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LeBeau likes Steelers' speed on defense

LATROBE, Pa. -- Dick LeBeau said the Pittsburgh Steelers’ improved speed on defense is undeniable. But the longtime defensive coordinator also offered a caveat when assessing how that will translate on the field this season.

“We can run a race with anybody in the NFL,” LeBeau said. “The problem is it ain’t a race. It’s a football game.”

The Steelers' speed should help the defense reduce the number of big plays it allows this season. Five touchdowns against the Steelers last season covered at least 60 yards, an unheard of number for a LeBeau-coached defense.

Players not staying in their proper gaps was the biggest reason, LeBeau said, that the Steelers were susceptible to big plays last season. An upgrade in speed should help the Steelers overcome times when their players are caught out of position, something that is bound to happen with some of the inexperience the team has on defense.

Despite the youth on a defense that is in transition, LeBeau said he won’t scale back on what the Steelers do this season.

“We’ve already got a large percentage of the defense in,” LeBeau said. “There is a considerable percentage of it that is new.”

As for his overall thoughts on the Steelers’ defense more than halfway through training camp, LeBeau said, “A coach is never happy with what he’s looking at but I am happy with the work ethic. I feel good about this group. They’re a good bunch of men and they’re not averse to hard labor. They’ve got a lot of athletic talent.”