Starters looking for longer burn against Packers
PITTSBURGH (AP) Ben Roethlisberger would appreciate the chance to work up a sweat on Sunday against Green Bay.
The first two weeks of the Pittsburgh Steelers' extended preseason included one game where Roethlisberger didn't even bother suiting up and another in which he worked all of one series, dropped a pretty 44-yard touchdown to Martavis Bryant then promptly traded his helmet for a baseball cap.
The rare exhibition matinee at Heinz Field - an accommodation the Steelers made for the Pittsburgh Pirates after the Pirates had their game against San Francisco switched to Sunday night - could be as close as Roethlisberger gets to a regular season feel before the ''real bullets'' start flying.
Still, he's been around long enough to know there's no use campaigning for extra playing time in August. Will he get one series? Two? A whole half? Roethlisberger knows better than to ask.
''I think it will be based on production and depends on how we play,'' Roethlisberger said. ''I have no idea how long I am going to play. I will go until coach Tomlin says I am done. I know that I will hope it's productive however long that is.''
Tomlin has done little to tip his hand, though primary backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is expected to make his preseason debut after spending the first three weeks of training camp on the physically unable to perform list with a sore elbow.
''I don't think it will take me long to get back into rhythm with the receivers,'' Gradkowski said. ''There's nothing like being out there.''
Given extended time to try and prove he's made inroads on Gradkowski for the No. 2 spot, Landry Jones has struggled, completing just 50 percent of his passes and averaging just 4.2 yards per attempt.
Not exactly the way to take advantage of an opportunity, though Jones is trying to remain upbeat.
''I thought I've had a decent camp,'' Jones said. ''There's some good, some bad. I just need to make more plays and go out there and win a game.''
At this point Jones needs to provide compelling evidence he's worth keeping around another season as a third option. The Steelers prefer to keep three quarterbacks on the roster but with depth concerns in the secondary and Roethlisberger's recent run of good health - he hasn't missed a start in over two years - Pittsburgh might be willing to break from tradition.
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Freelancer Dan Scifo in Latrobe, Pa. contributed to this report.