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Q & A with Big Ben

One day after reporting to Saint Vincent College for his 13th season with the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger shared his thoughts on the mindset entering the 2016 season, how many seasons he'll play beyond the current season, how he's developed from season to season and what motivates him season after season:

Q: How are Martavis Bryant's indefinite suspension and Le'Veon Bell's potential four-game suspension being absorbed in the locker room?   

A: "The Martavis thing, we've known about that. Obviously, that's happened, and that was disappointing, everything that happened there. With Le'Veon's thing, there's still so much unknown, what's going on. And that's the biggest thing for us, we just don't know what's going to happen.
"We hope and pray that he doesn't miss anything because of how special he is."

Q: You've said you'll play until the Good Lord or Mr. Rooney tell you that you no longer can. Can you envision a scenario in which another factor forces you to decide when it's time to retire?

A: "I hope not. I love being out here. I love playing the game with the guys. I feel great, and as long as I can stay healthy and feel that I'm playing at a high level; I don't want to force myself to play if I'm not playing at a high level and playing the way I feel I'm capable of playing. Hopefully I have a bunch of years left."

Q: Is there a particular physical trait that you'll use as a barometer as to what level of play you are or are not capable of attaining?

A: "I feel like that would be the Good Lord telling me I couldn't do something. Honestly, I'm sure there will be something when the time comes. But I feel like I can throw the ball as far or farther than I could before. I feel like I have enough zip on balls. I feel like I can still move. Obviously, I'm not going to be able to run like I did when I was a rookie but I feel like I can still move enough to get out of trouble and make things happen.
"I'm sure there might be something like that but I feel like it's far enough away that I can't think of anything."

Take a look at some of the greatest photographs from the career of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

Q: So you're anticipating playing another four or five years, playing on for multiple seasons?

A: "I know it's going to end at some point. But you know that light at the end of the tunnel? I know I can see it but it's not real close in my mind.
"In this game, you're one play away so who knows what can happen? I don't want to look for the end because then I'm cheating the here and now and this season. So I'm going to focus on this season. I know my goal is to keep playing but if this is my last season then I'm going to give it everything I have."

Q: What has allowed you to develop and mature as a quarterback?

A: "Just growth as a person. Having kids, as crazy as it sounds, dealing with the kids at home. I've often joked that having three now, having a crying baby at home, it's helped me blocked out the Ravens fans and the Browns fans. It's really easy to drown them out now because I'm like, 'Oh, it's nothing, it's background noise.' Just having a life like that, as crazy as it sounds, has helped me in football, as well."

Q: You developed a reputation for keeping plays alive early in your career. What's your signature now?

A: "I still think it's the same thing. It may not happen as often, but for me it was always about, 'I just can't quit. If a guy's got me, I don't want him to have me. He's got my jersey, I'm not going down because there are plays to be made.' I just don't want to quit on a play."

Q: Are you as capable now of beating defenses methodically as you are with a big-play?

A: "For sure, and that's what I think we've done. (Quarterbacks coach) Randy (Fichtner) keeps all these crazy stats, and last year I either led the league or was like top two in the league in quickness of the ball out of my hand. But that's part of our team and our offense. We're still going to take our shots because our line is really good and they can hold up for big-shot, chunk plays. But I also know that there are times that the ball has to come out quick because A.B. (Antonio Brown) has a step on someone at the line of scrimmage and you get him the ball as quick as you can because he's going to do something special with it, or Le'Veon, or whoever it is."

Q: What has allowed you to thrive running the no-huddle offense?

A: "I think it's just the time I put in with Landry (Jones), Bruce (Gradkowski), Randy, Todd (offensive coordinator Haley), all of us. We all work so hard at it so that we're all kind of one. Todd and I joke about it, he's like, 'Oh, that's the play I was thinking about, too.' And I'm like, 'Oh, don't tell me that, it means we're on the same page.' We joke about stuff like that.
"It helps keep the defense off balance and it helps us stay in a rhythm."

Steelers' players arrive at training camp.

Q: How many times can you realistically throw the ball to Antonio Brown in a game?

A: "Defenses do everything they can to take him away. And he's gotten better, and I still have to stay on him, 'A.B., they have three guys on you, someone else is open.' And he still can make plays with three guys on him. But I think he's a guy that really should be targeted double-digit times a game. Defenses will dictate that, the key is not to try and just force him the ball. Get him the ball when he's there and the defense allows it."

Q: Are you still motivated by the same things heading into your 13th season?

A:  "I think it's more about Super Bowls, trying to win championships for the city. I love the fans, I always want to play for the fans and be tough for the fans and win for the fans.
"Everyone gets motivated by something different, whether it's what it felt like in the locker room in Denver last year, whether it's going home missing the playoffs. And you know going in that only two teams are going to go (to the Super Bowl) and only one team is going to win it.
"Right now I would assume that all 32 teams are assuming they're going to win the Super Bowl. And if you're not, then there's your problem. You need to have that mentality 'we're going to go.' You have to go in saying, 'I know only one team is going to win it but it has to be us.'"

Q: What has made the biggest impression on you being an NFL quarterback in Pittsburgh?

A: "Just being tough. I feel like I play the game the way the fans want it to be played. When I get my nose broken in a game or I get injured, I don't want to come out. I'll stay in the game bloody and battered because I feel like that's what the steelworkers would do, the tough Pittsburgh people.
"I'm from three hours from here. It's not like I'm a West Coast kid, or Florida. I'm a Midwest guy, I'm from Pittsburgh, that's what I am.
"I always say I want to play for the fans but I feel like they can acknowledge now after 13 years that I'm a tough son of a gun and I'm going to give it everything I have for them."

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