Who will replace Hope at safety?
Hope's departure leaves a gaping hole in the secondary next to Polamalu. The early favorite to win the position is free-agent signee Ryan Clark from Washington. The Steelers like his potential, but he still must learn the defense completely and prove it on the field. Third-round pick Anthony Smith out of Syracuse is the other major candidate for the job, but he has a tough battle ahead, as the Steelers typically don't start rookies. Whoever wins out will need to be a sound player, or Polamalu might have to tone down his freelancing -- which could hurt the entire defense's effectiveness.
Can anyone take some heat off Hines Ward?
After losing fellow standout receivers Plaxico Burress and Antwaan Randle El the past two offseasons, the Super Bowl MVP is sure to draw plenty of attention from opposing defenses this year. The other receivers on the roster will need to step up. Cedrick Wilson appears to be the favorite for a starting role, which is familiar territory for the former 49er. Veteran Quincy Morgan has been an asset on special teams, and he will push for time too. Youngster Nate Washington has a good rapport with Roethlisberger, and of course Holmes should be in the mix too. Overall, the group isn't as dynamic as in previous seasons.
Will rust be a factor for 'Big Ben'?
His regular season does not appear to be in jeopardy, but Roethlisberger could miss significant time during training camp and the preseason, and that could affect the team in the short term. Reports have been mostly positive about his recovery, and there's nothing to prevent him from throwing, but risking him in game action may not be a risk the Steelers are willing to take. It doesn't figure to be a season-long issue, but a rusty "Big Ben" could impact the team's performance in the early going.