'Cerebral' Roethlisberger staying focused

LATROBE, Pa. – Ben Roethlisberger reiterated near the end of training camp what he said at the beginning of it: His contract is not an issue and the veteran quarterback is focused on helping the Pittsburgh Steelers return to the playoffs following consecutive 8-8 seasons.

“It’s been out of my mind because it’s about football now,” Roethlisberger said Wednesday morning on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike" show. “It’s about playing ball, so it’s not as not as difficult as people probably think. I just want to go out and give it everything I have and lay it all on the line for my fans and my team and that’s just the way it is.”

Roethlisberger has two years left on the eight-year, $102 million deal he signed in 2008, and that is when the Steelers have traditionally signed their starting quarterback to a new deal.

The Steelers plan to sign Roethlisberger to a long-term deal after this season, when they will have enough room under the salary cap to pay their franchise quarterback and keep a competitive team around him.

Roethlisberger is wrapping up his 11th training camp, and when the Steelers played their preseason opener last Saturday night, he and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning talked -- and marveled at how fast the time has gone.

Manning was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2004 NFL draft and Roethlisberger went No. 11 to the Steelers.

Roethlisberger, who turned 33 in March, has been as much as a coach as he has been a quarterback to the Steelers’ young wide receivers. That is part of the evolution that has taken place since Roethlisberger burst onto the scene in 2004, winning 14 consecutive starts as a rookie and the Super Bowl the following season.

“For me it’s about being cerebral,” Roethlisberger said on how he has changed. “Early on it’s about first read. If it’s not there, find your second read and then just start making something happen and run around, whatever it is. Now I think it’s understanding more of offenses and defenses, what play goes against what defense and being able to look into your third and fourth reads.”

Roethlisberger hopes to be making reads well into January after sitting out the playoffs the last two seasons.

“We all know what happened last year. For me it’s about moving on and putting it in the past and saying this is a new year,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s kind of the mentality of a quarterback anyway. When you have a bad game, a bad play, a bad interception, you have to move on and put it behind you. That’s the mentality I’m taking. This is new season; we’re a new team.”

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