Roethlisberger expects to play

Ben Roethlisberger expects to play for the first time this preseason when the Steelers host the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field on Saturday night.

He just doesn't expect to be out there too long, though.

"I think that's what it's going to depend on how well we play, how long we play," said Roethlisberger. "I'll probably go two series."

Roethlisberger said the playing time is about getting the offense fine-tuned in advance of the season opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 10.

"Looking just to click, move the ball, and pick up first downs," said Roethlisberger. "Obviously getting in the end zone is always a big deal. We want to move the ball."

He will still be without one of his biggest weapons on offense, running back Le'Veon Bell who has yet to sign his franchise tender. Bell hinted via Twitter that he will be returning to the team on Sept. 1, ahead of the opener.

"We'll be ready for him whenever he gets here," said Roethlisberger. "We always want our guys here. He didn't have to be here. We want him here. He is an amazing football player. He helps this team. Hopefully it won't take him long to get into football shape."

And Roethlisberger definitely emphasized 'football' shape, something that will be key for Bell who is coming off a knee injury.

"He is going to come back here in great shape. He always is in great shape," said Roethlisberger. "There is in shape, and there is football shape. There is running around in shorts and a t-shirt and putting pads on and getting hit. He is going to have to be the judge of how easy it is to come back and be ready to go."

There will also be the mental aspect of the game to catch up on. Roethlisberger said the offense has put new wrinkles in, something that isn't uncommon each year but there were more additions this year than in the past.

"We'll do everything we can to get him up to speed and the rest is up to him," said Roethlisberger, who hasn't talked to Bell, but said there are no grudges. "We have a couple of bigger (wrinkles) this year than usual. Every year you change some things. It just happens this year we have more than usual. He is a very smart football player. He is physically gifted. He can relay meeting room stuff to the field pretty easily.

"There will be some mental stuff this year because there are quite a few new things. But physical, he is a physical back. It's a violent sport, the running back position takes a beating. We just have to hope the other guys are ready to go if he needs spelled. If he just comes back, I don't know if he will be ready to play every single play like he does during the season. We are going to have to have other guys ready to give him breaks."

The Outlaw: Jesse James continues to develop and be a weapon for Roethlisberger and the offense, and it hasn't gone unnoticed.

"It's been growing every season," said Roethlisberger. "We continue to talk and communicate. He is getting better. I have seen the strides he has taken."

Eye in the sky: This will be the first game that Roethlisberger has played since offensive coordinator Todd Haley has moved up into the coach's box to call plays, something the team is testing during the preseason. In the past quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner has been in the press box communicating to the sideline.

"He has been doing it the last two games, but obviously it's not with me" said Roethlisberger. "We are going to give it one more shot this week and see what it does, if it makes communication easier, more difficult, what's going to happen.

"It could be good. I think it takes distractions away from the play caller. Everybody has to be comfortable with it."

Better to receive: The Steelers are stacked at wide receiver, and it's one of the most contested battles on the team for a roster spot. Roethlisberger said he doesn't know how many the team will keep, but has confidence in those fighting for a spot.

"A lot of confidence," said Roethlisberger. "It's a fun battle. It's a fun competition. Everyone is pushing everyone else. I think it's bringing out the best in everybody."

Roethlisberger is looking forward to getting work with some of the receivers this week, even the tried and tested Antonio Brown.

"There are a lot of guys we need in game work with, Justin Hunter, I think even AB and I are always trying to get better," said Roethlisberger. "Martavis is one who missed last year and hopefully he will get some action this week."

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