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Steelers QB Roethlisberger points to running game progress

| Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 11:03 p.m.

The Steelers are 19th in total offense and 31st in rushing, yet Ben Roethlisberger is seeing progress on a weekly basis. He especially likes what he saw of rookie running back Le'Veon Bell in his NFL debut.

“I'm not going to say he was Adrian Peterson,” Roethlisberger said. “But he showed me some glimpses of the things I see Adrian Peterson do. But I don't want him to hear me giving him all this praise.”

What Roethlisberger especially liked was how Bell picked up on the subtleties of his position, such as blocking the proper man.

“It didn't seem too big for him,” Roethlisberger said of Bell, who ran for 57 yards and two touchdowns Sept. 29 against Minnesota after missing three games with a mid-foot sprain.

• The constantly-in-turmoil Jets are a surprising 3-2, and coach Mike Tomlin partly credits rookie quarterback Geno Smith. The former West Virginia star threw for three touchdowns and led a game-winning field goal drive Monday night in Atlanta. Smith (60.3 completion percentage, 7 TDs, 8 interceptions) is beginning to validate the Jets' gamble to take a quarterback who was rated as a Top 10 prospect by some NFL draft experts, but not a Top 100 player by others. “He is a very talented guy,” Tomlin said. “He can make any throw on the field. I saw that in person at his pro day. It was as impressive as any that I have seen. He is a poised guy.”

• Rookie Vince Williams will continue to play ahead of Kion Wilson at the inside linebacker position formerly filled by the injured Larry Foote. “He's one that's going to grow with reps,” Tomlin said of Williams, a sixth-round draft pick. “We look forward to him doing that. He needs to do it and do it in a hurry.”

• New punter Zoltan Mesko ranks only 31st in distance (41.9 yards) and 27th in net average (37.6), partly because the Steelers asked him to steer the ball away from returners such as Devin Hester of the Bears. Still, Tomlin said, “We need him to stretch the field a little bit more. He's been somewhat inconsistent. He had a bad punt or two over the last several weeks. He's looking forward to rebounding.”

• Tomlin officially ruled out wide receiver Markus Wheaton (broken finger) from the Jets game. Safety DaMon Cromartie-Smith is expected to be listed as questionable with a left hip flexor injury. Left guard Ramon Foster (left pectoral strain) will be evaluated as the week goes on.

— Alan Robinson

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