Monday, August 14, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ben Roethlisberger was not supposed to drop back deep in the pocket in the game Saturday, not supposed to let some young Reggie White wannabe have a shot at smashing his pumpkin.
But then, as most of Pittsburgh knows, Roethlisberger does not follow well-defined paths (such as those which supposedly do not take rookie quarterbacks to 13-0 records, or 23-year-old quarterbacks to Super Bowl victories).
So, the quarterback who two months ago nearly stopped an entire city in its tracks over a motorcycle accident, not only dropped back to pass, he ducked pass rushers, scrambled away from a safety blitz and, on one nine-play series, recreated everything that has been Big Ben for two seasons.
Everything but score, that is.
It was a good, easy stretch before he embarks on more playing time Saturday against Minnesota in Heinz Field.
And there was a moment during that nine-play series against the Arizona Cardinals, on a scramble, that should become more familiar as he and the season progress.
The Cardinals, showing no leniency toward Roethlisberger in his first action, sent Adrian Wilson on a safety blitz. Roethlisberger faked a handoff to Willie Parker, then moved to his right and deftly eluded Wilson while still looking down the field. He saw tight end Heath Miller streak open. Roethlisberger threw on the run and hit Miller for an 11-yard gain and a first down.
Miller will be a prime receiver for Roethlisberger this season. The team's first-round draft picks from 2004 and 2005 built a rapport last season that should become more evident in this one.
Miller, as a rookie, finished second to Hines Ward last season among Steelers receivers with 39 catches and second among receivers with six touchdown receptions after he had only two catches in his first three games because his coaches wanted him to know he had to block first, run pass routes second.