PITTSBURGH - Ben Roethlisberger was back at Steelers practice Thursday, but looked a little different.
No. 7 was sporting a No. 78 jersey at Heinz Field. No. 78 is the number of former teammate Max Starks.
So is Ben trying to send a message? Well, Starks is still out there, healthy again and available to come back.
"He's doing well. He says he can move around just fine and doesn’t feel anything," Roethlisberger said after practice.
Starks had offseason surgery after injuring his knee during the Steelers’ playoff loss in Denver.
With or without Starks, the good news is that Ben said he's feeling more comfortable with the Steelers' new offense.
“We've made some strides. Every day is a little bit better,” Roethlisberger said after working out for about two hours at Heinz Field. “I'm not saying I could go out and call a game myself right now but I understand when he (Todd Haley) calls a play I know what’s going on for the most part."
The Steelers wrapped up the voluntary portion of the offseason Thursday at Heinz Field. Now it’s on to the mandatory part.
The Steelers begin a three-day mini-camp next week starting Tuesday on the South Side.
It will be a chance for Roethlisberger to get a good look at the Steelers’ first two draft picks up close and personal.
David DeCastro, a guard from Stanford, was drafted first by the Steelers and Mike Adams, a tackle from Ohio State, was drafted in the second round.
“I’ve heard some great things about both of them,” Roethlisberger said.
Both will be given an opportunity to step in and start, which Roethlisberger wouldn’t mind.
“As long as they do their job, I don’t care,” Roethlisberger said.
In between running plays, Roethlisberger noticed a few rookies. One, a running back from Florida especially caught his attention.
“I think if you look at what Rainey's done, it’s pretty impressive. He's got a lot of moves and he's good out of the backfield," Roethlisberger said.