Ready for a challenge

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spent part of his bye weekend watching the Cleveland-Atlanta game, getting a preview of what the Steelers will face on Sunday when the Browns come to Heinz Field.

"They're a lot better team than people assume and give them credit for," said Roethlisberger of the 1-4 Browns. "They do a lot of different things on defense, a lot of different looks and blitzes and schemes that kind of keep you on your heels.

"If you ask the random person on the street who's their best defensive player I don't think they know many names over there, and that's kind of been their M.O. They play as a group, they play as a unit and they do it at a really high level. There's a lot of fire, a lot of intensity from those guys and their play shows it right now."

Roethlisberger himself has plenty of fire, anxiously awaiting his first game back since serving a four-game suspension. And he is happy to be returning in front of the hometown crowd.

"To be at Heinz Field in front of our fans, it's always so much fun," said Roethlisberger. "To get back out there at home, it's like coming home again so it's going to be exciting for me."

While his teammates are excited to have him back on the field too, Roethlisberger doesn't think they need that extra motivation to prepare this week.

"If you have to use me coming back as motivation against the Cleveland Browns we're got something going on, something wrong," said Roethlisberger. "It's a divisional game, an AFC North game. That's all the motivation any of us need."

Players had a relaxing weekend courtesy of their bye, but it was back to work on Monday and the focus was on football.

"You have to make sure you have a good week of practice," said nose tackle Chris Hoke. "During the bye people go away for a few days.  For a couple of days you lose your focus because you have other things going on. You want to rest a little bit. You want to make sure you come back and get your focus back and be ready for football."

And there is nothing the players want more than to come out on Sunday against the Browns full steam ahead.

"Any time you play a divisional game you know you have to strap it up and come ready to play and have a good week of preparation," said defensive end Brett Keisel.

Wide receiver Mike Wallace came back from the bye weekend with a new look, cutting his signature Mohawk hairstyle.

"It was just time. I was at home and it was a spur of the moment thing," said Wallace. "I will probably grow it back in about a month. Ben was happy, but everyone else was saying I threw away my signature. They said I am not 'The Kid' anymore or Mike and that I have to go by my first name, Burnell.

"I like it. It's cool. I might grow it a little bit. I don't know what I want to do. This is just the starting point."

Roethlisberger definitely liked Wallace's new look, telling him it gave him more of a grown up look.

"You guys saw him," said Roethlisberger. "He looks like a nice young man now. Before he looked a little crazy and wild.

"We had a little deal that if he got 1,000 yards (receiving) he would cut it so I was really going to push for that this year, to get him the yards.  But he did it already so we'll just give him 1,000 yards without it, hopefully."

The Steelers waived nose tackle Steve McLendon at the end of last week and re-signed him to the practice squad. The move was necessary because the exemption that was placed on Ben Roethlisberger was lifted and he is now on the 53-man roster.

Heath Miller and his wife Katie will host Bid for Hope IX on Monday, October 18 at Bossa Nova.

The event benefits Glimmer of Hope, a foundation that is committed to raising funds for breast cancer research and finding a cure.

"It's for a great cause," said Heath Miller, whose cousin successfully battled the disease. "It's something that has been a part of the Steelers for a while now. It's such a good thing. It's important for us to contribute."

Miller and many of his Steelers teammates will be on hand at the event, which also includes a silent and live auction with autographed Steelers memorabilia.

"The Steelers exposure helps tremendously," said Diana Napper, the founder of Glimmer of Hope. "What they do on the field is so important, and it's great. What they do off is so important to an organization like mine. It is one thing to be able to catch a ball, throw a pass. But to take time out of your day to help another human being says a lot for the organization and the people they employ."

For more information or tickets for Bid For Hope call 1-800-454-6746.

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