On Sunday afternoon Ben Roethlisberger will embark on his 15th season in the NFL, and it doesn’t matter how many snaps he has taken in his career, he still feels the nerves.
“I ask these young guys if they are nervous and they tell me no and I call them a liar because if I am 15 years in and nervous you should be nervous too,” said Roethlisberger. “That is natural. You should be nervous. You should be excited. This is football. This is what we have grown up doing, this is what we love doing. We are out here in camps, minicamp, training camp, sweating and bleeding, putting so much on the line for Sunday. To be out there with each other. I think we are all excited and I am no different.”
Who will be out there on Sunday on the field with Roethlisberger still is somewhat of a gray area as Le’Veon Bell has yet to report and sign his franchise tender. While Roethlisberger would like to have all of his weapons at his disposal, he also knows it’s more than one player that makes the offense tick.
“He is one of the best in the business. Any time you have a guy like that, you want him on the field with you,” said Roethlisberger. “I think we are a very good offense. Football is the ultimate team sport. One person doesn’t make or break you. I’d like to say the linemen are more important than any skill position player, including myself, on this team. This offense is more than one guy.”
A guy that will likely be called upon Sunday will be second-year back James Conner. Conner carried the majority of the load for the ground game in the preseason, and the progress he made since his rookie season is readily noticed.
“James is a year better than he was last year at this time,” said Roethlisberger. “I think we are all kind of excited for what he can bring to this offense, this team. We’ve got a lot of weapons. We’d like to have him out there, but we’ve got guys who can make plays for us.”
Roethlisberger even called out Conner as being his ‘security blanket’ in the offense, the guy he can go to when the pressure comes.
“I think James has done a great job of it so far,” said Roethlisberger. “I think he gets to his spot really quick, which is awesome for a quarterback. A guy who gets to his spot, checks his protections, gets to his spot and then you know he is there and ready to get the ball.
“He has worked a lot on his hands. He is catching the ball really well right now. I am excited for James, probably as much as he is for himself to get out there.”
The line will also be a key factor for the offense. Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has made it no secret that he wants to face, and sack, Roethlisberger, after not getting the opportunity to play against him last year.
“I want to sack him,” Garrett was quotes as saying. ““I want to take him down multiple times. But I also want to have some fun.”
Roethlisberger knows the offense is going to have a challenge from the entire Browns defense, but also realizes Garrett is someone they have to key a close eye on.
“I don’t want to take anything away from anybody, but it starts on our left side, their right, in Myles,” said Roethlisberger. “What an animal and a guy that just gets after the quarterback. We’re going to have to keep an eye on him, two eyes. Hopefully Al (Villanueva) does a good job.”