2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Fresh faces, same expectations for Steelers

By WILL GRAVES - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-23 11:28

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Mike Tomlin knows he can talk all he wants about progress and the overhauled roster and how much he likes what he's seen during the offseason.

Yet the Pittsburgh Steelers coach understands it means little if it doesn't translate onto the field.

``The reality is these types of processes are measured based on results,'' Tomlin said at the end of minicamp in June.

And the results were typically un-Steelerlike last fall for one of the NFL's most consistent franchises. A late-season swoon dropped Pittsburgh to 8-8 and a spot outside the playoffs looking in. It marked a decidedly ungraceful exit for some of the stars that led the team to three Super Bowl appearances in six years.

James Harrison, Casey Hampton, Mike Wallace, Max Starks, Rashard Mendenhall, Willie Colon and Keenan Lewis were either cut, not brought back or lured elsewhere in free agency. In their place are a bevy of rookies or reserves expected to take on larger roles.

How quickly youngsters like rookies Jarvis Jones and Le'Veon Bell assimilate will determine if the ``processes'' the Steelers have undergone the last few months will pay off with a return to the postseason.

Five things to look for at Steelers training camp:

1. THE BELL TOLLS: The Steelers didn't exactly shed any tears when enigmatic RB Mendenhall bolted for Arizona in free agency. Five seasons and just as many off-the-field issues had Pittsburgh all but pushing him out the door. Enter second-round pick Bell. Though the 21-year-old comes to camp in a three-way battle with Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer for the starting job, there's little doubt Bell will be given every opportunity to win it. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Bell offers size and versatility the other two lack. The Steelers haven't had a true every down back since Willie Parker left the team after the 2009 season. Running back by committee failed last season - the Steelers were 26th in yards rushing. Bell gives them their best chance at taking some of heat off quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

2. SPEED TO BURN: Mike Wallace and his speed ran off to Miami in the offseason. The Steelers hope they brought in a cheaper - but eventually no less effective - replacement in third-round pick Markus Wheaton. The rookie missed minicamp and organized team activities due to NCAA rules that prevented him from leaving school before graduation. Wheaton will have time to get his feet set behind veterans Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Plaxico Burress. But with Sanders in the final year of his deal and Burress looking for one last hurrah, Wheaton will be expected to contribute this season.

3. YOUNG GUNS: So long Starks. See you later Colon. The youth movement along the offensive line is complete after those two were allowed to leave through free agency. In their place are 20-somethings - Marcus Gilbert (25), Maurkice Pouncey (24), David DeCastro (23) and Mike Adams (23) - with 27-year-old Ramon Foster the ``old'' guy. Despite their youth, none of the starters made it through 2012 unscathed. Their health and the quickness with which they gel will be vital for a unit required to protect the health of Roethlisberger and open holes for Bell. Pouncey, a three-time Pro Bowler, is the unquestioned leader, but his image took a hit when he was pictured wearing a hat defending former college teammate Aaron Hernandez. Pouncey apologized but as one of the faces of the franchise, he'll need to let his play make the biggest impression this fall.

4. CAN JONES KEEP UP? The Steelers felt they got lucky when Jones bombed on his 40-yard dash during Pro Day. The shoddy 4.8-second time scared off some teams, but not Pittsburgh, which scooped him up with the 17th pick with the expectations he'll be the eventual successor to James Harrison at outside linebacker. Jones led the NCAA in sacks last fall (14 1/2) at Georgia and the Steelers believe he will give a jolt to a pass rush that got to the quarterback just 37 times in 2012, tied for 15th in the league.

5. HAPPILY EVER AFTER? Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley have enjoyed a year to work out the rough spots in their relationship. The quarterback even praised Haley for openness in accepting input from players during the offseason. The two will need to find a way to peacefully coexist if the Steelers want to minimize the off-the-field distractions. Without Wallace around to take the top off opposing defenses, the Steelers will need to find interesting ways to get players open. Haley likely can't do that without Roethlisberger's support, and vice versa.

---

Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Alameda Ta'amuDec 21 07:42p

The Arizona Cardinals have declared DL Alameda Ta'amu, OG Anthony Steen, WR Brittan Golden, SS Chris D. Clemons, QB Drew Stanton, OG Jonathan Cooper, DL Kareem Martin inactive for Week 16.

Chris MatthewsDec 21 07:32p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared WR Chris Matthews, DL Demarcus Dobbs, WR Kevin Norwood, C Max Unger, OT Russell Okung, TE Tony Moeaki, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 16.

Ahmad DixonDec 21 11:52a

The Minnesota Vikings have declared SS Ahmad Dixon, LB Anthony Barr, OT Carter Bykowski, OG Charlie Johnson, TE Kyle Rudolph, CB Shaun Prater, FB Zach Line inactive for Week 16.

Devier PoseyDec 21 11:52a

The Houston Texans have declared WR DeVier Posey, TE Garrett Graham, LB Jason Ankrah, S Josh Aubrey, LB Mike Mohamed, QB Tom Savage, OG Xavier Su'a-Filo inactive for Week 16.

