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Analysis: One Big Thing That’s Missing from Steelers Run Defense

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Steelers

When you think of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 3-4 defense, you probably think of the feared pass-rushers that have manned the outside linebacker position over the years. Players like Greg Lloyd, Joey Porter, James Harrison and T.J. Watt have become synonymous with the blitzing, tenacious pass-rushing defense first developed in the 1970s at Oklahoma that came to Pittsburgh in the early 1980s and became a staple.

But as much as those pass-rushing outside linebackers are part and parcel of the history of the Pittsburgh defense, there are other pieces that are just as important, and stopping the run has always been a key tenet.

The Steelers have long had run-stuffing inside linebackers like Hardy Nickerson, Levon Kirkland and Chad Brown, stout and sturdy defensive ends like Kimo von Oelhoffen, Aaron Smith and Cam Heyward and big, two-gapping nose tackles like Joel Steed and Casey Hampton.

But over time, the personality of the Steelers defense was forced to change.

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