NFL: Tomlin: Steelers working with Roethlisberger
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH — The Steelers are working closely with troubled quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to make sure he turns his life around, although coach Mike Tomlin didn't offer any specifics Wednesday about what the team is doing.
Tomlin said he talks regularly with Roethlisberger, who recently underwent a behavioral evaluation as part of the six-game suspension handed down April 21 by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
"He has a commitment to being what we desire for him to be and what his team needs him to be and that's my focus," Tomlin said. "I've seen Ben quite a bit and communicated with him quite a bit throughout all of this."
Roethlisberger was suspended after a 20-year-old Georgia college student accused him of sexual assault in March. No charges were filed.
Roethlisberger also is being sued by a woman who claims he sexually assaulted her at a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2008, but faces no charges.
His suspension could be reduced to four games at Goodell's discretion, but the Steelers say their intervention isn't designed to ensure Roethlisberger returns to the field sooner. He could play Oct. 17 against Cleveland if his penalty is cut to four games, but not until Oct. 31 at New Orleans if the full suspension stands.
"We're doing a lot of things with Ben in terms of dealing with this situation, (and) not for the sole purpose of meeting the criteria so he can participate," Tomlin said. "More than anything, it's about making proper corrections and moving forward with football and with his life. That's the spirit with which we're doing the things that we're doing."
The two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback was barred from practicing with the Steelers while he underwent the evaluation and Goodell reviewed it. Roethlisberger returned to practice on Tuesday, and took most of the snaps with the starters that day and Wednesday.
Dozens of reporters attended both workouts, an unusual turnout for practices that are designed mostly to teach.
"I don't mind the circus atmosphere because I can't control it. ... Ultimately we'll be measured by our ability to win football games," Tomlin said. "This is a distraction if we lose; if we don't, it's not. And I'm committed to making sure it's not, and I'm sure everyone else is."
Roethlisberger hasn't answered questions from reporters since the March incident, but Tomlin said he will soon. The Steelers practice again Thursday and June 8-10, then will take seven weeks off before training camp opens July 30.