2007 was a sold first season for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers, and while the team failed to advance past the wild card round of the playoffs, they still were the AFC North Champs, and have a roster full of young stars that should keep them in a pretty good position for the next few years. Here are some questions about the team as we start to close in on training camp in about a month.
1. Can Justin Hartwig cement the center position? – The Steelers have always had a long line of good centers, from Mike Webster to Dermontti Dawson, to Jeff Hartings. That positon took a hit last year, as fee agent Sean Mahan simply did not have that great of a year at the position, and his play was just a part of the woes on the O-line. The teams biggest free agent pickup, Hartwig hopefully will make that position a strength again in 08.
2. Will “Fast” Willie Parker be 100 percent entering the season? – That is a great question, but so far reports have Parker looking great coming off the fractured leg he suffered in the Rams game late last season. Parker was one of, if not the best back in the league when he got hurt, so having him and rookie Rashard Mendenhall both running the ball behind a better O-line will put the running game in an even better position than 07.
3. Will Troy Polamalu Return to Form? – A big part of Troy’s game is speed, and last season battling injuries most of the season, it seemed he was behind the play by just a step. Having a good camp, getting back to 100 percent, and being back to being the disruptive player he was the last few years will do wonders for the secondary.
4. Can the team Keep Ben Roethlisberger Upright? – The answer to this goes back to two things – the success or lack thereof of the O-line, and the defense’s ability to hold leads and not force the Steelers to have to play a lot of catch up. Ben is great at making plays out of the pocket, but for once it would be nice to see him not have to run for his life and have to create plays on the fly.
5. Are Lawrence Timmons and Lamarr Woodley Ready to Make an Impact? – Let’s just say the team didn’t draft these two to let them sit the bench. Woodley was a force in spot duty last season, and will start on the left side at linebacker. Timmons came on late in special teams, and will likely push Larry Foote for playing time on the inside. These two are too good to sit the bench in 2008.
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