Run game not primary focal point for Steelers
If practice makes perfect, then the Steelers' running game is right where it wants to be.
That's because practice is almost all the Steelers have done when it comes to their maligned run game through four weeks of training camp.
That could change as early as Thursday.
A week after showcasing the no-huddle offense against the Bills, the Steelers' top unit has one more chance during Thursday's de facto final preseason game against the Eagles in Philadelphia to take a look at their revamped running game.
Or will they?
“I won't,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said when asked if he will focus on one aspect of the game this week.
But maybe they should.
The Steelers brought in bruising tailback LeGarrette Blount in the offseason to pair with Le'Veon Bell to kick-start a ground attack that finished near the bottom of the league the past two years, including a franchise -worst 86.4 yards per game last year.
However, through two preseason games, the Steelers are averaging only 20 attempts per game and 52.5 yards on the ground. Both rank 31st in the NFL.
Those aren't necessarily numbers that you can get a read on the progress of the ground game.
“It is something that we would like to work on and definitely try and emphasize that if we get a chance,” guard David DeCastro said. “I think we are going to try to emphasize it, but football is one of those things that you can't really force.”
In past preseasons, the Steelers did force the run. Over the past four years, the Steelers were among the league leaders in preseason carries with 32 per game.
Plenty of those carries came from the backups, but first-teamers got their shots as well.
The year, the Steelers ran the ball only 13 times for 39 yards with their first unit, with four of those carries coming out of the no-huddle. Bell has seven carries for 29 yards, and Blount six carries for 10 yards.
The Steelers will likely use their entire offensive arsenal against the Eagles, including the run game and the new offensive schemes Mike Munchak has put together including power, inside and outside zones. The offensive linemen welcome it.
“Why not, it's preseason,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “You can run any play you want in the preseason. I think it would be a good thing to get (the run game) started. As an offensive lineman, you want to see big-time runs all the time, and that's what we are planning.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.
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