Steelers May Open Passing Game

Also, more on James Harrison's flight to Cincinnati and a progress report on injured linebacker Sean Spence.

Only the Jacksonville Jaguars had a worse offensive showing on opening weekend than did the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, naturally, offensive coordinator Todd Haley is on the hot seat.

His job tonight in Cincinnati is to make chicken salad out of an offense that was held under 200 yards (195) for the first time in nearly three years.

Ironically, it was the Tennessee Titans who held the Steelers to 127 yards on Sept. 19, 2010.

Haley's job will be helped by better production in four spots:

* Center -- Fernando Velasco will start in place of Kelvin Beachum, who snapped early in the week in place of Maurkice Pouncey, because Velasco was just signed off the street.

"You can tell he's been in the league for a number of years, and you can tell that he's played the center position," said Haley. "We're trying to get him up to speed as best we can."

* Tight end -- Beachum will return as the blocking tight end, his third position in one-plus NFL seasons.

"He's exceeded expectations in every situation," Haley said. "At some point you probably have to say maybe we need to set (expectations) higher."

* Wide receiver -- The wide receivers caught only 16 of the 26 passes thrown to them last week. Haley was asked if he needed to challenge them.

"We're challenging everybody," he said. "And it's no different in the running game. At times runners are going to have to make yards when there may not be any."

* Running back -- Isaac Redman will remain the starter but cutback zone runner Felix Jones is understanding the offense better each day.

"You just have to be able run efficiently," Haley said. "I don't care if we throw it 45 times and run it 10 and win, or vice-versa. I think that they both have a positive effect, provided that you're efficient."


James Harrison didn't go into detail about the monetary differences he had with the Steelers that led to him signing with the Bengals during the off-season.

"Reports are reports," he said. "Only a few people know what was going on in those negotiations."

But Harrison told Pittsburgh reporters what attracted him to the Bengals.

"I liked Marvin Lewis, actually," Harrison said of the Bengals' coach. "The other thing was it's still close to home. It's still right in Ohio. I'm from Ohio, so my parents can still come down. It's a good situation, and I felt like they were on the rise. They were a good defense that looked like they were headed in the right direction, and they're still headed in the right direction."

"He's been a great pro and role model for the young guys," said Lewis. "They watch how he comes to work and goes about his business. That's been great. It's been really another confirmation of how you do it."


While inside linebacker Kion Wilson will realize a childhood dream by making his first NFL start tonight for the Steelers, last year's third-round draft pick, inside linebacker Sean Spence, continues to toil in a nightmare.

"I'm just trying to get better every day. That's my mindset," Spence said. "I'm not trying to look five or six weeks or nothing, just taking it day by day, one day at a time.

"It works. It's helping me out a lot."

Spence suffered damage to three ligaments in his left knee, as well as damage to the peroneal nerve, during a 2012 preseason hit. He promised in May he was "going to beat the odds," but as a member of the active PUP list -- with the possibility of returning this season -- Spence's spirits have dimmed.

"It's very hard," he said of the rehab process. "You have so many things to worry about. You do a lot and then you feel like you're playing catch-up a little bit because you've been out so long."

Does he still guarantee an eventual recovery?

"I don't really want to say because I don't want to say it is going to happen and it doesn't. I'm just going to continue taking it one day at a time."


* Dick LeBeau on the Bengals' plethora of quality tight ends:

"I would rather they have three real good tight ends and no A.J. Green."

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