“It’s not like I have Mike Tomlin standing behind me to reinforce what I say. But I might as well have.  Ben’s been very coachable. He’s fired up to do this. I was a little intimidated at first, because I didn’t know what to expect. But he’s excited to come to work every day when I’m with him, and he’s putting his time to good use.” —  George Whitfield on working with Ben.

From Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King this morning:

A week from now, one of the big stories in the league — maybe the biggest story in the league — will be Ben Roethlisberger returning to the Steelers after his four-week suspension. What kind of mood will Roethlisberger will be in? Will he be humbled, chastened? And in a football sense, will he be ready to return after the Steelers’ bye week to resume his starting role on a Super Bowl contender?

George Whitfield, a quarterback coach from San Diego, was hired by Roethlisberger’s agent, Ryan Tollner, to work privately with Roethlisberger for his four weeks away from the Steelers. Whitfield commutes from California each week and tries to simulate a regular Wednesday-Thursday-Friday practice week at a high school in Pittsburgh.

One thing Roethlisberger is happy about, Whitfield said, is to work on some of the mechanical things a quarterback never has time to do during a normal season. “He likes the fact that this is like a one-month mechanics camp,” Whitfield said. “He’s a very self-aware quarterback. He’ll say, ‘I pat the ball, I overstride, sometimes I’m sloppy in my drop — let’s work on those things,’ “Whitfield said. “I think he’s been very happy to be able to take some time to work on things he believes will make him a better player.”

“I think he’s going to come back sharper and hungrier,” Whitfield said. “He’s really focused right now.”

You can read the full story here.

Also Today:

“He’s going to be an amazing story!”

Former Pittsburgh Steeler and current ESPN analyst Merril Hoge spoke to WTAE Channel 4‘s Sally Wiggin today about seeing an obvious change in Ben since they began working closely together over the past month.

You can see his interview here.

*Thank you to Billie Jo for the link!