ShareThis Page

Big Ben hasn't been perfect, but he's been close

| Thursday, Aug. 2, 2007

Ben Roethlisberger's first interception of training camp didn't occur until Wednesday morning, as good an indication as any of the type of training camp Roethlisberger has been having.

"He's been amazing," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said.

"Feelin' good," Roethlisberger said.

So good that he was able to laugh off an ill-advised toss to tight end Heath Miller that wound up in the hands of strong safety Troy Polamalu.

"That actually was a new play that we put in today," Roethlisberger said. "I blame Bruce for that."

You can do that in August.

When it happens in September and October, as it did to Roethlisberger repeatedly last season along the way to an NFL-high 23 interceptions, it's no laughing matter.

Roethlisberger, to his credit, has refused to cite his offseason motorcycle accident, his preseason appendectomy and the concussion he suffered Oct. 22 in Atlanta as factors.

And Arians, to his credit, has looked beyond such obvious extraneous influences and detected flaws the Steelers would like to correct beyond Roethlisberger making regular trips to the hospital.

One was Roethlisberger's habit of sticking with his first and/or second progression a little too long.

"When you're staring down No. 1 and you don't throw it, you bring a lot of guys over to No. 2 and No. 3," Arians said.

Another was Roethlisberger's continued insistence on trying to force the ball into what Arians called "a little bitty hole."

That stuff hasn't been happening in camp.

Roethlisberger has demonstrated an ability to look off a target and a confidence in that receiver still being where he's supposed to be if and when Roethlisberger comes back to him.

And he's taking fewer chances when it comes to threading the needle in the red zone, although a couple of lasers in such situations made it through the DBs and into the hands of their intended targets for touchdowns last Friday night at Memorial Stadium in Latrobe.

Roethlisberger also delivered a perfectly thrown fade to Miller in the same red zone drill.

There was nothing Polamalu or anyone else could have done to prevent the touchdown.

In addition to making quicker decisions and, at times, decisions that aren't quite as risky, Roethlisberger will be asked to make changes in the blocking assignments for his offensive line.

That's something he'll have to do maybe twice a game in Arians' estimation, or not at all if Roethlisberger is comfortable that the "hot read" response to an anticipated blitz is a viable option.

The biggest change in his line-of-scrimmage responsibilities will involve audibles.

For the first time in his career Roethlisberger is being encouraged to call them.

"Total freedom," Arians said.

Arians is also adamant that the no-huddle offense Roethlisberger has been longing to run "should be a big part" of what the Steelers do on offense.

"We're going to try to experiment with things in the preseason and just keep growing," Arians said.

Roethlisberger has grown to the extent that Arians' goal for him is to reduce those 23 interceptions by more than half.

"Single digits," Arians said, "and somewhere between a 2:1 or 3:1 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio, and a high completion percentage."

So far thus summer, Big Ben has struck one, but only one.

His resurrection is off and running.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.