It's a new season in Pittsburgh. All-Pros and Pro Bowlers of years past are gone, as Antonio Brown was traded to Oakland this offseason and Le'Veon Bell jetted to New York in free agency. With them supposedly went the drama and distraction that has characterized Steelers football over the past half-decade.
"It's an awesome challenge for all of us," Roethlisberger said Tuesday at the start of Pittsburgh's mandatory minicamp, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. "To get to know each other to learn to do everything we can to be the best because that's ultimately what we're trying to do is win a championship. In order to do that we're all going to have to be at our best."
Roethlisberger isn't the only Pittsburgh player to feel a sense of relief and rejuvenation in the locker room. His guard, David DeCastro, feels similarly, lauding his longtime quarterback in the process.
"I think things have changed pretty well around here, more team-oriented, and that's the first step," DeCastro said, per SteelersNow.com. "I think everyone is on the same page. Ben's always been a great leader to me and I'm excited to play with a guy like that. I have a ton of respect for him. How could you not? He's one of those guys that you get in the huddle with, he brings you up, because he's so competitive. I'm just looking forward to getting back on the field with him."
Losing Bell and Brown, two of the game's most unique and irreplaceable talents, would kill some clubs' chances of maintaining the same level of competition the following season. But the feeling inside Pittsburgh's facility is that the exodus of those stars is addition by subtraction and that the Steelers should not be seen as worse off heading into 2019.
"I've been here a long time. We're still the Pittsburgh Steelers, we're still going to go out and try to win every football game," Roethlisberger said. "It's been a long time since we've been to the big one. But like I said if everyone puts forth the effort that we all think we can an with the talent we have in this room we feel confident that we can be pretty good."