Peter King of SI was at the Steelers training camp and noticed something very interesting,
"I had something of a revelation on my annual summer training camp trip, which covered 17 camps and two games and 22 teams in 20 locales. It happened on the last stop, in the Laurel Highlands of west-central Pennsylvania. On a hot Thursday with no breeze, in the place where Joe Greene and Mike Webster and Jack Lambert and Mel Blount and Alan Faneca and Levon Kirkland and Hines Ward and Casey Hampton once jousted, the 2017 Steelers took shape under the very physical direction of coach Mike Tomlin.
The receivers and defensive backs, in full pads, did the Oklahoma drill—the ultra-physical one-on-one blocking drill in which the defensive player tries to fight off the offensive player and get to the ball-carrier, and the offensive player tries to block the defensive player to the ground. That’s exceedingly "rare. One snap: 211-pound wideout Martavis Bryant fired across the line at 198-pound cornerback Artie Burns. Burns threw Bryant aside, then thudded the ball-carrier, Sammie Coates, to the earth."
This could prove to be a huge bonus for the team come regular season action. NFL offenses are designed to put athletes in space and force 1v1 tackles. If the Steelers could excel in open field tackling, it could be the difference in winning and losing football games.
"The Steelers had two other live tackling periods during practice. That’s two more than I saw all summer. When I went to Minnesota and asked veteran defensive end Everson Griffen what it would be like to tackle former Vikings legend Adrian Peterson when the Vikes and Saints played on opening night, he said he relished being able to get the chance to find out because, in seven years of practice, he’d never tackled Peterson—not once. That’s the NFL these days. The most physical teams I saw, by far, in my 17 camps visited were Seattle and Pittsburgh. Pete Carroll told me it was important to go “right to the edge” of full-scale tackling and bruising hitting to get ready for the season. After practice, Tomlin stood by the side of the camp field and told me more why he practices like it was 1990."
Source: SI.com · Photo Credit: Keystone Press Agency