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Steelers players rallying around Ben Roethlisberger amid criticism

Ben Roethlisberger has been the target of criticism from Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, among others, throughout the offseason, but it appears players still with the Pittsburgh Steelers have his back.

Pointed comments from Brown and Bell, now with the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets, respectively, have painted Roethlisberger in an unflattering light.

There were also whispers following a tumultuous season that unnamed Steelers players were “very upset” over all the drama, including Roethlisberger’s off-the-field conduct, specifically related to how the veteran signal-caller would publicly call out his teammates in the media.

Despite the firestorm surrounding Roethlisberger, several of his teammates surfaced on social media Monday to rally around the seemingly beleaguered quarterback.

Ryan Shazier took to Twitter to react to Steelers legend James Harrison going to bat for Roethlisberger.

It merits noting that Harrison previously defended Brown amid the trade drama, so his comments on Roethlisberger certainly are interesting.

Meanwhile, wide receiver James Washington — a target of Big Ben’s barbs this season — defended Roethlisberger in an interview with the team’s website, saying the quarterback’s support and “tough love” helped him navigate and up-and-down season.

Running back James Conner also surfaced on Twitter to lend his support by reacting to a tweeted video of Roethlisberger playing the role of a supportive teammate.

JuJu Smith-Schuster similarly shouted out Roethlisberger on social media.

The notion that teammates are publicly supporting Roethlisberger should not come as a surprise. After all, these players will be sharing the field next season with the veteran and anything that can be done to put a chaotic and disappointing 2018 season in the rear-view mirror will only help the Steelers focus on the future.