After Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee was lost for the entire 2014 season last week to a knee injury suffered during an OTA practice, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin apparently took notice. The following day, Tomlin reportedly took time out to address his team about how they should be practicing with the hopes that it will prevent his own team from suffering any serious injuries.
“He told us we don’t have pads on so we don’t need to be on the ground, we don’t need to be bull rushing each other and stuff like that,” outside linebacker Jarvis Jones said, according to Scott Brown of ESPN.com. “Use your hands, run to the ball and keep it clean.”
Tomlin’s decision to clarify a few things with the team was also likely a result of skirmish last week that center Maurkice Pouncey had with rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier. That over exuberance by the Steelers first-round draft pick resulted in the All-Pro having a few words for him after he picked himself up off the ground.
Pouncey, of course, suffered a knee injury during the 2013 season-opener and last week was his first time back practicing. As Brown points out, it would have been disastrous had Pouncey messed up his surgically repaired knee again during a practice that’s not supposed to have any contact associated with it per the rules of the CBA.
As tight end Heath Miller told Brown, it’s dangerous to all players whenever other players are on the ground.
“Sometimes when guys get pulled to the ground or fall to the ground other guys around you are going to trip over you,” Miller said.
The Steelers will be lucky to avoid any serious injuries over the course of the offseason, but at least Tomlin took the time to teach in order to help prevent anything unnecessary happening. Several of these players are fighting for their livelihood, however, so Tomlin will more than likely have to keep reminding them to use their hands and to keep things clean.