If Jason Campbell was surprised, gratified or felt validated by being named to start at quarterback Sunday against Pittsburgh, he did a good job hiding it.
Campbell handled the situation much as he did when coach Tom Cable said for two consecutive weeks that Bruce Gradkowski would be the starter _ by avoiding any appearance of public debate.
“My mindset was always to keep pushing forward, keep taking each game one game at a time and prepare yourself each and every day to go out and win,’’ Campbell said Wednesday. “It’s no different now. You still have to go out there and prepare yourself to go out and play hard and win a game.’’
Asked if it felt good that Cable said he had “earned it,’’ Campbell said, “ Yeah. Because nothing’s given to you in this league, nothing’s given to you in life. To earn something makes you appreciate it more.
“At the same time it makes you work even harder because you want to keep it going and you want to stay on top of what you’re doing.”
— Cornerback Stanford Routt will find himself flying blind at some point against the Steelers, playing man-to-man coverage on a wide receiver with his back to the quarterback and not having any idea if Ben Roethlisberger is in the pocket or breaking outside looking to make a play.
Roethlisberger is at his best while improvising. A stat flashed on the screen during the Monday night telecast against New England said Roethlisberger’s quarterback rating was 137.0 on plays outside of the pocket.
In a zone coverage, defensive backs are often playing with their face to the quarterback. Not so in man-to-man.
“It definitely makes your job tougher, but that’s what football is,’’ Routt said. “You’ve got to overcome disadvantages and make it happen.’’
Even when defensive backs catch a glimpse of Roethlisberger, there are other problems to deal with.
“He’s probably the best pump-faker in the league. He’s so big he can palm the ball in one hand and pump it all the way like, full throwing motion. Whenever you’re going against a quarterback like that, it definitely makes the receivers more effective, because anytime you can get someone to, like Michael Vick with his feet or Ben Roethlisberger with his size and pump-faking ability, anyone who can prolong the play, that gives his receivers more time to get open, run around, this that and the other. It makes a cornerback’s job tough.’’
— Cable said Monday he thought last year’s win in Pittsburgh was significant in that this year’s players have already gone to Heinz Field and had some success.
Defensive tackle Richard Seymour isn’t so sure.
“What happened last year really has no bearing on this year. What happened last week really has no bearing on what we will go out and do this week,’’ Seymour said. “You obviously want to play with momentum, but each game is its own different ballgame, and different matchups, what we’re trying to do offensively, defensively, special teams, that plays a big factor.
“It’s an important time for this football team. If we want to end up where we want to be and take care of our first goal, which is winning our division, we have to get better as the year moves on. We can’t be the same team in October that your are moving forward in the year. If you stay the same, teams will continue to get better and you’ll end up getting beat.’’
— Cornerback Walter McFadden is resisting the urge to engage in trash talk with his older brother Bryant, a starting cornerback for the Steelers.
“I’m just going to keep it quiet,’’ McFadden said. “Since he has the bigger things, with two Super Bowls and everything, he has a lot of trash that he can talk. I’m just going to be quiet and let us come in their silently, like a silent storm, and just erupt.”
Ordinarily, the McFaddens commuciate regularly through text messages.
“We text every day. By him being in the league for (six) years so far, he just keeps my head on, especially when I was going through my injury, when it was going down on me,’’ Walter McFadden said. “He just kept me up. Speaking to other guys in the locker room like Nnamdi and Michael Huff, they just kept my head going in the right direction. Having him being through an injury himself kind of just helped me out with everything.”
Walter McFadden said the hamstring injury which has sidelined him for much of the season was a partial tear. In the meantime, Jeremy Ware, a seventh-round pick, has ascended to the nickel back position in games where cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha doesn’t play.
More to come after Tom Cable briefs the media following practice . . .