AFCN Update: Roethlisberger's knee feels really, really, really, good

USA TODAY Sports

Always keeping our eye focused on the AFC North, we take a look at a couple of Pittsburgh Steelers updates.

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Roethlisberger's knee feels really, really, really good.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent a procedure in June to clean out his meniscus, which shouldn't cause any mobility problems nor hold him out of training camp.

"It feels great, it feels better than ever, like it's a brand new knee and I feel younger than ever, I feel good," Roethlisberger told 7msport.com.

Laying it on a little thick, Ben?

By this time next year, the Steelers are expected to approach Roxburghshire (actually, it's Roethlisberger, but this is the result of my spell-check and it cracked me up) about a contract extension, largely to reduce his $18 million cap number in 2014.

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Jerome Bettis should be in the Hall of Fame.

Shocking discovery: Jerome Bettis wasn't actually in the defensive huddles when Pittsburgh played Cincinnati. A massive shoulder and a controlled load of destruction, Bettis was one of the biggest pains in the Bengals arses. During his ten seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bettis was named to four Pro Bowl teams and one-time All-NFL Pro.

His greatest successes came against the Bengals. In 20 games played, Bettis generated 1,794 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns against Cincinnati -- that translates to an average 89.7 yards/game.

Once he finished his career, capped by a Super Bowl win in 2005, Bettis would generate 13,662 yards rushing (sixth all-time) and 91 rushing touchdowns (tied for 10th all-time).

Bettis has been named a Hall of Fame finalist every year since his eligibility went active in 2010, but he's never been enshrined. Coming from a Bengals fan that watched Bettis pound Cincinnati into the ground for ten years, Bettis should be in the Hall of Fame.

On the other hand, I'm not necessarily buying Hines Ward. At least not right now. But the numbers, as well as the smaller things he was accustomed to doing, present an interesting argument.

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Rookie Jarvis Jones could start.

According to Len Pasquarelli (now with the National Football Post), the Pittsburgh Steelers are privately acknowledging that first-round rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones could start at outside linebacker this year.

Pittsburgh coaches and officials weren’t exactly thrilled when first-round linebacker Jarvis Jones showed up for early offseason workouts with a hamstring injury, a problem that cropped up, he said, during his "pro day" at Georgia, and which caused him to miss some field-time with the Steelers. But the team has seen enough of the 17th overall pick since then to privately acknowledge that he could be that rarest of commodities: a rookie who actually starts for the Steelers at the prized outside linebacker spot. There’s apparently a decent chance now that Jones can bump fourth-year veteran Jason Worilds (10 sacks in three seasons) as the heir apparent to James Harrison’s old spot on the right side.

One big reason: Unlike most of the players Pittsburgh has developed at outside linebacker, Jones is a pure linebacker. The standard paradigm for the Steelers is to take an undersized college defensive end, then develop him for a year or two as a 3-4 linebacker. Jones will have some rough patches, for sure, but he won’t have to make the switch that so many Steelers’ stars have in the past.

According to Rotoworld, Jones would be the first defensive rookie to start since Kendrell Bell and Casey Hampton in 2001.

On the other hand, Jason Worilds was once viewed as the eventual James Harrison replacement but injuries have stalled that development, even opening the door for Jones. Behind the Steel Curtain analyzes.

This year, as we all know, is different. James Harrison is gone, and his putative replacement, Jason Worilds, has been frequently injured. Worilds’ best chance to transfer the ROLB mantle to his own shoulders would have been last season, when Harrison was struggling to recover from knee surgery. But Worilds was out with a wrist injury for the entire pre-season, and by the time he was ready to play Harrison was back on the field, although it took a good bit more time before he was looking like himself. When Worilds has seen the field he hasn’t been an embarrassment, but he hasn’t by any means set the league on fire, and last year wasn't his finest.

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