“I don’t want to say it’s a transition phase because I feel like I’m still here and ready to rock and roll. I feel healthier, better. I feel like I’m in my prime and ready to play great football. And I feel that we’ve got guys around here who feel the same way.” — Ben

From an interview with Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

102212newsBen Roethlisberger delivered some optimistic opinions for a Steelers team bracing for mass departures with the start of free agency next week.

He’s healthy and not overly concerned with the many defections expected when the doors open wide Tuesday for the Steelers’ 17 unrestricted free agents.

“There always will be some new guys, there always will be some guys leave,” Roethlisberger said in a recent interview. “We never like to see anybody go but we know it’s a business and guys have to do what’s best for themselves and their families.

“For me, it’s about getting better and taking the guys we have here and getting better, taking the new guys who are coming in — rookies, free agents, whatever it is — and getting better.”

Roethlisberger, who was on his way to having one of his best seasons before his injuries, acknowledged for the first time that he did not have the arm strength to make either of those throws after returning from a sprained right shoulder and a dislocated rib.

“Sometimes, certain passes just weren’t right. I didn’t trust myself to get enough zip on it to throw it out there. I tried to guide it too much instead of just throw it.

“But that’s making excuses … I’ll be better, health-wise.”

The prospect of losing Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall and others — plus the uncertain status of injured tight end Heath Miller — does not dissuade Roethlisberger from at least sounding as if he is optimistic about 2013 after an 8-8 season.

“We have a great group of guys here and if we happen to lose one or two of them, I have confidence [the front office will] get guys in here who will be ready to compete and play,” Roethlisberger said.

You can read more from the interview here.