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Thread: 5 Steelers Ready To Breakout In 2012, Part I: Offense

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    5 Steelers Ready To Breakout In 2012, Part I: Offense

    5 Steelers Ready To Breakout In 2012, Part I: Offense

    May 18th, 2012 by DomSteelers

    About a week ago,’s Alex Marvez constructed a list of N.F.L. players which could be poised have potential breakout seasons in 2012. The list had one player for each team, and Wide Receiver Emmanuel Sanders made the list as the Steelers’ representative. With Marvez’s list in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to discuss five more Steelers’ players on the Offensive side of the ball which could be ready for breakout seasons.

    1. David DeCastro

    How or why the top rated Offensive Guard in The 2012 N.F.L. Draft fell to the Steelers at #24, I will never know. Still, I am not going to complain, because Offensive Guard was one of the Steelers’ biggest needs, and had been since Alan Faneca left town when the 2007 season ended. The expectations will be high for DeCastro, and the starting Right Guard spot will be his to lose. Yet I feel like the Rookie from Stanford will answer the bell, and instantly upgrade Pittsburgh’s Offensive Line. DeCastro was an absolute monster at Stanford who has the ability to dominate in the running game, can pull and trap well, hold his own extremely well in pass-protection, and even has room to add onto his ridiculously big frame (6’5″ 316 lbs.). DeCastro started 39 games over the course of his collegiate career at Stanford, and his extended experience as a Lineman in a Pro Style Offense which had a firm dedication (as well as a great deal of success) to the Run Game should not be overlooked as well. The former Cardinal was given future Hall of Famer Alan Faneca’s number #66 and will be counted on to be the rock at Right Guard for at least a decade.

    2. Heath Miller

    I am sure many of you readers are saying, “Heath Miller? He made the Pro Bowl in 2009. Why is he on this list? How did he make a list of breakout players?” Well, I put Heath on this list because I see him as possibly enjoying a career year with the Steelers as he enters his 8th season with the team. Hopefully, new Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley will use Miller (2011: 51 Catches, 631 Yards, 2 TD’s) in the role Ken Whisenhunt used him in during his first two seasons, and like Haley used Tony Moeaki in Kansas City during the 2010 season: a prime Red Zone target. If this is indeed the case, Miller could enjoy games like he did against the Patriots last season, except on multiple occasions in 2012. Over his first three seasons combined, Miller amassed 21 Touchdown receptions and was one of Big Ben’s most reliable Red Zone targets.I will admit, with the emergence of Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and the other Wide Receivers, Miller’s targets have gone down over the last couple seasons in scoring situations, as well they should. Still, the fact that a 6’5” 265 lb. mammoth of a man that can run with Safeties and has the best hands on the team should not be catching only 2 TD’s per season (4 over the last two). Because of the explosiveness of Wallace and Brown, Miller will likely be singled up or an afterthought when teams key on those two. Pittsburgh needs to make these teams pay, and Miller could be a huge benefactor.

    3. Isaac Redman

    With Rashard Mendenhall sidelined for likely the first half of the season, and almost zero experienced depth behind him, Isaac Redman will get his opportunity to put a stranglehold on the “RB1” position. Redman set career highs in Rushing Yards (479), Carries (110), and Rushing Touchdowns (3) last season, and should be one of the hungriest players on the team to carry over some positive momentum from 2011 into 2012. Much like Fast Willie Parker, Redman is a former Undrafted Free Agent. And much like Fast Willie, Isaac earned his way onto this roster due to grit, hard work, and developed his skills on the Practice Squad for an extended period. Granted, I see Chris Rainey as the team’s eventual 3rd Down Back, and he will likely force Redman off the field in those situations this season because of his explosive and pass-catching skill-set. Yet as I stated before, Redman finally has his chance, and for a determined Undrafted Free Agent like him, any open window to shine will be met with 100% effort, and a white-knuckle grip on the job with a “take on all comers” attitude.

