7-15-14: Second-year wide receiver Markus Wheaton opened up Pittsburgh’s OTAs as a starter, potentially giving the Steelers two explosive outside threats. He’ll receive strong competition from rookie Martavis Bryant, but appears like a safe bet to nail down the number two gig across from Antonio Brown. Lance Moore is expected to hold down slot duties. Over in the running game the Steelers aren’t sure exactly how they’ll use second-year back Le’Veon Bell and free agent acquisition LeGarrette Blount, but having the quality depth that causes those types of dilemmas isn’t a bad thing. Bell is the superior talent and is a lock to be Pittsburgh’s early down and receiving back, but Blount’s presence gives their rushing attack new found depth and physicality. Center Maurkice Pouncey continues to rehab the knee he tore up in 2013, and will walk into 2014 confidently with a new five-year, $44 million dollar deal he signed back in mid-June.
6-5-14: Ike Taylor will retain his starting cornerback job going into 2014, which could be horrible news for the Pittsburgh defense. The aging corner was routinely burned in coverage in 2013 and may need a miracle to have a bounce back season. On the other side of the ball, second-year wide receiver Markus Wheaton will begin the summer as the Steelers’ number two wide receiver, while Clemson product Martavis Bryant will battle with him throughout the preseason. Newly signed veteran running back LeGarrette Blount is also reportedly to see roughly 6-8 carries per game behind starting running back Le’Veon Bell. After struggling to kick off the 2013 season, the Steelers appear to be much deeper and more balanced on offense going into 2014.
5-19-14: The Pittsburgh Steelers got in too big of a hole last year, and even a stellar 8-4 finish couldn’t dig them out. With their sights back on the playoffs this year, they knew they just needed to beef up their defense and land an offensive playmaker or two to get back on track. Let’s break down their 2014 draft class and see if they accomplished their goals:
Round 1. Pick 15 Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Round 2. Pick 14 Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame
Round 3. Pick 33 Dri Archer, RB, Kent St.
Round 4. Pick 18 Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Round 5. Pick 17 Shaquille Richardson, CB, Arizona
Round 5. Pick 33 Wesley Johnson, OL, Vanderbilt
Round 6. Pick 16 Jordan Zumwalt, LB, UCLA
Round 6. Pick 39 Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
Round 7. Pick 15 Rob Blanchflower, TE, Massachusetts
The first four picks say it all for the Steelers, as they landed two instant impact defensive players in Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt, as well as two exciting offensive weapons in Dri Archer and Martavis Bryant.
Shazier gives Pittsburgh and athletic, sideline to sideline defender than can play all over the field, while Tuitt is another versatile athlete who can slide all across their 3-4 line. On offense, Archer is small and lacks a position, but is extremely versatile and explosive. Bryant is probably one of the more underrated receivers, as he is blessed with terrific size and elite ball skills.
Pittsburgh also snagged defensive lineman Daniel McCullers late in round six to beef up their front line. McCullers was a potential day two prospect who slid, giving them excellent value near the end of the draft.
5-9-14: All that talk about the Steelers adding a big play receiver in round one turned out to be just that - talk. Instead, Pittsburgh added to it’s aging defensive unit with the ultra athletic Ryan Shazier out of Ohio State. The Steelers could really use help on the inside of their 3-4 scheme, where Shazier’s speed and athleticism should have the ability to shine. Shazier is probably too small and slight in frame to man the outside of Pittsburgh’s 3-4, but has a good chance at working out perfectly in the middle of their linebacking corps.
4-28-14: The Pittsburgh Steelers got off to an ugly 0-4 start in 2013, but were able to become a different team the rest of the way, finishing the year with a 8-4 mark. As long as they can stay healthy and keep patching up holes, the yellow and black stand a decent chance at getting back to the playoffs in 2014. Upgrading in their secondary needs to be a big part of that, as starting corner Ike Taylor is nearing the end. That could cause Pittsburgh to take a stab at a top level corner in round one, where someone like Justin Gilbert or Darqueze Dennard could be available. There have also been whispers about the Steelers getting Ben Roethlisberger another big target for the passing game. That could make Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin or Texas A&M Mike Evans (if he falls) interesting draft targets for the Steelers.
