With just a day and a half of mini-camp left and a 6 week break approaching before training camp, Defensive Coordinator, Dick LeBeau says the defense is working hard to remain in good shape.

“I’m pleased with the overall conditioning of our squad right now, defensively that’s all I see,” LeBeau said. “We’ve got a ways to go I’m not saying we are ready to open a season but they’ve been doing something, all of them.”

The Steelers have maintained the number 1 total defense in the league for the past 2 seasons and although they lost key players like James Harrison, Keenan Lewis and Casey Hampton, LeBeau expects a lot from young guys like first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones.  LeBeau says it’s too early for anyone to really distinguish themselves but he is impressed with what he’s seen from Jones so far and credited him for his work ethic and character.

“He didn’t come in here expecting anything to be handed to him, he wants to earn his spot on our roster,” LeBeau said. “Plus he’s shown us a lot of instinctive football ability and if the coach doesn’t mess him up I think he’s got a chance at becoming a pretty good player.”

LeBeau added that the defensive staff really likes the new safety from Syracuse, Shamarko Thomas.

“He has come in here just like Jarvis and Shamarko has worked hard and they’re both learning the defense and they’re not going to learn it overnight but I’m pleased with where they are.”

Troy Polamalu said that everyone can see Thomas’ talents on the field but what he likes most about Shamarko is his humble disposition.

He wants to learn and he is hungry to learn, very respectful, and as a veteran safety as Ryan and I are, that is all we look for.” Polamalu said. “Someone that is willing to come in and learn and help us out in turn.”

But the rookies aren’t the only ones that have something to learn this year. LeBeau said the most important part of the defense that needs improved on is turnovers. The Steelers have had success in causing turnovers in the past but the last couple seasons have not been as productive as previous years.

“I wish I knew the answer to the why but we are searching for those answers and working in that direction and we’ll keep stressing it,” LeBeau said. “We have to help the offense shorten their field and maybe get some more points ourselves and you have to get fumble sacks and interceptions to do that.”

To hear what else Dick LeBeau said listen to the full interview: 

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