Steelers’ OC winds up on injury report

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers don’t even have a game this weekend, but they were all over the headlines on Tuesday.

It started with the vague and peculiar announcement that offensive coordinator Todd Haley hasn’t been able to report for work because of a hip injury.

The Steelers acknowledged that Haley sustained the injury after Sunday’s home game, but offered no specifics.

One media report said Haley was shoved to the ground during some sort of confrontation outside a bar.

The Steelers reported that Haley should be able to work later this week.

So in a week with no game, the injury report starts with the offensive coordinator.

Ben Roethlisberger did his weekly radio show and indirectly credited his surge in the second half of the season to the presence of quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner on the sideline.

Until recently, Fichtner had worked from the coaches booth upstairs, which meant that he and Roethlisberger could only communicate by headset.

Now he’s on the sideline, and that makes it easier to converse. One report also suggested that Fichtner has been serving as a buffer between the quarterback and the coordinator. That would seem to be an indication that the Roethlisberger-Haley relationship is again experiencing some turbulence.

Roethlisberger downplayed that, but it’s certainly a topic that can be addressed after the season ends.

And if there has to be a resolution, you know how it will go.

Offensive coordinators are easier to acquire than franchise quarterbacks are.

The Steelers could play one of three teams in the playoffs at 1 p.m. on Jan. 14 — Tennessee, Kansas City or Jacksonville.

The Titans would be the weakest opponent. The Chiefs and Jaguars are close to equal, although the Steelers have a knack for beating Kansas City.

But Roethlisberger said he’d like to play the Jaguars. No doubt that is rooted in the lousy game he had against Jacksonville on Oct. 8. Jacksonville won 30-9, and Roethlisberger threw five interceptions.

They weren’t all his fault. Two of the passes were tipped, and one play went bad when a receiver ran the wrong route, but they all count against the quarterback.

That was the day when Roethlisberger said, “Maybe I don’t have it any more” after the game.

He’s gotten better since then, so he’d like to face the Jaguars knowing he still has it.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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