Even though hes already started 70 games during his 10 years in the league, new Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Ryan Harris is always looking for ways to improve his game. That shouldn’t be hard for him to do now that he’s being coached by Mike Munchak, who played 12 years in the NFL with the Houston Oilers. At the conclusion of the Steelers Tuesday OTA practice, Harris talked about what it’s been like so far learning from Munchak.
“He’s definitely teaching all of us something that can help us with our game,” said Harris in an interview you can watch on steelers.com. “It’s good to be coached by somebody who’s got such knowledge both of the game and playing the game.”
Harris, who won a Super Bowl championship last season as a starting left tackle with the Denver Broncos, is looking forward to his upcoming training camp battle against Alejandro Villanueva, who ended the 2015 season as the Steelers starting left tackle after taking over for Kelvin Beachum, who was lost for the season to a knee injury during the team’s Week 6 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
“I feel that I’m one of the best in the league at doing what I do,” said Harris, who was originally drafted by the Broncos in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame. “I’m going to have my goals for camp, they’re going to be separate from any individual I’m going against. That’s the way I approach competition and it’s worked out for me thus far.”
While Villanueva might be perceived by many as the current incumbent at left tackle ahead of training camp, Munchak made it clear during last month’s draft that the starting job will ultimately be decided over the course of the rest of the offseason.
“Obviously Villanueva is the one that’s most familiar with the position coming in,” Munchak said. “That won’t mean a whole lot. Harris is new to the offense. He just got a Super Bowl ring so he brings a lot of experience to the room also. We have a lot of good problems to have. We’re going to have some good competition.”
As a fan, you have to be excited about the current depth that the Steelers now have at the tackle position as it’s probably the best it’s been in quite a while. That depth allowed the Steelers to release former second-round draft pick Mike Adams almost immediately after the draft concluded thanks to them also selecting LSU underclassman Jerald Hawkins in the fourth-round.
While the Steelers have only conducted four OTA practices so far this offseason, Harris unsurprisingly doesn’t sound like he’s having any issues when it comes to picking up the team’s offense.
“A lot of offenses do the same thing, it’s just how they do them and how they sound,” said Harris. “I am just learning the language we are using and the concepts. It’s coming along.”
Harris’ upcoming training camp battle against Villanueva figures to be one of the better ones that we’ll see this year at Latrobe and regardless of which player ultimately wins the starting job on the left side, the loser of said battle will provide the team with a great backup option who can play on either side of the offensive line.
“Most of the guys we have can play right and left,” Munchak said during the draft. “We’re not one position guys.”