LATROBE, Pa. – Steelers President Art Rooney II let it be known in the morning of the team's arrival at Saint Vincent College that the plan is to extend quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's contract after the upcoming season.
Tight end Heath Miller believes that'll be something of a two-for-one transaction for the Steelers, because it will reflect the extension of a Super Bowl-winning quarterback as well as a team leader.
"Certainly, he's become a great leader," Miller said. "When he and I were both younger on the team, there was great leadership already in place. Naturally as you grow and you've been in the same place as long as he has, he's the unquestioned leader of our team."
Roethlisberger has been the Steelers' starter at quarterback, when healthy, since the third game of his rookie season of 2004. Developing into the "unquestioned leader" Miller referenced took a great deal longer.
"He's grown, certainly, as we all have," said Miller, the Steelers' first round pick in 2005, the year after they drafted Roethlisberger with the 11th overall selection. "He's been in this thing for a long time and he understands this is his team, this is his offense. He has full control over the whole team, really.
"He doesn't take that lightly. He understands that, and he takes a lot of pride in it."
Roethlisberger threw for 4,261 yards last season, a figure that trailed only the 4,328 passing yards he amassed in 2009. His 28 touchdown passes were second only to the 32 he threw in 2007. In the second half of last season, in particular, Roethlisberger seemingly played as well as ever.
"Awesome," Miller maintained. "He's certainly one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and we're lucky to have him here. I feel fortunate to have been with a quarterback of his caliber for the whole time I've been playing.
"I don't take that for granted, I know that."