What does it take for an NFL rookie quarterback to succeed? If anyone knows, it’s Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger made some interesting comments Tuesday on his 93.7 FM radio show about the Class of 2014 quarterback group headed by Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr.
“It takes a little bit of luck, it takes a little bit of crazy fire and tenacity because you’ve got to be able to take a hit and get up,” Roethlisberger said. “I think it takes a good team around you. I was blessed to come in (in 2004) with a great defense, a good offensive line, a good running game and a lot of veterans around me who helped usher me in and mold me.”
Roethlisberger played on a team that went 15-1 during his rookie season, but lost to the Patriots in the AFC title game. A year later, the Steelers won the Super Bowl.
So perhaps it’s not surprising which rookie QB Roethlisberger believes in built for long-term success — the guy who most resembles him.
“I talked to Blake, and I know Blake has that fiery chip,” Roethlisberger said of Bortles, who played at Central Florida. “I think he’s going to be the best one of the group because I see something in him, his competiveness, his leadership. And I think he’s got a lot of upside.”
Bortles is listed at 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds, making him the same height and only nine pounds lighter than Roethlisberger. Manziel is 5-11 1/2 and 207.
Roethlisberger also praised Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, saying, “He’ll come into this league and he’ll probably be a star early because he’ll use his athleticism.”
But Roethlisberger also related a recent conversation he had with former Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter, now a Steelers defensive assistant.
“I was in the weight room the other day with Joey Porter, (and he was) asking me what I thought about Manziel,” Roethlisberger said. “I looked at Joey and said, `Joey, do you think if you got a good hit on him, that he would be OK? And he said, `No, not at all.’ And that’s my question.
“You have guys like Joey Porter, who’s a big guy, guys that are fast like Troy (Polamalu), Ike Taylor coming off the edge, Lawrence Timmons, you’d better be real athletic, get down or be big” to absorb the pounding an NFL quarterback can take.
“I think he definitely has a lot of upside, but let’s wait and see,” Roethlisberger said. “The key I’ll say every year when I get asked about RGIII (Robert Griffin III), Andrew Luck, or whoever it is, Cam Newton, it’s not about your first year, it’s about years two, three and four.
“Can you sustain it when defenses, like coach (Dick) LeBeau and the defenses he coaches, when they figure you out, can you find a way to stay a step above them?”
Roethlisberger, who has two years remaining on his current contract, also said he knows of no ongoing contract talks between his agent, Ryan Tollner, and the Steelers.
“I think there’s always a chance (for a new deal), but I don’t know how realistic it is,” Roethlisberger said on his 93.7 FM show. “I don’t know that there are any real serious talks. If there is, I haven’t been informed of it. I think it’s probably just been some small talk, like, `Let’s talk later.’ It’s hard for me to really speculate what they’re doing behind closed doors. It’s nothing significant enough to be brought to my attention.”
Roethlisberger also said:
— He was surprised when wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery left to sign with the Carolina Panthers. Cotchery led the Steelers with 10 touchdown catches last season.
“He was one of the best teammates, along with Heath Miller, I’ve ever played with in any sport,” Roethlisberger said. “I didn’t see us losing him, so it might have made it a little tougher when you’re not expecting someone to go. But he had to do what was right and best for his family.”
— He works out six times a week and, going into his 11th season at age 32, hopes to play until he is nearing 40.
“I feel great, I feel like I’m in great shape, I feel really good,” he said. “At this rate, I feel I could play for quite a few more years, I feel I could get five, six, seven more years out of these arms and legs.”
— He believes the no-huddle will be more of a base offense in 2014 given how successful it was during the second half of last season, when the Steelers went 6-2.
“In the past, we’ve always had the no-huddle but it’s always been a back burner type of offense; let’s go to it if we’re in trouble or we need a change of pace. If we kind of need a spark,” Roethlisberger said. “We’ve all kind of come to the conclusion that maybe it needs to be more involved, we need to do it more. So I think parts of it might be more of a base offense; we might go into training camp, OTAs, minicamp, using it a lot more, so it is more of a regular thing.
“But not always. Because we’ve got to have our two and three tight-end packages, we’ve got to have jumbo stuff, short-yardage, goal line. We still have to have all those things. But to have it, to use it more often, and to be more comfortable with it, I think it makes us better.”