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Minicamp report: Steelers, Big Ben emphasize deep passes

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The Sports Xchange

PITTSBURGH — One point of emphasis for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense this spring is the deep passing game.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was flinging deep balls during OTAs and that continued at the start of their minicamp Tuesday.

“I’m glad you said that,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “Each and every play that we are throwing the football, there are opportunities to throw it down the field. The coverage will obviously dictate whether you can or you can’t.”

Roethlisberger has always had one of the highest yards per pass attempt rate in the NFL. Last year was no different when he averaged 8.1 yards. He actually led the NFL at 8.9 in 2005, his second season. His career average is 7.9.

“What Ben Roethlisberger did so well last year was that he made really good decisions and he made them quick, whether it was pushing the ball down the field or getting it out to someone underneath who would then run with it,” Haley said. “Those were good decisions. That’s the name of the game. Every play there are going to be those opportunities. It’s just knowing when to take them. We have to continue on that path.”

–Wide receiver Antonio Brown, who supposedly threatened not to show up in the spring because he wants a new contract, has not missed a day of OTAs and was present and accounted for on the first day of minicamp. He is signed through 2017.

–If rookie Bud Dupree can beat out veteran Arthur Moats at left outside linebacker, the Steelers will have four No. 1 draft choices starting at their four linebacker positions. The others include right outside linebacker Jarvis Jones and Pro Bowler Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier on the inside.

“I just want to win and work hard,” Dupree said.

–A pretty good fight broke out near the end of practice Tuesday between the first-team offense and backups on defense.


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