Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp 2010: Offensive Weapons
Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers faces uncharted waters entering the 2010 season.
Starting quarter back, Ben Roethlisberger is suspended for the first 4-6 games, and Tomlin is going to have to find a way to make sure that those first 4-6 games don't derail a Steelers team coming off a non-playoff season.
Tomlin is not without weapons for his offense. As a matter of fact, he has plenty.
Here is the list of players that Mike Tomlin is going to have to work with to keep the Steelers alive in the playoff hunt in the absence of Big Ben Roethlisberger.
Quarterback: Byron Leftwich
Is Byron Leftwich NEAR the QB that Ben Roethlisberger is? No, that is a no-brainer.
However, Leftwich DOES bring things to the table that Ben Roethlisberger does not. Quick decisions on where to throw the ball is the most notable. Leftwich has the ability to read a defense faster than Roethlisberger does, which translates to throwing the ball sooner.
Roethlisberger says regularly that he knows he holds on to the ball too long, and that is the reason for many of his sacks. We will see how much truth there is to that, while Leftwich is under center.
Quarterback: Dennis Dixon
Dennis Dixon is not going to be the starter for the Steelers in the absence of Ben Roethlisberger, but he is still available to play.
Dixon brings something to the table that Roethlisberger doesn't. BLAZING speed. Dixon could be used in various situations, including short yardage and even 3rd and long situations.
Imagine 3rd and 12, send the receivers out deep, and forcing a line backer to cover Dixon? No where near enough speed to keep him from scrambling for a first.
The Steelers could have a very viable weapon in the new #10 (Dixon switched his number when Santonio Holmes was traded), hopefully, they will use him the right way.
Running Back: Rashard Mendenhall
Make no mistakes about it, Rashard Mendenhall is the featured back in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have so much confidence in him, they allowed WIllie Parker to walk, without even trying to give him a contract.
Mendenhall is big and strong, and has a lot of agility to go along with decent speed.
Mendenhall is being called to have a much bigger role with the Steelers this season, and is going to have to deliver.
Running Backs: Isaac Redman
Isaac Redman spent last season on the Steelers practice squad, and is hoping to earn a roster spot in 2010.
I for one, have been high on Redman since the beginning, because I see a TON of potential.
Redman is practicing at not only running back for the Steelers, but full back as well. "Redzone" could develop into a key figure in the Steelers offense this year.
Wide Receiver: Hines Ward
Though Hines Ward is not the player he once was, make no bones about it, is still one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL.
He has some of the surest hands in football, and his ability to take the hit is second to none.
Ward knows that while Roethlisberger is out, he is going to have to step up his game, and play at the Pro Bowl level he can.
Wide Receiver: Mike Wallace
Not only does Mike Wallace have to fill the shoes of Santonio Holmes, he is going to have to do so from the first game of the 2010 season.
Wallace showed in 2009 that he has the talent and skill to be able to be a true number one receiver in the NFL, and he is going to have his chance to prove it.
Tight End: Heath Miller
Heath Miller earned his first Pro Bowl apperance in 2009, and will have to start out the 2010 season the same way he left off.
As one of the most underrated tight ends in the NFL, Miller has the ability to change a game with his style of play.
His ability to run after the catch is very underrated, and he has very sure hands off the line of scrimmage. Miller is also very good when it comes to blocking.
Heath Miller is going to have to start the 2010 season the way he ended the 2009 season if the Steelers are going to be successful this season.
Wild Card: Emmanuel Sanders
One of the players that will have the chance to step up to start the 2010 season, is rookie, Emmanuel Sanders.
Sanders was drafted in the third round, and the Steelers are hoping that he will be as effective this year as Mike Wallace was last year.
With the speed of Mike Wallace, and the work ethic of Hines Ward, Sanders has the potential to become a weapon for the Steelers from day 1.
Sanders is said to be having an amazing training camp, and has shown not only blazing speed, but incredible hands for a rookie.
Wild Card: Stefan Logan
Entering his second season with the Steelers, Stefan Logan is hoping to have his responsibilities increased. Logan was used primarily on special teams, but is hoping to expand his role.
Logan had a few plays on reverses last year, but nothing that was regular, that opposing teams were not expecting.
If Logan can expand his role with the Steelers, he can change the course of a game.
Wild Card: Bruce Arians
Though Bruce Arians is not a player on the team, while Ben Roethlisberger is not on the field, Arians is going to have to show that he is not over perdictable.
Arians is going to have to call his best games while Roethlisberger is suspended, and he is going to be one of the keys to the Steelers success.
There is a LOT of pressure on Mike Tomlin and the Steelers while Ben Roethlisberger is on suspension. The Steelers are going to have to play every game like the playoffs are dependent on it.
This list does not take into account the defense that is going to have to play as one of the best units in the NFL. If they do that, they are going to be able to keep the offense from having to score a ton of points, which is really the key to the Steelers success.
Either way, the Steelers season is going to go as far as the first 4-6 games allow them. If they use their weapons, they should be fine until Ben Roethlisberger returns from suspension.