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Friday, February 10, 2012
Wake-up: Big Ben doesn't want to start over

By Jamison Hensley

Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he hopes new offensive coordinator Todd Haley will either maintain the Steelers offensive system or mesh his own with the one that Pittsburgh has run recently.

In his introductory news conference Thursday, Haley said he would "start with a clean slate."

"It would probably be easy for him to do," Roethlisberger said about Haley possibly choosing to stick with his offense. "I don't know if it would be easy for us to learn it. We're so young on offense and the most talented room in this whole building is probably wide receiver, no disrespect to anyone else. And they're also really young."

Roethlisberger added, "They're still the tip of the iceberg in this offense and they did as well as they did last year. And they're just getting to the point that 'OK, this makes sense to me.' That was my biggest talking point to Mike [Tomlin] and those guys -- I would hate to just throw everything out and start over because I feel it would set us back two or three years because these guys are just starting to get it."

Roethlisberger acknowledged that he was "shocked" when he learned Bruce Arians wouldn't return as offensive coordinator. He didn't have any input in Haley's hiring but Tomlin kept him updated on the search.

He has yet to met Haley and might not do so until next week.

"I hope we don't have to start over and if we do, you know what, here we go. Let's do it. We'll do it," Roethlisberger said. "We're not going to complain about it. But I would hate to have to set certain guys back who are doing so well right now."

Hensley's slant: Roethlisberger should expect to start over. If the Steelers wanted to keep the same system, they would have kept Arians. The only way Haley can be effective is by putting his fingerprints on the offense. Starting over can be a challenge, but it also can be the right thing to do.

BENGALS: The manager of a bar in downtown Cincinnati says Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga was involved in a fight there this past weekend, according to Fox19. Maualuga is accused of punching a manager at Luxe, according to the report. "One of them said something at which point I repeated myself, that they had to leave, and then Rey Maualuga got up, took three or four steps and punched me in the face, more noticeably the eye, then my nose started to bleed," said Sammy Laham, Luxe manager. Hensley's slant: Maualuga hasn't been charged, and Cincinnati police are still investigating the incident. But this is still the worst way for any team to start the offseason, especially one with the history of the Cincinnati Bengals.

BROWNS: Team president Mike Holmgren expressed confidence in new offensive coordinator Brad Childress. Holmgren believes Childress and head coach Pat Shurmur is a great pairing because they trust one another. "I thought he did a really great job in Minnesota in an unusual set of circumstances at the end," Holmgren told ESPN850 (via the Cleveland Plain Dealer). "He came close to going to the Super Bowl. He's an excellent football coach, a very bright guy, knows how to coach quarterbacks. He's a tough guy, he demands a lot and I think it was a great hire for Pat." Hensley's slant: The pressure really isn't on Childress in this situation. It's on Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert to get some offensive playmakers. Cleveland will once again struggle to score over 17 points a game if Colt McCoy is throwing to the same receivers.

RAVENS: Wide receiver Terrell Owens says he can still make an impact in the NFL, pointing out that the Ravens were one of the teams that could have used him last season. "The Baltimore Ravens the past two years brought in two guys they thought could get the job done," Owens told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It comes down to crucial catches and they didn’t make those catches. So I am definitely aware of my talents." Owens was referencing the drops by Lee Evans (in this year's AFC championship game) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (in the 2010 Divisional playoff game at Pittsburgh). Hensley's slant: Owens' comments did cause a small chuckle. Even in his prime, Owens never had great hands. So, there's no guarantee that he would have made those catches either.