Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Players Who Need to Improve in 2013

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Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Players Who Need to Improve in 2013
Karl Walter/Getty Images

Though football truly is a team game, a season often succeeds or fails based on the performance of a few key players. If that handful of contributors makes plays and comes through when it matters, the team wins. But if they don’t, the team will not be so successful.

It is easy to assume that those key players are what should be considered a respective team's stars, and that those with the highest paychecks will usually make or break a season. That is true to some degree.  A disappointing campaign from the face of an organization can certainly torpedo a team's hopes of making the playoffs.

But it's not always that way. Not even a monstrous season from Calvin Johnson was enough to save the Lions this past year. More often than not, the stars' performances are a given, and the role players, substitutes and previously unknowns are the ones who make all the difference.

Coming off a disappointing 8-8 finish to 2012, the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking at an offseason full of upheaval. Some older players will move on. New players will arrive. Veterans will see their roles decrease.  Younger talent will finally get its chance. In sum, the roster will probably look completely different at the beginning of the next season.

Regardless of how the team looks in September, however, it will ultimately be the play of five Steelers that will determine whether Pittsburgh makes it back to the playoffs or sputters to a losing record in 2013.

Two of them are critical to ensuring the passing attack is as dangerous as it has been in the past. One will need to help jump-start Pittsburgh’s ground game. Another will decide whether the Steelers can stop opposing running backs. And the last will be the key to the team’s passing defense remaining the toughest in the league. No matter what, all of them will need to step up their respective games in 2013.

So who are these five players? Read on to find out.

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