At 36 and entering his 15th NFL season, Ben Roethlisberger is unquestionably getting older.
But the Steelers’ quarterback also maintains he’s getting better.
“I feel as good as I’ve felt in a long time health-wise,” he said. “And going back and looking at last year’s tape and really studying and evaluating and talking with (offensive coordinator) Randy (Fichtner) and some other people that I value their opinion on, I might have had one of my best seasons (in 2017). Statistically, it was a pretty good season. But in terms of arm strength, making decisions, all those things, I still feel like I’m playing at a high level and I still feel like I’m going up. I don’t feel like I’m coming down yet.
“As you get older people start talking about what’s the first thing to go? Your legs, your mobility, right? I still feel my arm’s as strong as it’s ever been. I’m out there playing with the receivers, playing catch, and they’re telling me the ball’s getting there faster than it ever has. So I think my arm has actually gotten stronger.
“But if you look in that Jacksonville (playoff) game down the stretch, there were a couple scramble plays, down the field, where I’m running and making some plays. I think those, to me, were kind of like, ‘OK, maybe I still have it a little bit.”
Roethlisberger also emphasized his desire to win and continue to compete is what it’s always been.
“Once you get here (to training camp) it really charges the battery up,” he said. “As long as physically I can do it, that’s the most important thing. If (center Maurkice) Pouncey is still here, if I have that (offensive) line in front of me, that’s a big deal because that helps with me being physically healthy.
“But you know, I was doing the math, I’ve spent over a year of my life here. Which is crazy to think of, over a year of my life is spent here at Saint Vincent College. And when I come here you still get excited. You still wanna go and you wanna win. Yeah, I’m still driven. I still wanna be great.”
Roethlisberger addressed a number of other topics late this morning in a one-on-one interview with steelers.com, including:
How the offense is positioned in a league that’s apparently trending toward high-scoring games: “We have everyone back. It starts up front. The line that we have, to me, is the best in the league. They make my job a lot easier and they make the running game and the passing game easier. Aad we have one of the best backs if not the best back in the game (Le'Veon Bell) and wide receiver (Antonio Brown), as well.
“I’d like to think we’re positioned well.”
Whether the Steelers suffer from a lack of discipline or focus: “I think any team probably has a little bit of (concern about) discipline, whether it’s a young player coming in, whatever it is. But I don’t think there are any glaring issues that we have on this team. We’re a football team that wants to win, has a great tradition here and tries to follow that up.”
What the Steelers need to do to get back to the Super Bowl: “I hope that with every year you gain experience, some guys more than others if you’ve been doing this a long time. But I hope that we can take that (playoff) loss (to Jacksonville), or any loss, and learn from it. What mistakes did we make? Why did we not finish? Why did we not make this play? Was it because of a lack of effort? Was it because of a lack of talent? Was it because of a lack of discipline? What was it? And not make the same mistake twice.
“If you make the same mistakes over and over you’re not learning, something’s wrong with you. You need to find a way to make the corrections from mistakes that were made.”
Similarities between this year’s Steelers’ and the Super Bowl teams in 2008 and 2010: “The Super Bowl teams had a lot of veteran guys. Coach (Bill) Cowher’s guys were still there and some veteran guys were still around sprinkled in with some young guys. I’d like to think that’s kind of what we have now. I wouldn’t say we’re an older team but, especially on offense, we’re mature team. We have some of those eight- and nine-year vets.
“When I think about the last Super Bowl, I think about the Hineses (Hines Ward) and Farriors (James Farrior) and some of those older guys that were in double-digit years. I think now we have a big chunk of those guys sitting right at the high single digits, so they have that experience, they’ve matured. But they also still have enough youth in their body to hopefully propel us to the next level.”
What he’d like to do with Fichtner as the offensive coordinator that couldn’t be or wasn’t done under Todd Haley, the coordinator Fichtner replaced: “I’d really love to win a Super Bowl with him. I’d love to try to win a Super Bowl with him at the helm.”
Steelers players arrived at Saint Vincent College ready to start camp.