LATROBE, Pa. - Everyone is used to seeing Ben Roethlisberger in his familiar No. 7 white practice jersey, but when he took the field for the first day of practice at Steelers' training camp he was sporting a No. 99 gold jersey for his former teammate and good friend Brett Keisel.
"That's my boy," said Roethlisberger. "We (were) suite mates. He's been one of my closest friends, has been in my wedding. It's an honor. I miss him. A little bit of everything. It was too tight. I had to take it off. That jersey was tight."
But while he was laughing and having fun, Roethlisberger was all about football on Saturday. He wasn't worried about not getting a contract extension this offseason, knowing that it is something that will come down the road as the team already reached out to him and his agent about discussions after the year.
"I'm ready to play football," said Roethlisberger. "When we get to camp its football time, and that's what I'm excited about.
"When we get here there are no contract talks and that's what the Rooneys do and that's what we're doing, and it's 100% football and that's what I'm excited about. I have faith that the Steelers will do what we need to do when it's time and that's putting people on the field through free agency, through trades, the draft, everything to make us the best team we can possibly be."
Other topics Roethlisberger discussed included the following:
On what he has seen so far in practice that he likes:"So far it's early but it looked good and we're still not in pads. It's just kind of another extension of the OTAs and mini-camp but I really felt like it was a good first day."
View Photos of the Pittsburgh Steeler's first day of Training Camp.
On how important is it for Markus Wheaton to make the next step in his second year:**"We've put a lot on him. The expectation level is high. He was doing some really good things last year until he got hurt. (He) kind of lost some confidence I think in himself, but he's got it back and I'm just excited for him to take that next step in year two."
On him being more engaging this year especially with the younger players:"You have to be. It's that time. As an older guy, and we have a lot of young guys, whether it's a Lance (Moore) who doesn't know the offense. He knows it, but (is a) new guy in the offense, then to a Wheaton, Justin Brown or Derek (Moye) – that's now two years in. So I'm just doing everything I can to make sure we all get on the same page so we can be the best that we can be."
On if it is tough to go no-huddle and transition to power formations in the same game:"No, not really. The only thing that can be tough is getting personnel on the field. If you're obviously in a three-wide package and you want to go jumbo or bring in the big guys, you have to let the defense substitute as well (and) you slow it down. But we can still do a lot of things in the package that we have with the no-huddle."