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Old 10-15-2010, 11:41 PM   #1
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Default Why the Steelers receivers need Ben Roethlisberger back so badly

Why the Steelers receivers need Ben Roethlisberger back so badly
02:01 PM

PITTSBURGH -- Beyond personal connections, the pass-catching numbers of the Pittsburgh Steelers receivers show why they are excited about the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Coming off a four-game suspension, Roethlisberger starts here Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Though the Steelers went 3-1 without him, they rank last in the NFL in passing after playing with Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon at quarterback.

The statistics amassed so far by Steelers receivers reflect that bottom-ranked status.

A quarter of the way through the season, wide receiver Hines Ward leads the team with 12 catches for 165 yards. Multiply those 12 catches by four and it projects to 48 in a season. Last season, Ward had 95 grabs for 1,167 yards and six TDs.

Tight end Heath Miller has 10 catches for 100 yards and no touchdowns. That would project to 40 catches in a season. Last season, Miller had 76 receptions for 789 yards and six touchdowns.

A year ago as a rookie wide receiver, Mike Wallace had 39 catches for 756 yards and six touchdowns.

So far this season, he has nine catches for 211 yards and two TDs. Who knows what those numbers might have been had Roethlisberger been playing instead of Dixon and Batch?

"No disrespect to the other guys. They did a phenomenal job," says Ward. "But we are a better ball club when (Roethlisberger's) in the game. So it's great to have there."

Ward says Roethlisberger had a "great training camp." Thanks to a bye, the quarterback has had two weeks to prepare for Cleveland since coming off the suspension.

"I'm excited to get out there with him and get things going. We miss him," says Ward.

"We left a lot of plays out there in the first four games that we could have capitalized (on). …He definitely adds that dimension where he's going to be sharp with all his reads. But when protection does break down, unlike the other quarterbacks, he's able to make big plays outside the pocket. So he brings an added dimension to our offense."

Now all the Pittsburgh receivers have some catching -- and catching up -- to do.

Wallace showed up this week minus his Mohawk haircut.

Roethlisberger says that before this season, he had Wallace had a "little deal" that he would get rid of the Mohawk if he got 1,000 yards receiving.

"So I was really going to push for that this year, to get him the yards," says Roethlisberger. "But he did it already, so we'll just give him 1,000 yards without it, hopefully."

-- Gary Mihoces
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