Asked to assess his defense entering year three, and where this Pittsburgh team is at, defensive coordinator Matt House had one simple answer.
"When we first got here, I don't know how physical we were," House said. "Now, we are starting to develop a physical mentality. You can hear it in practice."
Where does that come from?
"I think it's a product of Coach Chryst's philosophy, in general," House said. "The one thing he's constantly preaching is guys that love football. When he says that, he's talking about guys that love to play, but guys that love the physical aspect of it."
Overall on the defense, House likes where his group is at from a depth standpoint. He feels this spring has shown him a lot for him, as he looks to make plans for training camp. Among those plans, were to line certain guys at. And it might not be for starting jobs, either. Does he have enough safeties, to the point where he can rotate one or more of them as a hybrid linebacker in pass rush situations? Does he have an extra linebacker to bring up to the line in those certain situations?
As he wraps up spring practice, and looks ahead to training camp, that's where his preparation stands.
In talking with running backs coach John Settle following Tuesday's practice, he doesn't sound like a guy down, or disappointed about losing two-thirds of his backfield in Friday's practice.
Don't get him wrong--he's not celebrating the fact either. But, as a former running back himself, in a way, he feels the best way to improve as a football player or as a team, is to simply to play football--to continue to be physical.
"I truly believe you have to play football to get better," Settle said. "I don't think its one of those things we're you can come out, walk through, and be ready to play. You have to get used to being hit, getting your body ready. "