NFL Wire News

Philosophy changes with Vick in and Roethlisberger out


The Sports Xchange

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers’ whole look on offense likely will change starting Thursday night against Baltimore with Ben Roethlisberger out 4-6 weeks with a torn MCL and lower leg bruise.

Mike Vick, signed Aug. 25 by the Steelers, will take over at quarterback and has very little time to work with the first-team offense for the first time. Vick is a known commodity and the Ravens defense will not respect his passing game anywhere near how they would have with Roethlisberger.

And that could lead to problems for Le’Veon Bell running the ball without the threat of a passing game to open things up for him. Bell and the others, though, are keeping a stiff upper lip publicly when they talk about Vick leading them.

“He’s a guy who’s been in this league for a long time and won a lot of games,” Bell said. “He played in championships, so I’m very confident. Once we plug him in we just need to keep it going.”

Roethlisberger, though, was at the peak of his career at age 33. He tied for the NFL lead in passing yards last season and defenses had to respect his passing game and the run game he had with him. It won’t be the same with Vick, who was on the street when the Steelers signed him and has been a bit of a turnover machine himself and not very accurate passer to boot. But he does still have a gun for an arm and can run around a little bit still.

“Coaches don’t want me to go out there and just try to do it all,” Vick said. “We have guys who are very talented who can go out and make a lot of plays. It’s not for me to go out and try to win the game all by myself.

“So I have to limit a lot of things and the plays that I’m not comfortable with right now. We have a ton of them, a ton of good ones.”

Coordinator Todd Haley went over a list of plays Vick likes and does not like before the Steelers put together their game plan for Baltimore.

“This is a great opportunity for me because I don’t know if I’ll ever have this opportunity again,” said Vick, 35. “Just a month ago, I wasn’t signed with a team. Now I feel like I have a chance to just go out and play free, go out and enjoy the game, enjoy this moment, enjoy being out there with my teammates.”

SERIES HISTORY: 39th regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series, 21-17. The teams split their series last season and then Baltimore beat the Steelers in Heinz Field 30-17 for the first time in a playoff game after losing their other three post-season games to Pittsburgh. Counting that playoff game, the Ravens have won three of the past four and six of the past nine against the Steelers.

–Offensive coordinator Todd Haley had the Steelers’ Jugs machine reversed so it throws a left-handed pass since southpaw Mike Vick will be setting up in the pocket. Guys like Antonio Brown must learn to catch it from a lefty.

“It doesn’t matter how the ball is thrown, our job is to catch the ball,” Brown said.

Notes: Quarterback Landry Jones will dress for his first game in his three seasons since the Steelers drafted him in the fourth round from Oklahoma in 2013. He will serve as No. 2 and head coach Mike Tomlin said they have no plans to sign a third quarterback while Ben Roethlisberger is out. … Linebacker Ryan Shazier (shoulder) did not practice on Tuesday and is expected to miss his second straight game.

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