Thursday notebook: Arians meets press

PITTSBURGH – What's become of the Steelers' screen game? In the old days, way back two years ago when Ken Whisenhunt called the plays, the Steelers were the masters ...

... of the screen pass. They threw the wide receiver screen, the tight end screen, and of course the halfback screen, which carried with it the threat of a breakaway by Willie Parker. Parker's back this week, but don't expect the same from the screen pass. Parker's not.

"When B.A. (Bruce Arians) came in, he changed everything," Parker said of the Steelers' second-year offensive coordinator. "I've been bugging him about going back to the way we used to do it, but you know how that goes."

Arians didn't go into details about the changes, but he doesn't believe it's a problem.

"It hasn't been for a couple of years," Arians said. "It's something we work hard on, but they weren't going to work versus (the New York Giants)."

The Steelers tried one screen pass against the Giants and it clanged off Mewelde Moore's chest. The incompletion was probably good for Moore, who would've been tackled for a loss.

"The Giants are a pressure man-to-man team, so they're always hugging the screen runner," Arians said. "The Redskins do the same thing. It's a very similar defense this week and we've got to do a better job on the road of blocking them."

Hines Ward called the Steelers "a great perimeter team that should have better success" running screens.

"We've run them," he said. "It's just a matter of running them the way we're supposed to. But we're definitely working on it. We didn't just ball it up and throw it away. I don't know how the offensive line used to do it, but trust me, B.A. loves the screen. He's a big screen guy. But when you're backed up third-and-13 and the defense is calling out "screen" and "draw," it makes it difficult. It's a chess match. "We're working on it though. It's not where we want to be, but I like where we're going. Screens are definitely going to help us later on down the road, because if you blitz, Willie Parker and Mewelde Moore can take it 60 yards."


Arians saw something from Parker at Thursday's practice that he believes is a positive indicator for Monday's game.

"He's smiling, and that's the telltale sign," Arians said. "When he starts smiling, he's ready to go."

Parker missed the last four games after spraining his left knee against the Philadelphia Eagles. Arians said he'll ease him in, along with Moore, which Arians said "will give us a nice 1-2 punch."

Moore (65-322) has only one fewer carry than Parker (66-263) this season, but has 59 more yards. Both backs have season-long runs of 32 yards and each has rushed for three touchdowns.

"Between the tackles, they're very similar," Arians said. "They've got the ability to jump cut, set a guy up, get back, and then burst through a hole. Mewelde doesn't quite have Willie's giddy-up and go when there's a crack, to hit it and take it the distance, but they both have good vision."


Arians on allowing five sacks and several more hits on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday:

* "A couple were more coverage sacks than blocking sacks, especially on the quick plays. They did a really good job of legally jamming the guys within five yards. The quick game was disrupted."

* "They're going to bring more than you can block, so you turn the farthest guy loose on the quarterback and that was (Mathias Kiwanuka). We don't have enough guys to block that."

* "You're taking out a heck of a player (Santonio Holmes), and taking him out on Friday is tough when you can't adjust your game plan and have to use a young guy (Limas Sweed), who played pretty well, but he's not Santonio right now."


Starters who missed Thursday's practice were NT Casey Hampton (toe), LT Marvel Smith (back), DE Aaron Smith (personal reasons), OLB LaMarr Woodley (calf), FS Ryan Clark (shoulder), and CB Bryant McFadden (arm).

Steel City Insider Top Stories