Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s surgically repaired right knee is on its way to a full recovery.
So too, it seems, is Roethlisberger’s relationship with offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Following a somewhat rocky year in which the two couldn’t seem to warm to the idea of the other, the admittedly headstrong men behind Pittsburgh’s offense appear focused on moving forward after the Steelers slumped to an 8-8 finish.
Haley approached Roethlisberger and several other players during the offseason asking them about changes they’d like to see made, and the result is an attack they hope is a little more streamlined than it was in 2012.
“You want your guys that are out there, especially Ben who is handling the football on hopefully an every down basis, to feel invested in what’s going on,” Haley said.
Though Roethlisberger consistently took the blame when things fell apart, he also expressed frustration at the playcalling and at one point reverted to old hand signals left over from mentor Bruce Arians’ run as the offensive coordinator.
Roethlisberger struck a more conciliatory tone while watching minicamp on Tuesday. Though relegated to highly paid spectator by minor surgery on his right knee last week, Roethlisberger gave Haley credit for being proactive in attempting to find common ground.
“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, [helps],” Roethlisberger said.
Having the face of the franchise at ease is a plus. Roethlisberger looked relaxed watching backup Bruce Gradkowski work with the starters as minicamp opened and said his knee feels so good he could “start on Sunday” if the calendar read September instead of June.
Roethlisberger underwent arthroscopic surgery last week to relieve “discomfort” in the knee that he attributed to wear and tear. He endured a similar procedure in 2005 after hyperextending the knee. There was no direct trauma this time.
“I’d come in on Tuesday to practice and it would feel good, and by Thursday, it was almost like a tire was slowly losing air,” Roethlisberger said.
When team doctors suggested addressing the problem now to prevent bigger problems down the road, the two-time Super Bowl winner couldn’t find any room to argue.
“We figured it was time to get it done,” he said.
Roethlisberger expects to be 100 percent when training camp opens on July 26. The down time will let him get a better handle on the tweaks Haley has been working on.
The most significant change focused on the terminology. Roethlisberger thought older players were struggling to get a handle on the new jargon so Haley opted to give it an overhaul, mixing the old and the new. He also promised to revisit certain things during the season if the players come at him with well thought-out suggestions.
“Your big dogs have to have input,” Haley said. “They’re the ones out there facing the live bullets.”