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Steelers QB says he's ready to prove his worth to team

| Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010

After chewing his fingernails for the past month, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will try to chew up defenses.

Disciplined for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, Roethlisberger said yesterday that he is confident he will be ready Oct. 17 when the Steelers play the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

"My arm is ready," Roethlisberger said, adding that he threw more during his four-game suspension than he would have while practicing with the Steelers.

"I think the biggest thing is just refreshing my mind with the offense and getting my timing down with the guys."

Roethlisberger, who worked with personal quarterback coach George Whitfield Jr. at Hampton High School, will get extra practice time with his teammates.

The Steelers are off this week because of the bye.

They are scheduled to practice today through Thursday and then follow a regular practice schedule next week.

Roethlisberger's workout today will be his first with the Steelers since Sept. 1.

The seven-year veteran started the process of re-acclimating with the Steelers yesterday.

Roethlisberger ate lunch at team headquarters, took part in players meetings and talked with coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

During the suspension, Roethlisberger was not allowed to have contact with coaches and was barred from team facilities.

"Obviously, I love football and miss that more than anything, but to be away from the guys, my family, that was one of the hardest parts and that's what made coming here so great," he said.

"I think every single one of the guys gave me a big hug, and I was just so happy to see them, and I think they were happy to see me, as well."

Roethlisberger is hopeful he gets a similar reception when he plays a regular season game at Heinz Field for the first time since December.

"If I've seen people out in public, it's been a lot of warm embraces, a lot of 'can't wait to get you back, keep your head up,' " Roethlisberger said.

"There's been a lot of positive feedback from the fans, so I would hope there are going to be some encouraging things and some good things."

Roethlisberger talked publicly for the first time since the end of August. He disclosed, among other things, the beating his fingers took while having to watch the Steelers play on TV.

"I have no fingernails left," Roethlisberger said while holding up his hands during a six-minute interview with reporters. "It was tough, but it was fun watching them win."

The Steelers went 3-1 in Roethlisberger's absence.

The players elected team captains while he was suspended, and Roethlisberger was not voted one after serving as an offensive co-captain the previous two seasons.

"Obviously, that's an awesome honor to be voted a captain of this team, but that's something you have to earn, and I'll come out and give them the best I can," Roethlisberger said.

"Just because you're (not) a captain doesn't mean you can't give this team all you've got."

Yesterday, Roethlisberger said, did not bring an end to a saga that started in March when a 20-year-old college student accused the two-time Super Bowl winner of sexually assaulting her in a nightclub bathroom in Milledgeville, Ga.

Roethlisberger said closure will come at Heinz Field on Oct. 17.

"For me, getting back on the field will be the big test. That's what I'm most excited for because I think the people of Pittsburgh and Steelers fans around the world know that football's my passion, and I want to get out there and show them that."

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