Ben, Haley on Same Page

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Wednesday clarified his remark about using the 'old playbook' in last Sunday's game.

PITTSBURGH – The much-awaited blowup between Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley hasn't happened, despite the team's 1-2 start.

And if Roethlisberger and the offense continue to play as they have in the first three games, it may never occur.

Roethlisberger is off to arguably the best start of his nine-year NFL career under Haley's direction, leading the league in touchdown passes with eight, while ranking second in passer rating at 109.2 and fourth in yards with 904.

A quarterback who often butted heads with former coach Bill Cowher and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt before settling into a sometimes too friendly relationship with Bruce Arians, whom Haley replaced in the offseason, has been the consummate good soldier.

Even when some attempt to point out signs of trouble between Roethlisberger and Haley, the quarterback is quick to put out the fire.

After saying that he had called plays from the old playbook in Sunday's 34-31 loss at Oakland, Roethlisberger clarified his statement this week.

"I probably didn't speak clearly enough," Roethlisberger said. "It wasn't so much that I called plays, but I used hand signals. I know there are some people out there saying that I'm being resistant to Todd. It was simply a signal that I used with receivers on two occasions."

Roethlisberger said he used the hand signals from Arians' days just twice during the game, converting a fourth down pass in the first quarter to Mike Wallace, and a third-down play later in the game to Emmanuel Sanders.

But it wasn't an act of defiance.

"The point of me saying that was (in reply) to a question about how everyone was on the same page," said Roethlisberger, who threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns in the loss. "I was talking about things that probably are now because they worked. It's good that we were on the same page, that's all."

Roethlisberger has plenty of reason to be happy with Haley's offense, which has allowed him to throw 120 passes in the first three games.

The only issue with the Steelers' offense to this point has been the almost complete lack of a running game.

With a rushing attack that has produced just 195 yards and 2.6 yards per carry, Roethlisberger has been forced to carry the offensive load on his shoulders.

Roethlisberger hasn't given up faith in the ground game, which produced a meager 54 yards on 20 attempts against the Raiders.

"If you look at our run game, everybody wants 100 yards," Roethlisberger said. "But we were pretty efficient when he was to run the ball. We just threw the ball because we could. We had a lot of success throwing the ball, so why not do it? We're not going to run the ball just because we're quote unquote supposed to run the ball."

The Steelers are hoping to get a boost to their running game coming out of their bye this week from the return of running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Mendenhall, the team's leading rusher the past three seasons, has been practicing the past three weeks as he returns from a torn ACL suffered last Jan. 1 at Cleveland. The Steelers hope that Mendenhall will be cleared to play when they host Philadelphia Oct. 7.

But just because Mendenhall returns, doesn't mean he's automatically going to be handling 20 carries per game.

"When the green light is given, you still have to be smart with it," Haley said. "The guy has been out a good part of a year and will see his first live action. We have to get him ready and practice him like we've been doing. Easing him into it would be the way to go about it."

That means more passing from Roethlisberger, at least for now.

"I think coach (Haley) uses what he has," said Roethlisberger. "In Arizona, he had some great wide receiver weapons and Kurt Warner is a great quarterback. In Kansas City, they had (Jamaal) Charles and had some running game, so I think he utilizes what he has."

(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)


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