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Old 08-01-2009, 08:56 AM   #1
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Default Two quarterbacks among topics at Steelers training camp

Two quarterbacks among topics at Steelers training camp
(Video of Tomlin on Big Ben. See above link. - mesa)

By Scott Brown
Saturday, August 1, 2009

Two quarterbacks were among the topics that just about every arriving Steeler was asked about Friday at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

The players strongly, if predictably, backed Ben Roethlisberger, who was recently accused of sexual assault in a civil lawsuit. Meanwhile, coach Mike Tomlin didn't rule out the Steelers having an interest in Michael Vick, who is a free agent - and is free again after serving a two-year prison sentence on dog-fighting charges.

Rumors swirled about Vick meeting with the Steelers Friday. And they were fueled in part by a caller to a Pittsburgh radio station who claimed to be a cab driver that had driven the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback from the airport to the team's South Side practice facility.

There is no indication that the Steelers met with or worked out Vick yesterday, and Tomlin said, "I'm in Latrobe and everybody else in our organization is."

That included Roethlisberger, who took part in the run test that marks the beginning of training camp. Roethlisberger, one of only 10 quarterbacks to win multiple Super Bowls, did not talk to reporters following the run test.

His teammates had plenty to say for him and in defense of him. Roethlisberger has been accused of rape by a 31-year-old woman from an alleged incident that happened in July of 2008, when he was in Reno, Nev.

Roethlisberger resolutely denied any wrongdoing in a statement he read last week.

"I know he's not the type of guy to ever do something like that," right tackle Willie Colon said. "My heart goes out to him. All I can be is his friend.

"I don't think it's really anybody's business. I think it's a situation he has to handle, and as a team, we just have to back him up."

A handful of Steelers said they sent encouraging text messages to Roethlisberger over the past two weeks. Wide receiver Hines Ward said he spoke briefly with Roethlisberger but declined to discuss the nature of the conversation.

Ward dismissed the notion that Roethlisberger's situation is a potential distraction, saying that when players are on the field it is their "safe haven" where they only think about football.

Tomlin agreed.

"I have no question about Ben's mindset," the third-year coach said. "That civil case is just that, it's civil. I'm going to assume that he's going to handle that business in his personal life, and we're going to proceed professionally."

That is something Vick, who has been conditionally re-instated to the NFL by commissioner Roger Goodell, is also doing. And several veterans said they would embrace the signing of Vick, who had several big games against the Steelers when he played for the Falcons.

They cited his tantalizing talent and the fact that he served the sentence handed down him as reasons they would have no problem with Vick joining the Steelers.

"We would welcome him," inside linebacker James Farrior said.

Given the opportunity to say the Steelers had no interest in Vick, Tomlin instead said he does not comment on free agents.

"I'll say this," he said in regard to Vick, "we'll be prudent and do our due diligence as far as exploring people that could potentially help us win, guys who can throw, run, catch, block, tackle on a professional level."

Las Vegas oddsmakers last week pegged the Steelers and New England Patriots as the teams most likely to sign Vick, perhaps the greatest running quarterback ever and a player who could benefit from the structure each organization offers.

"He's a great talent," Ward said. "I still believe he's one of the better 32 quarterbacks in the league."
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