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Steelers find comfort level in Haley's offense

| Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, 11:15 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley (center) saw his starters score one touchdown in four preseason games.

The Steelers will have a running back by committee and a tight end by committee. It's not the ideal scenario to build offensive continuity for any NFL team as a new season starts.

What's more important to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery is they no longer have a committee of one running the offense.

Even as the Steelers sort out two positions as tight end Heath Miller and rookie running back Le'Veon Bell heal, Cotchery said there is no comparison between the offense that will start the season Sunday against Tennessee to the one that opened in Denver last season.

To Cotchery, the offensive starters feel like it's their offense, not just coordinator Todd Haley's offense.

Cotchery likes how the offensive line is coming together, how the receivers are meshing, and the contributions that rookie Markus Wheaton is making. And he is certain the running game will produce, regardless of whether Bell, Isaac Redman, Felix Jones or LaRod Stephens-Howling is carrying the ball.

“We're a lot more comfortable. We didn't know what kind of offense we were going to end up being last year. Everybody was just feeling it out,” Cotchery said Monday. “But now we've had a year in the offense and we have some new young guys, and guys are being more comfortable in the positions they're in. We're ready to go.”

The starting offense scored one touchdown during the preseason and 10 points in the one full half it played against Kansas City, but Cotchery can feel a sense of confidence building.

“In house, we know what we need to do. The offseason going into the preseason, you're working on different phases of the offense, and that's all we were trying to take care of,” Cotchery said. “That's all we were focusing on. We stayed true to our process and we're ready for it all to come together, and we're looking forward to it.”

Ben Roethlisberger explained that, during the offseason, multiple offensive players met with Haley to make the offense more player-friendly. Roethlisberger said his comfort level is greater than it was a year ago.

“Brett Favre had been in one (Packers) offense for so long and once he got with the Jets, it was like a foreign language to him,” Cotchery said. “It had been the same thing here; they had been in one offense for so long. Now, guys are familiar with it (the Haley offense), we know the details of every route. When we break the huddle, it's, ‘OK, I'm looking at the defense, I'm not thinking about what I'm going to do.' ”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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