This could be the final year Ben Roethlisberger will get to welcome a rookie class. And he’s making that time count. In a Zoom call with reporters, TE Pat Freiermuth said Roethlisberger is taking the offensive rookies out to dinner tomorrow night.
“He’s taking me, and Najee, and Kendrick out to dinner tomorrow night,” Freiermuth said in that call provided to us by the organization.
Fourth round pick Dan Moore Jr. will also attend. We’re told they’ll have dinner at Roethlisberger’s house.
Roethlisberger has had a big influence as the elder statesmen of the team. That much was evident last year, working closely with the likes of Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool throughout the season. When the Steelers went no-huddle during games, it was Roethlisberger making sure everyone lined up in the right spots, even if the information at times was a little too obvious.
Freiermuth said Roethlisberger was quick to introduce himself.
“He actually called me the day after I got drafted. He’s an awesome guy…texted back and forth a couple times. My locker is actually next to his.”
Roethlisberger could be counting on each of those rookies to play key roles in 2021. Najee Harris is expected to be the team’s starting running game immediately. Freiermuth is currently slated as the team’s #2 tight end, an Eric Ebron injury away from elevating into a full-time role. And Kendrick Green will battle B.J. Finney to become the man Roethlisberger will be taking snaps from.
Those rookies will also have big roles in reviving the Steelers’ run game. Harris as the new bell cow, Green in the middle, and Freiermuth as a developed blocker and someone who can help out in the run game more than Ebron can.
For Freiermuth, he can’t help but a feel a little star struck.
“It’s pretty cool seeing him when I was a young kid, him being in the NFL. Now, my locker is next to him. It’s pretty cool.”
Among the national media, Roethlisberger has been criticized for being a poor teammate and leader, especially in the wake of the ugly Antonio Brown saga. But for those who follow him and the team closely, Roethlisberger has developed into a strong leader for the team over the past several years. In a season where the roster looks much different, no Maurkice Pouncey, an overhauling of the offensive line, and plenty of new faces, that leadership will be as valuable as ever.