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Art Rooney II on rule changes, free agency and getting younger on defense

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Steelers president Art Rooney II touched on a number of issues in a wide-ranging interview. Here is Rooney on…

Whether he was happy with on-field rule changes for 2011 and how they were applied this season
“Going into the season we were certainly concerned about some of the rules changes. I think we survived the season OK. Obviously we had a player suspended, which we weren’t happy about, but I think our players have adjusted and I think the goal of reducing helmet to helmet contact is an appropriate goal. I think everyone’s trying to adjust and I think everybody, for the most part, has done a good job. I think we’ve made the game harder to officiate and the commissioner (Roger Goodell) said he’s considering making some of the officials full-time and that might be a good idea because I think thee one thing I would like to see, irrespective of the rules is that the officiating is more consistent and there’s more consistency in certain kinds of plays being called the same way from game to game and crew to crew.”

The Steelers taking a familiar approach to free agency
“Big signings, I think it’s unlikely we’ll be a big player in the free agent market. I think that’s fair to say. I think it will be similar to how we’ve pursued it in the past. Our key interests will be in keeping the players we have and if we can sign some of our younger players to longer-term contracts. That will be the key goal. If we have an opportunity to fill in a piece here or there we’ll look at it that way.”

Whether he buys into the notion that the Steelers have to get younger on defense.
“We’re starting to get younger, particularly on the defensive line. You would think that those guys, as they get more playing time, will continue to improve. We have some young defensive backs that started to show they could make a contribution so you’re going to hope that those guys continue to come on so I think it’s happening. Getting younger on defense is a process that’s already started. Obviously we have some decisions to make with certain players and their contracts.”

Whether he thinks there will be more turnover this offseason than in past ones beause of salary cap issues
“I don’t know if I see that yet. I think we know there will be changes, it’s inevitable in this business. That much we know. We’ve just got to be prepared for the different scenarios and do the best we can.”

The Steelers’ 29-23 overtime loss in Denver earlier this month
“It was probably the worst ending to a playoff game that I’ve ever been through. It was disappointing. We felt like we had a good enough team to win that game. They outplayed us.”

— Scott Brown

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