Steelers notebook: Big Ben defends Bieber’s visit on eve of Jets loss |
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Don’t blame it on Bieber.

Ben Roethlisberger missed singer Justin Bieber’s visit to the Steelers players’ weekly Bible study meeting Saturday night, choosing to have dinner in advance of a quarterbacks meeting.

Bieber apparently attended because a speaking guest at the meeting is mentoring him. Several players posted online pictures of themselves with Bieber, including backup QB Bruce Gradkowski.

“He (Gradkowski) said, ‘He’s got 30 million followers (on Twitter), and I’m trying to get some of them,’ ” Roethlisberger said on his 93.7 FM radio show.

The Steelers lost to the Jets, 20-13, prompting talk of a Bieber curse.

It’s not unusual for the Steelers to have guests the night before a game, Roethlisberger said.

“That’s not a big deal at all. For instance (former Steelers wide receiver) Plaxico Burress stopped by. Obviously he’s family, but people stop by all the time and say ‘Hi.’ We’ve had other athletes, actors, celebrities, stuff like that stop by. It’s not a big deal at all. … He (Bieber) is one of the more popular guys, for good or bad, in the country, so they (his teammates) had a chance to say hello, and they did.”

• The Steelers ran for only 36 yards against the Jets, and have been held to 76 yards or fewer in three of the last four games — partly because of the score or the passing game’s success. “Teams are really trying to get back to stopping the run, which is why the play action has opened up and why the passing has been there,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “If they’re going to load up in the box to stop it, we need to take advantage in the passing game — something I don’t think we did very well this past game.”

• Safety Troy Polamalu (knee), linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerbackIke Taylor (forearm) won’t play against Tennessee, coach Mike Tomlin said. Shazier’s absence means the first-round pick will play only 47 plays over an eight-game span. Nose tackleSteve McLendon re-injured his shoulder and might not play. The status of safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) remains uncertain.

• Tomlin saluted practice squad offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva on Veterans Day, saying the former Army Ranger will make the trip to Tennessee although he won’t be in uniform. Villanueva, a former West Point wide receiver, served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, making some secret missions he is not allowed to discuss. “This year it (Veterans Day) hits very close to home for us because one of our teammates is a serviceman,” Tomlin said.

• Roethlisberger doesn’t believe there were major breakdowns against the Jets, “just a couple of things here and there. Timing was off, (pass route) depths were off, protections were off, catches, little things here or there. It wasn’t anything glaring.”

• Tomlin’s decision to go on defense first and take the ball at the start of the second half Sunday was made in advance, as it always is, according to Roethlisberger. “Coach Tomlin and I develop a plan (for the coin flip). Each week is different, and (it’s) determined by weather or their offense or the defense or how we’re feeling, all kinds of issues. Coach wanted to defer and that’s what we went with.”

• The Steelers have been held to one touchdown in three of their four road games, and Tomlin said the only answer is to “execute better.”

• On Ravens coachJohn Harbaugh pointing out the Steelers lost the week after playing a physical game against his team, Tomlin said, “If (he) chooses to spend time thinking and talking about us, so be it.”

• The six Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks from Western Pennsylvania will be honored at a Gridiron Gold dinner June 6. Steelers co-owner Art Rooney II is the honorary chairman. All four living Hall of Fame QBs plan to attend — Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana and Joe Namath — as well as members of the George Blanda and Johnny Unitas families.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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