Roethlisberger Runs With First Team Despite Suspension

August 1, 2010 – By Scott

The Pittsburgh Steelers opened up training camp on Saturday with a lot of uncertainties at quarterback heading into the 2010 NFL season. One thing is for sure though, they will be without their stating signal caller Ben Roethlisberger for possibly up to six games to begin the year. That leaves Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon to lead a team that finished 9-7 a year ago.

Despite missing all of spring and serving a suspension to begin the season, Roethlisberger played with the first string on the opening day of camp. Head coach Mike Tomlin warned that he will not be locked in with a set rotation at quarterback this summer. But their coaching staff said that the rotation will probably change at any time.

“We’re going to switch it every day,” Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. “But to start the first day, we put our guys out there like we ended up in the spring … It’s the first day and it’s a long way to [the end of] training camp.”

It does appear though that Leftwich will be the team’s starter until Roethlisberger serves out his suspension. Leftwich shared time with the first team on Saturday and took most of the snaps. The left handed quarterback completed 58 of 107 passes in 2009 for 594 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also added 3 interceptions last year. In his career, he has passed for 10,218 yards and 58 touchdowns with 41 interceptions.

Dixon, who was a 5th round draft pick in 2008, has just one career start. During his 3 years in the league, he has passed for 148 yards and 1 touchdown. Experience is something the former Oregon quarterback is lacking and he will have to make up a lot of ground during camp and the preseason if is to beat out Leftwich for the starting job.

One thing that was welcomed by the Steelers in Roethlisberger’s return was his overall attitude. He confesses to not being the best teammate during his first six years, but he appears to be making a change. He was more outgoing on Saturday and spent time talking with his teammates, something that receiver Hines ward is happy to see occur.

“For many years, people didn’t know what was really going on with Ben,” Ward said. “He’s starting to open up and be more personal with guys. Today he was talking to everybody. I really think he understands the situation. I think you could really see the excitement in him, competing and playing football again. … He’s working on trying to improve himself.”

Roethlisberger has his goals set for the 2010 season. Getting past his ordeal his obvious, but getting back to winning the Super Bowl is priority number one.

“That’s always my goal and that’s not going to change,” Roethlisberger said. “I want to get out there, and I want to win a championship this year. That’s my ultimate goal.”

But for the first few games of the year, the Steelers will have to ride the arm of one of their backups. Whether or not either of them can get them off to a good start remains to be seen. NFL sportsbooks feel that the Steelers have work to do and have their odds listed at 22/1 to win Super Bowl XLV.  They open their season at home on September 12 against the Atlanta Falcons.

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