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As Steelers QB Mason Rudolph adjusts, he's leaning on Big Ben

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PITTSBURGH -- Wearing an elbow immobilizer on his right arm, Ben Roethlisberger stood on the sideline at Heinz Field during the Pittsburgh Steelers' Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins.

As Roethlisberger's replacement, Mason Rudolph, struggled through the first half, Roethlisberger was there to offer the type of insight that only a quarterback who has been in his shoes can give. It's the same thing he has done for most of the season since he was sidelined during Week 2 because of a season-ending elbow injury and subsequent surgery.

Never having been in this position before, Rudolph didn't know what to expect from Roethlisberger.

"It's hard for someone like him to lose a chance at playing a season you've looked forward to for a long time," Rudolph said. "... We've made the best of it as we've moved forward together as a team."

As the season has gone on, Rudolph has continued to be pleasantly surprised by the veteran's involvement.

"He's been more helpful than I really thought," Rudolph said Monday night. "Such a tough situation to have your season taken from you like that, but he's been great giving input at halftime. He's been holding the whiteboard drawing stuff out. He's been awesome in that regard."

Roethlisberger also makes weekly stops at the team's quarterback meetings and comes to some practices, too. It's not all business when Roethlisberger stops by, but it has been positive for the quarterback to keep a presence around the facility.

"A lot of it is joking with [offensive coordinator] Randy [Fichtner], hanging out, catching up, asking him about how he's been filling his time, all the fun things he's been doing with his family and his kids," Rudolph said. "But a lot of it is football-related. He's always very interested about the game plan week to week and the ways we're attacking it. He'll ask me if I'm comfortable. That type of thing. It's an advantage."

Fichtner sees Roethlisberger's presence as a big bonus, too. Roethlisberger understands how to communicate with his fellow quarterbacks in a way that sometimes the rest of the coaching staff can't.

"I can remember many times wanting to talk to him as he comes off the field, whether it was a great play or a mistake and he's like, 'Hey, give me a minute.' I'm like, 'I got you. I got you,'" Fichtner said. "I know he respects that from that standpoint. I know any communication that they could possibly be having could only help a young quarterback at any one given time. It's a blessing to still have him be around, be capable to do that."