Roethlisberger Skipped OTAs for Family Vacation

Steelers QB says Tomlin didn’t ask him to attend

Josh Rowntree
June 06, 2018 - 3:16 pm
Ben Roethlisberger watches at OTAs on June 6

Josh Rowntree

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - Just call him Clark Griswold. 

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Wednesday that he skipped the last six OTA practices for a pre-planned family vacation.

“If coach asked me to be here every day, I would be here every day,” he said. "But they haven’t asked me to do that.”

Roethlisberger said that the group of backup quarterbacks, including third-round pick Mason Rudolph, were appreciative to gain the extra experience in practice. 

“The time I was gone with my family on vacation was an awesome opportunity for the other quarterbacks to get reps,” Roethlisberger said. "I know those guys really enjoyed it and they were thanking me for it. So, you know, it’s really just a person-by-person, team-by-team thing.”

Roethlisberger’s absence coincides with another top signal-caller, New England’s Tom Brady, electing to skip OTAs, which are technically voluntary. 

“You have to understand too that this is football without pads on,” he said. "That’s the way I look at OTAs and minicamp, it’s just kind of getting back into it and knocking some rust off.”

Entering his 15th season, Roethlisberger isn’t concerned about meshing early with a new offensive coordinator in Randy Fichtner.

"I’ve worked with Randy for eight years now, so it’s not like he’s a new guy just coming in and that work is necessary,” he said. "We’ve got a lot of the same guys back on offense and a lot of the stuff is plays we’ve been doing before a lot of guys got here and that I’ve been doing for a long time.”

“I don’t foresee much change,” he added. "I think it’s going to be a lot of the same stuff. In terms of our relationship and how he goes about his business, I think he’s a really hard worker and a guy that a lot of people respect.”

Roethlisberger had not been present since the first OTA session on May 22. His top wide receiver, Antonio Brown, was on the field then as well. Roethlisberger skipped the second practice, but Brown attended. Brown has not been seen at the Steelers practice facility since.

On top of Brown’s absence, Juju Smith-Schuster has not participated in on-field activities, despite being in the building. Martavis Bryant was traded and free agent Eli Rogers remains unsigned following surgery for a torn ACL. So the wide receiver cupboard is seemingly a bit bare.

“I was out there throwing the ball to Justin (Hunter) and (Darius Heyward-Bey) and those other guys today,” Roethlisberger said. "We’ve got to work through some things to get certain guys on the field, for whatever reason. We work with who is here.”

Also missing is running back Le’Veon Bell, who has not yet signed his franchise tag. Roethlisberger was unwilling to discuss Bell’s absence, however.

“That’s a question for Le’Veon,” he said. "That’s on him. He’s a phenomenal football player.”

Roethlisberger has seen progress in Bell’s backup, James Conner. 

“I think he’s looking really well right now,” he said. "I like what he’s doing. He took those rookie hiccups last year and has really gotten a lot better I think. We’re in shorts, short sleeves and no pads right now, but I’m excited to get to camp with him. He’s one I’m really excited about.”

But he warns that impressing now is different than impressing when the team heads to Latrobe on July 25 for training camp. 

"There’s a lot of guys who come out here at this time of year that look spectacular with no pads on and then you get pads on and it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Hear more from Roethlisberger below. 


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