Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Jury is Out

At least we now have a better idea how the Steelers' brain trust envisions the team, and their strategy for addressing its weaknesses.

The team's current depth chart listed currently on is likely to change. As of Sunday, it lists Brian Arnfeldt as the starter at right defensive end, Chris Carter as the starter at left outside linebacker, and Vince Williams as the starter at left inside linebacker. On offense, David Snow is listed as the starting center.

Arriving via the draft, linebacker Ryan Shazier is the big addition on defense, and he brings speed. The way for an offense to challenge a speed linebacker like that is to run right at him, so the Steelers also fortified the defensive line with Stephon Tuitt and space-filling nose tackle Daniel McCullers. They will help protect Shazier from smash-mouth formations that try to power through him, Jarvis Jones, Lawrence Timmons and Jason Worilds.

The secondary stays pretty much the same as last year, except for the addition of Mike Mitchell to succeed Ryan Clark at safety, and a bit more depth at corner with fifth-rounder Shaquille Richardson.

On offense, the combination of Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount makes for a power tandem that will get a change of pace with tiny scat-back Dri Archer. The Steelers will rely on Markus Wheaton to emerge as the No. 2 receiver opposite Antonio Brown. Depth is added along the offensive line with Wesley Johnson and at tight end with Rob Blanchflower.

Special teams will have a new punter (either Adam Podlesh or Brad Wing). Darius Heyward-Bey becomes one of the gunners on punt coverage. Dre Archer will compete for kick return duties.

Maybe somebody emerges as a surprise contributor from the crop of undrafted free agents.

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