The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense has a lot of questions surrounding it this season. Will the receivers excel without Mike Wallace? Can Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley get along? And who will be carrying the ball in the backfield this season? Here are 5 key players on offense for the Steelers that need to step up if the team wants to avoid missing the playoffs for a second season in a row.
5. David DeCastro
Now that this young man is healthy again, he should have no problem being a force to be reckoned with on the offensive line. DeCastro’s athleticism is tremendous and if the Steelers are smart, moving him to left guard would be a perfect spot for him. His athleticism wouldn’t go to waste at this position and it would improve the screen game in Haley’s offense. As long as DeCastro doesn’t fall victim to another severe injury, he’ll have a key role on the Steelers offensive line.
4. Heath Miller
Miller suffered a torn ACL last season and has been recovering from the injury all offseason. It seems like Miller won’t be ready to go by week 1 of the regular season but is expected to be back at some point this season. When Miller eventually does make his return to the field, he needs to come back with a huge presence. Miller has always been a huge target for Roethlisberger and is constantly consistent when he plays. Making big time catches and being solid in the red zone is what the Steelers will need when he gets back. A speedy recovery needs to be in order for the tight end, his contributions on the field will be missed in the mean time.
3. The Starting Running Back
It’s still anyone’s guess as to who will win the battle in training camp for the starting job in the backfield. Le’Veon Bell needs to be the starting running back and everyone should be hopeful that he proves he’s right for the job in training camp. The Steelers took Bell over the likes of Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball; the team definitely believes Bell has something special and can carry the load in the backfield.
It would be disappointing to see him not produce after having so much potential when he was drafted. Jonathan Dwyer is the only other back who will give Bell a run for his money. Regardless of who is starting in the backfield, running the ball needs to be effective this year for the Steelers. Roethlisberger deserves to have a running game to complement his pass attack.
2. Antonio Brown
This is the year Antonio Brown really needs to shine. Even though Mike Wallace was a large part in the Steelers passing game, Brown may have always been better than Wallace. Brown isn’t as fast as Wallace but definitely posses better mechanics. Brown rarely dropped passes and seemed to be more consistent than any other receiver on the team. Now all the spotlight is on him this season and Brown needs to seize the opportunity. If Antonio Brown can dominant as the Steelers number one receiver there should be no problem moving the ball through the air. All eyes are on Brown, fingers crossed he doesn’t disappoint.
1. Ben Roethlisberger
Big Ben is the heart and soul of the Steelers offense. Roethlisberger always flirts with injuries during the season, so keeping him healthy is necessary for the Steelers to have success. A healthy Roethlisberger throwing the pig skin should have every Steeler fan feeling confident; he’s proven why he’s a two time Super Bowl champion time and time again.
Just like injuries, bumping heads with Haley is also something Roethlisberger doesn’t need this season. It seems like the everyone is just waiting for things to erupt between the coordinator and quarterback. However, they shouldn’t erupt at all. Roethlisberger should have no problem excelling under Haley. This is Haley’s second year as the offensive coordinator and in the past his quarterbacks have done much better in year two with him, Kurt Warner being a perfect example. Roethlisberger is always a key factor to the Steelers’ success. Keeping him healthy and on the same page as Haley will lead to another phenomenal year for the franchise quarterback.
Although it will take more than just these 5 key players to have a successful season in Pittsburgh, these players need to play exceptionally well for there to be any hope of the team making the playoffs or even better, a shot at the Steelers’ seventh Super Bowl title.