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Roethlisberger return opens up playbook
October 14th, 2010

Bruce Arians’ Thursday chat with reporters resumed following the Steelers’ bye week, and the offensive coordinator said, among other things, that the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will open up the playbook.

Arians also said that wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will dress instead of Antonio Brown against the Browns.

The two have been waging a weekly battle for what coach Mike Tomlin calls a game day “hat.”

Sanders will serve as the Steelers’ No. 4 wide receiver and primary kickoff returner Sunday at Heinz Field while Brown won’t dress for the first time since the season opener.

What follows is a transcript of Arians’ talk with reporters following Steelers’ practice today.

Q: With Ben is everyone less afraid to make mistakes and therefore it makes everybody play better?

A: “I think he brings an air of confidence to the whole group because of what he has done in the past. Because of what he has done in the past, his resume, as coach (Mike Tomlin) would say is pretty daggone good. It brings an ‘OK’ we’re not afraid to call this’ because if we get behind the chains we have a chance to get back out. That makes it a little easier. And I’m excited to see him play. I think he’s more than ready.”

Q: Do you think he’s better than anything we’ve seen before?

A: “I hope so. From what I’ve seen in camp, it was by far the best. It doesn’t look like he missed much.”

Q: What is given more emphasis when deciding who dresses between Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, who did better that week of practice at wide receiver or on special teams?

A: “Up to this point it’s been special teams, and coached switched it. Emmanuel has been a little ahead in the receiver part of it and behind in the special teams part. That’s what’s so tricky about the 45(-man roster) on Sunday, you’ve got three teams to fill. And you can’t always put what you’d like to have offensively or defensively, you’ve got to put the best special teams guys out there. This is (Sanders’) week and it’s great competition between those young guys as to who gets to dress.”

Q: Is there an adjustment period with Ben and the offensive line since there are three different starters on the line from his last regular-season game?

A: “I don’t think so. We’ve had two different style of quarterbacks, Dennis (Dixon) was a scrambler, Charlie (Batch) was a pocket passer. (The line) is used to guys moving around. They had enough practice during the preseason (with Roethlisberger) so I don’t buy into a lot of that.”

Q: Can you talk about the different looks the Browns give you in subpackages? It looks like sometimes they don’t use any defensive linemen.

A: “It takes a lot of preparation. (Browns defensive coordinator) Rob (Ryan) has always done a good job with that.”

Q: Have you ever seen another team take out their defensive linemen in subpackages?

A: “Yeah, our defense. In the spring I think coach (Dick) LeBeau had a package where there were six linebackers out there and five DBs. It’s like figuring out whos, who and they’re all out there running around so we kind of got used to that a little bit.”

Q: How do things change with the offense with Ben coming back?

A: “I think we are who we are right now, and hopefully he comes in and plays his quality of football that we’re used to and just see how each game unfolds. Each one’s different. We’ll probably stay within who we are right now and let him feel his way into it and see what happens.”