Saturday, September 10, 2011

2011 Steelers Preview: Offense

Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon

007 has looked sharp so far this preseason and is poised to have a breakout year. With Bruce Arians calling the plays, this does mean that Ben could wind up throwing 40+ times per game. Homestead Charlie is still a capable backup, and Dennis Dixon seems to play better as he gets more reps, but let's all hope we don't have to see Dixon at all this year.

Running Back
Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Mewelde Moore, Jonathan Dwyer

Mendenhall figures to see the lion's share of work once again this year, but we're hoping to see more of Isaac Redman. Redman is a grinder who just refuses to go down. His legs never stop churning and it takes a small army to get him on the ground. Moore has been a solid third-down back, with great hands out of the backfield and decent in blitz-pickup. Redman is probably the best blocker of the group, and we wouldn't be surprised to see some "pony" backfields with Mendenhall and Redman together this year. What the group lacks is a true "speed" back but Mendenhall has the agility and downfield speed to take one to the house at any time.

Wide Receiver
Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, Arnaz Battle

This might be one of the deepest receiving units in the NFL. Hines Ward needs 46 receptions to become the 8th player all time with 1,000 career receptions. Mike Wallace was one of the top receivers in the league last year, and that was with Ben out for 4 games. Antonio Brown had a monster preseason and Manny Sanders might start slow, coming off an offseason with multiple foot surgeries, but he is looking to build off a great end to last season. Cotchery is a sure-handed receiver brought in to be the #5 guy. Cotchery can step in as a #2 or #3 receiver at any time if someone gets hurt. Battle is the special teams captain, hopefully he takes less back-breaking penalties than Keyaron Fox did last year.

Tight End
Heath Miller, David Johnson, Weslye Saunders

Heath Miller is one of the best all-around tight ends in the league, you just don't hear enough about him because he's usually busy blocking the crap out of 3 defenders. Miller has great hands and we'd love to see the Steelers use him more in the passing game. Johnson is a good blocker who will play an "H-back" role of playing fullback and TE. Saunders is the only undrafted free agent to make the team, displaying some good hands and decent blocking skills in the preseason.

Jonathan Scott, Willie Colon, Marcus Gilbert, Trai Essex

The Steelers parted ways with Max Starks, leaving Jonathan Scott as the starting LT for the season. We really don't feel too good about this, and we've never been as high on Willie Colon as some others have. We never bought into the "Colon is the best lineman on the team" theory. Read back through our game recaps from the 2009 season and you'll see Colon committing a false start and/or holding penalty at least once a game. Rookie Marcus Gilbert is probably the most talented of the group, and could see playing time if Scott struggles. Essex is the swing man and essentially the backup everything, from Center to Tackle.

Chris Kemoeatu, Doug Legursky, Ramon Foster, Chris Scott

After trying Chris Scott, Tony Hills, and Doug Legursky at RG during the preseason, the Bronco was awarded the spot (at least for the time being). We're not sure why Ramon Foster, the starter for a good chunk of last year at RG, didn't get a look in the preseason, but he's hovering as the top backup at both guard spots. 

Maurkice Pouncey

Pouncey made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. That's about all you need to know. He has a dinged up ankle, but that won't stop him from being a monster on the inside.

Shaun Suisham

Suisham came in after Jeff Reed struggled last season and provided a stable foot during the second half of the season, including single-handedly (or footedly?) carrying us to victory over Buffalo. He nailed a 52-yarder in preseason.

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