An ability to relate

Dale Lolley is co-host of the Steelers Nation Radio program "SNR Drive". Subscribe to the podcast here >>>

With the retirements of both Ramon Foster and Maurkice Pouncey in the past two years, there's no doubt the Steelers offensive line is in a period of transition.

That's why the team's offensive linemen, both former and current, were happy when head coach Mike Tomlin elevated assistant offensive line coach Adrian Klemm to oversee the position group following the 2020 season.

Klemm, who had been with the team the previous two seasons, has the temperament and teaching ability to help the Steelers transition from a veteran group to a much younger one. Only Pro Bowl guard David DeCastro has regular NFL starting experience of the team's current linemen.

"Our offensive line needs to get better. We know that, not only as individuals, but as a unit," said tackle Zach Banner, who recently re-signed with the team on a two-year deal.

"I wouldn't want to go into an offseason like this with anyone other than Klemm."

A former second-round pick of the Patriots in 2000, Klemm has walked in the shoes of the player's he'll be tasked to lead. He was a member of three Super Bowl championships. And that goes a long way.

So, too, does his ability to talk to players and relay his expectations.

"Man, his ability to relate," said Foster, who spent only one year with Klemm, but was impressed. "Never taking the hype of a what the other person can do and focus on yourself. No matter how good the media portrays your opponent, it's about what you're willing to do to them instead. The idea of being the hammer and not the nail.

"He takes his job very serious and expects the guys to be the same way. Even while being the assistant offensive line coach, he was well involved with the younger guys and did a lot for us vets too as far as film study and confirmation of what we did right or wrong. He's a guy I would have loved to play for in a head OL role because I know it'd be all accountability and the focus on pulling the absolute best out of you. Knowing when to press guys and when to pull back in coaching."

That experience and knowledge comes from not only having played the game, but having coached the position at the collegiate level, where teaching is a must. Klemm coached at both SMU and UCLA prior to joining the Steelers.

Tomlin did his due diligence, but ultimately came to the conclusion his next offensive line coach was already at the UMPC-Rooney Sports Complex.

"My development in these past two years is a huge chunk (owed) to him. Head offensive line coaches are so into the week to week, they don't really get to work with developmental guys. My game, Chuks (Okorafor), Kevin Dotson, J.C. (Hassenauer) a lot of that individual work came from Klemm," Banner said of backups or young players who have stepped into the lineup in the past two years.

"That's one thing I'm very excited about. From a technique standpoint, I'm very excited."