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Captains named, ready to lead into Baltimore

Posted Sep 5, 2011

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin gathered his team together at the end of practice on Sunday and within a few minutes the players were all clapping, a tribute to the team captains Tomlin announced to them.

Wide receiver Hines Ward was voted an offensive captain for the seventh year and will share the duties with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was a captain in 2008 and 2009.

Linebacker James Farrior will be the defensive captain for the eighth straight year, while Arnaz Battle won the honors of special teams’ captain for the first time.

“It feels good,” said Farrior. “It’s definitely an honor. I cherish it and look forward to it. I am glad the guys in the locker room show me that type of respect.”

After being voted a team captain two straight years, Roethlisberger was not one in 2010 when he was suspended for the first four games of the season because of off-season issues. But he has proven to his teammates that he turned things around.
 
“I felt like he was one of the leaders on offense last year, he just didn’t have the title of captain,” said Farrior. “He portrayed himself as one of the guys on the team the guys looked up to, he was a captain, but wasn’t named a captain. This year they gave him the title. Guys wanted to see where he was at. He showed he can be one of the leaders on the team.”

Tackle Willie Colon is one of Roethlisberger’s closest friends on the team, and isn’t surprised he is back in that role.

“I think he has done a great job of flat out opening himself up to the team, keeping his nose clean,” said Colon. “He is in a stable, comfortable place. He has taken on more of a leader role with a lot of us. He is a lights out player, so why not.”

Battle signed with the Steelers before the 2010 season, coming from the San Francisco 49ers where he played for special teams’ coordinator Al Everest.

“It’s an honor to be selected by my teammates,” said Battle. “It’s a great accomplishment. It lets me know they have trust and confidence in me.

“I am a guy who tries to be technique and assignment sound, be in the right spot at the right time, execute as far as my special teams assignments, and hold other guys accountable. Since this is my second year, me being one of the older guys on the unit, I am able to lead by example and go out there and execute and make plays to help this unit.”

The task at hand right now for the captains is to share with the young players, particularly those new to the team, what they will face this week as they prepare to take on the Baltimore Ravens.

“A lot of these guys don’t know what to expect. We have a lot of young guys on this unit,” said Battle of the special teams. “Our first game is Baltimore and they really don’t have the understanding of what we are about to face.

“It’s a physical game against the Ravens. Every guy is important to this unit, it only takes one guy to not being successful in his assignment and it costs the whole unit. We have to all be on the same page and work as one for a common goal, which is every snap, every play on the special teams unit dominate and give the team a chance to win.”

Farrior is hoping he doesn’t have to say anything to get the message across as to what this week’s game means.

“You don’t have to tell them too much,” said Farrior. “I think they can get a feel for how it’s going to be out there just by looking at the older guys and how we’re so fired up throughout the week and they just have to follow.”