2015 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

Arian FosterAug 4 02:53p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) will undergo surgery on his injured groin. He should return during the season, however.

Arian FosterAug 4 02:23p

Updating a previous report, Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) may need surgery on his injured groin.

Arian FosterAug 4 01:33p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) suffered a groin injury during the team's first fully padded practice Monday, Aug. 3, according to sources.

Terrance WestAug 4 10:52a

Cleveland Browns RB Terrance West appears to be on thin ice because of maturity issues, and his conditioning is a question, according to ESPNCleveland.com's Tony Grossi.

Doug MartinAug 3 09:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin was confirmed as the team's lead back Monday, Aug. 3, by head coach Lovie Smith. 'We talked about being able to establish the [ More ]

L. WashingtonAug 3 07:22p

Free-agent WR L'Damian Washington signed with the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, Aug. 3.

Senquez GolsonAug 3 07:12p

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Senquez Golson (shoulder) told ESPN Monday, Aug. 3, he might need surgery on an injured shoulder, and he will find out in the next few days. [ More ]

Ace SandersAug 3 07:02p

Free-agent WR Ace Sanders (Jaguars) was suspended 10 games by the NFL Monday, Aug. 3, for a second violation of the league's drug policy.

Stephen HillAug 3 05:52p

Free-agent WR Stephen Hill (knee) was placed on Reserve/Injured Monday, Aug. 3, after being waived/injured Sunday, Aug. 2.

Michael EgnewAug 3 05:42p

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Michael Egnew was released Monday, Aug. 3.

Kevin ConeAug 3 05:42p

Cleveland Browns WR Kevin Cone was waived Monday, Aug. 3.

Timothy FlandersAug 3 05:22p

Free-agent RB Timothy Flanders (Saints) signed with the Cleveland Browns Monday, Aug. 3.

Jalen ParmeleAug 3 04:52p

Free-agent RB Jalen Parmele (Cardinals) was signed by the Cleveland Browns Monday, Aug. 3.

Kyle WilliamsAug 3 04:42p

Denver Broncos WR Kyle Williams (Achilles') was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Aug. 3. WR Corbin Louks was subsequently signed.

Matt ElamAug 3 03:32p

Updating a previous report, Baltimore Ravens FS Matt Elam (biceps) will have surgery on his torn biceps soon and will officially be out for the season.

Michael JohnsonAug 3 02:32p

Updating a previous report, Cincinnati Bengals DE Michael Johnson (knee) will be out four weeks with a grade 2 medial collateral ligament sprain.

Matt ElamAug 3 11:12a

Baltimore Ravens FS Matt Elam (arm) will likely miss the entire 2015 season with a torn biceps muscle suffered during a full-contact practice Sunday, Aug. 2.

Stephen HillAug 2 08:02p

The Carolina Panthers waived WR Stephen Hill (knee) after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament Sunday, Aug. 2.

Terrelle PryorAug 2 07:52p

Cleveland Browns WR Terrelle Pryor took reps with the first-team offense during training camp Sunday, Aug. 2.

Martavis BryantAug 2 04:22p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (elbow) will undergo a procedure for an elbow infection that will cause him to miss the Hall of Fame Game Sunday, Aug. 9, against [ More ]

Michael EgnewAug 2 03:02p

The Pittsburgh Steelers have released TE Michael Egnew.

Tony McDanielAug 2 12:12p

The Seattle Seahawks released DT Tony McDaniel Sunday, Aug. 2. McDaniel should quickly find a new home.

Stephen HillAug 2 12:02p

Carolina Panthers WR Stephen Hill (knee) has an ACL injury, according to assistant head coach Steve Wilks Sunday, Aug. 2.

Sam BradfordAug 2 11:52a

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) has been cleared for 11-on-11 drills Sunday, Aug. 2, and head coach Chip Kelly told reporters the quarterback doesn't have any restrictions.

Stephen HillAug 2 10:12a

The Carolina Panthers signed free-agent WR Paul Browning Sunday, Aug. 2. Browning is expected to take WR Stephen Hill's roster spot.

Brandon BoykinAug 1 08:12p

The Pittsburgh Steelers acquired CB Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles Saturday, Aug. 1, in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Eagles could [ More ]

Kyle WilliamsAug 1 02:22p

Denver Broncos WR Kyle Williams (Achilles') suffered at least a partially torn Achilles' tendon in practice Saturday, Aug. 1, according to a source. He may be out for the season.

Melvin GordonAug 1 02:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Melvin Gordon has struggled with pass protection through the first three days of training camp.

Devin SmithJul 31 09:32p

New York Jets WR Devin Smith (ribs) will miss a majority of training camp after suffering broken ribs Friday, July 31, according to the team. He will be held [ More ]

Bashaud BreelandJul 31 07:42p

Washington Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland (knee) is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks because of a knee injury he suffered during practice Friday, July 31.

Bashaud BreelandJul 31 07:22p

Washington Redskins CB Bashaud Breeland has been suspended one game by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Breeland received a citation for marijuana possession last year.

Jason Pierre-PaulJul 31 06:22p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (hand) is not allowed to use his injured hand while it is healing from the fireworks accident he had earlier this month. Pierre-Paul [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group