No attention-grabbing $75,000 fines have been handed to James Harrison, and nobody has had $120,000 docked from his paycheck in a span of six weeks as was the case last year.
There have been few knockout blows on defenseless receivers and even fewer big-time penalties dished out by the NFL, leading some players to wonder whether the league is finding alternate ways of fining players.
Instead of being fined for hits geared to the head, players are being fined for such infractions as face-mask penalties, low blocks, taunting and using cell phones on the sidelines.
"They basically said they are going to fine you for everything," Steelers safety and player rep Ryan Clark said. "It's about money."
The Steelers have been fined eight times totaling $95,000, with a strong likelihood of that number being larger. The NFL does not release fines unless specific inquiries are made.
The Steelers have been fined for violations such as a low block, a clip and a horse-collar tackle.
"They are taking things that are regular football hits and starting to fine you for it," Clark said. "Those things aren't going to stop. They are going to happen. I guess people are going to get fined every week if they are going to continue to fine you for things that are just a part of football."
However, the NFL insists that the fines being handed out, and the reasons attached are no different.
"There is no more of an emphasis than in past years," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "It is always emphasized."
Steelers veteran quarterback Charlie Batch, a member of the NFL Players Association executive committee, said the league has always fined players for football-type violations, but it was never publicized until recently.
"The media is just more concise (with) it," Batch said. "It has always been this way. Just nobody really paid attention to it unless it was the obvious one."
While Harrison's fines were the most notable last year, the Steelers were fined for some of the things they've been fined for this year.
Guard Chris Kemoeatu was fined $5,000 for spearing and $12,500 for two instances in the AFC Championship Game where he dived on top of a pile after the play was over. Wide receiver Hines Ward was fined $5,000 for excessive face-masking against Tennessee.
"That's the way they want to call it, so we have to deal with it however the way they want to run it," linebacker James Farrior said. "You have to adjust."
The NFL hands out a policy manual before each season to players and coaches that details what constitutes a finable offense.
The violations are broken down into five categories: offense against game official; player safety/flagrant personal foul; fighting; sportsmanship; and uniform.
"The rules evolve to some extent each year, and the players and coaches must adapt to that," Aiello said.
The fines range from as much as $50,000 on a second offense of physical contact with an official down to as little as $2,500 for first offense of unnecessarily entering a fight area (no active involvement).
Players also can be fined for violations such as fighting ($25,000), leg whip ($15,000), excessive profanity ($10,000), not wearing a chinstrap ($7,500), striking/kicking/kneeing ($7,500) and throwing a football into the stands ($5,000). The fines are labeled as minimums in the policy manual and are doubled on the second offense.
"Some of the (rules) are weak, yes," receiver Mike Wallace said. "I most definitely think they are taking away a lot of things."
Some Steelers players are wondering how far the league will take fining players for what they believe are football plays.
"It's up to the commissioner," Farrior said. "He will stop it wherever he wants to stop it. He is the boss."