The flags are flying this preseason

Jason Worilds didn't seem like he wanted to talk too much about the penalties, but even he had to chuckle when asked about the growing number of penalty flags being thrown this preseason, particularly in last Thursday's game against the Eagles.

"It was a lot," said Worilds.

Twenty-seven penalties were called in the game, 13 on the Steelers and 14 on the Eagles. And a good portion of those have been defensive holding or illegal contact, two points of emphasis the NFL is trying to make this year.

"That is something the league is reinforcing and we have to adjust. Those are the rules and we have to play by them," said Worilds. "We'll do that. We knew it was going to happen. We had some referees come to camp and they flagged us, so we kind of knew what was going to happen."

Nobody could have predicted the increase in flags would be what it has been though. Through three weeks of the 2013 preseason 820 penalties were called. That's an average of 17 penalties per game. This year 1,106 penalties have been called in three weeks league-wide, for an average of 23 per game, a 34.8% increase.

"I am going to just adjust my game to how they tell us we have to play," said safety Mike Mitchell. "It's no different than how they told us we have to hit people. You guys have to change your game, hit lower. Same thing, you just can't grab.

"Penalties are out of our control. If they are going to call it, they're going to call it. We just have to try to adjust our game the best we can to play penalty free."

The Steelers had officials at their training camp on several occasions this summer in an effort to help the players become accustomed to the new rules on illegal contact. But practice and games are completely different, as the speed of the game takes over.

"We got that time during camp when the refs came and they told us about the rule," said cornerback Will Gay. "It's nothing out of the ordinary. We are just playing. If we are wrong, we're wrong. If we are right, we're right. We just have to play the game of football. We control what we do by just playing hard. The refs have a job, we have a job. If we all do our jobs we're good.

"It's still a football game at the end of the day. You can't worry about flags. The game of football has flags and we aren't going to moan and groan about it."

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