The week before the Steelers reported to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for the start of voluntary OTAs, Ben Roethlisberger gathered some of his receivers, tight ends and running backs and headed to Georgia, where he has a lakefront home, and treated them to some R&R for several days.
Many outsiders on social media and in the media jumped on it saying Roethlisberger was just doing it because of criticism he received this offseason for his lack of leadership.
What those ‘many’ didn’t mention, though, was this wasn’t the first time Roethlisberger has done this. That it had nothing to do with the criticism, but rather was just repeating the same thing he has done for his teammates in the past.
For Roethlisberger the trip is a beginning, a start of building chemistry with new teammates like Donte Moncrief and continuing to grow the relationship with others like JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner to name a few.
“I think that is part of what last weekend was, some of the guys getting together,” said Roethlisberger. “A lot of people think it’s just about football, and understanding the depth, and how to throw to a guy. Sometimes you have to understand the person too. When you understand the person you can figure out how they like certain passes and try and have fun together.”
Roethlisberger has been voted by his teammates an offensive team captain 10 times in 15 seasons, including eight consecutive times. That doesn’t happen if you aren’t a leader. But he did say he did lack in leadership last year, failing to do what he sees a big part of his role as a leader is, and that’s lead the team to a successful season.
“When you are talking leadership, you are talking about relationships,” said Roethlisberger. “In this sport relationships change on a yearly basis because guys are here and gone. You have to do your best to realize what it takes for each guy to develop the best relationship you can.
“When it comes to leadership, we didn’t make the playoffs last year, we didn’t win our division. So I lacked in leadership. That is my job as the leader of this team to get us to the playoffs. I am going to need to focus my energy on how can I be a better leader to get us back to the playoffs.”
Roethlisberger said he is committed to being with the team all through OTAs and hopes that is the starting point to leading them back to where he expects them to be…the postseason.
“Being here. Being with guys. Communicating,” said Roethlisberger. “Being the best I can be and hoping I can lead them.
“I am excited. We have a great team. We have a bunch of guys who are buying into each other and that’s what it takes to win football games.”
This and That:
Starting fast: First round pick Devin Bush was already calling the plays for the first team defense on Tuesday during the team’s OTAs, but there is one adjustment he is going to have to make.
And it’s ‘all about that bass.’
“It’s the first day. We have to get the jitters out,” said Cam Heyward talking about Bush. “It’s kind of weird cheering for a Michigan guy now. I am going to be his biggest supporter. It’s a good starting point. It’s his first day to get him used to us.
“We were already kidding him when he is calling the plays he has to get some bass in his voice. That is just us messing around. He is going to be good. We will break him in.
“You make sure everyone is on the same page, everybody can communicate. Especially for a younger guy, to put that much on his plate. You want to stay on him. We’ll see how everyone progresses.”
Picking things up: Bush has been learning the defense since the team’s rookie minicamp, where he was also calling out the plays, and said things are getting more familiar as he moves along.
“As long as you put your head in the playbook a couple minutes a day, start memorizing stuff and come out here and rep it, you start getting better and better,” said Bush.