“This place is special, I couldn’t have left without playing in front of the best fans not only in the NFL but in all sports, they mean the world to me, almost all my adult life I have played in front of them.” — Ben, during his press conference today.

From Teresa Varley, Steelers.com:

It’s a preseason game, but for Ben Roethlisberger, it doesn’t matter.

He wants to play.

Roethlisberger, who is entering his 18th season, will start against the Detroit Lions on Saturday night at Heinz Field, his first action of the preseason.

And he said it’s important that he plays, especially with new offensive coordinator Matt Canada and quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan.

“We have a new system. There’s a new coach to player communication in terms of a new guy. The offense is different. He’s up in the box as compared to on the field. There is a lot of newness. I think it’s prudent to get as much time as I can under those circumstances.”

Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t give any indication as to how much time Roethlisberger would see during his weekly press conference on Thursday, but Roethlisberger indicated it will be how he feels.

“I would love to get as many reps as I can. It’s been how many months since I’ve actually stepped on the football field to take a hit? I know it’s preseason, but still just meaningful reps. With the newness of it I’d definitely like to get as much as I can.

“I guess it depends on how we’re doing, how it feels. I really wanted to try and play last week because it was on the road and that would have been our first opportunity to play on the road and the situation, with circumstances like crowd noise and things like that before we go into a very hostile environment in week one. But Coach, I couldn’t talk him into it.”

Roethlisberger said one of the things he likes most about the changes in Canada’s offense is that it’s new, it’s different, and he has spent a lot of time studying it.

“The challenge of newness. I spent a lot of time at home, going over it, reading it, watching film. I was telling my wife the other night that I think maybe it’s even better that there’s some new stuff because it almost refocuses you in a way. If this was still the same stuff, I would probably go home and be like okay I’ll watch the film and be ready to move on. But last night I watched the film, and I went back over everything again to refresh my mind. I think because it’s different. I want to make sure that I’m not the reason that we struggle.

“Some of the new concepts I’ll have it and I’ll go home and I’ll look at it and I’m like wait, what is this guy…if you think about it on every pass play for instance, I have to know what five guys are doing. It’s not just one guy or just what I’m doing. So, I have to know who the hot is and what each specific guy is doing so there’ll be times that I know what maybe three of them are doing and will be like, ‘Wait, what’s this guy doing again.’ I just have to just try and refresh in my mind.”

With training camp at Heinz Field coming to an end, Roethlisberger said that he is feeling great still and ready to go.

“I feel great. My arm feels really fresh and feels good and feels kind of back to normal.”

You can read more from Ben’s interview here.