The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How will the Steelers’ shuffled secondary handle an improved Baltimore Ravens passing attack?
The Steelers and Ravens will play against each other twice in a relatively short time span, so they can go a long way toward determining who between them is going to be on top. The Ravens enter the game with a 2-1 record, but the Steelers are right behind at 1-1-1.
The determining factor in the game may well be whether or not Pittsburgh’s secondary can hold up against a Ravens aerial assault that has been restocked this offseason with positive results. With a trio of new wide receivers and two rookie tight ends, Joe Flacco hardly even knows who he’s throwing to anymore.
One of those tight ends, first-round pick Hayden Hurst, is hoping to make his debut today, though as of the time of this writing, it’s unknown if he will, officially listed as questionable. Fellow rookie Mark Andrews has been finding success.
Also effective has been John Brown, the first of three wide receivers they signed in free agency, and Michael Crabtree is coming along after a slow start, while Willie Snead is not to be ignored. Flacco has been spreading the ball pretty well amongst them.
Meanwhile, the Steelers have had to shuffle the deck on the back end, in part due to injury, in part due to performance. They are expected to be without Mike Hilton, which will be the biggest change. Should Morgan Burnett miss the game, Terrell Edmunds has already filled that role.
The biggest question mark is at right outside cornerback, which will see a platoon of Artie Burns and Coty Sensabaugh, perhaps Cameron Sutton as well. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ripped up the right side of the Steelers’ defense last week. Can they batten down the hatches at home against their biggest rival?