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 Steelers' offense aiming for 5 yards per carry

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PostSubject: Steelers' offense aiming for 5 yards per carry   Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:19 pm

Steelers' offense aiming for 5 yards per carry

BY MARK KABOLY | Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016

In a rush

The Steelers' yards-per-carry average under offensive coordinator Todd Haley:

Year Average Rank

2015 4.4 8

2014 4.1 16

2013 3.5 29

2012 3.7 26

Source: NFL.com

The Steelers must enjoy setting lofty goals for their offense because they just keep stacking them on top of each other.

It's well documented they've been shooting for 30 points a game for the past couple of years, something no other Steelers team has accomplished.

So why not add another ambitious goal of averaging 5 yards per carry to arguably the best passing offense in the NFL?

“It makes sense, now doesn't it?” guard Ramon Foster said. “I don't see why not. Even if we are close to that, we will win most of our games, and that's what we want. Five yards is great to shoot for.”

The 5-yards-per-carry goal has been circulating among the offense since the offseason and can be traced to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin from a couple of years ago. However, Foster has brought new life to it recently, and nobody seems to think it is unattainable.

A year ago without running back Le'Veon Bell for 10 games (injury and suspension), center Maurkice Pouncey for the season and tackle Kelvin Beachum for a significant portion of the year, the Steelers rushed for 4.4 yards per carry, which was eighth best in the league.

Now Bell is healthy, and pending the appeal of his four-game suspension, could be available for the entire season for only the second time in his career. Bell appears to have no lingering effects from his November knee surgery.

Throw in the emergence of DeAngelo Williams last year and the likelihood of teams trying to take away the Steelers' passing game with the league's most potent combination — Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown — and 5 yards per carry doesn't sound that crazy.

“I am not sure who came up with it, but I like it,” guard David DeCastro said. “It's a good number. It's a good goal to have. We have a chance.”

That number isn't easy to reach. No team rushed for more than 4.8 yards per carry last year. Only the 2014 Seattle Seahawks and the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles averaged 5 yards per carry over the past three seasons.

For the Steelers, it hasn't happened since 1972, when they put up 5.1 yards per carry. That year, the Steelers ran the ball nearly 500 times, and Terry Bradshaw threw for fewer than 2,000 yards. Last year, the Steelers threw the ball 200 more times than they ran it.

“It's doable,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said.

“It's a goal, and we know it isn't going to be easy and won't be easy to come by,” tackle Marcus Gilbert said.“I think what we might be able to do in the run game is special. We have the two best running backs in the league.”

Before Bell was lost for the season last year, he averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He and Williams combined for 4.7 yards per carry.

Still, make no mistake that the Steelers still want to throw the ball much more than run it.

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