On the day Ben Roethlisberger was drafted back in 2004, Bill Cowher made a statement that was definitely a fact.
"This kid has a lot of upside," said Cowher, who coached Roethlisberger his first three seasons in the league.
Now, as Roethlisberger is set to lead the Steelers into the postseason, Cowher has far greater words of praise for him and the way he has grown.
"When I left here 10 years ago he had just completed his third year here and he was a young player, a talented young player," said Cowher. "He was in the process of trying to make this his team. There were still a lot of veterans around him.
"What you see right now is a guy who this is his football team. He is very mature. A guy this team looks at as their leader. He sets the tone. You can tell by the way he handles himself, he has been in this situation before. You don't change things. But the preparation is better. He is the one people are looking at. He has grown as a person, as a player, and his play has reflected that."
Cowher, who was at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Thursday to talk with Coach Mike Tomlin for a story on CBS's 'The NFL Today,' said he enjoys watching Roethlisberger play and still is amazed by his physical talent.
"The biggest thing is he has an unbelievable physical skill set," said Cowher. "He is physically gifted. He is a tremendous athlete for a man his size. He has a great feel for the game. You don't realize it until you are around him that he has such a great feel for the game. He sees things. He is a big time competitor. This guy competes. The competitiveness is what separates him from a lot of people. He understands what it takes. He is calm in high pressured situations. You watch him in the fourth quarter and he wants the ball in his hands.
"I love his focus, his competitiveness. He is a tremendous athlete, has a great feel for the game. I go back to the one thing, Ben is a tremendous, fierce competitor."