PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – The Steelers poor start last year was mirrored by the start from its quarterback.
Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions and was sacked 15 times in the first four games, all losses. That has been talked about with this team.
“We always want to start fast,” Roethlisberger said. “We always want to score on the opening drive, whether it’s the opening drive of the game or the (second) half. Of course, you can talk about starting the season fast as well.”
Pre-season can be a tough judge of a team; the Steelers were 1-3, Roethlisberger was 24-37 for 331 yards, 3 TD and an interception. What does that mean about the regular season offense?
“We don’t know yet really; we haven’t played a game,” Roethlisberger said. “We’ve a little bit of work in preseason and practice. Honestly, there are still question marks. We’re trying to figure out our identity, who we’re going to be, what we’re going to be. Good thing it’s not week eight and we’re trying to figure it out.”
Cleveland has the same questions, while Brian Hoyer will start at quarterback, even the Steelers head coach believes first-round pick Johnny Manziel will play. The Browns strength will likely be stopping teams.
“It’s a good defense, the head coach is a Baltimore/New York Jets/Buffalo kind of guy,” Roethlisberger said. “We anticipate a lot of Baltimore-esque stuff, a lot of mixing defenses up to try and confuse us on offense. A top 10 defense last year.”
Browns are led by a group of active linebackers, Paul Kruger, Karlos Dansby, Barkevious Mingo and former Pitt star Jabaal Sheard. But their best defensive player is All-Pro corner Joe Haden. Roethlisberger noting Haden will face a challenge himself in All-Pro Antonio Brown.
“One of the better match-ups of the year, you get one of the best corners in the world and one of the best receivers in the world and I think everyone relishes that opportunity.”
Steelers have lost their last three openers, including last year at Heinz Field to Tennessee.
“To start with a divisional game, it’s unusual not to play Cleveland late in the year, up there,” Roethlisberger said. “Glad to be playing at home, you always like to start at home in front of your fans. We’re going to give it everything we got.”
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
-WR Lance Moore (groin) and WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. Corner Bryce McCain was limited. Long-snapper Greg Warren went through a full practice as did TE Matt Spaeth and LB Sean Spence.
-Browns head coach Mike Pettine said playing in Heinz Field Sunday is a challenge he’s looking forward to. “I’ve been in the league long enough to know that any team can beat any other team when the plan is right,” Pettine said. “The rivalry is important and we need to find a way to get it flipped. We’ll find out where we stand and how much ground we’ve made up on the division, and on Pittsburgh, when we go down there on Sunday.”
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