Ben keeps tabs on former teammate Burress
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has talked in the past about how a tall wide receiver would add another dimension to the passing game.
Tuesday, Roethlisberger stopped just short of lobbying for Plaxico Burress' return to Pittsburgh.
"I've talked to Plax a number of times in the last couple of weeks," Roethlisberger said. "I told him, 'Hey, if you came back here that would be awesome, but I'm just happy to see you playing again' because he's a good guy."
The two were teammates for one season, and the Steelers have not had a wide receiver that is rangy and sure-handed since Burress signed with the New York Giants in 2005.
Burress is eying a comeback after spending the last two years in prison on a weapons charge. The wideout, who last played in 2008, is expected to become an unrestricted free agent shortly after the NFL lockout ends and the Giants grant his release.
The 6-foot-5 Burress had been productive in New York — he caught the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII — before derailing his career after accidentally shooting himself with an unregistered gun.
Roethlisberger, who had been Burress' neighbor in Pittsburgh and remains close to his former target, threw to smaller targets yesterday during the second and final day of his football camp for kids ages 7 to 14.
Roethlisberger moved easily among the pint-sized campers that dotted the football field at Seneca Valley High School, alternately handing out instruction and high-fives. His relaxed and carefree attitude coincided with news that labor peace may be on the horizon.
And it was fitting, too, since the Steelers may be in as good a position as any team once the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987 ends.
The Steelers return most starters from last year's Super Bowl team, and they didn't require the offseason practices — a casualty of the lockout — to install a new offense or defense.
"It's not like we need a rookie center or a new quarterback, someone to learn the offense right away, so I think we are better equipped (to deal with the lockout) than we would be if we were a younger team," Roethlisberger said. "We don't need to fill many spots. I think that translates into a veteran team that can deal with things like this."
Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel agreed.
"I thank God that I'm part of a team that's a veteran team," said Keisel, who served as a coach at Roethlisberger's camp. "We know the playbooks, we know what the coaches expect, we know how to work in the offseason. I've had an eased state of mind because of that."
Steelers defensive players largely have worked out on their own this offseason. The offensive players, meanwhile, have been gathering at different locations to work on timing, among other things. At times, Roethlisberger said, the workouts attracted enough players that they broke up into two groups.
"We got together as an offense quite a few times and went over plays, we did some no-huddle stuff, we got in the huddle," Roethlisberger said. "Linemen, running backs, pretty much everybody was there."
Big Ben's Football Camp
Steelers Brett Keisel showed up to help quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with the kids at Bens' football camp at Seneca Valley High School June 21, 2011.