Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger heads into the 2016 regular season with a weapon he knows he is lucky to have, wide receiver Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger and Brown will be a tandem for a seventh season, and Roethlisberger knows what he has in Brown, especially on some of those sideline routes where he works the tightrope like nobody else.
"You know you can miss wider than usual," said Roethlisberger. "We always says it's our guy's ball or nobody's. With AB you can throw it a little bit wider than usual because he is going to find a way to get a toe tap in. Any time a ball is caught on the sideline or the official says no, I am always quick to say let's think about challenging this because I have never seen anyone better on the sideline."
The Steelers offense will face a challenge on Monday night against the Washington Redskins in cornerback Josh Norman, who Brown is likely to see plenty of.
"AB is one of the best in the business and so is Josh. He's one of the best, if not the best in the business, so it's a heck of a challenge for myself and the rest of the guys," said Roethlisberger. "It's a primetime matchup. I think everyone will tune in just to see that matchup. I think it will come down to, is AB's quarterback good enough to get him the ball when he needs to. I think the big thing for both of them is they will try to play mind games with each other. I will talk to my guy and make sure he keeps a level head and just plays football."
Brown isn't the only weapon on offense that Roethlisberger will have by a long shot. With Le'Veon Bell out serving a three-game suspension, Le'Veon Bell will once again step up and carry the load.
"DeAngelo does not lack confidence by any stretch of the imagination, but that's what you want," said Roethlisberger. "You want a guy who is going to step up and be ready to go, try not to miss a beat. Last year, he showed what he can do, and I think we'll see the same thing."
Roethlisberger also talked about the start of the regular season, wide receivers Eli Rogers and Sammie Coates, tight end Jesse James and more.
On if the season starting is just as exciting now:
"Yes, it's very exciting. I'm excited to get back out and play real football."
On if the amount of playing time in the preseason benefitted him:
"We're healthy. That's most important, getting through the preseason healthy and get some reps and get ready to go."
On going into the season as a favorite:
"Well, that's the tradition of this team, the history of this team. You know the history of this team. But, I'm a big fan of being the hunter, not the hunted. "
On second-year tight end Jesse James:
"I have a lot of confidence in him. My key to him, my words to him almost every day are to believe in yourself and have confidence in yourself, because I believe in you and we believe in you. He works hard. Him and the rest of the tight ends are doing some great things and just trying to be the best they can be."
On Eli Rogers and Sammie Coates getting established early:
"It will be big for them. Obviously, Sammie has some postseason experience, a little bit. But it's definitely different for Eli, especially, to get out there and play a big role in this offense. It will be new for him, but I think he's up for the challenge and excited for it."
On what Rogers has shown him: "He showed great toughness, great quickness and a desire to want to be great in a slot position. That's not easy to play around here. We ask that guy to do a lot of blocking, a lot of dirty and grimy work. And he doesn't seem to shy away from it."
On facing an NFC team Week 1:
"It's the first game of the year, so there's always a lot of unknowns for both sides. It's not a familiar opponent, like you said, but its Monday Night Football, it's the first game of the year and we're excited about it."