Ben Roethlisberger ready for debut

Updated: October 13, 2010, 9:00 PM ET
By James Walker | ESPN.com

PITTSBURGH -- Coming off a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger says he has a mix of emotions heading into Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.

"I'm excited. But I'm not to the peak of my excitement yet, that will probably come later," Roethlisberger said before Wednesday's practice. "I'm anxious, excited, a lot of emotions. But, like I said, a lot of it is under wraps right now because we're focusing on practice."

The Steelers (3-1) are off to a fast start even without their No. 1 quarterback. Pittsburgh used great defense and a power running game with tailback Rashard Mendenhall to record wins over the Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Steelers' one defeat came against the Baltimore Ravens.

It is now Roethlisberger's job to keep Pittsburgh's momentum going. The Steelers need his arm because they are last in the NFL in passing, but they have to be wary not to sway too far in that direction.

"I think we will be very balanced, and we're going to take what they give us," Roethlisberger said of the Browns. "If they're loading up the box, we will try to throw it. If they're sitting back, we will run the ball."

Last year Roethlisberger threw for a career-high 4,328 yards along with 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He was chosen as an alternate for the Pro Bowl but turned it down to rest his shoulder.

Roethlisberger hopes he gets a warm reception in his first game back this year in Heinz Field. Many Steelers fans were upset with Roethlisberger's off-field conduct and subsequent suspension. But the city of Pittsburgh is feeling good about its football team, and even more optimistic now that Roethlisberger is returning.

"Hopefully a lot of cheers," Roethlisberger said when asked about the fans. "In the preseason there was a lot of it. So I hope nothing will change."

James Walker covers the AFC North for ESPN.com

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter