where he wanted it thrown.

"I thought he was going to keep running and he thought he was supposed to stop," Roethlisberger said of tight end Jerame Tuman. "We'll be on the same page next time."

Roethlisberger also threw high to a wide-open Cedrick Wilson in the end zone, and explained he was going to run, but when he stopped and turned the throw sailed on him.

"Obviously you want to score," he said. "But the important thing about this offense is that we understand what's going on, and right now we're starting to understand what's going on. Once we start clicking with that I think we can be pretty dangerous."

SAD STORY

Thomas Herrion's death Saturday night came as a shock to those who knew him, including Steelers rookie Chris Kemoeatu. The two were roommates for two years at the University of Utah.

"Health-wise he never had any problems," Kemoeatu said. "That's why it's hard for me to think that something like that would happen to him."

Doctors have yet to determine the cause of death. Herrion, 23, played only the fourth quarter of the preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos, and was filmed walking off the field without any signs of distress. He later joked with team officials and talked to fans before collapsing during a team prayer in the locker room. He was pronounced dead at a Denver hospital.

Herrion came into the league two years ago. He was a team captain at Utah, and Kemoeatu became close to his family.

"I'll probably just call mom," he said of Herrion's mother. "His older brother always came out. We always had barbecues. One time mom came out."

Kemoeatu learned of Herrion's passing on Sunday when he went to the store and saw the news being broadcast on TV.

GREAT DAY; BAD PRACTICE

Steelers coach Bill Cowher turned a TV reporter's happy question about the "nice weather" into a platform for his displeasure.

"They responded awful," Cowher said. "It was a very bad practice. But the weather was great." Did Cowher come close to starting any of the sessions over?

"I did, but to no avail," he said. "It was not one of our better practices."

Is it normal for the last week of camp?

"I don't know," Cowher growled. "But it's happened one too many times in this camp. Hopefully we'll come out here tomorrow and get a little more work done."

Missing practice were James Harrison (sick), Vontez Duff (hamstring), Chidi Iwuoma (shoulder) and Travis Kirschke (back).

Dedrick Roper -- not Alonzo Jackson -- replaced Harrison, who'd been replacing Joey Porter at right outside linebacker.

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