Steelers

Steelers aware of NFL emphasis on holding ☕

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Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (53) and guard Ramon Foster (73) -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

For fans and the media, much of the emphasis in the preseason when it came to NFL officiating was on the new rules that allow for the use of replay on pass interference calls and non-calls.

But there's a greater emphasis by the league in another direction when it comes to penalties that could have a greater hold on the interest of fans by the time Week 1 of the season is in the books -- quite literally.

The league is cracking down on holding in games this season and if the early results show anything, it's that it could be a major factor for teams as they adjust to the greater emphasis on penalizing clutching and grabbing in the trenches.

For example, in Thursday night's opener in Chicago, the Bears were called for holding four times at Soldier Field.

That marked one more holding penalty than they drew in their eight home games all of last season, when they were penalized an NFL-low 11 times for holding.

"Yeah. There's an emphasis on that," Steelers guard Ramon Foster told me as the team finished its preparations to open the regular season Sunday against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

"With as much good things offensive linemen are doing in this league, they want to make sure everything is even across the board. That's (Chicago's) problem. I'm sure they're going to clean it up. But we've got to be clean."

The Steelers have one of the league's top offensive lines. But they were called for 25 holding penalties in 2018. The Patriots also are considered a top offensive line unit. But they drew 24 holding penalties.

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