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Steelers start workouts without Roethlisberger

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, accused of assaulting a female college student in Georgia, didn't report to the team's offseason workouts Monday.

Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett said Roethlisberger will not work out with his teammates this week. Some, but not all, of the Steelers' most experienced players began the conditioning and weightlifting program Monday. Less-experienced players began working out two weeks ago.

The Steelers don't start on-field practicing until April 19, when most players are expected to be on hand.

The team apparently believes it would be a distraction for Roethlisberger to be working out at this time. An investigation into the Georgia case is ongoing.

Roethlisberger also is being sued in Nevada by a woman who's accusing him of assaulting her in a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2008. He has strongly denied the accusation and has filed a counter suit in the case.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said last week at the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., that players who took 1,000 or more snaps last season were due to report Monday, including Roethlisberger. However, some veteran players in addition to Roethlisberger also aren't expected to show up this week, but Lockett didn't identify them.

The conditioning work involves no on-field practicing, but instead emphasizes weight lifting and getting into football shape. Such workouts aren't open to reporters, but a large number were expected at Steelers headquarters Monday because Roethlisberger hasn't commented on the Georgia incident since it occurred earlier this month.

Now, the question is when Roethlisberger will try to get back to football work.

Despite the strong start to Roethlisberger's career -- he has taken the Steelers to two Super Bowl titles and three AFC Championship Games in six seasons -- and the estimated $66 million left on his $102 million contract, the Steelers are clearly upset with the quarterback's off-the-field problems.

Team president Art Rooney II has met with Roethlisberger, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also plans to meet with the quarterback at an unspecified time. Tomlin has been in constant contact with Roethlisberger.

"We take this issue very seriously," Goodell said March 22. "I am concerned that Ben continues to put himself in this position."

Rooney said the Steelers are "in a situation (where) we're going to let this investigation play out and then go from there."

The NFL hasn't said if Roethlisberger might be suspended if he is charged in the Georgia case.

Despite Roethlisberger's problems, Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said the team doesn't anticipate drafting a quarterback in the early rounds next month.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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