Steelers Notebook: Team elects Roethlisberger, Reed to join list of captains
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Ben Roethlisberger made his first Pro Bowl last season, set the Steelers' record with 32 touchdown passes and made it three postseason appearances in his four years as their starting quarterback.
Yesterday, he reached another milestone that meant something even more personal when his teammates elected him one of two captains of their offense.
"It's awesome because it comes from them," Roethlisberger said. "I've always tried to be a leader, whether I was captain or not. I'll just continue to be who I am and try to lead this team to victories."
Wide receiver Hines Ward again was selected a captain of the offense along with Roethlisberger. James Farrior again was selected captain of the defense. Like Roethlisberger, kicker Jeff Reed was selected a first-time captain of the special teams.
"It's a great honor, not only to be a captain but captain of this team," Reed said. "It's tougher for a kicker or punter to be in a situation like that. It shows a lot of respect from my teammates, so it's a great feeling."
Another great feeling came at inside linebacker, where Larry Foote returned with the first team in practice after missing last week with a knee injury.
Even Foote expressed doubt, in the spring, that he would remain the starting mack linebacker after the coaches put 2007 first-round draft choice Lawrence Timmons behind him.
"I never doubted myself," Foote said. "You know, I'm quite sure he's going to play."
Timmons will open the season as the linebacker in the nickel defense next to Farrior on the inside.
Quarterback Charlie Batch did not want to go on injured reserve and end his season, but he said the Steelers did not have much choice.
Batch's right collarbone was broken in the preseason opener Aug. 8, and he had surgery the following week. He was at least a month from being able to play.
"There's not much I could do at this point," Batch said. "That was the goal, to play. That's why we did the surgery, to try to speed everything up. There was just an unknown when I would be ready to go.
"I wanted to play, but that choice wasn't there. Obviously, they were not going to keep four quarterbacks. It came down to a numbers game and what they had to do that was best for this organization."
The Steelers wanted Batch around the team this year to help backup Byron Leftwich and rookie Dennis Dixon, among other things. He also serves as the team's player representative. His contract expires after this season, and Batch would like to return to them in 2009.
"I would like to think that. All I can do is get ready, get healthy, get a chance to come back right and know there won't be any problems in the future. That's the positive part. The negative part is my contract's up, so anything can play out over the next six months. If I'm ready to go, I think I'll be here."
Rookie halfback Rashard Mendenhall, who lost his third fumble in the past two games Thursday, won't have to carry a football around with him this week.
Some veterans made Mendenhall carry the ball last week after he lost two fumbles in an Aug. 23 preseason game at Minnesota. Anyone who could knock the ball from his grasp during the week was supposed to be paid $100 by the rookie.
Now, his teammates just want him to forget about it.
"We're going to get it off his mind," Willie Parker said.
"He's starting to think about it way too much. So that ball and stuff and carrying it around -- don't even bring up fumbling around him. He's thinking about it way too much instead of going out and just playing the game."
Ward will serve as the backup holder on place-kicks to new punter Mitch Berger. ... The players have off today, when coach Mike Tomlin holds his first live broadcast news conference of the season.
First Published September 2, 2008 12:00 am