What to do with Ben and Santonio?

Pittsburgh officials would like to take more serious action than the few statements they've issued on the legal predicaments of their Super Bowl heroes ...

... quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Santonio Holmes, but their hands are tied for now.

Until authorities in Georgia either charge Roethlisberger or announce no charges will be filed, there is little the Steelers or the NFL can do. If he is charged, Roethlisberger can be suspended by the NFL and/or the Steelers.

As for Holmes, police will re-open a case involving a woman in Orlando, Fla., who accused him of throwing a glass filled with alcohol in her face and has filed a civil lawsuit. Holmes denies the incident altogether.

The combination of these two incidents coupled with Roethlisberger fighting a civil lawsuit in Nevada where a woman accused him of sexual assault has rocked the organization. Talk shows are filled with debate on a daily basis and most of it does not shed any positive light on the Steelers or coach Mike Tomlin.

It has reached a point where the team might seriously be thinking beyond suspensions. This is the fourth legal issue for Holmes since the Steelers drafted him in 2006. His ramblings on Twitter over the past week also have embarrassed the organization.

Neither player has been working out at the team's facility. Their teammates are paying for it, having to answer questions. Defensive end Aaron Smith, as straightforward as they come, agreed to address two dozen media members who turned out this past Monday for the start of veteran offseason workouts. Nearly every question pitched at Smith dealt with Holmes and with Roethlisberger and the fact the quarterback would not be working out with his teammates.

"Honestly, most of the stuff outside of here doesn't affect us," Smith said. "Guys come here, lift their weights, they run, they do their football, they go to meetings, and they go about their business and go home to their families and children."

Steelers' president Art Rooney issued another statement this week, this time on Holmes, that said he was "disappointed."

Smith said his teammates weren't spending much time on the matter and had no opinions on whether Roethlisberger would be suspended or not.

"I don't think we've even thought about that," Smith said. "If that ever arises, when that comes, then we'll deal with that."


* Defensive end Aaron Smith, 34, has been working out daily at the Steelers' facility and believes he can come back strong in 2010 after rotator cuff surgery ended his season last Oct. 11.

"It's all how you perform," Smith said. "I don't think my body is wearing down. As far as me going out and performing, that will be the criteria, just like a guy in this second year trying to make the team. If you don't go out and do the job, you're too old."

Smith has started at left end for 10 mostly injury-free years. However, he tore his right rotator cuff in the second game of last season after a biceps tear prematurely ended his 2007 season. Before his latest injury, he was as dominant as ever and showing no signs of slowing down.

"When they looked at it, it was a clean tear," Smith said. "There was no degeneration, like I had broken down the fibers and wore it out. They said it was just a fluke thing. That was a good sign, and that's why I would have a good result with the surgery. It's not like it's degenerated over time, it was just one of those weird injuries. It was just luck of the draw. I should have brought a lottery ticket or something."

Without him, the Super Bowl XLIII champs slipped to 9-7 and did not reach the playoffs.

"It's not fun watching football," Smith said. "I enjoy participating in it, but I don't enjoy watching football right now."

The day is approaching when he no longer will be able to play, but he hopes that is not the case in 2010.

"Age is relative. It depends on the individual. I think some people age faster than others."

The Steelers drafted defensive end Ziggy Hood in the first round last year but he likely will play behind Smith for a second straight season, barring injury. Brett Keisel will again be their starting right defensive end.

"I thought he did well," Smith said of Hood. "He has a way to go but I have not seen a rookie perform to the level he has. As far as picking things up, learning, being a sponge."

* The Steelers will open the preseason at home against Detroit, play their second game at the New York Giants, play their third on Aug. 29 at Denver and finish with a home game against Carolina, likely on Sept. 2. Other than the game in Denver, specific dates and times will be set later.

* The Steelers signed veteran backup quarterback Charlie Batch two a two-year contract after he became a free agent. Batch, 35, has been with the Steelers the past eight seasons, mostly as their No. 2 quarterback. However, Dennis Dixon likely will take over that job in 2010 and, as long as Ben Roethlisberger is on the team, Batch could serve as No. 3. Dixon moved up to No. 2 and stayed there after Batch broke his wrist during a Nov. 22 game in Kansas City.

* Art Rooney Jr. and former Steelers greats such as Rocky Bleier, Mel Blount and L.C. Greenwood will celebrate their 1979 Super Bowl team the night of the NFL draft, April 22.

* Director of football operations Kevin Colbert is in the final year of his contract. Many reports have had him joining former Steelers coach Bill Cowher if he coaches for another team in the future: "My reaction is I'm perfectly happy working with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the future will take care of itself," Colbert said.

* QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's kind of a fun guy. He enjoys having fun, joking around and going about his business. He's just a jovial kind of person when he's around here." -- DE Aaron Smith on QB Ben Roethlisberger


A total of 13 draft-eligible players visited the Steelers this week, from Monday through Thursday: Penn State linebacker Navarro Bowman, Purdue defensive lineman Michael Neal, Wake Forest offensive lineman Chris DeGeare, Kansas safety Darrell Stuckey, Tennessee guard Jacques McClendon, Indiana tackle Rodger Saffold, cornerbacks Nolan Carroll of Maryland, Kareem Jackson of Alabama and Kyle Wilson of Boise State, Alabama-Birmingham wide receiver Joe Webb, Marshall linebacker Albert McClellan, Wake Forest defensive back Brandon Ghee and South Carolina linebacker Eric Norwood.

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