Ben Roethlisberger returned to the Steelers today, received hugs from teammates and staff and dug right into what he's been denied the past month, working at his job.
The quarterback finished serving his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy and went right to work.
"First off, it's good to be back here at the facility, especially with my teammates," Roethlisberger said during a six-minute press conference this afternoon. "It's good to see coaches and be around my teammates. I'm just excited to be back and get focused on football, focused on this year and try to get to Dallas.''
His teammates kept their goal of playing in the Super Bowl in Dallas realistic by winning three of their four games without their starting quarterback, who led them to two Super Bowl victories over the previous five seasons. Dennis Dixon started the first two games of the season, which they won. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game, and 35-year-old Charlie Batch started the past two, which they split.
"I was their biggest supporter," said Roethlisberger, who was not permitted at the training facility, at Heinz Field or to talk football strategy with teammates or coaches during his suspension. "I was the No. 1 fan. I was rooting for them. Unfortunately, Dennis got hurt, you never like to see a guy get injured. I knew that Charlie would be able to come in and step up and do exactly what he did. That's what makes him the professional that he is. He's been playing great football, which I always knew that he could."
Roethlisberger said he worked out between 2 and 2 and 1/2 hours daily in the Pittsburgh area with a quarterbacks coach and with receivers and said he has no fingernails left from watching the Steelers' four games from home.
"I think there's a lot of great chemistry on this team right now. They're playing great football -- offense, defense, special teams -- from what I've been able to watch the games.
"I'm not coming in trying to be anything more than what I am. Just trying to be helpful, be a teammate, and do whatever I can to help this team win football games. I think they're off to a great start and I just want to come and contribute however I can to try to win football games."
First Published October 4, 2010 8:45 PM