As Pittsburgh Steelers training camp is set to begin, Behind the Steel Curtain takes a look at each position battle and how players at those positions are expected to perform.
PITTSBURGH -- Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has 15 assistant coaches on his staff this year, including several new coaches.
The most significant addition to the Steelers staff clearly is Mike Munchak for the offensive line. Munchak was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as an offensive guard, and he was highly rated as a line coach before taking over as the head coach for the only franchise he's been with during an illustrious career: The Houston-Tennessee Oilers/Tennessee Titans.
Munchak is the Steelers third O-line coach in three years, but unless another franchise takes a chance and hires him as a head coach it's not likely that this will be just a pit stop. The players appear to love Munchak so far, and it won't be long before his impact will be noticed. Continued development by guard David DeCastro and Kelvin Beachum and improved play from tackles Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert are his biggest challenges.
The Steelers also had to replace departed running backs coach Kirby Wilson, and they chose 15-year coaching veteran James Saxon. He has had eight players surpass 1,000 yards rushing and sent a running back to the Pro Bowl 11 times. Saxon could be the second most important addition to the staff.
The Steelers running game has not been too potent in recent years. However, with several young players, including second-year starter Le'Veon Bell and rookie third-round draft pick Dri Archer, along with LeGarrette Blount playing for his third team in three seasons, Saxon has some work to do.
It could be argued that former Steelers star Joey Porter joining the coaching staff as a defensive assistant is equally as important as Munchak and Saxon, and he could blast past them if he coaxes big pass-rushing numbers out of starting outside linebackers Jason Worilds and second-year player Jarvis Jones. The Steelers first-round draft pick in 2013, Jones didn't accomplish too much. But he and Worilds are expected to get the club's pass-rush back on track this year in what is expected to be their first rule seasons as starters.
Second-year Steelers coach Richard Mann, a 30-year NFL veteran coach, also has his work cut out for him with the club's wide receivers. Sure, he has Pro Bowl performer Antonio Brown leading the way, but the Steelers signed two veterans -- Lance Moore and underachiever Darrius Heyward-Bey -- and drafted a player in the fourth round this year in Martavis Bryant. So, Mann has to help that group mix with second-year plays Markus Wheaton, Derek Moye and Justin Brown to compose a new Steelers receiving corps this season.
The remaining coaches on the Steelers staff include defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, offensive coordinator Todd Haley, special teams coordinator Danny Smith, defensive line coach John Mitchell, linebackers coach Keith Butler, tight ends coach James Daniel, quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner, secondary coach Carnell Lake, offensive assistant Shaun Sarrett, defensive assistant Jerry Olsavsky and strength and conditioning coach Garrett Giemont.