| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Offensive line emphasizing short-yardage success for Steelers

Steelers/NFL Videos

First down runs: 80

Negative runs: 42

Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013, 8:00 p.m.

Steelers guard Ramon Foster kept slugging away at nose tackle Hebron Fangupo during an intense short-yardage drill. Fangupo kept plowing toward the backfield, countering Foster's jabs.

In an atypical training camp shoving match, this was a genuinely heated bout. Foster couldn't relent, mostly because the offensive line had to prove it has the prerequisite in-your-face, down-in-the-dirt attitude to manufacture a yard or two on third-and-short rushing plays.

If results matter, the Steelers weren't mean enough on short-yardage plays last season.

Steelers running backs were tackled behind the line of scrimmage 42 times on 412 rushing attempts, which includes short-yardage and goal-line plays. In contrast, the Washington Redskins had 41 negative runs on a 519 attempts.

The Steelers, who open the preseason Saturday night at Heinz Field against the New York Giants, are emphasizing a need for the run game to improve on short-yardage plays and at the goal line.

“We don't want to mess around,” said tackle Marcus Gilbert. “We want to get that yard or two, and start a new possession. We're not trying to stretch to the outside. We just want to go straight downhill.”

Running back Isaac Redman is considered among the best short-yardage runners in the league, but he was often frustrated last season by his lack of room to run.

“We had some missed assignments, which is why we were failing sometimes on short-yardage plays,” he said. “In watching the film, we realized those missed assignments kept us from being as good as we could have been.”

Redman said the problem on third down was mostly mental errors and a breakdown in execution. He said the running backs shouldered part of the blame for failing to find the narrow seams at the line of scrimmage.

“It was an all-around effort as to why we weren't as good,” he said. “I feel like this year the sky is the limit all around.”

Redman said the game has evolved to such a degree that offensive linemen can't demand man-on-man blocking to take advantage of perceived weaknesses on an opponent's defensive front on short-yardage runs.

Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Steelers

  1. Chiefs notebook: Trip not intentional, Walker maintains
  2. Steelers notebook: Gay respects ‘anything’ referees call
  3. Steelers clinch playoff berth with win over Chiefs
  4. Steelers’ Bell, Chiefs’ Charles elevating running back position in NFL
  5. Chiefs game-plan play that suits speedy rookie Thomas’ talents
  6. Steelers notebook: Bell says he’s prepared to test Chiefs defense
  7. Banged-up Steelers can clinch with win over Chiefs
  8. Steelers hold off the Falcons to keep moving in AFC North chase
  9. Steelers’ secondary won’t face Falcons’ Jones
  10. Steelers, young and old, thirst for opportunity to reach the postseason
  11. Steelers notebook: Chiefs pass rush to test Steelers
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.