|Brown on Haley: 'He seems like a real friendly guy who's demanding the best for you.' (US PRESSWIRE)|
Back in March, not long after the Steelers hired Todd Haley to replace Bruce Arians as offensive coordinator, wide receiver Antonio Brown was asked about his initial impressions of Haley, a coach known for his in-your-face style that, at one time or another, had previously rubbed everyone from Terrell Owens to Anquan Boldin to Kurt Warner the wrong way.
"I heard [Haley] challenges players … and I love that," Brown said at the time. "You don't allow guys to underachieve. And you find that with most players in this league, there are a lot of underachievers, so he's the type of guy who pushes players and that's something I enjoy. ... We're definitely looking forward to Todd Haley … and we're just excited for the fresh start."
Three months, a minicamp and an OTA seesion later and nothing's changed as far as Brown's concerned. In fact, he somehow sounds even more upbeat. During an appearance on ROME Monday, Brown spoke about his developing relationship with his new offensive coordinator.
"Change can be great if everyone buys in," he said. "We're accepting Todd Haley — you see his history of great wide receivers. Getting a chance of working with him at OTAs and minicamp was something special.”
It gets better: “You've got to respond well when coaches get up in your face. He seems like a real friendly guy who's demanding the best for you. You can't take it personally. You've got to use it all for the better.”
You can watch the entire interview below (Brown also speaks about filling the leadership void left by Hines Ward's departure):
There was some trepidation among Steelers fans earlier this spring because franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Haley weren't immediate BFFs in the same way that Arians and Big Ben were. But that's not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, Warner thinks Haley will be good for the ninth-year quarterback with two Super Bowl rings.
"He just wants you to do the right thing," Warner said. "Instead of getting offended, maybe you have to look at yourself and say, 'OK, that's a legitimate concern.' That's the way you get good," Warner said in February. "That's how you stay great. He will be good for Ben, not that Ben needs a lot of help. He's a great quarterback."
Either way, it takes a thick skin and the right mindset to regularly endure Haley's diatribes. Which makes Brown's observations even more remarkable. As PFT.com's MDS points out, the closest we've previously come to laudatory comments about Haley were courtesy of former Cardinals wideout Steve Breaston, who once referred to him as "not always a buttonhole."
While Haley's coaching style may not be an issue, there will be questions about Mike Wallace returning to form after missing an offseason of workouts in an entirely new offense. Assuming, of course, he plans on showing up for training camp without a long-term deal. Luckily, the Steelers still have Brown.
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