By Teresa Varley
There is an old saying that 'familiarity breeds contempt,' but in the case of the Steelers offensive line, familiarity is all about love.
After living through season after season of changes on the line the unit that led the way in Super Bowl XLIII is back intact and that means nothing but good things for the offense.
"It means the sky is the limit," said tackle Max Starks. "Even though we have had transitions, coming in and having a unit with a year under our belt speaks volumes. You need the experience and opportunity to play with each other and that has helped us. We are one of the younger groups on the team, we hang out together and that helps us."
Starks is one of the players who signed a new deal with the Steelers this offseason to remain in the black and gold, along with Chris Kemoeatu and Trai Essex. The signing gives the team continuity at a position where it is needed most.
"Last year we had a lot of young guys stepping up, new guys stepping up," said Kemoeatu. "Last year was my first year stepping up. You are working with new people around. We got through that issue throughout the season. I think we can really improve.
"Everyone was new last year. Everybody didn't know how to work next to each other. We progressed in a big way working as a unit. Going into camp from last year to this year we are going to be better."
The Steelers had some uncharacteristic struggles with the ground game last year, due in part to injuries throughout the year, including losing Willie Parker for several games and Rashard Mendenhall for the majority of the season. The offensive line prides themselves in getting the ground game going, and want to get it back on track this year.
"It helps a lot to get all of the same guys back and the chemistry," said Essex. "It's the first time in six years we have the top six people come back and that helps, especially with the running game.
"With Rashard and Willie at full strength the sky is the limit," said Essex. "The running game is always a priority. Even though we didn't do as well with it last year, it was still a priority."