You know what my favorite thing was about the Steelers 52-21 victory over the Panthers at HeinzField on Thursday night? It wasn’t the 52 points. It wasn’t the blow-out. It wasn’t the perfect passer-rating posted by the future Hall of Fame passer. It wasn’t the five touchdown passes he recorded. It wasn’t the five sacks put on Cam Newton. It wasn’t Vince Williams’ pick-six. It wasn’t JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 75-yard touchdown. It wasn’t the savvy veteran tricks receiver Antonio Brown used on the young Panthers’ cornerback while getting separation on his 53-yard touchdown catch. It wasn’t even Rosie Nix’s forced fumble on a kickoff return. No Joe Haden Color Rush Jersey , my favorite part of Thursday’s very enjoyable victory was the 18-yard run by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger late in the third quarter. And, no, it wasn’t because Carolina safety Eric Reid got bull-rushed by the offensive line and then ejected by the referee following his hit to a sliding Roethlisberger’s head at the tail-end of the run.So why did I love Roethlisberger’s run so much? Why did I get up and scream “Go Ben!” the second he eclipsed the 20-yard line and it looked like he was in the clear and on his way to a touchdown? Why would that touchdown have caused me to get evicted from my apartment for excessive noise at 11 p.m. (or, at the very least, earned me a visit from one of my neighbors, a la Mr. Heckles on Friends)? Because there’s just something about Roethlisberger, the man they call Big Ben thanks to his 6’5”, 240lb frame, running. And, no, I don’t mean his signature scrambling around in the pocket and making big men miss before making smaller men cry after losing track of their assignments downfield (that’s Hall of Fame-level special).I just get a kick out of it on a level once reserved for the 2004-2005 Jerome Bettis years, when the rounder than ever running back would bust out a rare run longer than 10 or 15 yards. There’s no question Roethlisberger has always been a great athlete, and when he does get to full speed, you can certainly see that. However https://www.steelerssportshop.com/James-Washington-Jersey , like your average commercial airplane, he needs a little bit of runway to get going. And while there is something magical and fluid about the way he avoids defenders in and around the pocket, there’s a bit of a lumber to the moves he puts on defenders in the open field. He seems to have to stop and gather himself for a second before switching directions. And I just love the way he pumps his arms, as if he knows he needs every piston working hard in-order to keep his big frame moving as fast as it can. Again, the athleticism is apparent in his runs, but so is the “big” in Big Ben. Speaking of size, Roethlisberger came into this season looking lighter and fitter than ever. Many joked and even seriously speculated that the 15-year veteran was motivated by the Steelers’ decision to select Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Maybe. Maybe not. But he is off to one of his best starts in years, statistically. This includes rushing yards; with 75 yards on the ground through nine games, Roethlisberger is well-on his way to having his best season running the ball since he put up 99 in 2013. Roethlisberger is enjoying great pass protection in 2018, which has undoubtedly led to greater health (knock on wood). He also appears to be the beneficiary of greater freedom thanks to new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, a man who doesn’t seem to mind his big quarterback doing things with his legs. Yes, that includes the return of the quarterback sneak. But “Running Ben” has also made a comeback in 2018, and it’s been a great sight to see. PITTSBURGH (AP) — At least one portion of Ryan Shazier’s daily routine hasn’t changed much from the previous time the Pittsburgh Steelers were preparing to face Cincinnati, even if the rest of the injured linebacker’s life is hardly the same.Shazier still makes his way to the club’s practice facility around 7 a.m. most days. Any teammate willing to drop by Shazier’s usual spot can feel free to pull out a notebook and start jotting Shazier’s thoughts while he serves as both peer and professor.“He’s just trying to find little nitpick things Le'Veon Bell Jersey ,” Pittsburgh rookie safety Terrell Edmunds said.It is Shazier’s way of staying connected to the game even as he continues his long and inspiring recovery from that frightening moment last December when the Pro Bowler lowered his helmet to hit Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone late in the first quarter, a play that ended with Shazier clutching his lower back in agony while players knelt around him in prayer and Paul Brown Stadium feel eerily silent.Ten months later, the sight of Shazier being taken off the field on a stretcher before being placed in an ambulance remains fresh as the Steelers (2-2-1) brace themselves for their annual visit to Cincinnati (4-1) on Sunday.“It was just a really weird feeling after that happened,” Pittsburgh linebacker L.J. Fort said. “You’d make a good play but nobody was really jumping around or was excited or anything like that, so it was really sobering moment and brought to the forefront that football is not the most important thing in life.”Playing amid a mixture of fear for their friend and uncertainty over Shazier’s status, the Steelers rallied for a 23-20 victory .Asked how they managed to recover emotionally in time to put together a stirring rally, they’re still not sure. In the immediate aftermath of Shazier’s injury there was only chaos and confusion.Outside linebacker Bud Dupree admitted he and inside linebacker Vince Williams — two of Shazier’s closest friends on the team — were under the impression Shazier had been blindsided by a member of the Bengals. The two spent the rest of the first half looking for revenge.“We were just walking around trying (to hit) the first person we see,” Dupree said. “We weren’t worried about football. We wanted to take up for our brother.”In the end, it’s Shazier who has taken up for his teammates.Though the 26-year-old remains open to the possibility of playing again — he’s able to get around the practice field without assistance these days and his practice clothes remain hanging in his locker much as they have been before he got hurt — he’s intent on helping in other ways.His mere presence provides an emotional lift, but Shazier is intent on being something far beyond an avatar for inspiration. He’s become a go-between of sorts between the coaching staff and the defense. He can cut through the clutter and deliver some “real talk” when necessary.During last Sunday’s 41-17 romp over Atlanta, Shazier sat on the bench with a tablet in hand. After every series the inside linebackers would crowd around him looking for instruction and insight. Shazier would offer words of encouragement when necessary or tips on how to avoid mistakes.“Since he’s not playing, his mental part of the game is so great,” Dupree said. “He shares a lot of stuff with us. He lets us know stuff ahead of time before the coaches even tell us. We already know it. It keeps us on our toes.”And it keeps Shazier engaged. There remains no timetable for when he will make a decision on whether returning to play is feasible. There’s so much going on in his life — from his physical recovery to his new role with the team to becoming a father for a second time — it hardly matters.Football remains an integral part of his plan no matter how his physical recovery goes. When asked if he believes Shazier could become an effective coach whenever his playing career ends, linebacker Tyler Matakevich nods enthusiastically.“You look at him Troy Polamalu Color Rush Jersey , what he’s been through, how he’s handled it combined with his love for the game and his mind for the game, it’s amazing,” Matakevich said. “It hasn’t changed him. He’s been the same guy since the day I got here.”And in a way, Pittsburgh is counting on it. Shazier will be back on the turf in Cincinnati with the rest of the team on Sunday afternoon as the Steelers look for their first winning streak of the season. When the defense runs onto the field, he’ll linger behind, a feeling that will probably never truly feel normal.Yet if this is the best way for him to contribute, he’ll take it. So will the teammates who have come to rely on him in so many ways.“The only time he really doesn’t come is when he’s tired from rehab,” Dupree said. “You see him on the sideline. He’s active at practice. In the meetings. Never sleeping. Attacking every day like he’s still here.”NOTES: S Morgan Burnett (groin), LB L.J. Fort (ankle) and WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. … LB Vince Williams (hamstring) and Edmunds (calf) were full participants.
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