Sweed, a second-round draft pick in April out of Texas, is expected to play in his first NFL regular-season game Sunday in Cincinnati. Sweed dressed for only one of Pittsburgh's first five games, and didn't play in any.
With backup receiver Dallas Baker injured, Sweed finally fits into the Steelers' rotation. His debut, weeks later than expected, was substantially delayed as Sweed went through the adjustments all NFL rookies must make.
"He's come a long way," said Roethlisberger, who asked the front office for a tall receiver at the end of last season. "It's hard because you don't get a lot of work in practice with me because I've got to work with the other guys (the starters). I'm sure if he gets a chance, he'll do just great."
Sweed wonders if the fans who questioned why he hasn't contributed to the offense understand that breaking into the league as a receiver is nearly as difficult and complex as it is for a quarterback.
"A receiver is just like a quarterback in a sense," Sweed said. "He has to make so many reads on the run, and that enables him and the quarterback to be on the same page. So it just takes time and I understand that. I'm very patient and when my opportunity comes, I'm going to step in and make the best of it."
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Sweed's 20 touchdown catches were second in school history at Texas, and his 12 scores in 2006 tied a single-season record. That was college ball, and Sweed said the complexities of the NFL are greater than many might realize.