<
>

Position preview: Quarterback

7/2/2014

This is the start of a series that looks at every position on offense and defense with training camp approaching. Our first look is at quarterback.

Returning starter: Ben Roethlisberger. The two-time Super Bowl winner played every snap last season and has said he feels younger than ever despite turning 32 in March. No matter where experts rank Roethlisberger among his peers, he is still unquestionably a top-tier quarterback.

New face: Brendon Kay. The former Cincinnati Bearcats standout signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent after throwing for 3,3302 yards and 22 touchdown last season and completing 66.3 percent of his passes.

On the bubble: Kay. The 6-foot-4, 228-pound passer has the build of a prototypical NFL quarterback and he impressed during offseason workouts. Still, he will have to clearly – if not vastly – outplay second-year man Landry Jones to make the 53-man roster. Jones, a fourth-round pick in 2013, probably has to flop during training camp and in preseason games to put his standing as the Steelers’ No. 3 quarterback in jeopardy.

By the numbers: Roethlisberger’s career regular-season winning percentage of .669 ranks third among active NFL quarterbacks with at least 50 starts. He also ranks third among active quarterbacks with 95 regular-season victories, trailing only Peyton Manning (167) and Tom Brady (147).

Did you know: Bruce Gradkowski, Roethlisberger’s backup, went to high school in Pittsburgh, and as a senior at Seton-LaSalle in 2000, his 30 touchdown passes broke Dan Marino’s Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League record for most touchdown passes in a season.

Outlook: The Steelers are fine at quarterback as long as Roethlisberger stays healthy. Now one of the most tenured Steelers, Roethlisberger is still playing at a high level. Big Ben set a team record with 375 completions last season and threw for 4,261 yards, the second-highest total of his career, with 28 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. His health is also vital to the Steelers’ running their no-huddle offense frequently in 2014, and there could be a correlation between the two. Roethlisberger was sacked just seven times in the final seven games in 2013, when the Steelers employed more of an up-tempo offense, and he generally got rid of the ball quicker when running the no-huddle attack.