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Roethlisberger watches practice after knee 'cleanup'

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger showed up for the opening of minicamp Tuesday, and watched from the sideline, his right knee wrapped after "cleanup" surgery last Wednesday.

However, he said he could play Sunday if there were a game.

"My knee is in great shape," Roethlisberger said. "They took care of the little problem. It had been bothering me a little last year, and we decided now is the time to take care of it. There was no repair. It was just a cleanup."

Roethlisberger had similar surgery during the 2005 season and missed three games. He will "absolutely" be ready to go full-bore when the Steelers open training camp July 26.

"I think it was just general wear and tear," he said. "It's my right leg, so it's my plant leg. Every time I drop back I put a lot of pressure on my leg. A lot of quarterbacks' right knees are a little banged up and beat up. I'm glad we got it done."

Roethlisberger hadn't missed a spring practice until the June 5 surgery. He used his time this year to work with offensive coordinator Todd Haley in tweaking the offense, something that didn't happen in 2012 when Haley was hired and ruled the offense with what players and coaches felt was an iron fist.

"Just the simple fact that he came to me and asked what I thought about it, changing the names of things to kind of make more sense to all of us," Roethlisberger said. "Usually, I talk to a lot of the guys. I ask the tight ends and wide receivers, 'Does this hit you? Does it make sense to you if we call it this?' If it doesn't, then we will try to change it. We want everything, when it's on the fly, to make as much sense as possible."

One thing missing from Haley's offense was the deep passes that Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace became so good at pulling off the previous three years. Wallace is gone, but has Roethlisberger convinced Haley to incorporate more deep throws?

"We're going to have to wait to see what happens in game one," the quarterback said. "I don't want to unveil any secrets yet."

Haley has confidence that he has the receivers to go long regardless of whether they add more downfield plays. He mentioned Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders as deep threats, and the Steelers drafted speedy Markus Wheaton in the third round this year.

"Mike, obviously, was a rare speed guy," Haley said. "But I view A.B. and Emmanuel and potentially some of these young guys as rare speed guys. If you look in the Hall of Fame, there are not many sub-4.4 guys in there."

--Rod Woodson, who started his Hall of Fame career with the Steelers in 1987, rejoined them this week as a coaching intern at minicamp. He'll also be at their training camp. Woodson coached the Oakland Raiders secondary for one season after his retirement.
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