That supposed frosty relationship between quarterback and offensive coordinator has thawed this spring. At least, it would seem that way by listening to Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley speak -- and they speak to each other often apparently.
After Haley was hired last year, the story became how long it took for the new coordinator and the old quarterback to finally speak to one another. This year, they can't stop.
Roethlisberger zipped some passes before the afternoon practice Tuesday, six days after Dr. James Bradley performed surgery on his right knee to remove some loose cartilage with an arthroscope.
"It feels great," Roethlisberger said. "I saw [Dr.]Bradley this morning. He was pleasantly surprised with the range of motion and where we're at with the swelling. It feels great. I've been off crutches for a couple days now and moving around pretty good. I think I could play Sunday if I had to."
And if he played, there would be some differences in the offense thanks to Haley taking suggestions from players this year.
It's not so much what plays are called, but how they're called.
"It's more than just me. I think it's everybody," Roethlisberger said of the input Haley has taken from players. "Just the simple fact that he came to me and asked what I thought about it, changing the names of things to kind of make more sense to all of us."
Roethlisberger acknowledged in the middle of last season that, when calling an audible, he would often change the name of a play to what it was called when Bruce Arians was the coordinator so his teammates would quickly understand it. This spring, Haley has been amenable to naming certain plays as they were named under Arians.
"Usually, I talk to a lot of the guys," Roethlisberger said. "I ask the tight ends and wide receivers, 'Does this hit you? Does it make sense to you if we call it this?' If it doesn't, then we will go try to change it. We want everything, when it's on the fly, to make as much sense as possible ...
"When Todd came in, it was the exact same play that we had the past couple of years but it was called something completely different. It was just hard for us to make sense of something completely new. So we've gone back to what is familiar to a lot of guys. Some things we've kept the same. But we've moved some terminology around just to make it simpler for the young guys and even for some of us old guys."
Haley, permitted to speak to reporters for the first time since the end of last season, acknowledged he has tweaked some things at the behest of the players.
"I think the hardest thing for everybody is the terminology. I've said a number of times that I'm not a system guy. Your players change, hopefully just year by year, but in our case week by week at times. You've got to play to their strengths and you've got to do what they do well according to how defenses try to play against you.
"The terminology is why I think everybody is a lot more comfortable. Where the input comes in is something I love ... you want your marquee-type players, your big [guys], to have input because they're the ones out there facing the live bullets."
Haley's offense will miss one of those marquee players in Mike Wallace, considered one of the fastest wide receivers in the league and now with the Miami Dolphins. The Steelers did not try to throw deep as often in 2012 and, without Wallace this year, could those deep passes be even less frequent?
Not so fast with the not-so-fast stuff, Haley said. While they would not beat Wallace in a sprint, Haley believes Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are fast enough -- and the Steelers also drafted speedy Markus Wheaton in the third round.
"Mike, obviously, was a rare speed guy," Haley said. "But I view A.B. and Emmanuel and potentially some of these young guys as rare speed guys. If you look in the Hall of Fame, there are not many sub-4.4 guys in there."
Running backs adjust
One thing the halfbacks are trying to learn is how to adjust to the new rule which does not allow them to initiate contact with the crown of their helmet, which will draw a 15-yard penalty.
"We aren't going to overcoach it," said running backs coach Kirby Wilson. "They understand you cannot lead with the head but they can continue to protect themselves ...
"You don't know where the hits are coming from. That's a concern that a lot of runners have, so they drop their head. They aren't really looking for contact. They are looking to protect themselves. It's not a big deal, but it is an issue that must be addressed, and we've done that."
Training camp start date
The Steelers will open their 48th training camp July 26 at Saint Vincent College and have their first practice open to fans July 27, the team announced Tuesday.
Their first practice in pads will be July 29. They will conduct two night practices, Aug. 2 at Latrobe Stadium and Aug. 14 at Saint Vincent. The final practice open to the public will be Aug. 17, and the team will break camp the following day.
Rod and Rod to help coach
Former Pitt quarterback Rod Rutherford, who has a Super Bowl XL ring from when he was a practice squad player with the Steelers, is serving as a coaching intern in minicamp and will do so in training camp, too.
Hall of Fame cornerback Rod Woodson also is helping coach in minicamp and told Steelers.com he will do so at training camp, as well. Woodson coached one season with the Oakland Raiders.
For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @EdBouchette. First Published June 12, 2013 4:00 AM