Ben Roethlisberger moves from youngest to oldest in quarterbacks meetings

Karl Walter

The Steelers now-aged quarterback becomes the oldest player in his position meetings - an unfamiliar but readily accepted role on a team looking to rebound from a disappointing 8-8 season.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been the Steelers starter since Week 3 of the 2004 season.

He's been the Steelers most consistent offensive player since then, and with that, comes a natural leadership role assumption.

In 2013, he'll experience being the oldest player at his position for the first time.

Gone are Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch. Now, it's 30-year-old Bruce Gradkowski and 24-year-old Landry Jones - the likely back-ups to Roethlisberger's starting job.

Leadership isn't about age as much as it is experience, and in that regard, it's nothing new to Roethlisberger anyway. Perhaps he gets a ribbing here and there from Jones as Roethlisberger enters the humorous "old man" portion of his career. More than anything, he becomes more of a mentor than a pupil.

He's clearly been prepared well. Roethlisberger was playing perhaps the best football of his career through Week 9 last season. A freak shoulder injury kept him out three games, and in many ways, that version of him never returned. He played poorly in December for the second consecutive year, and the Steelers fell to the worst record the team has had under head coach Mike Tomlin.

Amid whisperings, both on and off the record, of discord in the Steelers locker room, the team looks to rebuild off a disappointing season. Much of that will depend on how much Roethlisberger can continue to grow in Todd Haley's offense. It appeared, through the early part of 2012, Roethlisberger was the only one who was getting the design of the offense, and he was putting up MVP-level numbers.

How much he can carry that over, and how much Gradkowski and, presumably, Jones can help support the Steelers now aging superstar quarterback could be a key aspect to this season.


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