Pittsburgh Steelers: 4 Veterans Who Could Be Replaced by Rookies

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Pittsburgh Steelers: 4 Veterans Who Could Be Replaced by Rookies
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Following an 8-8 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers will need to make some changes if they are going to compete for a playoff spot in 2013. But how many changes do the Steelers really need to make?

When they were healthy and the offense finally began to click in the middle of the season, the Steelers appeared to be one of the strongest teams in the AFC. Then the injury bug struck.

Replacing a player here and there was doable, but not when Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, Willie Colon, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams and Antonio Brown were all out.

While Mike Tomlin’s “next man up” mantra sounds great on paper, it is not practical, which Dan Rooney explained in an interview on Tuesday (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

Coaches will say, "We have to play with what we have and guys are supposed to step in." You can't say that you're trying to build up a young guy in his first or second year and get him to be able to play; you can't say that if you get your first-line guy hurt that you're going to put one of these guys in here and they'll play the same.

Rooney is exactly right.

Tomlin can say that “the standard is the standard,” but there are some guys in the lineup that just cannot be replaced by a young player.

There are some players who are just so much better than their replacements that the team cannot overcome the injuries. But injuries are not the only opportunity for a young player to step in and contribute. There are a number of starters who could be challenged by a rookie for a starting job.

In less than a month the Steelers will be adding—barring trades—at least eight draft picks to their roster. The hope will be that at least one or two of these players will be able to compete for and overtake a veteran for a starting job.

Here are four starters who could be in danger of losing a starting job to a rookie.

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