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Voluntary workout offers glimpse of change for Steelers in transition

| Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 10:06 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Kelvin Beachum plays against the Jets Sunday, Oct.. 13, 2013, at Metlife Stadium.

New Steelers receiver Lance Moore quickly is learning what it's like catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger.

For Moore, this isn't a Brees.

Moore, the former Saints wideout, is adjusting from one Super Bowl-winning quarterback to another as he makes the move to a different team.

He is not the only Steelers player in transition during the ongoing offseason workouts. And there still is a draft class to come.

Cam Heyward, for example, is lining up for the first time without Brett Keisel at the other defensive end position.

Kelvin Beachum and the other offensive linemen are learning what it's like to have Hall of Famer Mike Munchak as their position coach.

For a team that only five years ago made only a single lineup alteration from one season to the next, this is spring of uncommon change after the Steelers picked up eight free agents and shed more than a dozen others.

“This is a new year. We have a new drive. We have bigger goals. We have things to take care of right now. The past is behind us,” Beachum said. “It's time to move forward, That's just how I see it. That's how a lot of the guys see it in the room.”

Moore is seeing it out on the practice field, where the receivers began practicing plays — not just running pass patterns — during a voluntary workout Tuesday.

Moore spent most of the last nine seasons catching passes from Drew Brees in New Orleans, where he had career highs of 79 catches, 10 for touchdowns, in 2008.

Now, he's hoping to take over as the Steelers' slot receiver after Jerricho Cotchery's move to Carolina.

While Brees and Roethlisberger are two of the NFL's most established quarterbacks, they throw a much different type of ball.

“Ben's got a little bit stronger arm — maybe a lot stronger arm,” Moore said. “That's something that kind of jumps out at me. If you're kind of lazy with your eyes, that ball will zoom right past you.

“That's something I'll have to adjust to. I feel like the quarterback should never have to really adjust to the receiver.”

Moore needs no such modification catching passes from backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. The two played together at Toledo and Gradkowski lobbied for the Steelers to bring in Moore after the Saints cut him in a salary-related move.

Munchak is learning about an entirely new set of linemen after being the Titans' coach for three seasons and their offensive line coach from 1997-2010.

So far, Beachum said, Munchak is “just tweaking a thing here or there” with a line that returns nearly intact.

“But I think we have a couple of things brewing already. ... The guy is no-nonsense,” Beachum said. “He wants to get the job done. He wants to win. He is hungry to win.”

The defensive line is working in newly signed Cam Thomas, who can play both end and nose tackle. But, for now, there's no Keisel, who remains an unsigned free agent.

“I haven't (written him off yet),” Heyward said. “But it's not my decision, and we'll just go from there.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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