Arians won't change for new players

The Pittsburgh Steelers will have new starters at key offensive positions Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, but that doesn't mean offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will change his style.

PITTSBURGH – As he does following every Thursday practice, Bruce Arians answered questions from a group of reporters. One of the reporters told the Steelers' offensive coordinator that he didn't get any "Fire Arians" e-mails this week.

"A perfect quarterback rating will do it every time," said Arians.

Ben Roethlisberger spared Arians any grief with his performance last Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. But Roethlisberger has missed most of two practices this week with a sore right shoulder and he might not play Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

Charlie Batch is preparing for action, and with the game near absent of meaning the question for Arians is not if, but how much Batch will play.

"I have no idea yet," Arians said. "That'll be a game-time decision. Whatever coach says."

Arians was asked for his thoughts on the matter.

"I don't have any," he said. "Whatever coach's thoughts are, those are mine."

And when will Mike Tomlin tell him what to think?

"Sunday morning probably," Arians said with a laugh, and then he passed along what he felt was his most important message:

"It's like I've always said," he started, "I don't call the game any different no matter if Willie's in the game, Charlie's in the game, Cedrick's at X, Nate's at X. I don't call the game differently. I expect them to play like the guy they replace. We don't change what we do if he's got the Steeler helmet on."

So, while the Steelers' offense will be in a state of flux in the regular-season finale, the play-calling will be the same – even if it means the tailbacks are Najeh Davenport, Carey Davis and Gary Russell instead of Fast Willie Parker, even if it means big backs as opposed to fast backs.

Arians said that Davenport will start at halfback, Davis will be the third-down back and fullback, Russell will be the backup to Davenport, and Verron Haynes would be the backup to Davis if active.

However, Arians insisted, the change in the style of runner does not mean a return to the steady inside power game that had been the organization's comfort zone for years.

"Not mine," Arians said. "Since I've been a Pittsburgh Steeler, big chunks of yards have been the comfort zone. That's Willie Parker. I wasn't here with Jerome (Bettis) in his heyday, and it's been a long time since Jerome's heyday."

Arians likened Davenport's game to Bettis' in that both combine power with big-play capability.

"Same with Carey," Arians said. "He popped one around the corner for 10. He's got just enough speed to get you 10 or 11. And it'll be interesting to see what Gary's going to do, because he could be a home-run hitter at his size."

Russell caught the coaching staff's interest at camp. The 220-pounder sat out last season and signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent. Sunday will be the first real opportunity for the coaches to see what they've got in Russell.

"His redshirt is gone. He's got to graduate in four," Arians said. "He's another guy who could be really critical and he needs to see the speed of the game against a really good defense. We'll be shuffling him in early."

The other guy who "needs to see the speed of the game against a really good defense" is Batch, just in case he too is needed in the playoffs.

"If you're ever going to play your backup quarterback it's in September," Arians said. "In Week 16, the speed of the game's big. We try to get him to work against our first guys every Wednesday in the second half of the season just for that reason: the speed of the game, when we're at our best as far as tempo. And he's done a real good job."

NOTES – Missing Thursday's practice were LB Andre Frazier (groin), LB Clint Kriewaldt (neck), S Troy Polamalu (knee) and T Marvel Smith (back). Those who practiced in a limited capacity were Roethlisberger, WR Willie Reid (shoulder), and CB Allen Rossum (hamstring). … Ravens who didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday are QB Kyle Boller, TE Todd Heap, LB Ray Lewis, RB Willis McGahee, S Gerome Sapp and TE Quinn Sypniewski.


Steel City Insider Top Stories