    4. Emmanuel Sanders and/or Jerricho Cotchery

    I know this is cheating a little bit, because the title reads “5 Steelers,” yet the player which will have a breakout season will be the winner of the battle between Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery for The #3 Wide Receiver slot. I’ve stated it many times, but Heath Miller and the slot WR’s this season could enjoy enormous seasons due to the attention which opposing Defenses must pay to Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown respectively. The middle of the field will likely be open because of both speedsters outside the numbers, and the Steelers can eat Secondaries alive with mismatches on the inside.Sanders (2011: 22 Catches, 288 Yards, 2 TD’s) and Cotchery (2011: 16 Catches, 237 Yards, 2 TD’s) are both intelligent and savvy route-runners, both have solid athletic ability, and most importantly, both have reliable hands. The only big issue with these two players will be their collective healths, because both were dinged up last season and only late in the year appeared to contribute on a regular basis. If you can remember back to 2010, Sanders emerged as a steady target for Big Ben as the season progressed, and health permitting, he could resume that role in 2012. If not, the veteran Cotchery can fill in and do an adequate job and pick up those tough 1st Downs to keep drives alive. Plus, with a full offseason to learn the new Offense and work with Ben under his belt, Cotchery could revert back to his successful ways in the slot like when he was with the Jets.

    5. Mike Adams

    The second Willie Colon came public with the news that he was moving to Left Guard, two thoughts crossed my mind: 1. Yahoo! Colon is moving to his more natural position. 2. It is now time to see massive (6’7″ 323 lbs.) Rookie Mike Adams in action. Adams will definitely have his plate full because it is not common for many Rookies to start at Left Tackle for a contending team in Week 1 of the season. Still, the Steelers must have supreme confidence in Adams and the hope that he cleaned up his act off the field, because he will likely be answering the bell Week 1 now.In terms of pure talent and athletic ability, only Matt Kalil of Southern California in my opinion was a better Left Tackle prospect than Adams in this past April’s Draft. Adams had a good deal of experience at Left Tackle at the college level (23 starts), and most importantly could have a chip on his shoulder for the rest of his career due to where he was drafted. If Adams is motivated enough to play for his hometown team and prove all his doubters and detractors wrong, look out, because the Steelers might have found a blind-side protector for Ben.

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    5 Steelers Ready To Breakout In 2012, Part II: Defense

    May 19th, 2012 by DomSteelers

    I certainly hope you enjoyed the first part of my “potential breakout” players post. Today’s list will feature the same format as yesterday’s, only it will feature five Steelers on the Defensive side of the ball. Let’s get started shall we:

    1. Cameron Heyward

    While Cameron Heyward went through some growing pains at times while working his way into the 5-Technique rotation as a Rookie, he showed some really nice flashes of talent at stopping the run and getting after the passer when asked as the season progressed. Rookie status aside, Heyward improved quite a bit towards the end of the season, and appeared much further along development wise than Ziggy Hood was (who was a 4-3 DT in college) at the same point in his career.

    Heyward will get numerous chances to strut his stuff in Training Camp, and he will be the top backup 5-Technique in the Steelers’ Defensive End rotation. If Heyward can log quality playing time and spell the aging yet still very effective Brett Keisel, it would be a perfect scenario for the Steelers. The soon to be 34 year old Keisel can stay fresh throughout the season, and Heyward can get a decent amount of work in his second season with the team. Be on the lookout for Heyward to vastly improve upon his stat line from 2011 which read: 11 Tackles, 1.0 Sack, 1 Pass Defended, and 1 Field Goal Block. The more reps Heyward can ultimately receive, the more he can make a difference.

    2. Jason Worilds

    Although Worilds will likely be a backup this season, it will not take away from his total contributions to the team and ability to make a bigger difference than he did last season. A pass-rushing Outside Linebacker, Worilds will be the top reserve behind James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, and should see some extended playing time if the Coaching Staff elects to keep both veterans fresh (Harrison especially).

    Adding to Worilds’ value is the fact that Harrison is 34 and a Public Enemy #2 (behind Jonathan Vilma now) of Roger Goodell and the N.F.L.’s crusade to wash their hands of future lawsuits. Deebo probably has another two solid seasons of production left, but if Worilds proves he can spell Deebo effectively, Harrison might be able to extend his career, and the Steelers would have themselves a viable candidate to replace Harrison when the time comes, or the N.F.L. decides to kick him out if they so choose. Plus it would not hurt if Worilds got in the game in some sub-package pass-rushing situations. Even a “Psycho” type package with Harrison, Woodley, and Worilds plus 2 Linemen and 6 Defensive Backs would be pretty sweet to see at some point. But hey, I can only dream of something so very awesome.

