At a time when more and more teams aren’t tackling in training camp (and, coincidentally, more and more teams can’t tackle during the regular season), the Steelers repeatedly are engaged in live tackling sessions this year.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette said that it’s an “old-old-school” approach, dating back to the days not of Bill Cowher but Chuck Noll. And Bouchette says that it’s even more intense than Tomlin’s first training camp with the team in 2007, which Tomlin later admitted may have been too tough.
“We’re young in a lot of areas, particularly in the lines,” Tomlin said regarding the increased hitting. “We got young, talented defensive linemen, we got young, talented offensive linemen. The only way to improve is to play football. I’ve stated that many times and it’s something I believe in. I’m going to give them an opportunity to do that and show what they’re capable of.”
The new labor deal reduced the intensity of training camp, cutting back on padded practices but saying nothing about what teams can do while wearing the pads. For the Steelers, whom many think will struggle in 2013, Tomlin is willing to risk injuring his players in order to get them to the point where they will be ready to play when the games count.
With the new-school college coach on the other side of Pennsylvania preventing his players from tackling to the ground, the approach that works between Philly and Pittsburgh is the one that is more likely to be copied by other teams.