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Steelers notebook: Ben Roethlisberger said speaking up 'my job' as team leader

Joe Rutter
| Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, 11:06 a.m.
The Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger celebrates a touchdown with Antonio Brown in the first half during the wild-card against the Dolphins on Jan. 8, 2017.
Getty Images
The Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger celebrates a touchdown with Antonio Brown in the first half during the wild-card against the Dolphins on Jan. 8, 2017.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger call signals against the Ravens on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger call signals against the Ravens on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

As a 14-year veteran and nine-time team captain, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said it was his responsibility to speak up about wide receiver Antonio Brown's sideline antics Sunday.

Roethlisberger doesn't regret calling the Gatorade cooler-flipping incident a “distraction” and saying he was “disappointed” in Brown's behavior.

“I like to think as a leader of this team, it's kind of my job,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday. “You have to be able to talk to people, and you have to be able to communicate in different ways. I've been doing this a long time, and so I feel that as a captain that's one of the roles of being a captain.”

In this instance, Roethlisberger publicly discussed Brown's sideline meltdown Tuesday on his weekly 93.7 FM radio segment.

Roethlisberger didn't say Wednesday whether he had talked to Brown in private, but he's confident the message was received.

“I'm sure,” he said. “He's professional.”

Brown issued an apology on his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon for “all the noise and the distractions” he created with his sideline meltdown.

Cam Heyward, the Steelers defensive captain, said that was a sufficient response.

“Nothing more to say,” Heyward said. “He got mad for one play. So what? He's not Bob Knight. He's not throwing a chair on the court and cursing out everybody. It's sports. You're supposed to be competitors. You're supposed to be mad sometimes.”

Brown was upset when he wasn't targeted on a third-and-4 play in the second quarter of Sunday's 26-9 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Upon returning to the sideline, Brown flipped over a Gatorade cooler and then brushed past offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Roethlisberger was asked whether it's difficult to keep Brown, running back Le'Veon Bell and No. 2 receiver Martavis Bryant happy while simultaneously looking at the bigger picture.

“You have to be able to go out and win football games,” he said. “That is our first priority.”

Bryant said he would never display such open frustration but understood Brown's frustration.

“It's probably been building up for weeks,” he said. “We always have his back no matter how he reacts or what he does. I told him to stay focused and stay with it.”

As far as Roethlisberger is concerned, the matter is closed.

“We're over it now,” he said. “We've moved on to Jacksonville. Wednesday is (the start of) Jacksonville week. … We don't have time to think about anything else right now.”

Injury report

After missing his first game in four seasons with the Steelers because of a hamstring injury, safety Mike Mitchell was a full practice participant.

Mitchell had warmed up before the game in Baltimore and was preparing to play.

“I was really disappointed I didn't play for the simple fact that I'm a competitor,” he said. “I want to play every single game for my guys. It's a long season, we were only in Game 4, and we tend to play better at the end of the season, so that's when everyone needs to be healthy and playing.”

Tackle Marcus Gilbert (hamstring) and linebacker James Harrison (illness) returned to full participation after also being inactive against the Ravens. Gilbert has sat out back-to-back games.

Not practicing were safety Sean Davis (ankle), guard Ramon Foster (thumb), defensive end Stephon Tuitt (biceps) and Roethlisberger (day off). Limited were linebackers Bud Dupree and Ryan Shazier and tight end Jesse James, who all are dealing with shoulder injuries.

It was Shazier's first time on the injury report this season.

Extra points

Heyward was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his seven seasons. He had two sacks and a forced fumble and recovery against the Ravens. … A scoring change from the Baltimore game has given a full sack to Dupree. He originally split the sack with Tuitt. … The Steelers are donating $25,000 to support the Pirates' relief efforts in Puerto Rico through Pirates Charities.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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