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Ben Roethlisberger's arm routine: Less ice, more weights, more zip

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Roethlisberger excited for 2018 season (3:59)

Ben Roethlisberger discusses the disappointments from last season, Ryan Shazier's recovery and his reason for excitement entering a new year. (3:59)

PITTSBURGH -- Maurkice Pouncey had a direct question for Ben Roethlisberger upon the quarterback's arrival to Pittsburgh Steelers training camp as a smaller Big Ben.

"I said, 'You've got a beach body, what's going on?'" Pouncey recalled. "The kids got you looking right?"

Roethlisberger slimmed down to keep his knee joints fresh after several injuries, but another body part perked up in the process: A right arm that the quarterback says "feels stronger than it ever has."

Teammates have noticed Roethlisberger working out more often in the weight room and getting less rest during practices, throwing early and often with authority.

Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner recalls a recent practice when Roethlisberger threw dozens of footballs off to the side, targeting tight ends, receivers and even a big, gray garbage pail from about 40 yards out. Roethlisberger had his script of practice plays in team drills, which was fairly light that day, but he wasn't on a pitch count during the side action, or most other times.

The quarterback told ESPN the team typically tracks his throwing attempts each day, but he really hasn't had to keep track.

"I haven't had to ice it and I haven't felt any pain," said Roethlisberger, 36. "That's always a positive. For me it's about knowing the days -- is it a day off, a full day or a half day."

That has been the three-day cycle Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin prescribed the past few years, but Roethlisberger appears to be doing much more on half days now. Tomlin calls Roethlisberger's arm maintenance a "fluid process that includes dialogue" daily.

With Roethlisberger declaring publicly he wants to play another three to five years, players are seeing him validate those words behind the scenes. Or, as Pouncey says, giving "everyone what they want to see."

Arm strength hasn't been an issue for Roethlisberger in the past, but Fichtner has noticed Roethlisberger isn't bothered by heavy workloads, no longer touching his elbow after throws, moving his shoulder in a circular motion or carrying several bags of ice after long throwing sessions.

"He looks good, looks like he doesn't need much time to get loose, doesn't need much time to warm up out there," tight end Jesse James said. "When the tight ends and wideouts are out there, he can throw however many times he wants. His arm has always been strong. I'm not surprised he took a little bit more action this offseason, coming in in better shape and being ready for it. Fifteen years is a long time. You probably need to take a few extra [preparation] steps to get going."

Roethlisberger isn't worried about throwing the ball 70 yards downfield, he says. His arm goals are mainly for maintenance and longevity, quickly getting the ball to playmakers for yards after the catch and setting up the occasional deep ball.

The Steelers are expecting one of Roethlisberger's best years, with Tomlin recently calling his preseason "awesome."

"He's taken a lot of [hits] and is trying to maintain your body a certain way," Pouncey said. "Quarterbacks have to stay sharp. They have to be the smartest players on the field. They have to stay in great shape. I think he looks amazing."