Through just a spattering of padded practice, reports are coming out about the message from the Steelers' coaching staff about their desire to be more physical on the offensive side of the ball.
The reported scuffle between LG Willie Colon and LB Lawrence Timmons was the result of Colon clearing Timmons out initially, then continuing to pound on him down the field
What was he upset about, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was asked.
"Life. I don't know," he responded.
Even though RB Isaac Redman was knocked out of practice for a few plays after taking a hit to the head on his blocking assignment, Redman will still be the featured guy in that physical mentality.
As LB LaMarr Woodley recently told the Associated Press, "It takes a team to bring that guy down."
The Woodley quote came from a revealing feature piece highlighting Redman's Division-II-to-the-Steelers journey, which began after he was, in his words, out of shape as an undrafted rookie in 2009.
Redman, a former New Jersey state high school wrestling champion, is, as Woodley, said, "...in a word, tough."
A perfect fit for what looks like at least something of a return to "Ground-and-Pound football."
Rookie undrafted free agent Wes Johnson has been seen with the first-teamers, lead-blocking for the powerful Redman. RB Jonathan Dwyer has been equally impressive thus far, showing weight isn't a concern and power is an advantage.
A minor ankle injury has held unquestioned starting TE Heath Miller out of a few practices, which has led to TE Weslye Saunders taking a hold of his opportunity and making the most of it. Rookie OG Kelvin Beachum has been involved in two scuffles so far, too. That may not necessarily show skill, but it does show offensive guys are willing to fight.
Hard to hate that on a football team.
Perhaps these sorts of reports are things we always hear after padded training camp practices, but it was also the ingredient that seemed to be missing last season. The emphasis of "power" football, even for as loose of a term that is, could suggest the Steelers are taking an approach to improve their weaknesses as opposed to simply playing to their strengths. Leaning on a great passer with outstanding skill position players isn't bad in theory, but as the Steelers saw in 2011, when that option is hindered by injuries, not having shown an opposing team the willingness to win a different way creates a lack of fluidity. And defensive coaches can and will pick that apart.
It's nothing a power formation, 28 toss with Colon bouncing a linebacker down the field, clearing room for Redman, can't fix.