When it comes to stopping the run, no NFL team has been better at harnessing that responsibility than the Steelers.
Through seven games this season, Pittsburgh’s defense is allowing a league-low 76.6 rushing yards per game. The Cincinnati Bengals (100 yards) and Detroit Lions (110 yards) are the only two Steelers opponents to post 100-plus yards on the ground.
While Pittsburgh has been stout against the run, offensive line coach Rick Dennison was more focused on what his unit can control, beginning with improving its toughness from the previous week.
“I think you have to execute every week and you’ve got to be tough every week,” Dennison said. “There is nobody that is going to just let you walk around and make yards. We just have to be better than we were last week.”
The Bengals (75 yards) and Ravens (66 yards) are the only two teams to hold the Broncos under 100 yards rushing, as Denver mustered a season-low total a week ago in Baltimore. To reverse that trend, Dennison’s line will turn its attention to containing the Steelers’ lineup of smooth rushers, led by James Harrison.
Harrison leads defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau’s defense with eight sacks this season. Seven of those sacks have come over the last four games, helping the Steelers to an undefeated 4-0 mark their October contests against the Chargers, Lions, Browns and Vikings.
“He is just a really good player,” Dennison said. “He plays very hard and he knows what he is doing – very slippery. (You) have to try and stay in front of him and then when the play is over that is when you stop blocking — not before.”
One of the players entrusted to perform that task is Tyler Polumbus. With Ryan Harris sidelined due to a toe injury, Polumbus is slated to start in Harris’ place at right tackle.
Regardless of the how remodeled rotation works, Dennison said the responsibilities for all of the Broncos’ linemen are concrete.
“Get an opportunity to play, do well, do your assignment, do the techniques and just try and focus on those things,” Dennison said. “I think that is what everyone of them is trying to do.”
There were several changes on Friday to the Broncos’ Week 9 Injury Report. After not participating in Thursday’s session, Josh Barrett (hamstring) was a limited participant. After being limited participants during Thursday’s session, David Bruton (groin) and Jack Williams (illness) were full participants on Friday. Peyton Hillis (not injury related) did not participate in Friday’s practice.
On the other side, there were no changes to the Steelers’ report.
Here are some photos from the onset of Friday’s practice.
– Chris Gentilviso, DenverBroncos.com