Share This Page

Steelers notebook: Steelers look to work tight end into no-huddle offense

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 1:42 p.m.

Ben Roethlisberger is always looking for ways to expand the no-huddle offense, but who would've thought the next progression would include Will Johnson?

The Steelers fullback has been moved out of the running back room and in with the tights exclusively this year for the first time with the thought of being able to use the sure-handed Johnson more in the no-huddle offense than in a straight fullback role.

“I am learning different routes and different reads and hots,” Johnson said. “Hey, it gets me on the field and gives me a chance to make plays.”

Johnson, who is in his third year out of West Virginia, has 23 career catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson did not play a snap in the no-huddle a season ago, but his unique skill set of being big, strong and having good hands could provide matchup issues for opposing defenses.

“It helps having Will Johnson, who is a fullback, tight-end kind of guy, so we can move him around and do some run-pass game with him as well,” Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger completed 102 of 163 passes for 1,221 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception out of the no-huddle last year. The Steelers also called 76 run plays out of the formation mostly with the same skill players on the field.

“In years past, it has been one, maybe two personnel groups,” Roethlisberger said. “Now we can do some different things.”

Spence for 6

If linebacker Sean Spence had any doubts he is 100 percent back from a gruesome knee injury that cost him his first two years, Wednesday might have erased those.

Spence dropped into coverage during a team period in which the offense was backed inside the 5-yard line. He intercepted a pass from Landry Jones intended for Darrius Heyward-Bey and returned it for a touchdown.

“I pretty much had a spot drop, and Coach (Keith) Butler has been pretty much harping on spot drops and reading the quarterback eyes all week,” Spence said. “I finally put it all together and got an interception.”

For Spence, making a play by reacting was a confidence boost heading into training camp in late July.

“Being out of football for two years and being able to read the quarterback and break on it and make an interception without thinking about it felt pretty great,” Spence said. “I am 100 percent now, and I am looking forward to taking the next step.”

Hall pass

For the second consecutive year, a rookie minicamp tryout player will be going to training camp with the Steelers.

The Steelers signed former Jeannette running back Jordan Hall (Ohio State) on Wednesday — a month after he tried out with the Steelers during rookie minicamp — and released rookie cornerback Deion Belue.

“I felt like I had a good weekend when I came down here,” Hall said. “I was talking to Coach Tomlin and (Todd Haley) a lot, so I felt like we had a good vibe.”

The Steelers signed Terrence Garvin after a tryout last year. He made the team and played in 15 games.

Tuitt is the last

Second-round pick Stephon Tuitt became the last of the Steelers' rookies to sign, when he agreed to a four-year deal.

Based on the wage scale, Tuitt will make $4.42 million with a signing bonus of $1.7 million and a 2014 salary cap hit of $797,000.

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

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.