Ben Roethlisberger says no time for panic

PITTSBURGH – Ben Roethlisberger does not anticipate playing in the final preseason game Thursday night, and he has this message for fans who are still apoplectic from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss in their third preseason game: Take a deep breath.

“The preseason is just that, it’s getting a chance to look at things, different reads, move guys around to see where guys can be best fit,” the Steelers quarterback said early Monday afternoon. “I don’t want to call it preseason practice, but it kind of is. We stayed healthy and that’s the most important thing.”

It is also not something to be taken lightly considering the St. Louis Rams won’t have starting quarterback Sam Bradford as they try to make a move in the NFL’s toughest division this season.

Bradford tore his ACL for the second consecutive year and already has been lost for the season.

His injury is one of a number of ones that has occurred to high-profile players, and it reinforces what Roethlisberger said about the preseason: The most important thing is making it through the four-game schedule relatively unscathed from a health standpoint.

That priority is why a lot of the Steelers starters figure to join Roethlisberger in watching Thursday when the Steelers and Carolina Panthers play in a 7:30 p.m. ET game at Heinz Field.

As bad as the Steelers played in a 31-21 loss on Thursday night in Philadelphia, the risk/reward factor when it comes to the final preseason game tilts heavily toward not exposing starters to injury.

It will be interesting to see how much work some of the wide receivers get against the Panthers.

Lance Moore, who missed the Eagles game with leg tightness, has one catch for 6 yards in the preseason. Justin Brown, meanwhile, has just three catches for 15 yards after starring in offseason practices and the first part of training camp.

With rookie Martavis Bryant coming along but not showing yet that the Steelers can count on him heavily at the start of the season there are questions at wide receiver after Pro Bowler Antonio Brown.

Or are there?

“I’m very confident,” Roethlisberger said of his wide receivers. “I like where they are I think they’re competing with each other every day and even last game seeing [Darrius Heyward-Bey make that great play, running by people, getting his feet down in the back of the end zone. I missed Justin on a play but he’s doing some really good things both in the run game and the pass game. I’m not concerned with our receivers right now.”