Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday Night Football: Players to Watch Against the Colts

Joseph BrunoCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2011

Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday Night Football: Players to Watch Against the Colts

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    After an embarrassing loss to the Baltimore Ravens to start the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers bounced back to shutout the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2.

    It was great to see the Steelers get a win and to not give up a point, however, the win was not as dominant as the final score would indicate.

    This was far from a perfect win for the Steelers, and they still have things to work on before they face the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3.

    Even though the Steelers will win this game, anything can happen in the NFL and here are players from both the Steelers and Colts to watch in the Sunday night showdown.

Marcus Gilbert/Offensive Line

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    Along with Mike Tomlin, I too thought that Marcus Gilbert did pretty well in his first start ever at right tackle, although he is a rookie and has the opportunity to greatly improve.

    Gilbert gave up a sack on the first drive of the game and was also responsible for letting the Seahawks Raheem Brock in to dive right into Ben Roethlisberger’s knees.

    Ben only missed two plays after the hit, however, the entire offensive line needs to get better in both pass and run blocking.

    Even though Indy can’t stop the run to save their lives, the offensive line will need to find a way to block the Colt pass rushers before they kill Ben.

Ben Roethlisberger

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    Ben has had a rough time to start the season after being completely trampled against Baltimore and then having his knees taken out against the Seahawks.

    The difference from Week 1 to Week 2 was that Ben did not turn the ball over against the Seahawks and accounted for five turnovers himself versus the Ravens.

    The entire team looked terrible in Week 1 so that barrage of turnovers is an aberration in Ben’s game, and I would not expect him to have a game like that again.

    The Steelers should be able to run the ball better against the Colts, which will hopefully slow down their dangerous pass rushers in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

    Look for Ben to continue his good play, and he may even put up better numbers than he did versus the Seahawks.

Rashard Mendenhall

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    Rashard Mendenhall only has 111 yards and one touchdown so far in 2011. However, that has not been entirely his fault.

    The offensive line has not played well this season, and a lot of the time Mendenhall is trying to elude a defender as soon as he takes the handoff.

    I do not even blame Rashard for fumbling against the Ravens because the offensive line allowed Haloti Ngata to get a free shot on him.

    With little holes to run through, Rashard has had to try and bounce almost every run to the outside and barely gets anything on the inside.

    The Colts run defense is terrible, and the Steelers have a problem if they cannot get Mendenhall and the ground game going this week.

James Harrison/LaMarr Woodley

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    The Steelers as a team may have had five sacks against the Seahawks. However, the pass rush still did not look right to me at times.

    James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley have 2.5 sacks between them on the season, yet they don’t look like they are in sync yet.

    It’s only two games into the season so it’s understandable for a player to look sluggish to start, and I am looking forward to seeing them go against the Colts offensive line that has been dealing with its own set of issues.

    Kerry Collins is the epitome of a non-running quarterback, and it should not be hard for Woodley, Harrison and anyone for that matter to get to him in this game.

Kerry Collins

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    Kerry Collins has probably the hardest job in the NFL right now in replacing Peyton Manning who may not come back at all this season.

    Collins has not looked sharp at all early this season while only completing about 50 percent of his passes and being sacked five times.

    The Colts offense has looked pretty bad in 2011, and I do not expect them to get going against a Steelers defense that just shutout the Seahawks.

    With Collins being a statue in the pocket, there should be no reason the Steelers defense can’t force their first turnover of the season whether from an interception or sack/fumble.

Hines Ward/Heath Miller

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    Hines Ward is actually the second leading receiver in both receptions in yards on the team at the moment. However, I think both him and Heath Miller need to be used even more.

    Hines still has the ability to get open, and Heath is probably the most underrated tight end in the NFL right now.

    The Steelers seems to get out of rhythm within games and both Ward and Miller are great third-down targets.

    Even though it is great to see the young receivers in Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown stepping up, I would like to see Hines and Heath get more involved.

    That could just be because Ben is trying to go down field more however, with the offensive line not protecting him, short passes to either of these two could produce drive continuing first downs.

Joseph Addai/Delone Carter

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    One of the reasons that Kerry Collins has not been that great so far this season is because of the lack of a running game the Colts have had.

    Joseph Addai and Delone Carter have only gained 173 yards in two games, and the Colts as a team have no rushing touchdowns.

    After being torched by the Ravens in Week 1 on the ground, the Steelers defense got back to what they do best and held the Seahawks to a total of 31 rushing yards.

    I expect the Steelers defense to shut down the Colts running game. However, Pittsburgh has only been susceptible to screens, and I would look out for that with a guy like Addai.

Cornerback other than Ike Taylor

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    Even though Ike Taylor had that stupid unnecessary roughness penalty against Baltimore, he has been great in coverage through two weeks.

    That’s what we expect from him though, and the question remains who is going to step up on the other side of Ike.

    Bryant McFadden and William Gay were both torched in Week 1 against the Ravens, and McFadden did not play in Week 2.

    Gay and Keenan Lewis filled in versus the Seahawks and they both did pretty well, albeit against the terrible Seattle offense.

    McFadden could very well be out again against the Colts Sunday night, and even though Peyton Manning isn’t there, the corners will have to keep guys like Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Dallas Clark in check.

Dwight Freeney/Robert Mathis

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    The Steelers offensive line has not done their jobs of protecting Ben Roethlisberger well enough through the first two games of the season.

    Even though Ben was only sacked twice versus the Seahawks, they aren’t known for getting sacks anyway and one of those almost took Ben out for the season.

    Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis of the Colts are two of the best pass rushers out of the 4-3 defense in the league and will test out the Steelers make-shift offensive line.

    The way to battle guys like Freeney and Mathis would be for the Steelers to actually get the run game going because both of these guys rush the passer first and stop the run later.

    If the Steelers are unable to run the football against the Colts, then Freeney and Mathis could end up with two sacks apiece.

Troy Polamalu

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    When Troy Polamalu is healthy, the Steelers defense is usually unstoppable and he is currently second on the team in tackles and also has a sack.

    Those stats are all well and good, but I feel like I have not seen Troy flying around the field like he normally does.

    In fact, the Steelers defense as a whole has zero turnovers so far this season, and that is normally where Troy shines.

    Maybe I just expect a lot out of Troy. However, if the Steelers defense is going to be able to shut down better offenses, they will need him to be the dominant force that he is capable of being.