When it comes to the offensive side of the ball, it really is the offensive line that makes up the bulk of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ group of sage veterans, excepting the Killer Bs: quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and to a lesser extent, Le’Veon Bell.
The majority of the rest of the contributors are younger. Two of the team’s other three top wide receivers, as currently projected, are in their first or second season. Their second-string running back is heading into year two. Their backup quarterback could be a rookie. Their tight ends are on the younger side as well.
Yet their youngest lineman is 28, and their least experienced is heading into his fourth season, all of which have been as a primary starter. The bulk of the group has been around since at least 2012. The majority of the starters have been around longer than that.
Three of them have at least gone to the Pro Bowl, another has been a first-alternate, and the other has frequently been talked of as a Pro Bowl-caliber player who has simply not been healthy enough to get the amount of work in.
Add in the long-term stability that they have enjoyed among the starters, having had a starting five together for most of three seasons now, and you understand that you are dealing with what is a very accomplished group overall. They recognize this fact.
“We’ve got some great players, a great coach, and when someone’s striving to get better, I think that’s a great job that Munchak does, is never lets us rest on our laurels”, three-time All-Pro right guard David DeCastro told reporters during OTAs. “You’re always pushing forward and always trying to get better”.
DeCastro is heading into year seven and has over the past few years become one of the top interior linemen in all of football. Maurkice Pouncey is not far removed from first-team All-Pro status. Alejandro Villanueva was in the Pro Bowl a year ago, while Ramon Foster was the first-alternate. Marcus Gilbert has more than enough talent to earn a trip there himself.
They have authored top rushing and passing attacks and helped contributing to high-scoring offenses with great records and division titles. The only thing that they haven’t accomplished is winning a championship. Only two of them know what it’s like to reach the Super Bowl.
“We’ve got a special, special group. A special situation”, DeCastro said. “So we’ve got to take advantage of it, and we’ve got to win”.
The Steelers were able to reach the AFC Championship Game in 2016, but they took a step back last year in spite of the fact that they finished with a better record and a bye week, losing in the Divisional Round to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
While DeCastro said that he quickly moved past that game, he has made it pretty clear that he is ready for his team to start winning the biggest game of the season. For him, they are too talented and have been around too long to keep coming up short.