The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
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 have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? 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 Steven Nelson be able to play on Sunday, and if so, what will his role be?
After spending the week as a limited participant in practice, veteran cornerback Steven Nelson, signed earlier this year as an unrestricted free agent, is officially listed as questionable to play tomorrow night against the Los Angeles Chargers. Meanwhile, Artie Burns said that he took virtually all of the first-team reps in practice during the week and expects to get the start.
Given the latter, it does sound as though Nelson’ role will be limited, if one exists at all, should he dress tomorrow. He could potentially dress only as an emergency option, and the fact that they have a number of injured players who need to be inactive—Roosevelt Nix, Jaylen Samuels, Mason Rudolph, Mark Barron, etc.—makes that even more likely.
Nelson has proven so far to be a very good signing, as he has been very solid in his play controlling the right side of the defense in coverage. Of course, that hasn’t exactly translated into wins, but simply from the eye test, it’s clear that the play at the right cornerback position is as good as it has been pretty much since Ike Taylor was last relevant.
The Steelers are desperate for a win on Sunday after starting the season 1-4. The Chargers are hungry for a win as well, and possess the home field. it will be up to Burns, among others, to keep Philip Rivers in check, most likely, though we could still see a surprise and have Nelson end up starting as usual.