By Michael K. Reynolds
Lost in the shuffle of the Tomlin Two-Step, the heart breaking loss to the Baltimore Ravens and the analysis and counter analysis of the Pittsburgh Steelers fading playoffs hopes, there is one startling…and encouraging reality.
The kids are alright.
Slowly, a new generation of Steelers players are pushing their way to the forefront, establishing themselves as the recipients of much Terrible Toweling in the future.
It’s been a long time coming, this much needed youth movement. That’s because it’s been stalled by the Steelers success over the past decade. For after participating in three Super Bowls it’s hard for the newbies to get playing time over entitled veterans, but that has all changed this year.
Think about it. We’re actually pleading for Kelvin Beachum to recover from his knee nick so he can play left tackle this weekend! Who would have thought that would be on anyone’s wish list at the beginning of the summer? But after his performance against Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil he is proving to be one of the bright new stars of a vastly improving offensive line.
And David DeCastro? Maybe he is the next Alan Faneca after all. Marcus Gilbert? All quiet on the right side, which is good news. While Le’Veon Bell has been rushing for touchdowns, fans have been rushing to get his jersey. His running mate Jonathan Dwyer is a youngster as well and shines every chance he gets at turf time. We haven’t even seen what Markus Wheaton is capable of yet and he may emerge as the most talented of this year’s draft class.
Antonio Brown? Superstar. And only 25 years old. Don’t forget that Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey is still a young pup. That’s just the offense.
On defense the youth movement is lead by Cameron Heyward, an emerging force. Even Ziggy Hood is flashing a little stardust these days. Jason Worilds might be staking a claim as the next great Steelers rush linebacker if they find a way to keep him. Cortez Allen? Gotta love him chasing down Jacoby Jones, with or without the Coach Mike Tomlin assist. Look out for Terence Garvin, he’s a diamond in the rough.
Starting to find their way are Steve McLendon, Jarvis Jones, Robert Golden, Vince Williams, Al Woods and Shamarko Thomas.
This isn’t your grandpa’s Pittsburgh Steelers and that’s a good thing. Because there is a new generation in town. One flashing character and talent and forging a whole new personality of their own. In a season with ups and downs, this is perhaps the best news of all.
Yes, it’s good to be a Steelers fan. Because the kids are alright.