4-18-14: The Pittsburgh Steelers got off to a rocky start and missed out on the playoffs in 2013, but will try to right the ship heading into 2014. That can always start as early as the preseason, where they’ll take on Giants in New York in week one. Week two brings on E.J. Manuel and the Buffalo Bills in Pittsburgh and then the Steelers take it to Philly to take on Chip Kelly’s Eagles. The trip to Philadelphia is easily their most exciting game of the preseason, as their defense will be charged with the task of slowing down a very explosive Eagles offense. On the flip-side, we’ll get a good look at the starters on both sides of the ball for both teams. After Steelers fans get a good idea of what to expect out of their team in week three, their backups will close out August at home against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
4-7-14: Pittsburgh aimed to get younger and more athletic heading into the offseason, and so far they’ve done a solid job in accomplishing their mission. With Ryan Clark leaving and Troy Polamalu aging, the Steelers did well to shore up their safety positions, as they signed Michael Mitchell and brought back Will Allen. The biggest move on defense might be the transition tag assigned to stud outside linebacker Jason Worilds, though, while inside linebacker Arthur Moats could also prove to be a solid depth acquisition. Pittsburgh was also busy on the offensive end, adding depth to their passing game with slot receiver Lance Moore, while also taking a chance on Darrius Heyward-Bey to potentially spice up their offense. The Steelers also got stronger on the ground with former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount being added to the roster, but will head into the draft with serious questions at corner and defensive end.
3-21-14: Pittsburgh had a rough start to 2013 thanks to poor offensive line play and overall inconsistent play on offense. They finished strong, though, and really only needed to make a few moves to hopefully get back in the playoff mix in 2014. However, it looks like most of the improving will be done within or via the draft. This offseason has been mostly about letting go, as the Steelers let number two wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders sign with Denver, while they also bid farewell to Jonathan Dwyer, Ziggy Hood, LaMarr Woodley and Larry Foote. The Steelers did well to grab some solid depth for the defensive line with the signing of Cam Thomas and also slapped the franchise tag on explosive outside linebacker Jason Worilds. They’ll need to make a splash or two in the draft to push themselves to the next level.
12-31-13: Le’Veon Bell rushed for 90 yards on 20 carries and helped the Steelers put away the Cleveland Browns early at home, 20-7. The Pittsburgh defense forced two turnovers and racked up three sacks as they got to 8-8, only to narrowly miss out on the AFC’s final wild card playoff spot.
12-24-13: Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell carried the Steelers on offense and the defense made a stand when it mattered most as Pittsburgh held on in Green Bay to get a 38-31 win over the Packers. Roethlisberger and Bell combined for three touchdowns as the Steelers kept themselves alive in the race for the AFC’s final wild card playoff spot.
12-17-13: Antonio Brown scored two touchdowns early to help the Steelers get up 24-0 on the visiting Cincinnati Bengals, and Pittsburgh held on late for a 30-20 win. Ben Roethlisberger played efficient football and running back Le’Veon Bell added a rushing touchdown to help the Steelers get closer to .500.
12-10-13: The Steelers went back and forth with the Miami Dolphins all day in week 14, but when Miami scored the game’s final 10 points in the fourth quarter, it looked bleak. Despite the odds against them, however, the Steelers pulled off a magical pitch play that got wide receiver Antonio Brown into the end-zone with no time remaining. Unfortunately, it was called back due to him stepping out of bounds and the Steelers lost at home, 34-28.
12-3-13: As battles between the Ravens and Steelers often go, thus one also went down to the wire and had a defensive battle theme to it. Running back Le’Veon Bell offered up 73 rushing yards and a score before exiting with a concussion, but it wasn’t enough as Pittsburgh couldn’t convert a two-point conversion late and fell to their division rivals, 22-20 in Baltimore.
