No controversy: Steelers' Roethlisberger willing to help rookie Rudolph
Ben Roethlisberger offered unsolicited advice to rookie Mason Rudolph on the practice field Tuesday, and the Steelers franchise quarterback is surprised anyone would think otherwise.
Addressing reporters after the first voluntary offseason workout, Roethlisberger said his comments made about Rudolph a few days after NFL Draft were misconstrued.
In early May, during an interview with 93.7 FM, Roethlisberger said Rudolph “doesn't need me” and that if the rookie had questions, the 15th-year veteran merely would point to the playbook. He laughed after making that final point.
“I think people took some things that I said in a context that I was going to be mean or rude or whatever,” Roethlisberger said. “That was not it at all. If you listen to the whole conversation, I said it in jest and was laughing and having fun.
“I have never been the type to be rude or mean to other quarterbacks. I've had a lot of quarterbacks come through here that are younger than me that I've tried to help anyway that I can, and I'll continue to do that.”
Case in point: Roethlisberger took Rudolph aside after the rookie fired a hard pass to fullback Roosevelt Nix who was standing “6 or 7 yards” away. The pass had too much velocity, and Nix couldn't hold onto it.
“I just pulled him aside and said, ‘Listen, you'll learn quickly that every throw doesn't have to be the hardest throw you can make,' ” Roethlisberger said. “You don't have to put every throw on the chest as hard as you can. That's an opportunity to give him an easy touch pass. I'm just trying to instill little things like that.”
That gaffe withstanding, Roethlisberger offered a favorable first impression of Rudolph, Oklahoma State's record-setting passer whom the Steelers graded as a first-round talent.
“He's got a big arm,” he said. “He overthrew (Antonio Brown) even though AB won't admit it. He understands the offense. He doesn't seem to have any issues in the huddle, so I thought he did really well.”
Roethlisberger saw some similarities to Rudolph's first day practicing with the veterans and his initial workouts with the Steelers in 2004, when he was behind Tommy Maddox on the depth chart.
“You can see a little bit of what I remember: the big eyes when things get going and you see how fast it's going,” Roethlisberger said. “I'm going to enjoy telling him this isn't even as fast as it gets yet. When pads are on, it gets a little faster. Preseason it gets a little faster.
“That's one of the biggest things I can see in him that I probably had, too.”
When the Steelers selected Rudolph in the third round, Roethlisberger expressed surprise the team didn't draft a player who could help immediately, particularly with retirement no longer in Roethlisberger's immediate future.
After the Steelers were upset by Jacksonville in the AFC divisional playoff round, Roethlisberger talked of playing three more years, and he expanded that timetable to five seasons in a recent interview.
It was a departure from the 2017 offseason when Roethlisberger contemplated retirement. Why the change of heart for Roethlisberger, who turned 36 in March?
“Just being excited about the group we have, the linemen in particular in front of me,” he said. “Having those guys back always makes me feel good. I'm healthy. (There were) lots of prayers, spending time with my family. I'm still going to take it one year at a time, but it's what you have left in the tank.”