PITTSBURGH -- In his 11th NFL season, Ben Roethlisberger's development as a quarterback has evolved to where the Pittsburgh Steelers ask him to do a lot in their offense.
Roethlisberger has become a team leader and game manager, instead of the gunslinger he was early in his career. But also a blocker?
Big Ben picked off a charging defensive back to give time for wideout-turned-passer Antonio Brown as he spun and rolled right-to-left before finding Lance Moore in the end zone for a touchdown.
"It's my job to secure the corner and get the edge,'' Roethlisberger said Wednesday. "And he came up pretty quick, so I had to make sure that I slowed him down. We always do whatever it takes. We're tough, everybody in this locker room.''
If Roethlisberger and the Steelers (4-3) can beat the Indianapolis Colts (5-2) this week at Heinz Field, it will be career victory No. 100 for the quarterback. Roethlisberger shrugged it off, basically saying that anyone who plays long enough in the NFL will collect a few records.
But this one is significant for a player who missed 17 games during the previous 10 seasons, so the Steelers average more than nine wins per season during that time and more than 10 when he starts. The Colts' Andrew Luck hasn't been around as long as Roethlisberger, but he has had early success as well and appears to be on his way to a successful career.
"He's a great football player who's emerging as one of the best in the league, but a lot of us saw that coming,'' Roethlisberger said. "(And) I always enjoy watching a good quarterback. Whether they're older or younger, anything you can take and use in your game, you've got to do it. But, hopefully, he has a bad day because our defense is playing well.''
Luck said that, when former Steelers' offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was coaching the Colts, the two watched a lot of tape with Roethlisberger at quarterback. And he learned a lot from how the veteran plays the game. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the two are comparable.
"What he's able to do as plays break down with his legs I think creates an interesting discussion of problems for you from a defensive standpoint,'' Tomlin said. "(So), he's a very talented football player and one to be reckoned with."
Roethlisberger has completed nearly 66 percent of his passes for 1,858 yards and 10 touchdowns with just three interceptions, but there have been 12 different receivers catching his passes. The range is from Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Heath Miller at the top, all the way down to Michael Palmer and Will Johnson with one each.
Darrius Heyward-Bey and rookie Martavis Bryant have two catches each, but both could get more action as Markus Wheaton's opportunities have diminished and Justin Brown has been phased out all together.
"We work every day with all of them, so it's really just about knowing who's out there on a particular play, because each guy may run a route a little different,'' Roethlisberger said. "So, as long as I know who's out there as we're going, I'm fine, and I feel confident that whoever's in there will make a play.''
Bryant, the Steelers' fourth-round pick, wasn't active during the club's opening six games. But he was targeted five times and caught two passes for 40 yards. One was a spectacular 35-yard touchdown reception where he made an over-the-shoulder grab and kept both feet in as well.
"He made some mistakes, and there's still some things that he can learn from,'' Roethlisberger said. "He's far from a finished product, as all of us are, but you like the things that he did. And hopefully, he'll continue to grow from them.''
Notes: There were many no-shows at Steelers practice Wednesday, but two players notably were limited. CB Ike Taylor (right forearm) did some drills for the first time since breaking his arm Sept. 21, but he hasn't yet had medical clearance to play. Safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) was limited, so he's not yet ready to return either. ... OT Marcus Gilbert (concussion) and NT Steve McLendon (right shoulder) did not practice. It was updated after practice that rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier took part in a few drills. Gilbert was injured during the game Monday, while McLendon missed it due to a recurring shoulder injury. Shazier has missed four straight games and had a setback last week. ... DE Brett Keisel, FS Mike Mitchell and SS Troy Polamalu were all given maintenance days off, as usual, on Wednesday.