- Ben's still Ben: Ben Roethlisberger will turn 34 on March 2, but Steelers' President Art Rooney II said it isn't time to start looking for his replacement. Roethlisberger, who signed a new five-year deal last March which will keep him with the Steelers through the 2019 season, threw for 3,938 yards in 2015, his 10th straight season throwing for at least 3,000 yards.
"I don't think we are starting down that road of who is next after Ben," said Rooney. "Obviously we have some work to do in terms of who are the backups. We will have some evaluation to do there. As far as I am concerned, Ben didn't show much sign of falling off this year. So I am looking forward to at least several more years with Ben as our quarterback."
A new rival:** The Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals always had a rivalry as AFC North foes, but this year it became a fierce rivalry when the teams met three times, including a Steelers AFC Wild Card game win. While the rivalry heating up is good for football, the one thing Rooney wants to make sure is it stays clean as penalties and fines were plentiful in the matchups.
"I was never sure that we'd see the day when the Bengals were such a bitter rival as they are today," said Rooney. "In a lot of ways it's a great thing to have such a strong rivalry. And I know our team now looks forward to that game like they used to look forward to maybe some of the other rivals we've had over the years. So, that's a positive. Obviously, having situations where players are getting fined or getting suspended, we're not looking for that to be something that's a common occurrence. So, to the extent that we can leave that out of the rivalry, that would be better."
Plenty of potential: Receiver Martavis Bryant missed the first four games of the 2015 season, suspended by the NFL for violation of the substance abuse policy, and Rooney said he hopes the experience had an impact on him.
"Martavis is a player that has tremendous ability and potential," said Rooney. "We just have to continue to work with him to make sure he takes care of his business off the field to put himself in a position to be as great a player as he can be. He's one of those guys where the sky is the limit. I thought he worked hard this year, and he was a strong contributor in a lot of games, particularly that last one. We are obviously looking forward to him to continue to develop."