Consistency a goal

The Steelers offensive line wants to come out of the blocks strong in 2010, keeping sack numbers low, rushing yards high and providing plenty of protection so receivers have time to get open.

And more importantly, they want to do it on a consistent basis.

"We have to be a lot more consistent," said tackle Willie Colon. "I look at a lot of games where we played well and we did things right and there were other games where we just didn't show up for whatever reason. We can't take for granted the five guys we have right now. All of us are seasoned and have two years or more under our belt playing out there. This year has to be our breakout year as far as a consistent line and just showing up every Sunday ready to go to work and playing well together."

The Steelers return their offensive line of tackles Max Starks and Colon, guards Trai Essex and Chris Kemoeatu and center Justin Hartwig. They also added first round pick Maurkice Pouncey and the hope is the combination of veterans and young players will prove to be the perfect mix this year.

"It was very frustrating," said Essex of the inconsistency last year. "We all know that we are all good enough to do the things we are supposed to do every day, every play and every game. When something falls off it's very frustrating and you wonder why it's happening. We know what we are capable of. It can be frustrating but I think this year is a good chance to improve on the consistency. To have everybody back and the attitude and the talent we got in this draft we'll be able to accomplish that goal."

One area the line should get plenty of work on is run blocking, as running the ball more consistently was a hot topic this offseason.

"We are built to run the ball up front," said Essex. "We pass the ball, but to be able to run the ball and keep the defense honest is going to help us. Last year we were inconsistent, some games we ran well, some games we wouldn't. With the type of talent we have up front with the running backs there should be no question why we can't be successful running the ball."

The line took steps to establishing consistency during their three-day mini-camp, the first opportunity they had to work as a complete team, and are continuing that during OTAs.

"The rookies came in and the older guys had to set the tempo for them," said Colon. "It's good to start the season. For us it's getting back on track. It's been a long offseason. Everyone is at the starting line right now."

And as far as the finish line, returning to the playoffs is definitely the goal.

"Last year was disappointing, especially by our standards," said Essex. "We know we have the talent to go far into the playoffs every single year. We feel short last year. It's more added motivation this off-season to accomplish those goals. I know more guys started early this offseason working out."

The work will continue through the offseason with OTAs and then kick into overdrive in training camp.

"With this ball club there is no reason why we are not at least in the AFC Championship game every year," said Colon. "We have a great defense, great offense. It's just a matter of us showing up and being one big machine out there. If we do that, it's hard to beat us."

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