In the wake of their 8-8 finish last season, the Steelers had to deal with anonymous members of the team slamming linebacker LaMarr Woodley for getting hurt because he wasn’t in good enough shape.
Safety Ryan Clark said that such comments showed that there was a “fracture” in the team’s locker room and lamented the loss of the close-knit relationships he felt were in place when the previous generation of players were leading the team. Clark said that he and other veterans have taken it upon themselves to bring back the old ways.
“We hate being attached to 8-8. So we’re trying to fix that ourselves, through the leaders, through the guys who have been here, we’re trying to implement the old Steeler Way,” Clark said, via Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You know, getting along, chemistry, hanging out, working hard on the field but having a good time doing it.”
Clark said that their efforts have been successful, saying that this year’s camp has been “leaps and bounds” better in terms of chemistry. His fellow safety Troy Polamalu shares the belief that a closer Steelers team will be a better Steelers team.
“I believe the strength of this organization is in its camaraderie and its family atmosphere. We didn’t have those last year,” Polamalu said. “To me, that’s kind of what separates us from most teams, that we’ve had that foundation here. When talent is pretty equal across the board — and it is in the NFL — you’re looking in areas other than schematics to gain an edge. And that was an edge we didn’t have.”
All the closeness in the world won’t help the Steelers if key players miss time because of injuries or if they fail to get the expected contributions from the new arrivals on the roster, but it certainly won’t hurt them as they try to return to the playoffs and reestablish a line to the past successes of the franchise.