On the Steelers: Big Ben's wish list topper: no huddle
Ben Roethlisberger wants to run the no-huddle offense more often and admits to some disappointment because his coaches will not let him.
"Yeah, a little bit," Roethlisberger said Wednesday. "I feel we can change it up. I think it's a weapon for us, and we just haven't had a chance to get into it yet."
The quarterback, in his eighth season, has had two offensive coordinators, and both will be on the field when the Steelers play the Cardinals at Arizona Sunday. Ken Whisenhunt tutored him from 2004 through 2006, then became Arizona's head coach. Bruce Arians succeeded him as coordinator in 2007.
Roethlisberger, who admits to having had some difficulties accepting Whisenhunt's tight rein on a young quarterback, has a good relationship, personal and professional, with Arians, and his desire to use more no-huddle may not be an issue between them. But the quarterback admits to lobbying Arians to run it "all the time."
"I wanted to get into it last week," Roethlisberger said of the Steelers 17-13 victory against Jacksonville at Heinz Field. "I love doing it. I think we have so many weapons we need to utilize."
Roethlisberger said the Steelers generally go to a no-huddle when their offense bogs down, but he would prefer to use it in many different situations.
"I like to do it every game regardless how we're doing," Roethlisberger said. "Traditionally, we've kind of gotten into it when we've struggled on offense, when it's a couple three-and-out. I went to him this past game, I think at the eight-minute mark [of the fourth quarter] after we went three-and-out a couple times to try to change up the pace."
One of the reasons Roethlisberger prefers the no-huddle -- and perhaps his coaches not as much -- is that it swings the play-calling from the offensive coordinator to the quarterback. Roethlisberger acknowledged as much.
"A lot of it is I'm calling the plays, so I can see what the defense is. When a play is called form the sideline, it's off of tendencies, which when you have a good coordinator like we do, they know tenedencies pretty well. I have a feel for who's playing well, who's doing good things, the looks on defensive fronts, the secondary. For me, it's a rhythm thing as well."
Arians has said he does not like to use the no-huddle on the road because it is tougher for everyone to hear the calls. Roethlisberger said yesterday he has no trouble running it away from home.
"Absolutely, we've done it everywhere. I don't think there's an issue with it."
The relationship between Whisenhunt and Roethlisberger was strained at times, mainly because his first coordinator limited some of the things the young quarterback could do.
Roethlisberger became the Steelers starting quarterback in the third game of his rookie season, 2004, after an arm injury in the second game knocked Tommy Maddox from the job.
"As a quarterback you want to go," Roethlisberger said. "And you want to be able to do no-huddle stuff and have the opportunity to change plays and do things, but either he didn't feel I was ready for it or that his system was the way to go. That's his prerogative."
Looking back on it, he said "Whiz was good. I think it took me awhile to realize it because I was a young quarterback. He held those reins real tight but he felt that was the way to approach a young quarterback, and there is no grudge on it."
Said Whisenhunt, "Obviously, he was thrust into the starting role after Tommy got hurt in that second game. A lot of that was making sure he was ready. He had a long way to go from where he came from to being a great player in the NFL
"He grew up quick. He made a lot of plays that year and really was a good player for us."
Guard Chris Kemoeatu returned to practice Wednesday after missing the past two games with a chronic knee problem he said has been drained of fluid three times in the past four weeks. He said he felt 100 percent and that he will play Sunday but acknowledged he will have to have surgery on his knee after the season to clean out the damaged cartilage that is causing the knee to swell.
"I feel pretty good, getting the strength back in it last week, rehabbing, staying off it and getting rest."
Another Who's Who did not practice for the Steelers yesterday: nose tackle Casey Hampton (shoulder), receiver Mike Wallace (hamstring), nose tackle Chris Hoke (neck), guard Doug Legursky (toe), defensive end Aaron Smith (foot) and linebacker James Harrison (eye). Of those, Wallace has the best chance of playing Sunday.
Whisenhunt said the memory of losing Super Bowl XLIII to the Steelers, 27-23, Feb. 1, 2009, remains with him.
"Sure it does. When you work so hard to get to one of those games and with the way it comes out, you obviously think about that. That's human nature."
He said the Cardinals also can learn something from that game for the rematch Sunday in the desert.
"Obviously, if we get down to the 1 yard line we're going to make sure we don't throw it to James Harrison. We've hopefully learned from that."
Harrison, who intercepted a Kurt Warner pass and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown on the last play of the first half, will not play Sunday because of his eye injury.
• The AFC named Rashard Mendenhall its offensive player of the week. He rushed 23 times for 146 yards in the Steelers 17-13 win against Jacksonville Sunday.
• Ray Horton left as Steelers secondary coach to become Arizona's defensive coordinator this year and convert the Cardinals to a Steelers-like 3-4 defense. Roethlisberger spent time with Steelers coordinator Dick LeBeau Wednesday talking about it.
"I just wanted to pick his brain a little bit about what he thought Ray would want to do and what his tendencies would be. Ray learned from maybe the best defensive coach of all time."
First Published October 20, 2011 12:00 am