Former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, now the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers, hasn’t publicly expressed his thoughts on facing his former team on Monday night.
But Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can sense something extra is stirring in Haley, who was let go by the Chiefs last December.
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“He wants to win every game, as we all do,” Roethlisberger said on Wednesday morning. “But without him saying it, you can see it anytime you’ve got a guy on your team who used to play for another team, there’s always a little incentive that you want to win for that guy.
“We haven’t practiced yet, but throughout meetings and stuff, you can kind of see it a little bit. I don’t think he’s admitted it yet.”
Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, said the Steelers haven’t seen much of the yelling and screaming that marked Haley’s time in Kansas City during 2009-11.
“He knew coming here that this team is a veteran group,” Roethlisberger said of the Steelers, 5-3. “The Steelers in general have always done it a certain way for a long time, and he just wanted to come in and continue that tradition, and that’s what he’s been doing.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin toned down the rhetoric.
“It’s not Todd vs. the Chiefs, and I think Todd understands that,” Tomlin said. “He’s been in this business a long time. We’ve got a job to do this weekend.”
No bad blood
A survey of the Chiefs locker room didn’t reveal any animosity toward Haley as they prepared to face their former coach.
“We bumped heads just like any other coach,” safety Eric Berry said. “Football is a passionate game, and a lot of emotions go back and forth, but at the end of the day, I felt like he had my best interests. Football is competitive, but there still is a lot of respect for him.”
Berry doesn’t expect Haley to try to roll up the score just because it’s against the Chiefs.
“I expect that from everybody,” Berry said. “This is the NFL. Everybody, every week is a juggernaut bout. I expect a lot of stuff from any offensive coordinator to try to win games and put up points.”
Gibbs influence on defense
Gary Gibbs, elevated from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator, is putting an emphasis on creating turnovers. The Chiefs have given the ball away a league-most 29 times, and the defense has taken the ball just nine times for a league-worst minus-20 differential.
Only three teams, Pittsburgh and Dallas with eight, and Indianapolis, three, have fewer takeaways than the Chiefs.
“A lot of people put a lot of pressure on our offense,” said Berry, who had an interception last week at San Diego, “but we haven’t been causing (many) turnovers. We can help them out in a lot of different situations as well, giving them a short field and opportunities to score.”
Ziggy Hood’s role
Former Missouri defensive lineman Ziggy Hood, the Steelers’ first-round draft pick in 2009, has started all eight games for Pittsburgh and had two quarterback pressures last week against the Giants and blocked an extra point against Washington on Oct. 28, the first by the Steelers since 2003.
“Ziggy comes to work every day,” Tomlin said. “Some people dread some of the things that come along with being a football player a professional athlete I think Ziggy embraces it. He genuinely enjoys practicing, training, working out. It’s a winning edge for him.”
No trap game
The Steelers, 5-3, are riding high after last week’s road win against the Giants and will face AFC North rival Baltimore, 6-2, on Nov. 18. So it would seem the Steelers could have a letdown against the Chiefs, 1-7.
Not so, said Roethlisberger, whose team has played just three home games this season.
“We’re excited to finally get to come home,” Roethlisberger said. “It feels like we never play at home anymore. We’re on the road so much. We’re excited to come home and play in front of our fans. We want to put on a great game for them. That’s the way I’m approaching it. A lot of the guys are excited to come home and play in front of our fans.”
Chiefs defensive end Glenn Dorsey (calf) and quarterback Brady Quinn (concussion) did not practice on Wednesday. Quinn has been ruled out for Monday’s game. Tight end Steve Manari (ankle) said he participated fully in practice.