Why is it that every article I read that has any relation to the Pittsburgh Steelers, feels the need to tell me that Ben Roethlisbergers suspended!
Even if the story has nothing to do with the Steelers, it's fit in there somewhere. Even if at the very end they squeeze in an "O, by the way, Ben Roethlisbergers suspended".
Yes, I think everyone knows.
Now, after talking about the suspension, the stories usually go on to count the Steelers out this season because of it. If we listened to these critics, the Steelers might as well just pack their bags, go home, and not play this season.
There is plenty going on with the Pittsburgh Steelers that not every article needs to be about Ben Roethlisberger.
So lets talk.
There's the running back situation. Mewelde Moore is the consensus number two back. Goal line carries are up for grabs between Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac "Redzone" Redman, and rookie Jonathan Dwyer.
While Dwyer has been slowed with a hamstring injury, he has really brought it on as of late. Yet he is still struggling in blocking, and to play on the Steelers, you have to block.
Everyone knows what Redman can do with the ball in his hands, but his blocking has actually impressed many. During the backs on backers drill in camp, Thaddeus Gibson put 6 out of his 7 opponents on their tails. That seventh opponent was Isaac Redman, who flipped Gibson.
How far will the Steelers go this year?
Than you have the receivers. Hines Ward will be Hines Ward, thats a given. Mike Wallace really looks poised to take over and make Steeler fans forget about Santonio Holmes. Rookies Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown have both been impressing in camp, especially Sanders. With the return of Antwaan Randle El, the Steelers have the right mix of veterans and youth to be a complete core.
The offensive line definately looks to improve on last year. Max Starks returns at left tackle, while Kemoeatu and Hartwig return healthy this year. For those who don't know, Hartwig tore his labrum in week 13 against the Raiders last season.
Then you have Essex returning at RG, and Flozell "The Hotel" Adams coming in for the injured Willie Colon at RT. While being older, Hotel is still a force in the running game and figures to help this offensive line as a veteran presence.
Also, Look for rookie Maurkice Pouncey to push for a starting job at either Center or Right Guard. No matter what position, he will be an improvement.
On the defensive side of the ball, Ziggy Hood has been a monster. Yet no one has talked about it because he's not suspended for 4-6 weeks. He's made every lineman we have look like a fool and figures to add some much needed youth to our aging line.
You also have the linebacking core. We all know what we will get out of Woodley, Harrison, Timmons, Farrior, and the returning Foote. However there's three solid rookies to talk about.
Thaddeus Gibson, as I already mentioned, has been looking great. Jason Worilds has been slowed by a hamstring injury, but Stevenson Sylvester has really gotten a grasp of the defense quick.
Sylvester is the dark horse here. As a 5th round pick out of Utah, which doesn't exactly provide a ton of NFL talent, he looks impossible to keep off the roster. He's quick, strong, and takes all the right routes to the ball. At the very least he will be a special teamer this year.
On to the secondary. O the secondary. The starters are pretty much set with Polamalu, Clark, Taylor, and B-Mac.
However the nickle back position is up for grabs. The competitors are William Gay, Keenan Lewis, Joe Burnett, and Crezdon Butler.
Everyone seems to forget, before "Big Play" Willie Gay was a horrible starter, he was a great nickle back.
But the favorite seems to be Keenan Lewis, who has good size at 6'0 200lbs.
Finally, you have the games. Yes folks, despite Ben's suspension, and everyone counting the Steelers out this season, they intend on still playing football.
Did anyone expect the Jets to go as far as they did last season? No. Thats exactly why they actually play the games.
So there you have it, with or without Ben, there's football to be played and expect the Steelers to give it their all and compete for the playoffs.