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Steelers say yes to no-huddle after last year's success

| Saturday, June 7, 2014, 10:03 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger comes to the line during practice Wednesday, June 4, 2014 on the South Side.

Lance Moore has been part of complex and pass-happy offenses the eight seasons he spent with Drew Brees in New Orleans.

Still, it took the veteran receiver signing a free agent contract with the Steelers to experience something that he never did, or thought he would ever do.

“If you would've told me a month ago that we would be doing no-huddle on the fourth and fifth OTA (organized team activity), I would've said you are crazy,” Moore said.

You can include the sixth OTA and likely OTAs seven through 10, as well.

The Steelers spent the better part of their second week of voluntary offseason practices on something they usually don't get around to until a week into training camp — the no-huddle offense — for good reason.

The Steelers want to incorporate even more of the no-huddle offense into their game plan after the success they had last year.

“I think it's something that we realized where we can be and what we did last year, and where we were successful, so I think we'll use it more,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said.

But with two-thirds of last year's receiving corps somewhere else with Emmanuel Sanders in Denver and Jerricho Cotchery in Carolina along with the Steelers wanting to continue expanding on the success of the offense from a year ago, the no-huddle has been an emphasis early on during spring practices.

“It was a little sub-par, but it's going to happen like that sometimes,” Roethlisberger said following a practice this week where they used an entire period on the no-huddle. “How can we come back, bounce back, because we're not going to score on every series and be going no-huddle.”

The Steelers enjoyed a lot of success with the no-huddle during the second half because Roethlisberger was able to call the majority of the plays at the line of scrimmage.

The Steelers ran at least 15 no-huddle plays in each of the final nine games of the season. The Steelers went 6-3 during that span and averaged more than 10 points more per game compared to the first seven games.

It might not be a large portion of the offense, but it will be a significant part this year.

“I don't want to call it our base offense,” Roethlisberger said, “but I think you'll see more of it, so it was more important for us to get it in early and often.”

The Steelers ran 239 no-huddle plays last year, or 23 percent of their plays. Roethlisberger was extremely successful in the offense completing 102 of 163 passes for 1,221 yards and 10 of his 28 touchdowns.

“I think if we can (get acclimated to it) then it can be a good weapon for us, but like I said, we have to have 11 guys on the same page operating in the same manner, and that's not an easy thing to do,” tight end Heath Miller said.

Hence, the early start to getting everybody accustomed to the no-huddle including veterans Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey.

With Moore being exposed to the offense in New Orleans, and Heyward-Bey having been part of six different offenses in six years, including having to learn a new one midway through the season in Oakland when Carson Palmer was traded, it won't be an overwhelming task for them. But it could be for the younger receivers.

“I think if you are a young guy, it might be a little rough because there are so many different concepts and different words,” Heyward-Bey said. “It is an advantage for our offense if we are all on the same page.”

The sticking point with the no-huddle is the call from Roethlisberger.

Sometimes, Roethlisberger uses hand signals. Other times, there is a single word that tells the offensive line, running backs and receivers what to do.

“It is a bunch of things that we come up in the meeting room, and we just have to translate that from the classroom out onto the field,” Heyward-Bey said.

Roethlisberger is taking a more hands-on approach during OTAs to ensure that the new receivers are on the same page.

“I feel like we can get right back on track pretty quick,” he said.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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