PITTSBURGH — He showed up at training camp looking slim and fit, although he professes not to understand why anyone considered that a big deal. He says his arm is rested and feels good after he returned to his traditional less-is-more offseason throwing routine.

Ben Roethlisberger isn’t saying whether his 18th season as quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers will be his final one, calling that a one-year-at-a-time situation as his 40th birthday looms in March. But if others want to regard this as a potential last hurrah for Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, rest assured: He fully intends to make the most of it, either way.

“I think when you get to this point in your career, you have to take it one at a time,” Roethlisberger said. “You’ve got to give this season everything that you have. I know I’ve said it before: Nothing’s promised to us. … So I’m just going to give everything I have to this season and do what we can from there.”

He was relaxed and engaging as he sat on a concourse at Heinz Field before a recent practice. The other two prominent quarterbacks from his celebrated 2004 draft class, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, are now in retirement. Roethlisberger’s friend and longtime center, Maurkice Pouncey, retired in February. Yet Roethlisberger, who is entering the final season of his contract, said he had only passing thoughts this offseason of walking away himself.

“I couldn’t say 100 percent there wasn’t ever a moment,” he said. “When I talked to Maurkice Pouncey and we talked about things together, I’d say that there maybe were moments. But I felt pretty certain after praying a lot about it and talking with my wife and my agent and the people closest to me. I felt pretty confident that I still had something in the tank and still wanted to go out and be a part of this team that I feel is pretty special.”

There is unfinished business. Roethlisberger amassed two Super Bowl victories in his first five NFL seasons. He made a third Super Bowl appearance — a loss to the Green Bay Packers — in his seventh season. The Steelers have not been back to the Super Bowl since.

Things looked promising last season when the Steelers got off to an 11-0 start. But their season unraveled amid a trying stretch of three games in 12 days, beginning with a victory over the Baltimore Ravens in a game played on a Wednesday after a string of coronavirus-related postponements.

“Last year was a very taxing year, not just on us but everybody,” defensive end Cam Heyward said. “I think we kind of ran out of gas at the end.”

The Steelers lost four of their final five games in the regular season and fell at home to the Cleveland Browns, 48-37, in the opening round of the AFC playoffs.

“I don’t think we had good balance between offense and defense,” Heyward said. “And that’s just being pretty honest with ourselves. Either the defense wasn’t complementing [the offense] and getting off the field, or the offense wasn’t staying on long enough for the defense. … The two big units, offense and defense, have to work more in unison if we’re going to be more successful.”

The Pittsburgh defense lost its dominance as the 2020 season came undone. On offense, the running game was nowhere to be found. But much of the scrutiny was on Roethlisberger. In the playoff defeat, he passed for 501 yards and four touchdowns but also threw four interceptions.

Roethlisberger said last week that whatever success the Steelers had throwing the ball last season was “pretty impressive considering everybody in the world knew what we were going to do.” He called the repeated postponements of the Ravens game “brutal,” given the disruptions to the physical and mental preparation necessary to play. He said the ultimate lesson of last season was this: “It doesn’t matter how you start. It’s how you finish.”

Now it’s time to move on. Roethlisberger will be playing for a new offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, who was promoted from quarterbacks coach after Randy Fichtner’s contract was not renewed. The Steelers revamped their offensive line and used a first-round draft choice on running back Najee Harris.

Roethlisberger said he returned to his career-long norm of doing little offseason throwing after being forced to throw “thousands of footballs” the previous offseason as he worked his way back from 2019 elbow surgery.

“I think last year I said this a few times: My arm felt great,” he said. “It felt really good coming off that surgery. But feeling it now and comparing it to last year, maybe it wasn’t as good [then] as it feels now. I was only a year removed from a pretty major surgery on a part of the body that I make my living off of.”

Of the assessments that he is in far better shape for this training camp than usual, Roethlisberger joked, “I just wear tighter shirts.” But he maintained his offseason training routine and diet were no different from what he has done in recent years.

“So much was made a week or two [ago],” Roethlisberger said. “I mean, listen, as you get older — for the last four or five years, I’ve really focused on having a trainer, my body. Part of it’s football. But part of it’s life. I’m not getting any younger. I’m almost 40 years old. So you’ve got to take care of yourself. And nothing against Tom [Brady], but I’m not eating avocado ice cream. Yeah, you have a chef and you try and eat healthy. But you’re eating healthy because you want to be and feel good.”

There is no obvious successor-in-waiting on the Steelers’ roster, although they signed Dwayne Haskins after the 2019 first-round draft pick was released less than two full seasons into his NFL tenure with the Washington Football Team.

“I grew up watching Ben,” Haskins said. “So it was great just to see how he operates. … Every time I can hear a nugget that he says or every time he makes a check or every time he talks to a receiver about a detail, I try to learn as much as I can from him. He does a great job of helping me out behind the scenes.”

Roethlisberger said he spoke to Manning “a little bit” this offseason, in part because new Steelers quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan has a New York Giants background, and has talked to Brady “a few times, obviously,” given the numerous on-field matchups in their careers.

“Usually age doesn’t come up too much with us talking,” Roethlisberger said of those conversations, “but just in the understanding of: ‘When do you know? When do you feel like it’s become a job? Or when does it feel like it’s not fun anymore?’ … At some point, you have to have those discussions, which goes back to the point … [of] why to come back. And it just felt like I still love the game and still have it.”