On the Steelers: Roethlisberger back to practice
Share with others:
Ben Roethlisberger bounded through the doors to the Steelers' indoor practice field with all the subtlety of a deep pass to Mike Wallace, which is how Tuesday's practice began.
"It was like the first day of school. He was the first one out there," said Hines Ward, laughing.
"Waiting for the horn to go," Roethlisberger said.
In his first practice of the regular season, in his first 11-on-11 team drills, the quarterback heaved his first pass deep to Wallace, who caught it in picture-perfect form over his shoulder.
An early statement, perhaps?
"I hope so," Wallace said. "Hopefully, that means we'll get a lot of that in two Sundays."
Roethlisberger's first game will be Oct. 17 against Cleveland at Heinz Field. The Steelers have practices scheduled again today and Thursday, then are off until Monday.
"I knew he'd been warming up his arm," Wallace said. "I knew he had to see if it was loose or not so I knew he was probably going to throw it out there. He always throws good passes, so I'm not worried about that. I'm not worried about his timing. I'm not worried about anything. I'm just ready to get back out there. I'm excited to see him back out there again."
Excitement was the general theme of the day as Roethlisberger practiced with his teammates for the first time since the last day of August. He rejoined them Monday for meetings, but Tuesday was one day he had circled on his calendar -- his first practice in more than a month.
He did not disappoint either them or himself. His passes were quick and accurate and his teammates seemed energized by his return.
"It's great to have him back," said Ward, whose personal relationship with Roethlisberger has not always been warm and fuzzy. "No discredit to the other guys. They did a phenomenal job. They're the reason why we're 3-1 ... but we got our main guy back and we're excited about that.
"Having him on the field, we're definitely a better ballclub."
Roethlisberger made all the throws -- short, medium, long and most of them complete. He put several into receivers' hands while they were well-covered.
"He came out and looked fresh, looked crisp and he put the ball where it needs to be and was making the right calls," Antwaan Randle El said. "It's good to have him back."
Randle El realized the difference early in practice.
"In warm-ups, I had a drop because I didn't get my head around quick enough and it kind of shot through me. I woke up from there knowing his arm is ready to go and it's sharp."
Roethlisberger threw to his receivers for half an hour to work on getting the timing back they had in training camp and the preseason games.
"I felt today went well," Roethlisberger said. "I knew my arm would be good, I knew it would be strong, I knew it would feel good. It's just a matter of hitting the guys, timing. That's why we had a 30-minute individual time. I told the receivers, 'Sorry that I'm making you guys work but let's get back our timing.' Today was a good step. I don't think it will take as long as I thought."
Roethlisberger's return to the team Monday was well-received inside the locker room, and it continued Tuesday during and after practice. He did not stand up at any team meeting to talk about his return; that occurred when he first reported to training camp and again the night of his final day with the team before his suspension began, the Sept. 2 preseason game at home against Carolina.
"Nope, and I don't think he needs to," Randle El said. " ... There was a lot of handshakes and high-fives and hugs and welcoming him back and stuff like that. That's what we want to do. Brotherly love. Welcome him back with open arms and let's roll."
• Game: Steelers (3-1) vs. Cleveland Browns (1-3), Heinz Field.
• When: 1 p.m., Oct. 16.
• TV: KDKA.
• Of note: The Browns play host to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday at 1 p.m.
First Published October 6, 2010 12:00 am