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Pittsburgh – A Team in Transition

Change with all sides has to happen over time, and there has been a gradual change in the personnel at the Steelers over the past few years. The challenge ahead this year for head coach, Mike Tomlin, will be getting back to having a winning season after a 12-4 record and a playoff loss to Denver in 2011 turned into an 8-8 season in 2012.

Defensively, the biggest loss was linebacker, James Harrison, who was released after salary-cap issues (and is now with the Bengals) but it was the offense that saw the biggest changes, with new back-ups behind quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, a new backfield, a much-changed receiving corps, and a new look on the offensive line.

The steady part of the Steelers offense is Roethlisberger; he is the main constant in the attack and, with a new supporting cast this year, fans betting on the NFL will be hoping that he (for once) can stay healthy this year and play all 16 regular season games, something that has happened only once in all his seasons as a starter.

His fitness is vital, especially with veteran backups, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich, gone and replaced by another veteran, in Bruce Gradkowski and fourth-round draft pick, Landry Jones, who must be considered a work-in-progress. Jones went from a potential first-round pick to a fourth-rounder after a disappointing senior season; he certainly isn’t NFL ready – yet.

Pittsburgh has always been considered a team that can run the football but, last year, they couldn’t accomplish that, mainly due to injuries. This year, they certainly expect improvement to come in that department, as they have drafted Le’Veon Bell in the second round; he should quickly take over as the featured and starting back.

He’s a workhorse back with good size (6-1, 244); he’s durable, and can take tacklers a few yards; he’s also very powerful and relentless, a good acquisition for the Steelers’ style of running game that they like to play.

Bell should have solid support on the ground with Issac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer competing for the number two spot on the roster. As things stand, it looks as though Redman will get the nod. Bell is likely to see the field on 3rd down as long as he continues to improve his pass blocking & blitz pickup. Will Johnson returns at fullback and will be a good addition in a mainly blocking role.

Question marks must remain over the receiving corps though, especially as Heath Miller at tight-end, their leading receiver in 2012 (71 catches), is not yet slated to return after injury. With him missing, the receivers look like a weaker group, especially as Mike Wallace was also lost to the Dolphins.

So, what have the Steelers got in this department? Well, Emmanuel Sanders, who was a nice slot receiver last year is going to have to step-up and improve his numbers for a start.

Although he did well in 2012 (44 catches for 626 yards), he will have more pressure on him this year and will be expected to produce more; it remains to be seen if he can handle that situation. Antonio Brown needs to improve again after his form rather levelled off in 2012. After those two, the Steelers receivers are a mixture of draft picks and veterans and it remains to be seen who of those make the full roster for the season. Offense is one area where the Steelers are looking a little light, unless Sanders or Brown really engage overdrive this year.

The offensive line gets a very new look and protecting Roethlisberger will be all important; two starters are gone from the “new look” – guard, Willie Colon, and tackle, Max Starks, and it will be three-time Pro Bowl center, Maurkice Pouncey, who anchors the line.

Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams are being lined up as the tackles but there is still some doubt from NFL betting pundits over who will play left and who will play right. Guards, David DeCastro and Ramon Foster, complete the front five and it looks like the Steelers have a real belief in this line as a unit that could stay together for years – it certainly looks solid enough, providing a platform from which Roethlisberger has time and room to operate.

All in all, ‘transition’ is the right word to use about the Steelers offense – there are elements of stability there, Roethlisberger, for instance. However, much of the cast is new and it may take a while for it all to knit together.

This year, with an increased running game, we can see the Steelers getting back to their “ground and pound” style as the staple for whatever success may come their way, a return to their roots and some “blue-collar football”.

Steelers GM Kevin Colbert Says They Drafted Le’Veon Bell Because He’s An “NFL Back”

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert continued his media rounds on Thursday and that included being a morning guest on Trib Live Radio to talk about the 2013 NFL draft that took place this past weekend.

During the interview, Colbert was asked about Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell, who the Steelers selected in the second-round…

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

Breaking Down the Six Steelers On The “NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2012″ List

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Six players would up littering the latest NFL Networks “Top 100 Players of 2012 List,” this while the highest player on the list for the Black and Gold was #19, that being safety Troy Polamalu.

