Ike Taylor points at transition for Steelers slow start along offensive line

Rob Carr

On his radio show, the Steelers defender realizes his team is suffering growing pains during the preseason, especially along a very young offensive line.

Preseason football is about learning.  Ike Taylor knows the Pittsburgh Steelers have plenty to learn from their first two preseason losses of 2013, but he remains confident they will learn.

On his TribLive Radio Show, Taylor talked about the team's early struggles in the first half of the preseason.  However, he wasn't nearly as pessimistic as the media following his team.

He pointed to untimely penalties.  Two third-down conversions were negated, leaving the team facing third-down distances of 18 and 19 yards.  According to Ike, there are no plays in the preseason playbook for those distances.

The focus then segued to the offensive line.  Taylor was not surprised.  He pointed to the youth movement across the offensive side of the roster.  The Steelers are starting their youngest offensive line since 1957, and most of the starting five are still basically rookies.  Taylor notes Gilbert was lost early to injury, Adams spent his rookie year on both sides of his line before being lost to injury himself and David DeCastro missed most of his first year recovering from a preseason injury.

Taylor then notes other changes in the offense.  Receivers have changed with Mike Wallace's departure.  The tight end's role has changed with Heath Miller being out.  Ben Roethlisberger is the only quarterback returning from last season, while Le'Veon Bell and LaRod Stephens-Howling join a crowded and competitive backfield.  However, the differences didn't stop at personnel for Taylor.

He also points to the shift in scheme when it comes to run blocking.  The team is adding the outside zone to their rushing arsenal, but they are not relying on it exclusively.  The team is trying to operate both zone and power philosophies in the name of versatility and unpredictability.  Asking a veteran line to adopt a new mindset is one thing, it is another to ask it of virtual rookies Adams and DeCastro, a former backup Ramon Foster and the oft-injured and displaced Gilbert.

And, as Taylor points out, this scheme shift was only introduced a couple months ago.  CBA regulations have limited the opportunities for teams to practice.  It is one thing to study a playbook, it is another to execute.

No one enjoys losing, and Taylor believes any game worth playing is worth playing to win; but he acknowledges preseason losses are not indicative of a team's quality.  He still believes the team will iron out their issues with each passing snap as they continue to learn as a team together.

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