The Pittsburgh Steelers Wednesday training camp practice included a live 11-on-11 tackling session, which is really unheard of this time of year. Members of the media were indeed shocked and they probably wondered if they slept through training camp and the preseason.
Head coach Mike Tomlin gave his reasons for the live tackling session following practice.
“It’s just appropriate in today’s NFL,” said Tomlin. “We have off days. We only get a chance to practice once a day. There are fewer and fewer opportunities to sort themselves out. We’ve got some young guys. We’ve got to sort through a lot of young guys and we’ve got to take advantage of opportunities to show improvement. That is what it is about.”
The Steelers have emphasized all offseason that they must improve their running game. They drafted Michigan State running back Le\'Veon Bell in the second-round of the draft and hired Jack Bicknell Jr., who is implementing more outside zone, as their new offensive line coach. On Wednesday, Tomlin wanted to see how far along that running game is right now as well as set a tone for the rest of camp.
“(Coach Tomlin) has to set a tone,” Clark told Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Not necessarily because we were 8-8 last year, but because we want to be a physical football team. Offensively, we are going to run the ball. We drafted a running back in the second round who is a pounder and can break tackles so you want to get those guys reps.”
Their are so many CBA rules regarding practices, but Tomlin seems intent on pushing them to the limits. On the flip side, however, he is doing his best to protect his players as he has mandated that all of his offensive linemen wear knee braces.
“We had the opportunity to introduce some live tackling. We’ll continue to do that as we grow and develop. We’ll continue to introduce situational football. We need to grow in complexity as we continue to come out here schematically, what we are asking them to do and will continue to do that. I like the way they responded.”