Every day throughout the training camp period, I'll challenge all comers to a daily debate on camp-related topics. If you disagree, you know where to find me for Throwdowns.
July 23: Will Ben Roethlisberger bounce back in 2007?
Steelers camp opens today at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., with a new coaching staff, contract squabbles and all sorts of outstanding issues. But the most important question for Pittsburgh's season is this: which Roethlisbeger will show up, the efficient star from 2004 and '05 or last season's interception machine?
I expect Big Ben to have a Pro Bowl season in '07. Last season he rushed back from injuries - which I think were more mentally damaging than physically - and once things started going poorly, he made them worse by trying too hard.
If you knocked out Roethlisberger's first three games, when he threw seven picks and no TDs, his season wasn't that bad statistically (he ended up throwing 23 interceptions). He had terrible outings (Oakland, Denver and Baltimore were disasters), but he also had moments when he looked like the poised quarterback from earlier in his career (see K.C., Atlanta, New Orleans and Cincy).
I think last year's struggles made everyone forget how talented Roethlisberger is. He's got a cannon, he's generally accurate and the former wide receiver's mobility is underrated. New offensive coordinator Bruce Arians plans to use multiple-receiver sets and no-huddle sets to open up the offense. Those changes shouldn't increase his interceptions, since they could help keep the pass rush away from Roethlisberger, which was the root of the problem last season.
You haven't heard much about the Steelers in Super Bowl discussions, which makes sense because of coaching changes and questions on the offensive line. But if the line is adequate and Roethlisberger does bounce back, Pittsburgh could be a factor again in the AFC.