Pittsburgh Steelers: Colin Kaepernick

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers again worked on their no-huddle offense Thursday, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger appears to have more peace of mind about the attack than he did a couple of weeks ago.

“I think everybody’s doing a good job and that we can get back on track pretty quick,” Roethlisberger said following the Steelers’ final practice of this week.

Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger expressed some reservation about the no-huddle offense at the start of organized team activities. He said how much the Steelers use the attack that worked so well for them last season would depend on how quickly the new wide receivers became comfortable with it.

So far, so good on that front, said Roethlisberger, who added that the Steelers have worked more on their no-huddle offense in OTAs than they have in past years when it comes to the voluntary practices.

“I think it’s something that we’ve realized what we can be and what we did last year,” Roethlisberger said on one of the nicest days of the year in Pittsburgh. “We’ll use it more. I don’t want to call it our base offense but I think you’ll see more of it so I think it was important for us to get in it early and often.”

Roethlisberger, running the no-huddle offense at the end of practice, led the Steelers on a scoring drive that he capped with a short touchdown pass to Antonio Brown. It was a good way for the first-team offense to end practice, especially since Will Allen had stopped an earlier drive when the veteran safety intercepted a Roethlisberger pass along the left sideline.

“I thought it was a good play and Will came and picked it off,” Roethlisberger said. “We’re not going to score on every series that we go no-huddle.”

Also of note from Thursday’s OTA session:
  • Roethlisberger didn’t bite when asked about the six-year, $110 million contact that quarterback Colin Kaepernick signed with the San Francisco 49ers. “Congratulations to him and his family and the 49ers franchise,” Roethlisberger said. “We’re on opposite sides of the coast. I’m over here just worried about being a Steeler and that’s all that matters with me. It’s just about getting better out here with these guys.” Roethlisberger has two years left on his contract – the same number he had left on his rookie deal when he signed an eight-year, $102 million contract in 2008. The Steelers are expected to sign their franchise quarterback to a new deal at some point though nothing is imminent.
  • Center Maurkice Pouncey and wide receiver Markus Wheaton were among the players who didn’t practice on Thursday. Fullback Will Johnson was out of the walking boot he wore Wednesday but he watched practice on Thursday, as did tight end Michael Palmer. Outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who is nursing a calf injury, spent part of the practice riding a stationary bike.
Peyton Manning beat out the two quarterbacks with whom he will always be linked to finish first in an ESPN NFL Nation poll on the best player with which to start a franchise.

Manning received 62 votes from the more than 320 NFL players who were polled anonymously. Andrew Luck, whom the Colts traded No. 1 overall after releasing Manning in 2012, finished second with 56 votes while the Patriots’ Tom Brady came in third with 41 votes.

Quarterbacks, not surprisingly, dominated the voting for this category.

In addition to the three aforementioned signal callers, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (40) and New Orleans’ Drew Brees (11) received double digits in votes.

What is surprising is that voters did not go younger at quarterback with the exception of Luck. Manning is one of the all-time greats as his position but he turns 38 in March and he could decide to go out on top if Denver wins the Super Bowl this season. Brady, meanwhile, is 36 though he too is still playing at a high level.

The only other players to receive double-digits in votes were Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (37) and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (20).

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and strong safety Troy Polamalu all received one vote.

I would have definitely gone with a quarterback had I voted in this, and my choice probably would have been between Luck and the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick. I would have also considered Johnny Manziel, who will be taken somewhere in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.

Yep, count me among those who think Johnny Football is going to be a star in the NFL.

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