The Pittsburgh Steelers are entering another NFL season this Monday night when they face the Washington Redskins. The roster is trimmed down to 53-players and the depth chart has been released.
It’s time for football. Here are three pinpoints for the Steelers’ in this 2016-2017 NFL season.
3. Suspensions? That’s what depth is for.
The Steelers haven’t had the best of luck with the decisions that the players make in the offseason. The Steelers are going to be without Martavis Bryant for the whole year, and will be without running back Le’Veon Bell for the first three games.
While Bell was missed for the first four games of the regular season last year, DeAngelo Williams proved he could step up, with a veteran presence and tenacity in running the ball. The running back corps also includes Fitzgerald Toussaint and Daryl Richardson.
As for Bryant, all eyes will be on Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Wheaton is in his fourth NFL year, and has seemingly established a relationship with both Antonio Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. As for Heyward-Bey, his height is similar to Bryant’s, and he has proven to be a red-zone threat to opposing defenses.
The Steelers need to be cautious about their wide receivers mostly, as the loss of Bryant truly is a big one. However, the depth is there with Wheaton, Brown, Heyward-Bey, Sammie Coates, and Eli Rogers.
2. The cornerback conundrum and safety situation.
A position that has plagued the Steelers with inconsistency over the years has been the cornerback position. The Steelers are lucky to have a solid cornerback in William Gay, but the others over the years have been less than impressive. The Steelers, seemingly since Troy Polamalu’s retirement, have also had troubles at the safety position.
Now, the Steelers have the additions of two NFL draft picks to their group.
Artie Burns, taken in the first round, and Sean Davis, taken in the second round, may not be first-string cornerbacks on the depth chart but that’s OK. They need time to learn, and doing it under Gay and safety Mike Mitchell is the perfect stomping ground. Burns and Davis will start, possibly in the middle of the year. However, now isn’t the time for them to start.
Starting opposite of Gay will be Ross Cockrell, who had a fairly consistent preseason last year. At the safety position, Mitchell and Robert Golden are the listed starters.
1. Quarterback depth? It’s a little shaky.
Let’s put this point this way: the Steelers better hope that Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t get injured this season.
The Steelers claimed Zach Mettenberger, a former Tennessee Titan and San Diego Charger, off waivers a day before their final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. Mettenberger didn’t participate in the game, however, The Steelers also kept Landry Jones over Bryn Renner.
Jones, who had a very inconsistent preseason this year, is listed as Roethlisberger’s backup, while Mettenberger is listed as the third-string quarterback. As for Bruce Gradkowski and Dustin Vaughan, they’re both recovering from injuries. While Gradkowski is on the injured reserve list, Vaughan has since been waived by the Steelers.
The Pittsburgh Steelers open up their season on Monday Night Football on September 12 against the Washington Redskins in the nation’s capital. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
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