Some call cut blocking unethical. Others will say it's a mandatory weapon for any well-prepared zone blocking running game.
The Steelers saw the negative effects of cut-blocking last year when David DeCastro took Maurkice Pouncey out for the year when he missed on a cut attempt against Tennessee in Week 1. The rest of the league has seen several other players lost for the year due to the practice and possible misuse of the tactic.
Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak understands the difference between doing it properly and doing it dangerously. That's why the Steelers will employ the tactic (contrary to what Pouncey said during minicamp), but only after the offensive line is run through specific training on how to do it the correct way.
And never on their own guys.
Munchak spoke to Post Gazette reporter Ray Fittipaldo for a feature in Thursday's edition, explaining the process.
"It’s hard to simulate," Munchak told Fittipaldo. "There is no doubt about that. We’ll do things where we pick up towels. We’ll cut block on air. We have a landing platform like they use for special teams when they try to block a punt. Somewhere in camp, we’ll do some of that. We won’t spend a lot of time on it. That’s why you’re smart when you do it."
Running them through the proper technique certainly won't make opposing defenders any more pleased in the fact they're using it. At the same time, it's the best way to open up backside holes on stretch runs - a play the Steelers will implement a bit more frequently this year as opposed to last year.
The Steelers won't run outside zone exclusively. They are still working on inside zone, power and gap running as well, as they look to boost their nearly flatlined running game from a year ago. Cutting will be a part of it, and if done properly, can be the difference between a loss on a play and a 15-yard gain.