Roethlisberger grows as leader, QB
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As a rite of spring, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger repeated his annual Steelers address yesterday. He wants to become even more of a leader, and it has nothing to do with his new $102 million contract.
"I'm just growing as a leader and a quarterback. That's my natural growing and maturation here on this team," Roethlisberger said after he and his teammates completed their second organized spring practice.
Even as he enters his fifth NFL season, Roethlisberger keeps learning that what he does and what he says can affect those around him. In mid-January, for example, he issued a wish list for the offseason.
He said he'd like a new contract, he'd like the Steelers to re-sign Alan Faneca and he'd like a tall wide receiver, explaining that he always will ask for a tall wide receiver.
More than a week later, Hines Ward did not react kindly to that latter thought by his quarterback, seeing it as a slap in the face to the current Steelers receivers. Roethlisberger immediately called Ward and the two had a long talk and reached a mutual understanding.
So when Roethlisberger was asked yesterday if a tall receiver in this weekend's draft might help the offense, he responded much more diplomatically.
"We have a great offense right now," he said. "We've added some weapons around the ball and some guys we feel can be very good. We have a lot of pieces to the puzzle in place, we just have to put them together. Whatever they decide to do in the draft, I guess we'll see how it fits in."
While needs in his offensive line, along with another receiver and a blue-collar back are obvious, Roethlisberger issued no wish list for the weekend's picks.
"I'll keep tabs when it's our pick," he said. "It may take four hours, five hours to get to our pick. I'll watch and see how we're doing. If we get an offensive guy at whatever position, I usually try to get his phone number and give him a call and tell him it's nice to have him, congratulations and stuff."
Roethlisberger did offer some public advice, from personal experience, to Willie Parker on how to come back from an injury: Have confidence.
"You have to, if you don't have confidence in your body and that it's going to hold up, that's how you get hurt. He's done a great job out here and he'll continue to grow and get better.
"That's the thing coming back from injuries -- can you let your body go, can you play like you used to? You can come out here and practice all you want.
"Once the hitting starts, then we'll see. I have all the confidence that Willie has confidence in himself in the healing that his body's done. And I think he'll be just fine."
NOTE -- The Steelers will take a break from practice until the weekend after the draft when they hold five mandatory minicamp practices with their new rookies May 2-4.
First Published April 23, 2008 12:00 am