Remember when Ben Roethlisberger asked for a tall wide receiver earlier this offseason? Remember how Hines wasn't too pleased with the request? Well, judging from quotes made yesterday, Ben Roethlisberger might have rubbed some people the wrong way with his initial requests, and in my estimation, didn't do a great job in his follow-up comments.
When asked whether he was excited to get to work this weekend with his new tall WR, Limas Sweed, Ben said:
"I'm anxious, but I've got my guys out there,'' Roethlisberger said, referring to Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Nate Washington, Willie Reid and Dallas Baker. "I've got my receivers that I've had, that I've been working with. Limas will probably have to work his way in. For the first day or so, I probably won't throw too many passes to him unless they work him up with the first group."
And about the addition of Rashard Mendenhall to the running game?
"There was some talk a little bit about trying to get a pound-it guy (at running back). We've got guys. It's not like we don't have running backs," Roethlisberger said. "Same thing with the wide receiver. We've got guys, so there's no real rush to push anybody into the starting spot. If they develop into it, I guess they develop into it."
What about the selection of Dennis Dixon at QB:
"I'm glad we finally got a quarterback to hopefully lead us to some victories," Roethlisberger said with a smile. "I enjoyed watching him at Oregon. I thought he was great. They want him to learn from Charlie (Batch) and I and see what happens."
Finally, Roethlisberger commented on the new offensive line, a subject he commendably has been consistent about (i.e. he's 100% supportive of them no matter how many times they allow defenders to blow by them and sack the QB):
"I think our offensive line is going to be a lot better than people think," Roethlisberger said. "I've seen them at the (organized team activities) and practice, and they're doing a great job. Guys are going to step in and guys are going to fill shoes. "
My thoughts on Big Ben's quotes? Well, they're just media quotes, and it's hard to take anything said to the press too positively or too negatively. But, I got to say, Mr. Roethlisberger still has some room for growth as a leader in my opinion. At least in terms of knowing what to say, and when. If you read the article, you'll also notice that Ben mentioned that he didn't believe his plea for a tall WR had any impact on the organization's decision to select Sweed. Well, if that's the case, then why sound off in the first place? In other words, unless you think your voice will be heard and resonate with the front office, why say anything at all?
Then, after rubbing the uber-competitive Hines Ward in the wrong way, don't act totally disinterested about our new additions in an attempt to make up for it. He has a point when he says that our rookies are going to need to work their way into the mix and that we've got a slew of established offensive weapons already without them. But, why do you need to say I don't plan on throwing Limas the ball in mini-camp? What's the point?
Ben Roethlisberger is still a young man. Just 26 years old. I know I myself have plenty of room for growth in terms of knowing when and what to say, and Ben is no different, nor should he be. We're all subjected to the same growing pains in life, even those of us who sign $100+ million dollar contracts.
Who knows, maybe Ben is simply trying to motivate our rookies, much like Alan Faneca did with him when he said he wasn't all that excited to have Roethlisberger behind center during his rookie year when Tommy Maddox got injured. But in my opinion, that should be left to Mike Tomlin. Furthermore, have some faith in the organization that just paid you an embarassment of riches to select players that will be hungry and interested in competing from Day 1.
I believe in Ben Roethlisberger as a championship caliber quarterback. I sometimes wonder though, if he has that special 'it' quality when it comes to motivating people and leading grown men. He's shown signs in the past, but to me, this was an instance of him demonstrating he's not quite there yet.
As Tomlin says, 'it's a process.' I just hope he's moving forward, not stuck in neutral, as a leader, particularly off the field.