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Speaking of the Steelers ... good for Ben

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Posted March 21, 2007 @ midnight
Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:26 p.m.
By Eric Edholm

After reading Ben Roethlisberger's comments about how injuries were not to blame for his performance in 2006, I gained even more respect for the guy. A few weeks ago, his former offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt, gave Ben a pass for '06, saying that his offseason woes and freak injuries -- a motorcycle accident, an emergency apendectomy and a concussion -- were the reasons for the QB's slumping season. Here were Whisenhunt's comments, edited down a bit:

"I just saw physically in the pocket there were some things you could just sense he wasn't as confident [about] as he was the year before. A lot of that I think was because of recovering from the injuries and having some doubts of whether he was 100 percent healthy or not. When we started the season, even in training camp, it didn't seem like it would have an effect. But, at the end, and when you look at it again, I am convinced it did. Not because of his health, he is a tough kid and he did a good job coming back and being prepared. But from the standpoint of being in the pocket and facing the rush, certainly there was some trauma with him that maybe we all underestimated, and I think it took him longer to get over that than we all thought."

Ben, though, makes no excuses. He told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he didn't "think anything was rushed. I think I just didn't play well. I had a bad year. I'm sure [Whisenhunt] had a bad year once in his career."

I went on ESPN Radio in Pittsburgh with buddies Eddie Crow and Guy Junker and said, mere days after the season ended, that I thought this season was an aberration. I thought then that Ben would bounce back strong in '07 and I think that even more so now.

Roethlisberger also had to deal with a fwe other things: the losses of Jerome Bettis and Antwaan Randle El, playing up to Super Bowl expectations and the lingering rumors of head coach Bill Cowher's exodus. Those are tall orders. Remember Tom Brady's '02 season? Statistically, it was better than Ben's '06, but it was a tough year on young Tom. Now Brady has shown as much ability to deal with tribulation as any QB in the leaugue. I think Big Ben will show his resiliency this season.

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