The Pittsburgh Steelers are now in Latrobe at Saint Vincent College, where they have held their training camp sessions since 1966. While the vast majority of the legwork of building the 90-man roster is done, there is always some fine tinkering to do. Now it’s time to figure out who is worthy of a roster spot, and what their role will be.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they’re bound to have new starters.
How will those position groups sort themselves out? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in practice? Who is sitting out due to injury?
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: Will the Steelers’ interior defensive pressure be able to get to Tom Brady on the road?
It’s not a mystery that quarterbacks struggle to find success more when you pressure them right in their face, but when it comes to Tom Brady, it sometimes seems like the only way to actually get to him is up the middle, as he tends to be able to mitigate most other defensive strategies.
The Steelers were finally able to take down the Patriots last year, and that was certainly in part due the fact that they were able to bring that pressure from the interior, with Cameron Heyward, Javon Hargrave, and Stephon Tuitt playing a critical role in that defensive effort.
This one will be on the road, after another banner-raising in Foxboro, however, and at the start of the season. That doesn’t make things all that favorable, but at the same time, the Patriots are going to be without their starting center as well.
The pressure up the middle doesn’t just have to come from defensive linemen, of course. For as much criticism as he has taken, defensive coordinator Keith Butler does have a knack for scheming pressure up the middle, particularly from the inside linebacker position, with Vince Williams playing a big role in that.
However they get there, it will be important that they do, because when Brady is throwing on-schedule, bad things tend to happen to whatever defense he is playing, and he has a re-tooled supporting cast that should continue to pose problems if not taken seriously.