Here’s the “Steelers Six” for the list for 2012:

#63 LaMarr Woodley

#49 Maurkice Pouncey

#47 Mike Wallace

#30 Ben Roethlisberger

#29 James Harrison

#19 Troy Polamalu

Here’s a couple insights to the list, and why I think once again this season the Steelers got the shaft in a couple different areas:

1. Roethlisberger is so much better than #30 – Think the Steelers don’t value their QB? Well, they went out and got him a couple new linemen to protect him and help out the run game, and there’s no doubt that for the past two seasons the list has been for whatever reason not favorable to Roethlisberger. Look at a couple names that were ahead of him – #27 Clay Matthews (seriously?), #20 Ray Lewis (old and WAY overrated at this point in his career), #23 Wes Welker (total product of the system and replaceable), #15 Andre Johnson (always hurt it seems like) and #8 Adrian Peterson (already seems to be wearing down as a top notch RB). Sorry, for my money, you can put Ben in the top 15 and be right now, but not 30.

2. Polamalu may actually be a bit high at 19 – I know, when healthy Troy is still one of the biggest game-changers in the game today. That remains as the big issue right now – he can’t seem to stay healthy. The years of hard hits and flying around have caught up with Troy, and any real Steelers fan knows it seems like it’s a matter of time before he goes out again. Not to say Steelers fans want to see that, but it just seems the way it is. If he plays 16 games and the postseason, 19 is fine, but that’s asking a lot at this point.

3. Antonio Brown will be in the top 30 next year – I will go out on a limb already and say the Pro Bowl WR is going to find his way not only on the list for 2013, but will have a HUGE impact in his 3rd year with the Steelers. Brown is a star in the making, and 2012 he is going to lead the Steelers (all in my opinion) in catches, yards, and touchdowns. Look for a monster season for Brown starting in a few months, and next season his peers won’t be able to overlook him.

Source: Steelers Gab

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DeCastro ‘Ready Made For NFL’

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Stanford Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Mike Bloomgren joined Seibel, Starkey and Miller with special guest Dejan Kovacevic to tell us what kind of player the Steelers got in first round pick David DeCastro.

Bloomgren said he was a bit surprised to see DeCastro drop as far as he did because they heard he’d go earlier, but going in the first round is still a great accomplishment.

Bloomgren coached with the New York Jets and gives us a comparison between former Steeler and Jet Alan Faneca and David DeCastro saying their abilities to pull are similar.

We wrapped things up with Bloomgren with him telling us how well suited DeCastro is to play guard the Steelers way.

Filed under: College, Football, Heard on The Fan, Sports, Sports Talk Shows, Steelers Tagged: David DeCastro, Mike Bloomgren, NFL Draft, Stanford

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

Former Bills GM Donahoe On Bounties: “NFL Can’t Be Too Severe”

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Former Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Tom Donahoe checks in with Vinnie & Cook on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan.

He was the Bills’ general manager when Gregg Williams was the head coach there, and he tells us what he knew about Williams’ bounty system.

He also tells us how harsh the punishments should be in New Orleans and elsewhere.

Donahoe also tells us what’s next for Peyton Manning, and weighs in on what the Steelers will miss without the high-profile veterans they cut last week.

Click the link below to listen to the full interview:

Filed under: Football, Heard on The Fan, Sports, Steelers Tagged: Bountygate, Buffalo Bills, Gregg Williams, New Orleans Saints, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tom Donahoe, Vinnie & Cook

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

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Just call Woodland Hills ‘NFL High’

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The odds of one high school sending multiple players to the same Super Bowl are not as daunting as having eight NFL players that same season.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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Chiefs QB Palko hopes for memorable game

Tyler Palko, the journeyman quarterback that will always call Pittsburgh home, faces players he once looked up to and later called teammates in Week 12.

Steelers’ Arians weighs in on offensive shift

The Steelers offensive coordinator said Doug Legursky has simply played a little better than Chris Kemoeatu, which is why he will start at left guard in Kansas City.

Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians’ take

Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians weighs in on the issues heading into his team’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Harbaughs lead Ravens, 49ers into duel

The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers have thrived this season because they are physical, relentless and combative. Just like their coaches.

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