Steelers Preview 2010: Offensive Workhorses Need to Pick Up Ben's Slack
Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is currently suspended by the NFL for six games due to his disorderly conduct in Georgia this offseason. His suspension may be reduced to four games if he continues to behave well.
From a football standpoint, this means that the Steelers will either have Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon starting. Leftwich is 30 years old, has good size, and throws a good deep ball. Dixon is 25 years old and has good size also. Dixon's main strength is his mobility and ability to run after plays break down.
Either way, neither quarterback is of Roethlisberger's caliber.
Because Roethlisberger will be out for a minimum of four weeks, other members of the Steelers' offense will need to step up.
Two players in particular will need to carry the load on their shoulders. Those players are running back Rashard Mendenhall and wide receiver Mike Wallace.
Mendenhall is going into his first full season as the every down back. Last year, Mendenhall was the starter, but Willie Parker or Mewelde Moore often came in to spell him.
He will have to come up big for the Steelers, especially in Weeks 1-4. The Steelers will try to use more of a balanced attack this season, so that means more touches for Mendenhall. He will have to put those touches to good use, and needs to be a viable option near the goal line as well.
Wallace will take Santonio Holmes' spot in the Steelers' wide receiving corps this year, being the wideout who makes the big plays as opposed to Hines Ward's consistent underneath catches.
Wallace has shown that he can make big plays, as he caught the winning touchdown in the Steelers' thrilling win over the Packers in Week 15.
Wallace is a burner, as shown by his 4.33 40-yard-dash time in the 2009 NFL Combine. However, Wallace is only six feet tall, so he must prove his worth in red zone areas, as his height will not get him many jump balls. His 40" vertical leap should help though.
Mendenhall and Wallace need to be catalysts for the Steelers' offense this season, and they must get used to playing with constant pressure, as the whole league knows that they need to be catalysts, too.
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