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Tomlin on the O-line: 'We don't have a bar set real high. We were last in the league in rushing'


(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)


The Steelers went through a big transition on the offensive line this offseason with Maurkice Pouncey, Matt Feiler, Alejandro Villanueva and David DeCastro all departing the team. Pouncey retired, DeCastro got released, Feiler signed with the Chargers and Villanueva joined the Ravens.


So, it's going to be a new-look offensive line this year with four new starters, and three of the projected starters are 24 or younger. In addition, Adrian Klemm was promoted to offensive line coach this offseason after the Steelers decided to not renew Shaun Sarrett's contract.


Klemm's No. 1 priority is to help fix the Steelers' ailing run game, which ranked dead last in the league last year, averaging just 84.4 yards per game, which was their lowest average in a season since 1966.


With all the changes upfront, many are skeptical about the Steelers offensive line in 2021. Mike Tomlin isn't concerned about how the outside public view the young offensive line, however.


"We don't have a bar set real high. We were last in the league in rushing, so we've got nowhere to go but up from certain aspects of that," Tomlin said via Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. "It's not something that we fear.


"We're working. We got capable guys. There's an expectation here that those guys are going to deliver to be quite honest with you. I'm not going be surprised when they do. As a matter of fact, we expect them to. And so, you can write a rags to riches tale, if you so choose, like, we're starting at ground zero in the basement, if you will. But we don't see it that way. And we definitely don't expect those results to be elementary."


It will take some time for 39-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to adjust to all the new players on the offensive line after playing for numerous years with core offensive linemen like Pouncey, DeCastro, Villanueva and Feiler.


“It’s tough (losing) all those guys,” Roethlisberger said after the Steelers first training camp practice on Thursday via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It’s not easy, but we’ve got guys who are willing, capable, and excited to fill the roles and be the best they can be.”


“I’ve been blessed to have some older guys, and guys who have been here numerous years. “To not have that is definitely different, but it’s just day one.”


Roethlisberger also mentioned that he's been building chemistry with rookie center Kendrick Green and that they got in some work this summer.


“He’s got a passion for the game, a passion to be the starting center,” Roethlisberger said. "He knows the roles and shoes he is filling. He stayed here during the break (since minicamp) and worked and met with coaches. I checked in on him. He’s taking this personal."


“He wants to be the best. He doesn’t want there to be a dropoff, and that’s a good attitude to take.”










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