By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — For the many who are displeased with the way Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has called the plays the past few seasons, sorry to say that he won’t be taking another job anytime soon.
Arians, who has been linked to the open head coaching position at the University of Mississippi this week, dismissed that notion.
“I can’t stand rookies, so there’s no way in hell that I could coach college ball,” Arians said Thursday after practice when asked about the rumors. “It’s flattering. It’s a great university, and I have friends there. I was a Mississippi State guy for six years, so it would be hard for me to go to Ole Miss.
“But I had some great years down in Mississippi, and I wish them well in their search. But I’m not a candidate. Believe me. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s always nice to have your name mentioned with a head-coaching job. But those days have passed me by as far as that age group is concerned.”
Arians then pitched two Steelers assistants for head-coaching positions.
“I think Randy (Fichtner) would be a great college head coach, whether it be Ole Miss or Memphis, and he would do a fantastic job,” Arians said. “As would Kirby (Wilson).”
Fichtner is the Steelers quarterbacks coach, while Wilson coaches the running backs. Fichtner previously was the team’s wide receivers coach, but this is his second season with Ben Roethlisberger and the quarterbacks.
Speaking of Roethlisberger, his fractured right thumb was acting up a bit, so he practiced on a limited basis Thursday. But Arians didn’t appear to be distressed, and Roethlisberger has said that he will play Sunday.
“He had a little sting on it, but nothing major,” Arians said. “So, he’ll just ice it down. The last (practice) period was mostly runs, so he just has to get it healed up properly.”
Arians also revisited the Kansas City game a bit and noted that two words basically summed up the game for the Steelers’ offense. In particular, the running game was rather inept with 28 carries for 108 yards (3.9 per run).
“It was just a matter of missed opportunities against Kansas City,” Arians said. “The biggest disappointment for me was our rushing average. I didn’t like our per-carry average, so that has to pick up for us to get to where we want to be.
“We have to be closer to 4.0 (yards per carry). It’s not the number of the carries, but the quality of the carries. So, we have to run it a lot better. Everybody wants more touches, (but) if we run it better, we’ll run it more.”
Arians was asked why backup running back Mewelde Moore was in the game so early when the Steelers opened with a drive into the red zone. Moore was hit from behind by Kansas City outside linebacker Tamba Hali and fumbled into the end zone where the Chiefs recovered for a touchback.
“It was a personnel group that was a passing group on second-and-seven,” Arians said. “We hit them right where we wanted to, and if we finish blocking Tamba Hali a little bit harder than he finished us then he doesn’t make that tackle.
“At worst, it should have been third-and-one at the 1. Marcus (Gilbert) did a good job on Hali except for that play, (but) Mewelde’s capable of running it in for us.”
Steelers SS Troy Polamalu (concussion) was unavailable to the media this week, but he practiced on a full-time basis Thursday and is expected to play Sunday.
OLB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) and ILB Stevenson Sylvester (calf) also got through a full practice and should play. Woodley said he feels better every day and is ready to play.
Along with Roethlisberger, ILB Larry Foote (hamstring) and C Maurkice Pouncey (illness) were limited. Pouncey said earlier Thursday that he will play Sunday.
An interesting development has WR Emmanuel Sanders back on the injured list. His foot was bothering him, and he did not practice. WR Arnaz Battle (hamstring) and OLB Chris Carter (hamstring) also did not practice Thursday.
The Bengals had a large group who missed practice, including RB Cedric Benson (foot), DE Carlos Dunlap (hamstring), LB Dontay Moch (not an injury) and DT Domata Peko (foot). CB Nate Clements (hamstring), SS Chris Crocker (biceps), CB Brandon Ghee (groin), TE Donald Lee (foot), WR Jerome Simpson (knee) and DT Pat Sims (ankle) practiced on a limited basis.