It’s been a rollercoaster of a start to the season, hasn’t it Steeler Nation? Let’s talk Steeler offense and Steeler defense, shall we?
This season is likely to see its fair share of growing pains with such a young squad on the field for Pittsburgh. Injuries aren’t making things any easier either. That doesn’t mean the season is a wash. If there is anything that Steeler fans know, it’s that our team is tough and built to go the distance. It’s time to get excited Steeler Nation!
A Very Young Steelers Offense
The average age of a Steeler’s player is just 26. For the Steeler offense starters, it’s even a year younger. For the skill positions, younger still. Youth has its high points as well as low points. For all of the passion and good health they bring to the table, the younger players do lack experience.
Here’s a look at some of the brightest young stars the Steelers are likely to be relying on for years to come.
Najee Harris – Steeler Offense
Harris is the undisputed starting running back for the Steelers. He is the default leader of the Steeler offense, a role he is still settling into.
During the off season, Harris gained significant amounts of muscle. While the weight gain worried some, he still runs well. The added muscle will help him to push the pile and stave off major injury as his years in the league start to add up.
He seems to have started slow this year, but after a 1,200-yard season, this isn’t likely to continue. If his past, both personally and in college football, is any indication, Harris will bounce back soon.
Jaylen Warren – Steeler Offense
Warren bounced around the world of college football. Finishing at Oklahoma State with more than 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior, he went undrafted in the NFL. The Steelers saw his potential and signed him as an undrafted free agent.
Playing behind a gifted starter like Harris hasn’t been easy. He has developed a reputation for making the most of what he is given, including averaging seven and a half yards per carry against the Browns.
While he isn’t likely to take the starting position anytime soon, Warren is a significant factor on special teams and is making a much larger contribution to the Steeler offense than most fans expected.
George Pickens – Steeler Offense
Pickens is a former college national champion, but that doesn’t mean anything in the league. Transitioning takes time. While Pickens hasn’t produced the standout numbers we would love to see from him, he has given us some highlights that are a great indicator of his future potential.
Kenny Pickett replaced Mitchell Trubisky in the second half of the week four game against the Jets. Although he didn’t manage to bring the team back for a win, he did have a spectacular quarterback sneak for the score.
This may not necessarily mean that Pickett is the new starter immediately, but it is definitely a foreshadowing of things to come.
Steeler Defense Injuries
The Steelers are known for their hard-nosed defense. The problem is the Steel Curtain is beaten up right now. There are key players that are sitting on the injured reserve list that the team really needs on the field.
TJ Watt is central to the Steeler’s defense and he is out with a pectoral injury that could see him sidelined as late as week ten, after the team’s bye week.
In the secondary, the injuries are less significant but seem to be practically contagious. Karl Joseph was already on the IR. Ahkello Witherspoon, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cameron Sutton have all dealt with nagging injuries during the beginning of this season. The good news is, none of them are out long term.
Steeler Nation at Hibernia Bar
This season may be an uphill battle for the Steelers, but expect the second half of the season to get a lot better as young offense players improve and veterans get healthy.