Time to see how fluent the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback — and the rest of his teammates — have become.
Five months after Haley replaced the ousted Bruce Arians, the Steelers finally get a chance to see what the former Kansas City coach brings when training camp opens on Wednesday. They dabbled with the basics during minicamp and organized team activities, putting Roethlisberger a little more at ease.
"I'm not saying I can go out and call a game myself right now," the two-time Super Bowl champion said last month. "When he calls a play, I know what's going on for the most part. So we're getting it down to figuring it out."
And they may have to begin the process without Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Wallace, who has yet to sign his one-year tender. The speedster, entering his fourth season, would like a long-term deal. The Steelers, never fond of protracted contract negotiations, would like their big-play specialist to be in camp. Though Wallace's teammates insist he'll be at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe sooner rather than later, every day that passes without Wallace's familiar No. 17 is one that Roethlisberger will use to develop a deeper rapport with Antonio Brown, Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders.
"You're always going to miss something," Sanders said. "Whether it's camaraderie of the teammates or just the physical aspect of (implementing) the playbook. But Mike is one of those guys that's going to get in here and hit the ground running."
He'd be wise to hurry. For all the firepower Wallace provides, Brown became Roethlisberger's favorite target toward the end of last season. The sure-handed Brown had more receptions over the last eight weeks of the regular season — hauling in 35 to Wallace's 26 — and added five more in a wild-card playoff loss to Denver, a game in which Wallace made just three grabs for a mere 26 yards.
While Brown insists it's just a coincidence that he inherited the locker vacated by the recently retired Hines Ward, there's no mistaking the hardworking Brown is considered the most likely to fill the leadership void. It's a comparison the soft-spoken Brown tries to downplay, though he's well aware of the legacy Ward left behind following a likely Hall of Fame career.
"Hines, he's irreplaceable," Brown said. "I'm just going to do what coach (Mike) Tomlin talks about and be the next man up."