Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals' offense underwent some changes during the bye week.
He wasn't specific – obviously – but quarterback Kevin Kolb said Wednesday the Cardinals have changed "two or three different things" in the offense during the bye week "that are going to help us."
For a unit that stumbled last game and has been hot and cold during a four-game losing streak, that could be important, especially going against a Pittsburgh defense Sunday that for all of its injuries and issues still ranks atop the NFL.
Kolb said the offense's confidence isn't hurting, even if it hasn't played as well as the Cardinals would have wanted.
"Our last three or four practices have been crisp in the passing game," Kolb said. "We are all seeing it more and more clearly. We are doing some things that are a little bit unique and a little bit different. I think it can really help us on game day."
In two of the last three games, the Cardinals have finished with 169 and 171 yards passing, totals too low in today's NFL.
Changes are part of bye week work, coach Ken Whisenhunt said, when the coaches go back and reassess what has worked and what has not during the first part of the season.
"It's been helter skelter since the opening day of training camp," Whisenhunt said. "This was an opportunity to take a breath and look at our offensive systems, our defensive systems and some of the problems we have had and work on getting them fixed."
WHIZ AND BEN
When Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger came into the NFL, it was under Whisenhunt, who was then Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator. The two had their moments of frustration with each other – when Whisenhunt left to come to Arizona, Roethlisberger hinted he had been too restricted – but the two have found a mutual respect in the years since.
"He's done what the great players in the league do, he's gotten better every year," Whisenhunt said. "He's a good quarterback, one of the best in the league."
Roethlisberger said he still talks with Whisenhunt, and that youth impacted their early relationship.
"I think it's just the fact I was a young quarterback and he was coordinator and he kind of held those reins pretty tight on me," Roethlisberger said. "I don't blame him for it. He did what he thought was best for me at the time and there was nothing wrong with the way he coached."
A SHORTER INJURY REPORT
The only two Cardinals not to practice Wednesday were tight end Todd Heap (hamstring) and safety Kerry Rhodes (foot), the latter of whom has yet to be listed as out although he had surgery last week and will miss games. Heap will be assessed later in the week, Whisenhunt said, "and see where he can go."
Linebacker Joey Porter (knee) was limited, as was tight end Jim Dray (pectoral), who was able to practice for the first time since Sept. 21. Punter Dave Zastudil (knee) practiced fully, and running back Beanie Wells – who had been battling a hamstring issue – is off the injury list completely.
The Steelers had seven players on the injury list, all of whom did not practice. Wide receiver Hines Ward got a veterans' day off, and wide receiver Mike Wallace (hamstring) should be available. The others sitting out were nose tackle Casey Hampton (shoulder), defensive tackle Chris Hoke (neck), defensive end Aaron Smith (foot), guard Doug Legursky (toe) and linebacker James Harrison (eye). Harrison will be out after surgery.