Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Steelers re-open OTAs

Though there was a false sighting of Ben Roethlisberger at the Steelers facility Tuesday - more on that later - the team began its second round of OTAs without its star quarterback.

Safety Troy Polamalu was also missing from the voluntary workouts, but the rest of the team was there and in good spirits as the Steelers try to rebound from a disappointing 9-7 season.

But Polamalu being MIA is not necessarily a bad thing. His absence gives free agent signee Will Allen a lot of extra time to work at strong safety next to Ryan Clark.

Roethlisberger, meanwhile, continues to be barred from the team facilities by the NFL. Until he's cleared by the commissioner, he's not permitted to be there.

That caused a bit of an uproar when one TV reporter thought he saw Roethlisberger in the parking lot as the team exited its indoor practice facility.

It even drew some questions to head coach Mike Tomlin about the QB's appearance, something the team categorically denied.

In the meantime, a slimmed down Byron Leftwich continued to work with the first team and looked pretty good doing so.

Tomlin said he'd like to have his quarterback situation in order heading into training camp, which would appear to give Leftwich, who's got more experience than Dennis Dixon, the edge.


Anonymous said...

Dale, is there any word on whether the tests Ben took require more review or if he needs more testing? It seems that if not, then by now Goodell would have reviewed them and been able to release Ben to practice? Or maybe tests are not even back yet.
Just seems Goodell is dragging his feet. The punishment is set-4-6 games so why not let Ben move on, if the tests are ok?

Anonymous said...

I thought you said Dixon would be the starter?

Patrick said...

as much as we all wanted Arians fired, imagine if we had a new OC and Ben had to learn a whole new system, missing minicamps, OTAS, 4 games, and who knows what else.

It would be a much bigger problem then we have now.

Dale Lolley said...

I'm pretty sure a starter has not been named. But, judging what Tomlin said, it would appear his criteria would favor Leftwich over Dixon.

You're right about the new OC comment.

Anonymous said...

So, they'll have to learn a new offensive system in 2011 when the QB is ready from the start and the team is a legitimate contender. Doesn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever waited for test results from a doctor? They never get in a big hurry even when all they have to do is read the results.
This sounds like several doctors, so there is no telling how long it will take for their evaluation to be sent to Goodell. Then who knows how long it will take for Goodell and others to go over it.
If the evaluation is just he's a guy who needs to learn respect for women and quit drinking I wouldn't be surprised if Goodell doesn't act until June at the earliest. If the evaluation recommends treatment and/or more evaluation who knows if that will happen before training camp?

marc said...

the fact goodell hasn't announced a decision yet is him stroking his own ego. the guy lives to be in control and out in front of the media. he wants everyone to wait for him.

don't forget, this is the same guy that destroyed tapes of a team cheating because he wanted to. it was merely an exercise of power and nothing more. and when questioned about it he said too bad, it was his decision.

Joe said...

Or he could be holding Ben's butt to the frying pan, not letting him know when he is going to be back, exercising some control over Ben to again make Ben worry about the ramifications of his decision(s). I think this may be part of Ben's punishment. Remember, the NFL does not need Ben Roethlisberger, Ben needs the NFL. Ben has to go back on the NFL's and Steelers' terms and time frame. Not his own, I think, from some of the information shared about Ben, he would not like that too much.

Anonymous said...

I actually think it's good for the team that Ben's not at OTAs. He won't be able to practice with the team for the first 4 weeks (at least).

He already knows the offence, so it's no biggie that he's not there (just like Troy).

I think it will be strange when he's around for camp, but we know he can't start for at least 4 games. How do the snaps in practice and games get divided up?

Dirt4HOF said...

I couldn`t agree more that Ben`s absence is no biggie.....
I`m glad they aren`t catering to Ben`s schedule... Besides nobody knows how the evaluations turned out or if Rodger wants to speak with the people who are evaluating Ben before he makes any decision.
It`s quite probable that they have only begun to scratch the surface of Ben`s behaviour problems.
Even without Ben around there aren`t enough reps for the guys that will be dressing on week one so Ben not being there is no big deal.

Dale, What do you think of the new OL and ST`s coaches?

Dale Lolley said...

Kugler seems pretty sharp. I haven't spoken withe the new special teams coach yet.

Anonymous said...

No way Ben knows anything as much as Troy, even the offense.

Anonymous said...

Goodell is doing the steelers a favor by keeping Ben away. It gives more reps to his four game substitute.

adamg said...

Don't know why everyone assumes BR will just step in and resume being the starter whenever his suspension ends. If the Steelers are undefeated and playing well, I don't believe Tomlin will feel the need to reinstall BR. We all know coaches are loathe to change winning line-ups, too.

The other variable is the locker room. From what I've read, Leftwish is, unlike BR, popular with the team. If his teammates perceive him as giving them as good a chance to win as BR, putting BR back in as the starter could prove unpopular and divisive.

Anonymous said...

adamg, in a perfect world I would agree with you. But in the real world, there are 102 million reasons why Ben will automatically get his job back.

adamg said...

Well, the 102M is mostly non-guaranteed money now. Most of the guaranteed bonus has been paid, afaik. Anyway, this being an uncapped year, BR can be traded, released, etc, and his contract would be all one chunk against the cap this year, which would make it irrelevent.

Dale Lolley said...

No, the players will rally behind whoever they think gives them the best chance to win. Period.
Leftwich would have to have 10 TD passes and no interceptions with a passer rating of 120 for Roethlisberger not to be back in there.
I highly doubt they'll be 4-0.
They may give him an extra week of practice if they're 4-0, but as soon as he's ready to go, he's the QB.

Don said...

Ah, I remember the "as soon as he's ready to go, he's the QB" refrain from 2006.

There was the motorcycle accident, appendectomy, and "104" degree fever. Batch plays well in the opener, but "as soon as Ben's ready to go, he's the QB." Steelers lose the next three games.

Later, Ben suffers another concussion in Atlanta. Batch plays well in relief, but "as soon as Ben's ready to go, he's the QB." Steelers lose the next two games, including one of the worst losses in franchise history in Oakland.

At the time, the local media ridiculed anyone who suggested that the Steelers should ride Batch as long as he had the hot hand. However, Ken Whisenhunt later admitted that Ben probably shouldn't have been playing, validating the popular opinion. To quote Big Ben, "Who's laughing now?"