PITTSBURGH — The biggest news item from the first day of Steelers OTA’s is that starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is going to be around a lot more during the team’s 10 early summer training sessions than he has in the past.
Roethlisberger thinks that his participation will help from a leadership standpoint, and also from a functional one, so that he can get on the same page as his new receivers.
But there’s a secondary benefit that doesn’t even have anything to do with the Steelers’ offense.
When Roethlisberger is slinging the ball to his new targets with the first-team offense, that’s giving the Steelers’ first-team defense quality reps against one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
Even a veteran like Joe Haden, who is in his third season of OTAs with the Steelers, appreciates the chance to face one of the league’s top passers in a practice setting.
“It’s amazing, man,” Haden said. “You can’t get any better practice than by going against Ben. Whenever we get those ones versus ones reps, I’m always super locked in and focused, because he puts the ball on the money. He does a great job of just touch. Wherever he’s got to put the ball, the ball gets there. He can make every single throw. A lot of people say that, but Ben literally can, so I enjoy going against him, because I feel like if I can make plays on him, it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is.”
Of course, Haden felt comfortable saying that on Tuesday, because he intercepted Roethlisberger’s first pass of the session.
“I just told Joe I did that on purpose to get him ready for the year,” Roethlisberger joked.
“Man, I doubt it,” Haden responded, laughing. “I doubt it. I think it was more of a good play on my side. I always love going against great quarterbacks. He puts the ball on the money a lot. He’s going to get me, you know what I’m saying? This was just the first day. I started off one up.”
Passing against the Steelers defense might be tougher across the board for Roethlisberger this summer, thanks to the addition of Steve Nelson from Kansas City. Nelson led the Chiefs with four interceptions a year ago, and adding him to play opposite Haden should give the Steelers a pair of corners that can make opposing quarterbacks pay for wayward passes.
Nelson thinks he can learn from Haden — and not just the first pick of practice on Tuesday.
“It’s great just having someone in the room like that, in his 10th year at a high level,” Nelson said. “It definitely helps me elevate my game. I’ll definitely ask a lot of questions just to see from a different perspective. A guy like that has a lot of experience. You just kind of want to see how he sees things through his eyes sometimes.”
What Haden sees so far is a cornerback group that can be among the best during his time in Pittsburgh, with a little bit of hard work. That’s going to be the focus for his unit over the next nine practices.
“I feel like it’s just everyone doing great communication, creating turnovers, hustling to the ball, catching the interceptions that come hit us in our hands,” he said. “Basically, a lot of fundamentals.”
Terrell Edmunds Explains New Nickname
Terrell Edmunds informs the media, including Mike Asti and Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, about his new nickname. Call him “Old Fashioned” from now on. He also expresses how feels about the current state of the Steelers, and that’s obviously includes being happy about the team’s record but also understanding the need to improve.
Steelers Week 10 Game vs. Bengals Flexed to 4:25 p.m. National Broadcast
The Steelers game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10 has been flexed into a national television broadcast slot.
The Steelers and Bengals will now kick off at Heinz Field on Sunday, Nov. 15 at 4:25 p.m. The game had originally been scheduled to kick at 1 p.m. It will be broadcast nationally on FOX. All of that weekend’s early games will be broadcast on FOX, as CBS has coverage of The Masters, which was rescheduled from this summer.
The game will be Pittsburgh’s first matchup against 2020 NFL Draft No. 1 pick, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
The Steelers are also playing a 4:25 p.m., nationally broadcast game in Week 9 against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. That game will be televised by CBS.
That will be the second time this season the Steelers will be placed in a nation-wide television slot. The team opened the season playing on ESPN’s Monday Night Football against the New York Giants.
The Steelers’ Week 7 game against the Tennessee Titans was protected by CBS in a 1 p.m. time slot, but was broadcast nearly nationwide, with CBS only showing two other 1 p.m. games.
The Steelers will play on national television at least three more times this season: against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, Nov. 26, on Sunday Night Football against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 13 and at the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, Dec. 21.
What Does Being NFL’s Last Unbeaten Team Portend for Steelers?
The Steelers are the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL after beating the formerly unbeaten Tennessee Titans on Sunday while the Seattle Seahawks lost on Sunday night, leaving the Steelers as the only 6-0 team in the nation.
What does that mean for them in the long term? Not as much as you might think.
In the last 20 years, one of the last undefeated teams didn’t even make the playoffs three times: 2002 4-0 San Diego Chargers, 2014 3-0 Philadelphia Eagles and the 2016 5-0 Minnesota Vikings. Ten other times, one of the last undefeated teams (some years, there are more than one), lost in the first or second round of the NFL playoffs.
Just once since 2000 has the last undefeated team won the Super Bowl, in 2006 when the Indianapolis Colts started 9-0 on the way to winning Super Bowl XLI.
In the first three decades of the league’s modern era, that was significantly different. The last undefeated team won six Super Bowls in the 1990s, two in the 1980s and three in the 1970s, including the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who finished a perfect 17-0, the only team in NFL history to do so.
More recently, being the last undefeated team has resulted in a bunch of Super Bowl losses, including the last time the Steelers were the league’s last unbeaten team.
The 2001 St. Louis Rams, 2002 Oakland Raiders, 2004 Eagles, 2007 New England Patriots, 2009 Colts, 2010 Steelers, 2015 Carolina Panthers, 2018 Los Angeles Rams and the 2019 San Francisco 49ers all made it to the championship game after being the last undefeated team before losing in the end.