A good week for 'Big Ben'

Considering the circumstances, this is probably the best week embattled Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has had in a long time.

It started Tuesday when an excited Roethlisberger returned to practice for the first time since April 20. A league-mandated suspension kept him away from the team as he was being evaluated following a second sexual assault allegation against him in less than a year. But on his first day back, "Big Ben" reminded everyone why he's still one of the NFL's top quarterbacks, making big-time throws and showing up to practice in great shape.

On Thursday, Roethlisberger briefly addressed the media and said all of the right things. He admits he wants to be a better person, he's looking within himself and he's working closely with commissioner Roger Goodell to reach that goal.

"I put a lot of thought into my life, the decisions that I've made in the past ... sitting home thinking about things," Roethlisberger told reporters. "I've been working closely with the commissioner on ways to make changes, corrections. So I'm looking forward to this second chance and second opportunity, not just in football because I think everyone knows what you're going to get in football, but in life. I think that's what's more important."

These are all things Goodell needs to hear if he is to reduce Roethlisberger's suspension from six games to four.

So far, so good.

Roethlisberger not only wants to change, but he needs to change. He's down to his last strike with Pittsburgh -- a proud organization that is reeling after arguably its most chaotic offseason in franchise history. If not for the suspension of their star quarterback, the Steelers would be a strong Super Bowl contender in the AFC. Instead, most expect them to have a chance at a wild-card spot.

In other words, Roethlisberger has a lot of making up to do with his team -- and it starts now.

Perhaps that's why Roethlisberger was in great shape this week. He usually takes the offseason off to rest injuries and gets a little on the heavy side as a result. But his slender frame was a not-so-quiet statement that he's dedicated to making things right.

"I spent a lot of time and effort and working hard both on and off the field while I've been gone," Roethlisberger said, according to USA Today. "It's not the same. I love football to death. But I think it's meant more to be out here with my teammates, my brothers, my family, if you will."

One good week does not make a good year for Roethlisberger. But it is a solid starting point on his road back.