What's it like to be a part of OTAs this year?
Last year was disappointing. Also good to get out there and see how my knee really feels in some football-type environment.
So, when you spend the spring working out in California, it doesn't provide a true test football-wise?
Yeah, it's more strictly training. You never really can simulate 7-on-7 or team drills.
Did you have to get talked into coming here? Or is this something you did on your own?
A little bit of both.
How does the Ben Roethlisberger that you know jibe with the allegations that have come out in the last two years?
They don't jive at all.
Why is that?
Well, we know him on a different level, so, I don't know.
For people who don't know him, how would you answer the question: Who is Ben Roethlisberger?
Well I think if Ben has shown anything he's shown he's able to recover whenever he's been faced with adversity. I think, regarding this situation that he's going through currently, that'll be the great example. Everything's not always peachy, and not everybody has that unblemished image, but I think for him to have that repentance, you know, the way that he's going to have to continue to live his life, is going to be the great example – I think a better example than what somebody else could provide.
Has he spoken to the team?
Well, team affairs are between the team.
Will you be here for the rest of the OTAs?
God willing. We'll see.
How does your knee feel?
It feels good today, thank God.
If something happens with Ben early in the year, will you be ready?
I've always been a guy who's prided myself on being game ready, regardless of what the situation is, and I'm going to continue doing that.
Have you been following the Roethlisberger situation from afar? Or have you been here? Have you been talking to people? Reading the papers?
I haven't been talking to anybody.
Is it a distraction?
I don't think it'll be a distraction for us. Everyone has the mindset of being better, just going day by day and being better in practice.
What was this practice like? Was anything said to Ben? Did Ben talk to you?
Overall there are a lot of new faces out there. That was good.
How much will you miss Santonio Holmes?
Tone's an excellent player. Everyone knows he's a playmaker. He will be missed, but then again we have playmakers here who might fill his shoes.
Is your preparation different knowing you might be the starter on opening day?
To tell you the truth, it's the exact same thing. You have to be prepared at all times. You never know what'll happen.
If they call your number in September, will you be ready?
Yes, I think I am ready.
How distracting is this situation with Ben?
It's only a distraction if you make it a distraction. I have a job to do and every man on this field has a job to do. Every time we step on the field, that's what we're going to do, our job.
If Ben's suspended, how difficult would that be?
He's our guy, flat out. Whatever he has to go through, I'm going to stand behind him, not only as a teammate but as a friend and a brother, and we're going to make sure he gets through it.
Your name has come up in this, how difficult has it been for you to deal with it?
You know, it's tough. It's tough from the aspect I have a mom and a sister; I have a female family and they have to read negative things, so-called things that I've said. It is what it is at this point. All I can do is come to work every day and be positive and be a representative of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Would you like to rectify any of those ‘so-called things you said' right now?
Have you talked to the guys about it?
The bottom line of the situation is all we can do is come to work, and that's what I'm here to do. And I'm a little annoyed that everybody keeps talking for this football team. Our job is to be football players and be representatives of the NFL and our families, and that's what I plan to do. You know, we were told early this morning either you get in line or you get kicked out of line. If you aren't, either you're going to be traded or you're not going to be here. If your conduct is going to play a part of you not being a good football player or anything a part of this NFL, they're going to get rid of you. So my job is to be a football player and conduct myself professionally off the field.
Did Mike Tomlin say that?
Um, it was said.
Are you concerned about Ben in this?
No. I know Ben's a stand-up guy and I know he's learned from his mistakes. Like I said, I'm going to stand behind him. We've got to move on from this situation.
What have you learned from all of this?
Bottom line, this is zero tolerance, not only with the NFL but with the Steelers. … I have a name. And I've got to represent not only my name but the Steelers organization, and I'm going to stand by it.
Do you feel it needed to be said?
It doesn't need to be said. You just watch the actions that are going around us. There's zero tolerance for everybody. That's for me, and I'm just going to go to work.
Willie Colon just spoke about zero tolerance. Who did that message come from?
I really don't know. I think it's just guys' feelings on the situations that have occurred.
Was he talking to just Willie? Or all of you?
I think it was as a group. I think guys took it different ways in how they interpreted it. I think after what we've seen go on, there's not going to be much tolerance around here.
Did you like hearing that?
Well, yeah. To me, I just go about my business. I'm more concerned about myself and doing my job. Let the people in charge worry about that. They do that and I don't worry about anything else.
Have you worried about team unity through this?
No. This is probably the closest group of guys. This team, since I've been here, has really been a tight-knit group. Guys accept you for who you are and we go about our business and focus on winning games.
How about the perception of the team? Do you sense anything different along those lines?
I really don't. I mean, I can imagine there would be after being in the news quite a bit lately. But that's the way this goes, and teams go through that, but I'm sure we'll get this turned back the right way. This is a great organization with great owners. They're going to lead us to where we need to go.
Does it bother you when you hear about it?
You know me. I don't concern myself with a lot of things outside of this building. Like I said, I just come here and go to work.
How's the shoulder?
Good. It felt good today. It felt good to get out there and run around out and be with the guys.
Is it 100 percent?
Yeah, I'd say I'm getting there. It's just a matter of getting back the trust and playing football again.
Is Casey Hampton a little leaner?
He looks good, doesn't he? I told him it's the best he's ever looked this time of year.
Do you remember him from other springs?
Oh, yeah. I've seen him in all shapes and forms. He looks good right now.
For people who don't know Ben the way you know him, how would you describe him?
He's a fun guy. He likes to joke around and have a good time. Easy to get along with. I've never had any problems with him. Really, he's just a fun guy. He's like a big kid, hanging out.
Do the allegations jibe with the Ben that you know?
To me? No. I don't see it, but I don't know. You don't really know what goes on.
Do you want him to be your quarterback?
Wouldn't you? I mean, the man's a great quarterback. I mean, he comes out there, he wins games. That's what we're in the business of doing, winning games.
Do you think these allegations have affected at all his ability to lead?
I have no idea. Today's the first day I've seen him so I can't tell you if it's affected him or not.