Sunday, March 28, 2010
Updated: March 29, 7:29 PM ET
Roethlisberger stays away
By Adam Schefter
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stayed away from the Steelers' offseason conditioning program Monday.
Team spokesman Dave Lockett said Sunday the two-time Super Bowl quarterback is not expected to join his teammates this week for voluntary offseason workouts.
After discussing whether Roethlisberger's presence would create too much of a distraction, the decision was made for him not to attend the team's offseason program, according to a source.
Such workouts are not open to reporters, but about two dozen members of the media, local and national, reportedly turned out to the Steelers headquarters Monday because Roethlisberger has not commented on the Georgia incident since it occurred earlier this month.
It remains uncertain when Roethlisberger will report to the team.
Last week, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he expected Roethlisberger to arrive with the rest of the Pittsburgh veterans. The quarterback also skipped voluntary workouts with the team two weeks ago.
The conditioning work involves no on-field practicing, but instead emphasizes lifting weights and getting into football shape.
Roethlisberger is accused of assaulting a 20-year-old college student in a Georgia nightclub on March 5, but charges have not been filed. Roethlisberger's lawyer says the quarterback committed no crime. An investigation is ongoing.
Roethlisberger also is being sued by a woman who says he raped her in 2008 at a Lake Tahoe hotel. He denies the allegation and has asked for counterdamages.
The Steelers aren't scheduled to begin on-field practicing until April 19, when they begin OTAs -- NFL shorthand for organized team activities. Such practices resemble those held during the season and starting quarterbacks usually take part in most sessions unless they are injured.
Despite the strong start to Roethlisberger's career -- he has taken the Steelers to two NFL titles and three AFC Championship Games in six seasons -- and the estimated $66 million left on his $102 million contract, the Steelers are clearly upset with the quarterback's off-field problems.
Team president Art Rooney II has met with Roethlisberger, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also plans to meet with the quarterback at an unspecified time. Tomlin also has been in constant contact with Roethlisberger.
"We take this issue very seriously," Goodell said on March 22. "I am concerned that Ben continues to put himself in this position.
Rooney said the Steelers are "in a situation [where] we're going to let this investigation play out and then go from there."
The NFL has not said if Roethlisberger might be suspended if he is charged in the Georgia case.
Despite Roethlisberger's problems, Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said the team does not anticipate drafting a quarterback in the early rounds next month.
Adam Schefter is an NFL reporter for ESPN Insider. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.