Line putting in their time this offseason

In a corner of the Steelers weight room Maurkice Pouncey's voice could be heard above the throbbing beat of the music blaring through the speakers.

"C'mon man, c'mon man," Pouncey encouraged his fellow offensive linemen as they pumped weights one more time, then another, driven by the encouragement. "Let's go."

It's been a common occurrence to hear that kind of encouragement over the last few months, whether it's Pouncey, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, or any of the linemen. They are all taking part in the team's offseason program and they are there to support and help each other get better.

"That is the beauty of the position we play," said Foster. "It's five guys trying to play as one. That is part of being on the offensive line, and with that comes us pushing and encouraging each other to get better all of the time."

That effort to improve is what had the entire line participating in the voluntary offseason program from the moment it began. Veterans like Pouncey and Foster are regulars right along with second-year players Mike Adams, Kelvin Beachum and David DeCastro, using the time to get in optimal shape and get a refresher course on the offense before OTAs begin tomorrow.
"We all hit each other up and wanted to make that commitment to be here," said Pouncey. "I think everybody felt the same way. Everyone had the same mindset that we all wanted to be here working.

"I think all of us being together here shows the commitment we have. We are just trying to build the chemistry with each other; we have to play right next to each other. We all feel like we need to win this year, and it's all on us on the offensive line. We have to carry the team."

Dominate is a word that easily flows when the linemen talk about their goal for the upcoming season. They want to dominate in all facets, from the run game, to the passing game and protecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, to overall consistency.

"The offensive line carries our quarterback, and our quarterback is our franchise here and he runs everything," said Pouncey. "We have to keep him healthy and up to make plays for us. We always know the defense is going to make plays for us, so it's going to be our time to shine this year."

Last year the injuries took a toll on the line, with countless combinations on the field, and while everyone is hoping that is behind them there was a positive that came out of it. The shuffling gave younger players more experience and in turn gives the entire line an advantage this season.

"This year we have some guys that can come in because of experience," said Pouncey. "We all saw DeCastro's toughness coming back from a major injury and playing at a high level at the end of last year. Now he is looking strong, running well with the other guys and we can't wait to see what he brings this year.

"You have Beachum who showed he can get in there and compete at a high level and can compete for a starting spot. We will see the battles in camp and how it goes. We all take care of each other, but I think this year is going to be a tougher training camp than in the past."

You can be sure, though, when July rolls around and they report to St. Vincent College to face the battles in training camp, this will be a unit that will be ready to roll.

"We know we have a young group and there are a lot of challenges we are going to see this year," said Foster. "Our division got a whole lot better. The best way for us to get better is to be here now.

"It's the start of it right here. You can tell the guys have been working before we got to this day. We are building stronger relationships. We have a tight knit group, but it's something we want to build on being we have so many young guys. Guys have families, live in other states, but we are all here to win number seven."

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