The tides of change have swept through Steeler Nation since they last took the field last January in a playoff loss to the Denver Broncos. Hines Ward has retired, veteran linebacker James Farrior was released, to name but two of the notable personnel changes. In the coaching ranks, Bruce Arians was not retained as offensive coordinator. Todd Haley, the former Chiefs head coach with strong Pittsburgh roots, was brought in to retool the Steelers’ overly one-dimensional and inconsistent offense. Will that mean a return to a more run-oriented, balanced attack? Steelers fans sure hope so. And so to do the offensive linemen up front, who always enjoy mauling in the running game.
Maurkice Pouncey joined 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh to talk about the start of the Steelers OTAs, Willie Colon making the transition from tackle to guard in his return from knee surgery last year, why he thinks Colon will excel as an interior lineman, what Chris Rainey (a former Florida Gator like Pouncey and the Steelers 5th round pick this year) will bring to the table as a scat back in Pittsburgh’s offense, Rainey’s ability to stay out of the vision of defenders thanks to his diminutive stature and shiftiness, what Rainey and other rookies will miss out on due to not being able to attend this set of OTAs, what he knows about first round pick David DeCastro and what changes there are to the Steelers playbook under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
On Willie Colon making the transition from tackle to guard:
“I think it’s going to be a great transition for him, and he’ll probably be one of the best guards in the league right now. He’s working really hard on his technique right now, he’s a big guy to move guys out of there, and I’m happy he’s right there next to me.”
If he thinks Colon has the interior lineman mentality needed to play his new position:
“Oh heck yeah, Willie’s got that dog in him. He’s a go-getter. He’s definitely going to go out out there and fight every play.”
On what fellow Florida Gators RB Chris Rainey will bring to the table in the Steelers new offense:
“Oh man, that scat back. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, get outside man and make plays.”
On a short running back like Rainey being able to hide behind his linemen and stay out of the line of sight of defenders:
“Most definitely, he did it today. He skidded through the line, all the defensive guys in there, and then broke it all the way down for a touchdown. It was exciting to see.”
On what the rookies will miss while not being allowed to attend OTAs:
“They’ll miss some, but we’ll catch them up fast. I’ve been texting and calling them, and I’m pretty sure Coach Koogs [Kuglar} is in contact with them a lot to help them out throughout the process. But I can’t wait for them guys to get up here and get ready to go to work.”
Whether he’s seen much of David DeCastro, the Steelers first round pick out of Stanford:
“Not much, but I’ve seen him on the YouTube clips. He looks like an awesome player.”
On what changes there will be to the Steelers playbook under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley:
“Different terminology, but all the stuff is kind of similar. We just got to get used to different verbiage.”