Tomlin: 'I don't mind the circus atmosphere'

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Ben Roethlisberger will continue to run with the Steelers first team offense and Dennis Dixon will get more snaps in practice, coach Mike Tomlin said today.

Byron Leftwich returned after missing Tuesday's practice and no longer ran the first-team offense as he has done since his first practice with the Steelers in minicamp that began April 30. Roethlisberger, who returned to the team Tuesday after being cleared by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, again took all the reins with the first team.

Leftwich and Dixon split snaps with the backup units and Charlie Batch mostly watched during team drills.

"What we want to do is give Ben quality reps so he can get re-acclimated and improve and work on his game," Tomlin said. "And we want to continue to give Dennis reps because he is a young guy. When you're talking about working with four quarterbacks, of course reps are going to be scarce in some instances. For the purposes of this week, if there is going to be a reduction in reps it is going to be at the expense of Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch."

Tomlin had a previous commitment Tuesday and was unavailable for comment after practice until today. He said Roethlisberger will speak soon.

"He will address the media at an appropriate time in the near future and continue to move forward."

Tomlin sounded as if he was unconcerned by the distraction that the whole episode with Roethlisberger has caused, beginning with the sexual assault lodged against him by a woman March 5 and continuing with the suspension of four to six games by Goodell.

"I don't mind the circus atmosphere, because I can't control it ... Ultimately, we'll be measured by our ability to win football games. That's what this is about. This is a distraction if we lose, if we don't it's not. I'm committed to making sure that it's not, as I'm sure everyone else is."

The Steelers have four remaining spring practices before they break until the start of training camp July 30 -- one today and three next week.


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