Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger acknowledged at his annual youth football camp that training camp will incorporate more learning than usual because of all the new receivers.
That’s the quarterback learning all about the receivers, and the receivers learning all about the quarterback. And there’s still much to learn.
With minicamp about to start on Tuesday and run through Thursday, here’s what Roethlisberger had to say about various issues related to the practices to date and the upcoming training camp, which starts July 25 in Latrobe.
What the minicamp focus will be: “Mostly about getting to know the new guys, getting work, I think we’re going to do a lot of no-huddle stuff. Just getting to work with some of the new guys, the younger guys, and staying healthy.”
On the nine offseason practices to date: “It’s real early, we wore helmets, that was it, there was no hitting, no pads. Right now I like what I see, but it’s way too early to get excited about.”
On training camp, with the new receivers (Lance Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Martavis Bryant, Dri Archer among them) he’ll be working with: “(I’m) going into my 11th one of these, and the mindset’s always different, but this one has to be about learning and working little things.”
That’s necessary, of course, because two of the top three receivers are gone from last season (Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery) and replacements still must be found. Lance Moore looks to be the logical replacement for Cotchery, but a starter (Markus Wheaton? Justin Brown? Someone else) still must be found for the receiver’s position that Sanders manned last year. And the offense must incorporate all the new wrinkles that Dri Archer can bring as a hybrid running back/wide receiver.
“Even in the OTAs (organized team activities), with Lance (Moore, the former Saints receiver), who is a pro, he’s a great professional — he’s going to be really good and I think we’re going to have a good connection — there were a few things that were just like a foot off,” he said. “A pass I threw a little bit outside, I thought he was going in(side). Those little things we can work on and that’s what these camps are going to be about, getting on that same page with these guys.”
If Dri Archer’s speed excites him: “It will be a great complement to the backs we have, with (Le’Veon) Bell and (LeGarrette) Blount. Putting him in there and having two backs and splitting him out and doing all kinds of fun things with him, it will be interesting to see the impact he can have on our offense.”
On Heath Miller being fully healthy for practices to date (Miller was recovering from his right knee injury and missed the OTAs and minicamp last year): “(It’s) huge, the way he has looked. He has looked healthy right from the get-go, looks kind of like the old Heath. One of the practices, he caught a pass about 12 yards downfield and made a move and actually made a guy miss and he finished all the way down the field. That was the Heath Miller we love to see. “
Roethlisberger was at Seneca Valley High School, working with hundreds of players at his annual youth camp – one that was reduced from the usual two days to one day because the Steelers’ minicamp is later than usual.
Asked how much he enjoys the camp, he said, “I’m the biggest kid out there.”