Ben deny's ignoring playbook
Roethlisberger denies ignoring playbook
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger denied Thursday that he and wide receiver Plaxico Burress sometimes ignored the team's playbook in order to make up passing plays designed to get Burress the ball.
An ESPN.com story said Burress adjusted certain pass routes to fit the plays he and Roethlisberger came up with, regardless of the play called by the coaches. Roethlisberger laughed off the report, saying all quarterbacks and receivers adjust on the fly as plays develop.
"I think that's just called improvising," Roethlisberger said. "You make things happen. Sometimes things break down and your only option is to make something happen that's not necessarily in the playbook. I think that's something Plax and I had and I think it's something me and these other receivers also have."
Burress was the Steelers' top draft pick in 2000, but the team did not move to re-sign him after his five-year contract ran out and he signed a $25 million, six-year deal with the New York Giants. After the Steelers' 41-27 AFC title game loss to New England, Roethlisberger lobbied the Steelers to bring back Burress, but it is not believed they made any move to do so.
The Steelers have since signed former 49ers starter Cedrick Wilson to give them another proven receiver with speed. They also drafted 6-foot-5 tight end Heath Miller and 6-4 wide receiver Fred Gibson to replace some of the size lost when the 6-5 Burress departed.
Roethlisberger has said repeatedly that he and Burress had a good rapport on the field and were friends off it, but the quarterback has not publicly criticized the decision not to bring Burress back.
Burress' statistics weren't the best of the Steelers' top three receivers - Burress, Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El - before he missed the final five regular-season games with a hamstring injury.
During the nine regular-season games they started together with Roethlisberger, Ward had 47 catches and three touchdowns and Burress had 31 catches and four touchdowns. Ward made the Pro Bowl for a fourth consecutive season.
Even with Burress gone, Roethlisberger is convinced that he'll have plenty of downfield options.
"I think we've got good new additions in the young guys and Cedrick coming over," he said. "Altogether we've got a bunch of different guys that bring different things to the table but are all very talented."
The Steelers went 15-1, the best regular season in franchise history, as Roethlisberger unexpectedly became a starter during his rookie season. The season ended with Pittsburgh's fourth AFC championship game loss at home since the 1994 season