Big Ben hosts Steelers' skill players at lake house

PITTSBURGH -- This is one way to address concerns over team bonding and leadership.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger -- who has stayed quiet this offseason despite criticism from several ex-teammates, including Antonio Brown -- hosted the team's offensive skill players at his lake house in Georgia this week for some R&R and on-field work.

Several Steelers in attendance posted Instagram videos of teammates, including wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner, hanging with Roethlisberger on his boat on Lake Oconee, swimming and walking around his compound.

Roethlisberger has hosted teammates in past years but not in the last few offseasons, in part because Roethlisberger, a father of three, and his wife expanded their family.

But Brown's finger-pointing on his way out of Pittsburgh placed a spotlight on Roethlisberger's leadership. Brown tweeted before his trade to Oakland that Roethlisberger has an "owner mentality," suggesting he's bigger than the team.

Roethlisberger, 37, hasn't addressed Brown's allegation or his recent contract extension worth $68 million in new money from 2019 to 2021. Roethlisberger and the Steelers agreed to the deal before the NFL draft in late April.

His only public comment of the offseason was team-centered.

"We want to show who we are, dedicated to this team, dedicated to having a great season," Roethlisberger said to Steelers.com about the team's strong attendance during the offseason program. "We are all about each other."

Despite five straight playoff appearances, the Steelers are not the trendiest story in the AFC North right now after losing Brown and Le'Veon Bell. That title belongs to the Cleveland Browns. But the Steelers seem to relish that new reality.

"I love that everybody is doubting us," linebacker Anthony Chickillo said.