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Art Rooney II: Improving Steelers' pass rush is priority

The Pittsburgh Steelers' main focus on defense this offseason is improving their pass rush.

After coach Mike Tomlin and new defensive coordinator Keith Butler each addressed the issue this offseason, team president Art Rooney II underscored the point this week.

"We need to be able to pressure the quarterback more consistently," Rooney said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I think that as a defense, we've got to get more sacks and put more pressure on the quarterback. That's a key piece of the puzzle we have to look at as we build this defense going into next year."

The Steelers' pass rush has fallen off precipitously the past two seasons, which allowed quarterbacks to pick apart a banged-up and aging secondary. Pittsburgh's 33 sacks were the team's fewest in more than a quarter century and put them 26th in the NFL, a year after being tied for 25th with just 34 sacks.

According to the Tribune-Review, Steelers coaches tracked just 103 quarterback hurries/pressures in 2014, down 32 percent from 151 the previous season.

One key will be the Steelers hanging on to leading sack-man Jason Worilds, who was slapped with the transition tag last season. Rooney expressed a desire to retain Worilds, but the Steelers also need to add a playmaker upfront.

"There's no question we need to get better," Rooney said. "That's something we need to be focused on in the offseason, how to get better on defense."

The Steelers leaned heavily on 36-year-old James Harrison to provide a pass rush late in the season. Relying on an aging player picked up off the street isn't how Pittsburgh wants to live again in 2015.

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