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Steelers' Big Ben responds to criticism over work ethic

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported last Sunday that Ben Roethlisberger likely will ask for a trade during the offseason due to frustration with the team's direction.

NFL Media columnist Michael Silver added fuel to the fire Thursday night when he said on NFL Network "it's no secret" that Big Ben isn't overly popular in the Steelers' locker room and questions remain about his preparation.

"Away from the facility, he's no Peyton Manning," Silver said. "In fact, that is what I'm told is the biggest obstacle to him staying in Pittsburgh over the long haul from their perspective. At this stage of his career, he needs to become a more cerebral player and not just a physical wonder."

Roethlisberger responded Friday on WDVE-FM.

"First of all, how does anybody know what I'm doing at home, when I'm watching film or I'm looking through my playbook at home, unless someone's got cameras set up in my house and they're spying on me?" Roethlisberger said. "But then they'd see the truth that I am doing that stuff."

No matter what Roethlisberger is doing away from the field, Silver's reporting suggests there are concerns Big Ben doesn't fulfill all of the responsibilities expected of a franchise quarterback.

This upcoming offseason is big for Roethlisberger. The Steelers ideally would reduce his salary-cap number by signing him to a contract extension. Roethlisberger has said he wants to retire a Steeler, but it sounds like there is trepidation on both sides about making that commitment.

"I'm still ignorant to how all these cap things works and contracts," Roethlisberger said. "Honestly, if they come to me and say, 'Hey we want to restructure a deal,' or 'We want to do (a deal),' whatever. I want to help the team out. But all I can focus on right now is this season and this game. Because that's all that matters to me.

"I don't look for the future or the long term. What's going to happen next year? When's my contract up? These kind of things. For me, it's about how can I win this game, this week?"

Roethlisberger and the Steelers want these reports and questions to go away during the regular season. Perhaps the story will die down, but these cloudy last two weeks show an offseason storm is approaching.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" previewed the AFC playoff picture.

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