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Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Arians takes swing at familiarity questions

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

TAMPA, Fla. -- Two years ago, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger refused to golf with a coaching staff featuring numerous assistants with handicaps below 7.

Ever the competitor, Roethlisberger said he would join them when his game was good enough to compete. He went from shooting 90 to challenging par in about two seasons, an improvement that frankly shocked offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

Roethlisberger feels good enough about his game these days to bring along Arians on the planes he charters during bye weeks and other breaks in the NFL routine. They hang out together on the golf course while keeping their relationship focused mostly on business. As Arians said during Super Bowl XLIII media day, Roethlisberger is very close to his father, so the coach-to-player mentoring isn't part of their relationship.

Still, I wondered whether Arians might have special insights into Roethlisberger if he were ever to coach against him. Roethlisberger's former coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt, might have similar advantages coaching the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII -- or not.

Arians shot down the idea because Roethlisberger and the Steelers' offense has changed so much. In fact, he said Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau hasn't asked him anything about Whisenhunt's tendencies. There simply isn't much inside information, he said.