Now that training camp has started, it is finally time to preview the Steelers and their expectations for this season. This preview will be done in two parts, one article for offense and the other for defense.
Steelers 2018 Season Preview: Offense
Ben Roethlisberger is going onto his fourteenth NFL season and continues to play at an elite level. He is the clear starter, but there is real competition for that number two spot this season. The guys fighting for that spot are fifth-year veteran Landry Jones, sophomore Joshua Dobbs, and third-round rookie Mason Rudolph. From the training camp reports, it sounds like Rudolph will be able to secure the backup spot. If you ask me, Jones will make the roster and Dobbs will be on the practice squad.
Le’Veon Bell could not get a long-term deal done with the Steelers, so this will most likely be his last season. However, there is a silver lining to this. Bell will need to have a spectacular season to get the money he wants next off-season. Fans should expect a big season for Bell, but also expect a possible drop in his workload. James Conner and rookie Jaylen Samuels has been looking good in training camp, and their production will decide if they are the future of the Steelers’ offense.
Pittsburgh’s receiving corps continues to be the biggest strength on this team. All-Pro Antonio Brown and sophomore stud JuJu Smith-Schuster make up the best wide receiver duo in the NFL. But that third receiver spot is still up for grabs. Pittsburgh spent a second-round pick on Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington, who is primed to earn the starting spot. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Justin Hunter are also candidates to earn that starting job, but they will have to really impress in training camp.
This group is the weakest unit on the Steelers, but the potential is sky high. Jesse James is adequate at best, but former San Francisco tight end Vance McDonald is hoping to make a name for himself this season. McDonald is super athletic, and at his ceiling he can be a solid deep threat, and you can’t have too many of those.
The offensive line has been the exact same for three years. The big question is at the left guard position, as Ramon Foster hyperextended his knee earlier in training camp. B.J. Finney has looked solid so far as his replacement, so even if Foster misses week one the player drop off is not that significant.
There are some hefty expectations for the Steelers offense this season, and only time will tell if they live up to it this season.
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