NFL PREVIEW: PITTSBURGH STEELERS
August 3, 2012Eastern Indiana Sports
NFL PREVIEW: Pittsburgh Steelers
By Kelci Baker..EIHSS SPORTS
Last year: 12-4, 2nd in AFC North, lost-wild card game
Several veterans are moving on from this Steelers team including receiver Hines Ward and with the addition of a new offensive coordinator, it looks like to some this will be a transition year for the team. On the contrary, this team has a lot of talent still and only lost the No. 1 seed in the AFC in the final eight seconds to Baltimore. All of that was accomplished with injuries to some of their best players on the offensive line. Ben Roethlisberger who is in the prime of his career at 30 is amongst the people back in action. Last year, he threw 4,077 yards with injuries in his right shoulder, right thumb, and left ankle. The amount of sacks he's endured during his career are starting to take their toll which is why the first two Steelers draft picks were used on offensive linemen. The defense was ranked No. 1 last season all of the same and now more youth will be moving in.
The focal point for this offense run by Todd Haley will be on Roethlisberger and the run. He has two 1,000-yard receivers in Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown as well as tight end Heath Miller to help him. On the offensive line rookie guard David DeCastro will be paired with Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey and tackles Marcus Gilbert and Willie Colon, making it stronger. There is a guard spot open where tackle Mike Adams is expected to step into. With the switch from Brian Arians to Haley as offensive coordinator, we don't know how the coach-quarterback relationship will develop. Rashard Mendenhall is out indefinitely after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). There's depth, but little experience behind Isaac Redman who jumps around to different spots.
Three longtime veterans have left the defense including defensive end Aaron Smith, inside linebacker James Farrior and nose tackle Chris Hoke. There is still talent for defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau since the Steelers were ranked No. 1 in fewest yards and points allowed in the NFL last season. That talent includes James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley who missed a total of 11 games in 2011. Pro Bowlers include safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark who made the Pro Bowl while stalwarts Brett Keisel and cornerback Ike Taylor return. Veteran Larry Foote will replace Farrior inside. Casey Hampton is recovering from ACL surgery and Smith is also gone from the line. Steve McLendon or Rookie Alameda Ta'amu are ready to step in if Hampton isn't ready when season starts. Competing for Smith's job on the left side are Evander Hood and Cameron Heyward, two first round picks. There is also an opening in the left cornerback positions since William Gay left as a free agent.
Jeremy Kapinos will be the punter for the Steelers after he filled in for injured Daniel Sepulveda. Rookie Grant Ressel was signed in as a free agent because kicker Shaun Suisham has been inconsistent. Starting at receiver is Pro Bowl receiver Brown so the Steelers can ease his load.
Tomlin was forced to hire a coordinator for the first time when Rooney did not renew Arians' contract. This will be his first time having to hire a coordinator since Arians and LeBeau were inherited. He only interviewed Jim Caldwell before hiring Haley in the end who brings a new personality to the Steelers' offense. Haley has a reputation of being an irritant to players at times where Roethlisberger and Arians have been on vacation together.
The Steelers’ 2012 draftees include offensive guard David DeCastro(1st round; 24th overall), offensive tackle Mike Adams(2nd; 56th), linebacker Sean Spence(3rd; 86th), defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu (4th; 109th), running back Chris Rainey(5th, 159th), wide receiver Toney Clemons(7th a; 231st), tight end David Paulson(7th b; 240th), cornerback Terrence Frederick(7th c; 246th) and offensive guard Kelvin Beachum(7th d; 248th).
If recent history tells us anything about the Pittsburgh Steelers, it's that the 2012 season will be another run at the AFC title.
After winning it all in 2005 and 2008, the Steelers failed to make the postseason in 2006 and 2009. Taking the AFC crown again in 2010, Pittsburgh went 12-4 in 2011, but was upset by the Denver Broncos in the Wild Card Round.
With key players intact on both sides such as James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, Mike Wallace and Heath Miller; quarterback Ben Roethlisberger just needs a bit more time to setup in the pocket.
The Steelers have another tough schedule ahead of them, but as we've come to learn from the NFL's most consistent franchise—don't ever count out Pittsburgh.
Week 1 9/1: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos 8:20 ET, NBC
Week 2 9/16: New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 4:15 ET, CBS
Week 3 9/23: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders 4:15 ET, CBS
Week 4 9/30: BYE WEEK
Week 5 10/7: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 1 ET, FOX
Week 6 10/11: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tennessee Titans 8:20 ET, NFL Network
Week 7 10/21: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals 8:20 ET, NBC
Week 8 10/28: Washington Redskins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 1 ET, FOX
Week 9 11/4: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Giants 4:15 ET, CBS
Week 10 11/12: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 8:30 ET, ESPN
Week 11 11/18: Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 8:20 ET, NBC
Week 12 11/25: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns 1 ET, CBS
Week 13 12/2: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens 4:15 ET, CBS
Week 14 12/9: San Diego Chargers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 1 ET, CBS
Week 15 12/16: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys 4:15 ET, CBS
Week 16 12/23: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 1 ET, CBS
Week 17 12/30: Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 1 ET, CBS
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