Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger getting more freedom in Haley's offense
By Alan Robinson
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:27 p.m.
One of Ben Roethlisberger's major frustrations last season was offensive coordinator Todd Haley's refusal to allow him to change plays at the line of scrimmage, according to former backup quarterback Charlie Batch.
Batch, now the co-host on the Steelers' radio network pregame show, said Haley came in intending to re-establish the run. Haley's former team, the Chiefs, led the NFL in rushing in 2010. Batch paraphrased Roethlisberger by saying, “ ‘Yeah, you have to run the football, but sometimes there are eight people in the box. Let me turn around and throw this football.' By not being allowed that flexibility, like Bruce Arians allowed him to have to change at the line of scrimmage to a pass, that frustrated him a little bit.”
Batch said during his first broadcast that it is evident Roethlisberger is being given that flexibility now. Haley implemented numerous tweaks and changes in the offense, some at the players' request.
It took more than a year, but tight end David Johnson returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since injuring his right knee in the 2012 preseason opener. The Steelers aren't speculating when he can return, but if it is early in the season, he would provide size (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) and blocking skills at a position where the Steelers are going with the relatively undersized David Paulson (6-4, 245). Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller is out indefinitely with a knee injury similar to Johnson's. “I'm glad today I was able to get out there and make it through practice,” Johnson said.
The Steelers likely will begin the regular season with three injured players on their 53-man roster: tight ends Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth and running back Le'Veon Bell.
A player must stay out for six weeks if he begins the season on the physically unable to perform list, and the Steelers are hopeful that Miller (knee) will be ready to practice sometime within that time frame.
They could avoid putting Spaeth on the season-ending injured reserve list by designating him for return as they did with injured guard David DeCastro last season. However, only one such player can be designated, and the Steelers might want to reserve that spot for a regular should one be injured early in the season.
Officials at practice
Displeased with all of the offensive line's penalties against Washington, coach Mike Tomlin, as he promised, brought in officials for practice Wednesday so players would know immediately what infractions they were committing.
They were penalized 95 yards in Monday's preseason game against the Redskins. The much-flagged offensive line is having success run blocking but has struggled in pass protection.
“You've got to practice it,” backup Kelvin Beachum said. “We know it's the preseason; we've been going against our defense for the better part of a month. We'll get it fixed. If we control the things we can control, we'll be all right.”
Jones learning all he can from veterans
He is in the NFL, but rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones still doesn't consider himself to be a pro football player.
He said that can come only with accruing some regular season experience — not all of it on the field.
“I sit around these guys all day, and I'm just watching them, not just as football players but as men,” Jones said. “On and off the field I'm just trying to learn. They're pros, and they know what it takes to be pros. Myself, I'm trying to find my role and become a pro player.
“I'm in the pros, but you've got to take steps to become a pro.”
Extended time for starters?
Safety Ryan Clark is speculating the starters might not play just the first half but also a series into the third quarter against the Chiefs on Saturday. That would allow the players to implement any changes that the coordinators will make at halftime.
Bettis gets new job
Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis is joining ESPN as an NFL analyst on its NFL Live and SportsCenter shows.
Bettis, the NFL's No. 6 all-time rusher, worked as an NBC Sunday night analyst for several seasons after retiring from the Steelers following their 2005 Super Bowl-winning season.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Despite many moves, Steelers’ depth still a work in progress
- Steelers notebook: Today’s game creates tweaks to 3-4 defense
- Steelers sign former Texas cornerback McCain
- 3 more college players visit Steelers ahead of NFL Draft