Ben Roethlisberger and 5 Other Pittsburgh Steelers Who Need to Step Up in 2012
Although we still do not know exactly who will make the final roster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, there are clearly certain players the team will be relying on heavily in the upcoming season.
In order for the team to bounce back from the disappointment of losing to the Denver Broncos in the playoffs, the offense must acclimate to the new system under Todd Haley, and the defense must continue to dominate.
Here are six players that the Steelers need to step up in 2012 so that the team can win another Super Bowl.
The Offensive Line
It seems as though the Steelers have finally realized that they needed actual players and not simply cardboard cutouts on the offensive line to protect Ben Roethlisberger.
They have completely overhauled the line, drafting Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, David DeCastro and Mike Adams and moving Willie Colon to guard.
Regardless of whether the LT down the road is Mike Adams, Gilbert or Max Starks, the offensive line needs to stop being a liability this year and actually block someone.
Normally, I would not even mention Ben Roethlisberger in an article like this because each team obviously needs its quarterback to step up every season.
Ben is now 30 and in the prime of his career, and although I’m not saying he needs to lead the league in yards or throw for 50 touchdowns, he needs to stay healthy for a full season and lead this team.
I would not take any other quarterback in the league over Big Ben, and with the change in offensive coordinator, he needs now to step up as a leader more than ever.
Lawrence Timmons was the only starting LB to play in every game for the Steelers last season and filled in on the outside thanks to all the injuries to the linebacker position.
With James Farrior's being cut this offseason, the Steelers are going to be relying even more on Timmons not only to play well but to also become more of a leader.
The Steelers just gave Timmons a new contract, and we all expect him to live up to that contract by being the playmaker we know he can be on defense.
The Steelers cut Bryant McFadden and let William Gay go in free agency to make room for a trio of young corners in Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown.
Keenan Lewis is expected to start opposite Ike Taylor, and Allen and Brown will be used in nickel and dime packages.
All three of these players are integral parts on special teams, as well, and the Steelers need them to just continue to develop this season.
Troy Polamalu is still the best safety in the league.
However, he has a problem staying healthy, and it seemed as though he just disappeared for about half of last season.
No one can stop the Steelers defense when Troy is all over the field, jumping over the line of scrimmage and seemingly being everywhere in a second.
The Steelers cut a lot of veteran leadership this offseason, and the team needs Polamalu to step up and roam the defense as only he can.
Ike Taylor had about as bad a game against the Broncos in the playoffs as any player can have.
However, I actually pointed out that he wasn’t playing as well as he can about Week 12 last season.
In the weeks prior to the playoff debacle, I had noticed that Ike was getting beat a lot more, although I never thought the defense would get torched by Tim Tebow.
Ike is still the Steelers' top cornerback this season, and he is still one of the most underrated players in the league.
But he needs to prove that his most recent playoff performance was just one complete bad game for him and the defense.
James Harrison/LaMarr Woodley
Both Harrison and Woodley were injured last season, and when both are healthy, they are the best pass-rushing duo in the NFL.
Young Running Backs
I trust Isaac Redman; however, we will need contributions from Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch and Chris Rainey this season.
With the new and improved offense, all we can do is hope that we don’t need Suisham as much and that he just does his job.