A.J. KleinDec 21 11:52a

The Carolina Panthers have declared LB A.J. Klein, OG Amini Silatolu, CB Carrington Byndom, OT David Foucault, RB DeAngelo Williams, DL Kyle Love, SS Robert Lester inactive for Week 16.

Charles GodfreyDec 21 11:52a

The Atlanta Falcons have declared CB Charles Godfrey, LB James Anderson, OG Jon Asamoah, CB Ricardo Allen, QB Sean Renfree, DL Stansly Maponga, LB Tyler Starr inactive for Week 16.

Jamarca SanfordDec 21 11:52a

The New Orleans Saints have declared SS Jamarca Sanford, DL Lawrence Virgil, LB Moise Fokou, WR Seantavius Jones, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, OT Terron Armstead, RB Travaris Cadet inactive for Week 16.

Justin BrownDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Clifton GeathersDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Carl BradfordDec 21 11:42a

The Green Bay Packers have declared DL Bruce Gaston, LB Carl Bradford, CB Davon House, C Garth Gerhart, WR Jeff Janis, TE Justin Perillo, QB Scott Tolzien inactive for Week 16.

Chris McCainDec 21 11:42a

The Miami Dolphins have declared LB Chris McCain, OT Dallas Thomas, RB Daniel Thomas, CB Don Jones, WR Matt Hazel, OG Nate Garner, WR Rishard Matthews inactive for Week 16.

Arthur BrownDec 21 11:42a

The Baltimore Ravens have declared LB Arthur Brown, DL Casey Walker, CB Chris Greenwood, C Gino Gradkowski, WR Michael Campanaro, OG Ryan Jensen, DL Terrence Cody inactive for Week 16.

Aaron MurrayDec 21 11:42a

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared QB Aaron Murray, RB Charcandrick West, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, CB Marcus Cooper, DL Nick X. Williams inactive for Week 16.

Gary BarnidgeDec 21 11:42a

The Cleveland Browns have declared OT Andrew McDonald, TE Gary Barnidge, RB Glenn Winston, CB Joe Haden, DB K'Waun Williams, WR Rodney Smith, OT Vinston Painter inactive for Week 16.

Chris ConteDec 21 11:42a

The Chicago Bears have declared FS Chris Conte, QB David Fales, OG Kyle Long, PK Robbie Gould, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott, DL Will Sutton inactive for Week 16.

Dakota DozierDec 21 11:33a

The New York Jets have declared OL Dakota Dozier, SS Jaiquawn Jarrett, QB Matt Simms, FS Rontez Miles, DL T.J. Barnes, WR Walter Powell, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 16.

Alfonzo DennardDec 21 11:33a

The New England Patriots have declared CB Alfonzo Dennard, OG Dan Connolly, RB James White, OT Jordan Devey, WR Julian Edelman, CB Kyle Arrington, RB LeGarrette Blount inactive for Week 16.

Anthony CollinsDec 21 11:32a

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have declared OT Anthony Collins, FB Evan Rodriguez, CB Isaiah Frey, DL Lawrence Sidbury, RB Mike James, WR Robert Herron, WR Solomon Patton inactive for Week 16.

Kelvin BenjaminDec 21 11:22a

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin won't face Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden (shoulder) Sunday, Dec. 21, who is out with a shoulder injury.

Joe HadenDec 21 11:22a

Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden (shoulder) is out Sunday, Dec. 21.

Julio JonesDec 21 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is active Sunday, Dec. 21.

Jay CutlerDec 21 10:22a

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler is receiving trade interest from the Tennessee Titans. If the Titans landed him, it would alter the 2015 NFL Draft board dramatically.

T Y HiltonDec 21 10:22a

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) is a long shot to play Sunday, Dec. 21. However, he's going to try to suit up.

DeMarco MurrayDec 21 10:12a

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) will play Sunday, Dec. 21, but the team is nervous how well he'll hold up in pass protection. If the team qualifies for [ More ]

Zach ErtzDec 20 07:42p

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz had 15 catches for 115 yards Saturday, Dec. 20. Both of which are career highs.

Philip RiversDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is active Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Cordarro Law, DL Damion Square, CB Greg Ducre, WR Keenan Allen, P Mike Scifres, DL Ryan Carrethers, RB Ryan Mathews inactive for Week 16.

Carlos HydeDec 20 07:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20.

Ahmad BrooksDec 20 07:02p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared LB Ahmad Brooks, OG Andrew Tiller, RB Carlos Hyde, OG Joe Looney, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Tramaine Brock inactive for Week 16.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 20 06:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) will be a game-time decision Sunday, Dec. 21, after not practicing all week.

Julian EdelmanDec 20 06:02p

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (concussion) has been ruled out for Week 16. Edelman didn't receive final clearance from the concussion protocol to play Sunday, Dec. 21.

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