    I have faith that Harrison and Woodley can both stay healthy over the 16+ game haul, and that disaster will likely not strike twice. Yet after last season, where both guys went down at the same time and missed extended periods, the Steelers lack of depth was exposed, and the value of a player like Worilds increased. While Worilds set career highs in Tackles (39) and Sacks (3.0), he must be ready to take his game to the next level this season if he indeed receives the chances.

    3. Steve McLendon

    Of all of Pittsburgh’s young players on the Defensive side of the ball which intrigue me, McLendon is the biggest enigma of them all in my opinion. Another one of Pittsburgh’s Undrafted and developed contributors, McLendon (6’4″ 280 lbs.) will be get his most extended chance to play during Training Camp and throughout the 2012 season as he battles for the backup Nose Tackle spot and playing time along the Defensive Line as well.

    Because the Steelers are not the most keen franchise on starting Rookies (if they are not forced to do it), especially on the Defensive side of the ball. With that in mind, McLendon (hopefully he put on more weight to his frame) could leap-frog massive Rookie Alameda Ta’amu for the backup role behind “Big Snack” Hampton, in what will likely be Hampton’s final season. If for some reason “Snack’s” injured knee cannot hold up, McLendon will likely jump from top backup Nose Tackle to starter. McLendon could also see some time in pass-rush sub packages, and could even be asked to fill in for spells at Defensive End if injuries hit the “Top 3″ rotation. If McLendon’s weight hovers at closer to 280 lbs. than 300-310 lbs., the Steelers might be wise to give him some extra reps. there if “Snack” is healthy. Whatever the case may be, this will be a big season for McLendon, and Defensive Line Coach John Mitchell seems to have quite a bit of faith in him. Thus, I am pretty intrigued to see what he can do with some extra playing time.

    4. Cortez Allen and/or Curtis Brown

    Like Sanders and Cotchery, I combined Allen and Brown into one spot. This is because the winner of the competition between the two for 3rd Cornerback (or possibly even CB#2) role will likely see the most playing time, and thus have the most chances to prove themselves. Last season, both proved themselves as terrific contributors on Special Teams, and Allen even received some playing time in Dime situations. Both players have big frames (Allen: 6’1″ 196 lbs. and Brown: 6′ 185 lbs.) the Steelers like in their Corners, and each will likely be asked to shut down teams which try to dink and dunk the Steelers and pick them apart when they spread the field in sub packages this season.

    With a full season and off-season to learn under Defensive Backs Coach Carnell Lake, Allen and Brown should be ready to step up their games and fill the void left by William Gay and Bryant McFadden who are now gone. Regardless of who lands ahead of who on the depth chart, both figure to be significant contributors this season. Plus, with Ike Taylor at 32 years of age, and Keenan Lewis an Unrestricted Free Agent after this season, Brown and Allen are sure to be contributing even more in the future.

    5. Stevenson Sylvester

    Like Worilds and Heyward, Sylvester could end up spending most if not all of the season as a backup. Nevertheless, Sylvester could chip in quite a bit this season and make significant strides as an Inside Linebacker and on the Defensive side of the ball. Because the Steelers drafted David DeCastro instead of Inside Linebacker Dont’a Hightower this April, and did not address the strongside Inside Linebacker position this offseason, the door is open for Sylvester to work his way up the depth chart and prove himself that he is a valid candidate to take over in the future.

    At this point, the only thing standing in Stevenson Sylvester’s way and the starting “Buck” Inside Linebacker gig is Larry Foote, a 32 year old veteran. Linebackers Coach Keith Butler has Foote penciled in as the starter due to his veteran savvy and knowledge of the Defense, but said that Sylvester is “in the pipeline” to start at the “Buck” position down the road. Plus, being the only Inside Linebacker behind Lawrence Timmons and Foote with any sort of significant game experience works in Sylvester’s favor if he must play on a regular basis this season. Thus, 2012 will be a big season for Sylvester to solidify a roster spot for himself and putting himself in line for a future starting job with some solid play when he gets his chances.

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    2nd String BubbyBlister's Avatar
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    Great post man and hard to believe you got no replies. It's going to be a exciting year for sure!!

  4. #4
    2nd String BubbyBlister's Avatar
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    Oh Sylvester I been expecting to break out since the kid has been on the team. He is a beat on special teams and has the football meanness you look for in a defense player. He got a little more time playing last year and once he grasp the schemes he very well could break out this year now that he will be given the chance.

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