Browns still have respect of Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger
A native of northern Ohio who’s the career wins leader at Cleveland’s NFL stadium, Ben Roethlisberger is well aware of the Browns and their history.
Despite Cleveland having lost 34 of its past 35 games, Roethlisberger cautions that the Browns have a defense that’s stacked with plenty of playmaking weapons.
“A ton of them,” the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback said Wednesday morning. “We’ve looked at them for awhile now. I don’t want to take anything away from anybody but it starts at our left side/their right in (2017 No. 1 overall draft pick Myles Garrett). What an animal, a guy that just gets after the quarterback. We’re going to have to keep an eye on him – two eyes.”
Garrett had seven sacks in 11 games last season, including one in the season finale at Heinz Field (he missed the meeting in Cleveland because of injury).
But the Browns defense also features recent first-round picks Denzel Ward, Jabrill Peppers and Damarious Randall in their secondary, recent Pro Bowler Jamie Collins at linebacker and other high-pedigree players.
“Playmaking,” Roethlisberger said of the Browns’ defense. “They got a ton of first-round talent and first-round picks and they just make plays and Gregg Williams is known as a defensive coordinator that throws a lot of looks at you, really gets his guys going. So we expect a lot of different looks, different blitzes and then you couple that with just some great talent. It’s tough to deal with.”
Despite an 0-16 season, Cleveland finished in the top half of the NFL in total defense (14th, 328.1 yards per game) – no small feat.
Roethlisberger was surpassed by the Browns in the early first round of the 2004 draft; they took tight end Kellen Winslow at No. 6, leaving the Steelers with Roethlisberger five picks later. Cleveland has taken four quarterbacks in the first round since; Roethlisberger has helped the division-rival Steelers to two Super Bowl titles and is the Browns’ stadium’s all-time leader in QB wins (11).
Is that still a source of motivation for Roethlisberger?
“I would say very, very little, if any. I think it’s just a matter of playing a divisional opponent. The state of Ohio is where I grew up, so all those kind of fun factors play into my game out there.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at email@example.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.