By Teresa Varley
It will be a battle of quarterbacks from the 2004 NFL Draft class on Sunday when Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning meet. But don't expect there to be any kind of rivalry between the two other than each of them just wanting to win the game.
"As a quarterback you try to get your team prepared," said Manning. "Early on you are just trying to learn as much as you can to become a better player each game, each week and each season. All you can really do in this league is try to improve your own ability and help out your own team to win games for your own organization.
"I have a lot respect for Ben and I have a lot of respect for Philip (Rivers) and for the job that they have done and for the way that they have competed and played over the years. I have enjoyed watching both of them play and respect how they compete each week."
Roethlisberger agrees that there isn't a real rivalry, but it doesn't mean he wouldn't like to one-up Manning.
"There is always that little thing inside you that wants to be the best," said Roethlisberger. "I do want to win another Super Bowl before he does."
Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked in a conference call about the progress the offensive line has made since being revamped, including some changes that had to be made because of injuries.
"I think they are growing week to week and really that is the only way that we can approach it," said Tomlin. "We are not going to be readymade in that area. We acknowledge that we are kind of going through a transition. I think each week they have grown and developed better cohesion, have played better. I think their growth and development is one of the reasons why we have been able to win a few games here in a row now.
"Along the way, of course, we sustained an injury or two. Max Starks had to step in and play last week, Darnell Stapleton has had to step in for Kendall Simmons. That is part of it. I think for us to be a good team and for them to be a good position we have to have quality depth and the standard of expectation can't change as natural things that are part of the game like injuries set in."
Safety Troy Polamalu practiced on Wednesday, but the team is still keeping a close eye on him after he suffered a concussion against the Bengals.
"Today was a good day but we will continue to take him day-to-day," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "His health and safety are first and foremost. Those decisions will be easy; we will defer to the professionals on our medical team."
Offensive tackle Marvel Smith continued to be bothered by back spasms and missed practice on Wednesday. He will be evaluated again on Thursday.
Casey Hampton and Willie Parker both practiced Wednesday and Tomlin was pleased with their progress. * *
Defensive ends Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith and running back Najeh Davenport were all excused from practice on Wednesday because of personal reasons.