By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH -- By the time his NFL career is finished, Ben Roethlisberger should hold every passing record for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Roethlisberger already has the club's career mark in passing touchdowns, yardage, passer rating, completions, attempts and completion percentage. He also has single-game marks in yardage, completions and touchdowns. But those who know him best, his teammates, believe that Roethlisberger can be even better this season.
"Ben's always dialed in,'' center Maurkice Pouncey said. "He always puts up great numbers and leads this football team the right way. He had another kid, so everything's pretty exciting for him. I think he's going to have a great year.''
Roethlisberger was more guarded when asked about his prospects for the season, which begins when the Steelers play host to the Cleveland Browns Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Heinz Field.
"We've had a little bit of work in preseason and practice, but honestly there are still question marks,'' Roethlisberger said. "We're still trying to figure out our identity and who we're going to be and what we're going to be. The good thing is it's not Week 8 and we're trying to find out who we are. We're getting into Week 1, and we'll hopefully figure it out quick.''
With offensive weapons like wideout Antonio Brown, tight end Heath Miller and running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, along with a host of others and a solid, healthy offensive line, the Steelers could be explosive.
"The more we can mix it up and change things up, whether that's tempo or personnel, then I think that's to our advantage,'' Roethlisberger said.
The Steelers also could go to the no-huddle early against the Browns, in an attempt to get out of the gate much quicker than last year. The Steelers certainly don't want to go 0-4 again, like last year, so a fast start is needed.
"You always want to start fast,'' Roethlisberger said. "That's always our goal. We want to score on the opening drive, whether it's the opening drive of the game or half. Of course, you can talk about starting fast in the season as well, and we didn't do that last year. But every team obviously wants to get out to a fast start.''
It's also crucial for a fast start because the Steelers open with divisional games in the first week, facing Cleveland Sunday and traveling to Baltimore for a Thursday night matchup.
"That's big, to open with two division games, so we need to get two wins,'' Pouncey said. "So, we're going to approach it in the right way, and Coach Tomlin's going to prepare us the right way. And we're going to be ready. We definitely need a bounce-back year, because we went two years without the playoffs.
"Our bounce-back year should've been last year, so we definitely need that to happen this year. ... No team wants to go out and start 0-4 and then have to play catch-up the entire season. I think every game's a must win, but we should have won every game in the preseason. That's just my opinion, but I think we can beat everybody we play.''
Notes: WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder) and Lance Moore (groin) were joined on the sideline Thursday by C Cody Wallace (finger). ... CB Brice McCain (groin) was a limited participant in practice Thursday. ... TE Matt Spaeth (hamstring), ILB Sean Spence (knee) and LS Greg Warren (knee) went through a full practice.