Youth movement over, Steelers defense now all grown up – Pittsburgh Steelers News

Youth movement over, Steelers defense now all grown up – Pittsburgh Steelers News

LATROBE, Pa. (AP) Mike Tomlin’s word choice was specific. That way, nothing would get lost in translation.

The Pittsburgh Steelers coach believes the generational shift his defense was forced to undergo over the last five years is officially over. No more grinning and bearing the growing pains as the next wave learned on the job.

The time to stop making strides and start making a difference is now.

”I think that we have the pieces in place to be a dominant group, to be one of the best,” Tomlin said Saturday as the defending AFC North champions opened training camp.

That’s a phrase Tomlin hasn’t uttered much during Pittsburgh’s run of three consecutive playoff berths, a resurgence built on Ben Roethlisberger’s right arm, Le’Veon Bell’s quicksilver feet and Antonio Brown’s weekly brilliance.

For the Steelers to end New England’s grip on the AFC, a defense that was ranked outside the top 10 four straight years for the first time since the late 1980s needs to recapture some of the swagger that for so long was the franchise’s trademark. And the men at the forefront know it.

”We set lofty goals and we want to hit them,” said defensive end Cam Heyward, who missed the second half of last season with a torn pectoral muscle. ”But we’re not going to be measured by what anybody else says. We have our goals in mind and what we want to do on the field. The only way to accomplish that is to go out and do it. The talking is done.”

And – the Steelers hope – the learning curve the defense was forced to endure as the likes of Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel, Ryan Clark and Casey Hampton…

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