- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Do you think the Steelers aren't as physical as recent years? Former NFL safety Darren Woodson has an explanation -- the new practice rules.
RUSH TO JUDGMENT
A look at how the Steelers have fared in two physical areas of the game as compared to last season.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, there can only be one padded practice per day in training camp and players can't be on the field for more than four hours per day. During the regular season, there can be just 14 padded practices for the entire season, and 11 of those must be held in the first 11 weeks. Teams can't hold more than two padded practices per week.
These changes in practice have affected how the Steelers play, according to Woodson, an ESPN NFL analyst. Pittsburgh currently ranks lower than usual in two areas — 21st in running the ball and 22nd in stopping the run.
"They're always a battle-hardened unit," Woodson told the Scott Van Pelt Show. "With having these limited practices, where you can't put the pads on and be physical, I think it hurts a team that it's within them to be physical. They're (blue-collar) guys. They have to practice at a certain level for it to transfer on over."
The Steelers didn't embrace the new rules when they were announced this summer.
"It is something, I must say, I think I have mixed feelings about," Steelers president Art Rooney II told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in July. "It's probably fair to say that if it were up to us, we probably would've had a little different approach to some of the practice rules."