On Wednesday leading up to the Steelers third preseason game with the Atlanta Falcons, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had a candid chat with the media regarding a number of topics. Here were his responses:

On the team's greater success on 3rd downs in the second half of last season compared to the first half:

"Yeah, number seven was playing quarterback [laughs]. That's it, I mean the month of September we were struggling a little bit with it and as soon as he got back in there the percentages were really, really high and that got us back up where we're normally at, you know 6th, 7th in the league. We always try to be in the top 5 on 3rd downs. [We put] a ton [of emphasis on it]. Situational football: 3rd down, red zone, two minute, short yardage, goal line; the situational areas are the major focus of everything we do."

On the team's 3rd down success in Preseason Game #2 at 10 for 17:

"We were so poor against Washington [in Preseason Game #1] because we dropped five balls. We want to shoot for 55 to 60 %. The first half [in Game #2] was awesome. It was a nice comeback and that's one of our goals this week, to see if we can do it two weeks in a row against quality defenses.

On whether Heath Miller was a 'marked man' last year:

"No. With Ben out in September [Heath] missed [out on] a lot of balls there and he missed two ballgames. It's just one of those things. When you miss ballgames your numbers aren't going to be the same, and you don't have your quarterback it's really six games."

On Heath being the 13th ranked TE on ESPN.com's recent rankings:

"Everybody goes by the number of passes they catch. Most of those guys [ahead of him] are not tight ends, they're wide receivers. They don't block anybody, they can't block anybody. I mean, he's a pure tight end. I think he's the best pure tight end in the league. I think [Brandon] Pettigrew in Detroit is another quality pure tight end. The rest of those guys that are in the Pro Bowl and probably who are ranked there are just glorified wide receivers."

On whether David Johnson could be the team's #2 tight end:

"He is number 2. Has been. Never a doubt in my mind. He's a quality blocker on the line of scrimmage and in the backfield. He's improving as a receiver. I have all the confidence in the world of him blocking whoever he's got to block. They switch between personnel groups, he and Heath, whether they're the the tight end or the H-back."

On the battle for the team's 3rd tight end:

"That's a whole 'nother ballgame [laughs]. A whole lot of bodies fighting for that one. The guy who can play fullback is an added dimension and if he can do that his stock rises. Heath is the true tight end, and David [Johnson] can play true tight end there's not a problem with that. He also gives you the nice ability to go in the backfield. The rest of those guys are fighting it out to find those roles, whether they're strictly line of scrimmage guys or what all they can do. Are they more receiver? Are they more blocker? We'd kind of like to have another total package. Don't see one out there right now but they're working on it, they're working real hard."

On TE Weslye Saunders:

"He's getting there. He has so much to learn. He's gotten better each day. He really suffered with all the missed practice time because it was a change of offense for him being basically a wide receiver at South Carolina. But I've been real pleased with his effort blocking and he's got a nice future."

On whether Arians will have enough footballs to spread to all his targets:

"That's the key with our offense right now, you cannot get selfish. You've got to wipe selfishness out of it because there are not enough balls. The quarterback is not pressed to throw to one guy. Just take the open guy and let's roll. As long as everybody stays with that and contracts and everything else don't get in the way we could be pretty solid but the minute selfishness creeps in it can tear you down real quick."

On his collection of wide receivers:

"This is the best group we've had since I've been here. There's some great competition for 4, 5, and 6. And they can all play. It's nice to see that many guys out there, and [we'll] try to find ways to get them all involved."

On the temptation to go with true five-WR packages:

"Yeah, we did a little bit of that last year when the two young guys [Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown] could handle it at the end of the season and right now to be that 5th guy there's three guys fighting for that spot and they're all quality. [Whether we keep a 6th] will all depend on special teams. That's where those 4, 5, and 6 they've got to separate themselves by either being a return man, cover guy, or someone else on special teams to get their 'hat' on Sunday. You can have six on the roster but if they can't help you on special teams, you're not going to dress six."

On what role he envisions for Trai Essex:

"Both tackle and guard. They beauty is that he's always had is position flexibility. He's also our third center. Just get him back up to speed 'cause there's a lot of rust on him right now."

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