With about two weeks to the opener, the Steelers continue to work as they get ready for their real final preseason test in Denver Sunday night (we all know no one will really play vs the Panthers a week from Thursday). With that, there are still question marks on the roster, and areas to talk about.
Here are some positions that people have expressed concern about. We’ll take a poll below on what area you think the team has the most question marks in.
Offensive Line – Things seemed in panic mode after Willie Colon was lost for the year, but then the team inked Flozell Adams. It was back to panic mode after the game against the Lions, but the team showed up nicely for the 2nd preseason game Saturday against a decent to good Giants team, and ran the ball well.
Right now the O-line looks like this: LT Starks, LG Kemoeatu, C Hartings (with Pouncey waiting in the wings), RG Essex, RT Adams.
I am not as concerned about the line as some people, as Ben will get sacked like always, but some are on him and others on the line. My concern if any would be run blocking, and they showed me a lot Saturday night. Let’s hope that continues.
Wide Receiver – Right now the starters are clearly Hines Ward and Mike Wallace, and Wallace showed again his speed on Saturday with a long TD catch from Byron Leftwich. It’s been a good competition in camp with rookies Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, and vet Antwaan Randel El coming back to the team. Arnaz Battle and Tyler Grisham add depth as well, and now that I’ve seen what Brown can do, and Wallace seems like the real deal, this position isn’t nearly as bad as people made it out to be earlier.
Cornerback – Here’s the spot that I have to admit scares me. Ike Taylor will line up at left corner, Bryant McFadden at right, and there’s a bunch of guys fighting for the backup spots. Let’s face it, Taylor is hit or miss, and while I like McFadden, he was awful for the Cardinals last year.
William Gay, Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett seem to be three guys in the mix, and Crezdon Butler a rookie is also a guy that the club would like to see step up. I know a lot of the secondary success will be measured by the pressure the front 7 puts on the QB, but late in games this unit needs to find a way to make plays, something they didn’t do in 2009.
Defensive Line – The team boats the experience and success of this unit, and while I agree with that, all three guys are 30+, and two of the last three seasons Aaron Smith has been hurt which has killed the teams run stopping ability. The one guy I am excited about it Evander Hood, aka Ziggy. He adds the youth this unit really needs, and it would be good to see him bring the heat late in games and give one of those vets a break.
Smith staying healthy is going to be key, as there is simply no question how much they have missed him in two of the last three seasons he’s been on the shelf.
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