“I will push for James to get as much run as we can because we’ve seen some great things from him in all phases of football. He’s picking up blitzes, he’s catching the ball, he’s running hard and making plays and playing with a passion, so we need to keep using that.” — Ben on James Connor.
And now on to this weekend’s game!
From Teresa Varley, Steelers.com:
When it comes to the Steelers-Bengals rivalry there is no secret about it.
These games get physical.
“It’s AFC North football,” said Ben Roethlisberger. “It’s one of those games that can get chippy at times. You hope it doesn’t. You hope it’s a good, hard-fought football game. Sometimes it gets a little chippy. We’ll do our best to put the past behind us and play it like it’s a normal football game.
“We’re going to go in and play the game like it’s a normal game, AFC North, physical football game. We can only control half of the players out there. We know how important this game is for us to get a ‘W.’”
Last year’s meeting resulted in the Bengals being penalized 13 times for a team record 173 yards, while the Steelers were penalized seven times for 66 yards. There were four unnecessary roughness calls, and unsportsmanlike conduct call and taunting call that was declined between the two teams. And with the new rule changes this year to protect the quarterback, the hope is the ‘chippy’ factor is cut back.
“Some of the stuff that happens in that game, the rules were made for it before that,” said Roethlisberger. “It’s not about just the physicality of the football game to me, it’s when it gets the extracurricular, the dirty stuff you wish would be cut out of it and hope it is this time.”
Playing clean, penalty free football is going to be a key. The Bengals lead the AFC North with a 4-1 record, while the Steelers are searching for their first AFC win of the season, and come in with a 0-1-1 record in the division. It won’t be easy, going against a defense that always is fired up for this matchup and look as menacing as always under new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
“When you have the players that they have, the talent that they have, at some point you line up and let them play,” said Roethlisberger. “You are still seeing their 4-3, their coverages. They just have a lot of good football players that make plays. I think they use their front four and seven to get after the quarterback and make you throw it quick.
“(Carlos) Dunlap seems like he can be five yards away from you and an arm will still find a way to get the ball or get you down. You think he is far enough away, but he seems to somehow always be around the ball. You don’t think about that a lot when you talk about pass rushers, being around the ball. Usually that is secondary guys. He has a knack for finding it. What an awesome challenge for us.”
Another player who will be a challenge is Vontaze Burfict, who returned to action last week against the Dolphins after being suspended for the first four games of the season, and also battled a hamstring and ankle injury in the preseason. Roethlisberger said you need to know where he is on the field because of the impact he can make.
“He is a good football player,” said Roethlisberger. “Honestly, I have said this to him on the football field. He is a phenomenal football player. Very smart. Physical. Can make all of the plays. You need to know where he is in that sense because of how good he is.”
You can read the rest here.