Know the enemy: Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger

PITTSBURGH -- Comparisons have been made between Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Tennessee Titans rookie signal-caller Zach Mettenberger because of their size and arm strength.

Titans wide receiver Nate Washington offered another parallel last week.

Washington, who played for the Steelers early in Roethlisberger’s career, said Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt is just as hands on with Mettenberger as he was with Big Ben.

Whisenhunt was the Steelers’ offensive from 2004-06, Roethlisberger’s first three years in the NFL.

“He still holds Zach accountable just as he did Ben,” Washington said of the Titans’ first-year coach. “He teaches him relentlessly and harps on him about making sure he is technically sound with his drops, he makes sure he keeps the ball up and makes sure he is throwing the ball properly with his form. I constantly see him preaching to him about that as I did when Ben was growing up in this league.”

The Steelers should provide a measuring stick of how much Mettenberger has grown since taking over for the injured Jake Locker late last month.

The Steelers have been tough on rookie quarterbacks since Dick LeBeau returned as the team’s defensive coordinator in 2004, going 17-2 against them during that span.

And to put into perspective how inexperienced Mettenberger is, consider that his 495 career passing yards are 27 less than what Roethlisberger produced in a 51-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts last month.

The day Roethlisberger made a run at the NFL’s single-game passing record was the day Mettenberger made his first career start.

The fourth-round draft pick out of LSU has shown promise despite his inexperience and here is what the Steelers are saying about the 6-foot-5, 224-pound Mettenberger:

Free safety Mike Mitchell: “He has a really strong arm and seems to be very professional (as) a young guy by the way he controls the line of scrimmage type stuff. He doesn’t seem like he’s young and doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s not going to be as mobile as (Michael) Vick obviously so that will help us out. I feel like it’s always a little bit easier when you have to defend a pocket passer.”

Coach Mike Tomlin: “He has a ridiculously strong arm. He is your classic pocket passer. He is a talented young man. I really got a chance to get to know him at LSU while he was in school because I annually go to their pro days.”

Defensive end Brett Keisel: “He’s got a strong arm and they’re kind of simplifying things for him. The potential’s there and Whisenhunt has had success with young quarterbacks. We have one in here that he did well with and they have a good feel for us and our schemes so it’s going to be a challenge.”

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau: “He’s got a real strong arm. He’s big so he’s got real nice vision of the field. I haven’t seen a ball that he can’t get there. Watching him in college he was definitely a winner there (at LSU). (He) had a lot of big, deep throws. He throws a wonderful deep ball.”