Ladarius Green was signed by the Steelers this offseason to be a weapon for Ben Roethlisberger in the offense, and with four games under his belt after coming off an ankle injury, he is doing just that.
Green pulled in six receptions for 110 yards against the Giants last week, the first 100-yard game of his career, and also scored his first touchdown in the black and gold, a 20-yard grab on a play that he hadn't even run before.
"That is a play, I don't think he ran that specific play yet," said Roethlisberger. "For me to call it and him to execute it flawlessly speaks volumes for the work he has put in mentally. To not get that rep physically, but mentally be ready to do it, able to do it, be the actor, the fake block and then make the play. That is just awesome on his part."
Roethlisberger and Green are developing a rapport on the field, one that both admit needs to continue to grow. While they hooked up for six receptions on Sunday, both know there were plays left on the field, including an incompletion late in the game that could have moved the chains and kept the clock going with 1:43 to play in the game. Instead Randy Bullock came on for a 38-yard field goal, and the Giants got the ball back, driving down for a touchdown.
"It's just making the plays that are there," said Roethlisberger. "I could have hit him on that last play on the third down, I overthrew him trying to be a little too cautious. I just have to put it up there for him to make the play. That is on me. Some of the combative catches, I know he wants to make the catches where there is a guy right on him. He made the one on third down where there were two guys on him. That was awesome. There just needs to be more consistency on my part and his part working together. That just comes from repetition and working together. I have all of the confidence in the world in him."
Part of that confidence comes from the mental approach Green took while he was injured, not just sitting back and observing like an outsider, but being involved in every aspect mentally.
"Not getting to see a guy, just talking to him, you see the mental side of it," said Roethlisberger. "He is very smart. He talks a lot to me and asks questions. They are not questions you expect from a guy that hasn't been around here. They are questions you expect from a guy that has been here, studying, focusing and really understanding what is going on here. I just see growth every day from him.
"I have all of the faith in the world in him and what he can do. He is a weapon for us."
Roethlisberger feels the same about the team's other tight ends, David Johnson, Jesse James and Xavier Grimble, who are giving opposing defenses matchup problems when they go to two or three tight end sets.
"Those formations and sets throw a wrinkle to a defense," said Roethlisberger. "Do you line up in big personnel to stop the run because you have tight ends or do you put nickel or smaller defensive backs on the field? Having the versatility of our tight ends to be able to execute against whatever defense is thrown at us is key for us."
More from Ben:
On the run-pass split: "t just means we're balanced and that's always what we've wanted to be, a balanced offense. When the run is there, we take it. When the pass is there, we do that as well."
On if Le'Veon Bell is getting stronger later in games:"
What you could see is his energy. You can see the enthusiasm, the line. I mean, even after a long drive like that, you can just see them, "let's go. Let's go. Let's go." In that game you see him, after runs it a bunch of time, I was mic'd up that game and its funny audio because I ask him, 'You good? You ready to keep going? You need a timeout?' But he doesn't. He just keeps going. That's why I think he's one of the best in the business. But being able to talk to him and communicate with him like that, and him being honest back with me, is a great thing."
On if he thinks Bell is being honest: "Absolutely. He's the best in the business. He's going to tell me. What he wants and feels. And he's honest with all of us. We need him on the field, but he also knows that he's not going to hurt the team."On if the offense's balance has any other factors but run and pass: "I think balance is what the defense is giving you. What's working for you? When we're having success, it's because Coach (Todd) Haley is calling good plays, we're executing them, the line's blocking, we're running, we're throwing—that's a balanced offense, in my opinion."On Buffalo's defense:
"Complexity. Moving guys around. Nasty tough. Throwing different secondary coverages at you. Blitzes, bringing guys from safeties to linebackers. And then, having a good defensive line, which they obviously have." On his success in bad weather: "I don't know. I don't know. Being from not far from here, a couple of hours, you're used to bad weather playing in the backyard. We played in snow, rain and mud, whatever it was. I don't if that's it, or just getting lucky." On if he takes pride in that: "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It was funny, before the pregame in Indianapolis, we were talking, Coach Randy (Fichtner) and I were talking about, 'This is nice, no wind., no nothing.' But I wouldn't change being here and having he elements. It's fun to play in the snow. I'm assuming there will be some snow up there, and wind. It typically is. It is what it is. Other than being cold, it's pretty fun."On his last game there and the wind: "It's cold. It's what you love watching. I grew up when Jim Kelly was one of the guys and watching some of those playoff games they had up there, just how cold and brutal it was. That's just what you expect in Buffalo."