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Steelers defense doing its share to win turnover battle

Despite being ranked among the best defenses in the league every year, the Steelers are often dismissed for a lack of takeaways. In 2013, they are trying to make their weakness another strength.

Jared Wickerham

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been dealing with the elephant in their defense - a lack of takeaways from a defense perennially ranked among the best in yards and points against.

The Steelers have emphasized winning the turnover battle this year in training camp, and their practice has been paying off so far.

Pittsburgh grabbed two interceptions, forced seven fumbles and recovered six including one on special teams, in four exhibition games this year. With leaders like Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley and Brett Keisel playing like younger versions of themselves and a group full of young playmakers, the trend of takeaways may only increase when starters are playing full-time.

Rookies Jarvis Jones and Shamarko Thomas have already given glimpses of why they were drafted by the Steelers in the first place, each having a hand in forcing and securing turnovers of their own. Lawrence Timmons was a force in coverage last year, grabbing picks of his own against the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns. Larry Foote, Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor bring veteran wile to their trade.

If the Steelers fail to improve on their turnover ratio in 2013, either the defense will have fallen into old habits or injuries, or the offense did not do its part. Considering the lack of interceptions thrown by Ben Roethlisberger during his healthy portion of 2012, the offense is expected to remain efficient in the giveaway department.

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