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Steelers revive the no-huddle offense

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By Mike Prisuta
Saturday, July 28, 2007
 

Ben Roethlisberger isn't doing as much campaigning this year.

There's no need.

New offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and head coach Mike Tomlin are in apparent agreement with their QB's belief that the Steelers should employ the no-huddle offense in situations other than when they're trying to play beat the clock.

"With Bruce and the confidence he has in me and Tomlin has, I think we'll use it," Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger, citing the success of Carson Palmer and the Cincinnati Bengals in such situations, voiced his desire for the Steelers to follow suit as the next logical step in their continued development as an offense in the spring of 2006.

The no-huddle/hurry-up has come into vogue in recent seasons as a method of dictating tempo and combating situational substitutions on defense.

Fresh from a Super Bowl championship a year ago in June, former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt initially warmed up to the idea of the Steelers trying to play it that way on occasion.

Roethlisberger, Whisenhunt declared, had earned the right to attempt to take on more responsibility in such a fashion.

But it didn't work out that way.

"Short of saying anything about the other coaches that were here (last year), but we just didn't use it in the (regular-season) games," Roethlisberger said. "I don't know why."

Roethlisberger's offseason motorcycle accident didn't initially deter either Whisenhunt or former head coach Bill Cowher from moving forward with their no-huddle experiment.

"Against Minnesota in the preseason, we used the no-huddle on the first series and went right down and scored," Roethlisberger said.

They might have done the same against Miami had Roethlisberger not missed the regular-season opener after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

He was off-target and ineffective upon his return on Sept. 18 in Jacksonville.

And by the time Roethlisberger made it back from a concussion suffered on Oct. 22 in Atlanta and threw four interceptions on Oct. 29 in Oakland, the Steelers were 2-5 and in scramble mode much more than they were committed to expanding their repertoire.

Arians' embracing of the concept this summer includes four no-huddle packages in addition to the hurry-up normally relied upon at the conclusion of halves or games.

"Those will just be up-tempo," Arians said. "The (hurry-up) we consider fast-break, four wide receivers and just as fast as we can go."

The Steelers worked on the hurry-up on Wednesday, attempting to advance the ball against the defense and a ticking clock positioned on the practice field.

The personnel group in that instance was three wide receivers (Hines Ward, Cedric Wilson and Nate Washington), tight end Heath Miller and running back Willie Parker, further evidence that tight ends and wide receivers are becoming interchangeable in Arians' administration.

On Thursday, the Steelers went no-huddle but at less than a breakneck pace.

The personnel group used included two tight ends (Miller and Jerame Tuman), Ward, Wilson and Parker.

"B.A. said this can be a weapon for us at any time," Roethlisberger said. "And if you remember the game at Cleveland, we were down, but we started using it in the third quarter and we started moving the ball.

"I think it can be a weapon just like our (hurry-up)."

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