LATROBE, Pa. -- As the Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive linemen walked from an auxiliary practice field to the main one Monday afternoon at St. Vincent College, John Mitchell delivered a terse message.
“No excuses today,” the longtime Steelers’ defensive line coach said.
Mitchell had fumed the previous day as he watched the offense gash the defense on running plays. But the success of the ground game may have had as much to do with varied blocking schemes as it did the youth the Steelers have along their defensive line.
“We’re not locked into one [scheme] and the defensive guys at practice even notice it,” Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey said. “We’re doing different things and I think it’s going to help us out tremendously.”
Right tackle Marcus Gilbert agreed.
“I was telling Maurkice that this year is so much better,” the fourth-year veteran said. “Now we have so many dimensions to our game that you don’t know what’s going to come and I think that’s going to benefit us this year, open us a lot of holes for us.”
The Steelers will be multiple up front under Mike Munchak, and the first-year Steelers offensive line coach has not hesitated to incorporate different schemes on a young but experienced offensive line.
“I think when you have guys that are smart, that are athletic, that can do a lot of things, it gives you a lot of options no matter what offense we decide to run,” Munchak said. “There will be concepts that -- gap concept, zone concept -- we’re going to have those concepts in so it makes it a little harder for the defense if you can do a lot of different things.”