You normally know what you're getting in Pittsburgh, but this year's Steelers squad comes gift-wrapped in mystery.
The intrigue stems from changes on offense, where quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is working with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley on a scheme previously described as a run-first attack. Team president Art Rooney II went so far to suggest Big Ben might "tweak" his play at quarterback.
Don't bank on it.
"I'm not going to change my game," Roethlisberger said, per a Friday CBSSports.com report. "Coach (Haley) can do what he wants to add protection and things like that, but I'm going to play the game the way I know how. It's worked OK for me so far."
After 80 regular-season wins and two Super Bowl titles, Roethlisberger has a point. So do the Steelers, however, as they're primarily concerned with the epic beating Big Ben took last season. His 40 sacks were second only to Alex Smith and Tarvaris Jackson, and he was never the same after suffering an ankle injury against the Cleveland Browns in December.
Pittsburgh wants its 30-something starter to play safer football, with less scampering through front sevens into the heart of the opposition. Haley's scheme caters to this, but here's the problem: Big Ben has played this way from the start. This is what got him here.
Tight end Heath Miller agrees, sort of:
"I don't think you ask him to change the way he plays, but obviously you want any quarterback on the football team to get hit as least amount of times as possible."
It's yet another wrinkle in the up-to-now awkward pairing of Roethlisberger and Haley. They keep telling us everything is going swimmingly, but something doesn't feel right.