The Pittsburgh Steelers well underway with the offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the heart of the offseason, where hope springs eternal following a few months of pretty significant changes, in terms of both departures and arrivals.
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: Which established starter has the most to prove in 2019?
Considering the fact that we are in the deadest time of the year, I thought that this would be as interesting as question as any to consider today. Among the players on the Steelers’ roster who have already established themselves as starters, who has the most to prove through his play during the 2019 season?
For the sake of discussion, you can choose to include or exclude Chris Boswell from the discussion at your leisure. It goes without saying that he has an immense amount to prove this season. On the other hand, it’s fair to argue that he’s not established as the starter right now, so he may as well be excluded anyway. But, again, include him if you want.
Obviously, whoever starts at right tackle, and at inside linebacker, are not yet established. The punting position is not established either, nor are the number two or three wide receiver roles, and potentially the number two and three tight end roles as well, though the latter wouldn’t exactly be regarded as a starting role.
Bud Dupree is going to be a popular answer, I know that, though there will also be the substantial faction that contends he is beyond the point of being able to prove anything beyond what he’s already done, and that he will not be on the team beyond this season.
Terrell Edmunds should definitely be at or near the top of the list, in my opinion. The most recent first-rounder to take the field, he played more than he was supposed to as a rookie and it showed, but he can take a big leap in year two.
Then there’s JuJu Smith-Schuster. He already made the Pro Bowl last year, but things will be different without Antonio Brown being game-planned for. So much of the success of the offense is going to depend on his being able to seamlessly transition into that undisputed top target with no drop-off from where he was.