11-26-13: The Steelers got absolutely worked by Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon in week 12, as he abused their secondary for 14 receptions and over 200 receiving yards. Luckily the Steelers held the rest of the Browns in check, as they played ball control offense and relied on their defense the rest of the way in a 27-11 road win to help keep them in playoff contention.
Ben Roethlisberger played arguably his best game of the season, as he passed for over 360 yards and four touchdowns to help the Steelers to a big 37-27 win over the Detroit Lions at home. Antonio Brown hauled in two scores in the first half, while Pittsburgh’s defense completely shut down the Lions in the second half to help secure the win.
11-12-13: Despite ridiculous rumors that franchise passer Ben Roethlisberger wanted out of town via trade after the season, the sliding Steelers grouped together and got the win over the Buffalo Bills in week 10, 23-10. Big Ben threw for over 200 yards and a touchdown, while the defense made E.J. Manuel look every bit like the rookie he is. The win moved the Steelers to 3-6 on the season and kept their faint playoff hopes alive.
11-5-13: Ben Roethlisberger did his best to battle Tom Brady in week nine, and it was almost enough for the first three quarters. The Steelers hung tight entering the final quarter, down just three points. Unfortunately, Big Ben’s four touchdown passes would go to waste, as the Steelers couldn’t stop the Patriots’ 28-7 fourth quarter run and fell on the road, 55-31.
10-30-13: The Pittsburgh Steelers were aiming for a third straight win in week eight, but fell behind to the Oakland Raiders early and couldn’t climb out of an early hole in a 21-18 road defeat. Pittsburgh made it interesting late, but couldn’t get the onside kick to attempt to complete their comeback. The Steelers were doomed by poor pass protection on the day, giving up a whopping five sacks, while also turning the ball over twice in their fifth loss in seven tries.
10-22-13: Pittsburgh pounded the rock with rookie running back Le’Veon Ball to the tune of 93 rushing yards on 19 carries and played ball control offense in a close 19-16 win at home in week seven. Bell was effective and Ben Roethlisberger made timely throws and no mistakes as the Steelers held onto a led throughout until Shaun Suisham hit a 42-yard field goal as time expired to secure the home win to give the Steelers their second straight win on the season.
10-15-13: The Pittsburgh Steelers needed to get their identity back. To do so, all they had to do was re-expose New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith for what he was - a rookie quarterback who turns the ball over. It wasn’t pretty on offense, but the yellow and black mustered up a 55-yard passing score between Ben Roethlisberger and Emmanuel Sanders and the Steelers held their own on defense in a big 19-6 win on the road. Pittsburgh’s defense was all over Geno Smith and New York’s offense, picking Smith off twice and sacking him three times, while holding every Jets runner below 31 rushing yards.
10-1-13: Ben Roethlisberger deemed his Pittsburgh Steelers to possibly be “the worst team in the league” after falling to the Minnesota Vikings in London in week four, sending the Steelers to an abysmal 0-4 start. Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell made his pro debut in this one and provided quite a spark, as he rushed for 57 yards and two touchdowns in the close 34-27 loss. Ben Roethlisberger led a furious late comeback, as well, as the Steelers scored 10 unanswered points to cut the Vikings’ lead to 34-27 late in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh had one final opportunity to force overtime, but with zero time outs, Roethlisberger was sacked and fumbled the ball away with only seconds remaining.
9-20-13: Pittsburgh traveled to Cincinnati last week for a Monday Night Football matchup with the Bengals. The two teams played an evenly contested first half as they went into the break with the score tied at 10. The second half, however, was all Bengals. Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger attempted to overcome a lethargic rushing attack and a nasty Bengals pass rush, but took two sacks and threw an interception in what ended up being a 20-10 road loss for the Steelers. Next week, Pittsburgh will host the Bears on Sunday Night Football as they’re still looking for their first win of the season.
9-10-13: Pittsburgh dropped their season open to the Titans by the score of 16-9. This game was really all about the Steelers lackluster offense as they managed just one offensive score that came with the game arguable already decided. Ben Roethlisberger was 21-for-33 passing for 191 yards, a pick and a TD. The Steelers couldn’t get anything going on the ground as they ran for just 32 rushing yards. The Steelers look to rebound next week when they travel to Cincy for a Monday night clash with the Bengals.
9-3-13: Here's a list of the Steelers' final roster cuts of the preseason: RB Jonanthan Dwyer, P Brian Moorman, RB Alvester Alexander, NT Alameda Ta'amu, DE Brian Arnfelt, LB Alan Baxter, LB Terence Garvin, LB Marshall McFadden, LB Brian Rolle, WR Justin Brown, WR Reggie Dunn, WR Kashif Moore, OL Mike Golic, OL Chris Hubbard, OL Joe Long, OL Joe Madsen, TE Jamie McCoy, TE Nathan Overbay, DB Terry Hawthorne, CB Devin Smith, DB Ross Ventrone, DB Josh Victorian.
8-22-13: Running back Le'Veon Bell has a Lisfranc injury and is now expected to miss 6 to 8 weeks. There is also a chance he may have to have season-ending surgery.
8-21-13: Pittsburgh dropped another game last week to an NFC East team, this time a 24-13 loss to the Redskins on Monday night. Ben Roethlisberger didn't play that much and was 5-of-6 passing for 66 yards. He also had a screen pass picked off and returned for a touchdown by Skins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. Rookie QB Landry Jones threw for the only Steelers TD in the game, a 10-yard strike to Derek Moye. Jones was 9 of 22 on passing attempts for 111 yards. Running back Jonathan Dwyer got a lot of work in, carrying the ball 14 times for 68 yards.
After missing the Steelers first preseason game, rookie running back Le'Veon Bell also had to leave this game with a right foot injury.
In week 3 of the preseason, the Steelers will host Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs.
8-11-13: The Steelers fell to Eli and the Giants 18-13 in their preseason opener. Ben Roethlisberger didn't play much but was 4 of 8 for 36 yards. LaRod Stephens-Howling carried it 7 times for 40 yards.
The only Steelers TD was scored by Adrian Robinson, who recovered a fumble in the end zone.
7-10-13: Pittsburgh fell apart last year with an 8-8 finish and missed the playoffs, but appear set to make it back to the big dance in 2013. They lost Mike Wallace via free agency, but got younger on defense and upgraded at running back with rookie Le’Veon Bell. If the Steelers can protect Ben Roethlisberger better and display a nice balance on offense, the smart, quiet moves they made could pay off.
6-12-13: While the Steelers have some rich history and timeless traditions, there was nothing rich or timeless about their 2012 season, as they finished 8-8 and missed post-season play by going just 2-3 down the stretch. The bad news isn’t that the Steelers fell apart last year. It’s that they have to try to pick up the pieces without star wide receiver Mike Wallace, and make sure their aging defense doesn’t keep trucking on without some nice, young talent being added. The Steelers did unload James Harrison, though, so they’re on the right track in terms of bringing in fresh legs and letting go of the past a bit. They still have some work to do, but Pittsburgh plays mean and still has a ton of talent.
Steelers 2013 Draft Overview:
Round 1, Pick 17: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Round 2, Pick 16: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
Round 3, Pick 17: Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
Round 4, Pick 14 (from Miami through Cleveland): Shamarko Thomas, SS, Syracuse
Round 4, Pick 18: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Round 5, Pick 17: Terry Hawthorne, CB, Illinois
Round 6, Pick 18: Justin Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Round 6, Pick 38 (Compensatory Selection): Vince Williams, LB, Florida State
Round 7, Pick 17: Nick Williams, DT, Samford
12-4-12: At 7-5 the Steelers may not have to be too worried about their next four games. After a huge win in Baltimore their biggest concern is the health of Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers will play three of their next four games at home and will be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.