The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Both Deon Cain and Kerrith Whyte will make significant contributions today.
Explanation: The Steelers added a couple of skill position players from other teams’ practice squads in recent weeks, both of them making their debut for the team last week. Cain caught a 35-yard pass and drew a DPI, while Kerrith Whyte rushed for over 40 yards with a couple of 10-plus yarders on six carries.
Given the way that head coach Mike Tomlin talked about both of them this past week, it would be surprising if they do not see an increase in their workload today against the Cleveland Browns. Cain only played a handful of snaps, but he was targeted twice on very limited work. White carried the ball on almost all of his snaps.
That was with just one week of practice, and at least in Whyte’s case, no in-game experience ever. Now they both have an extra week and a game under their belts, a better understanding of the offense and what they’re being asked to do, and they are at positions where the top performers there remain sidelined.
All the ingredients are there for their contributions to rise. Johnny Holton isn’t going to do much, nor is Trey Edmunds. James Washington, Diontae Johnson, and Benny Snell will drive those groups, but there is room right behind them.
Cain might play more, and be targeted more, but that’s no guarantee he’s going to make plays. Just look at how long it took Washington to start connecting. And his success is predicated upon Devlin Hodges performing well.
As for Whyte, Snell is probably going to play about two thirds to three quarters of the snaps in this game at this point because they don’t have much trust in anybody else. He has speed to break a play, but the Browns are more disciplined sideline to sideline than the Bengals, and they just saw what he did last week. They will be prepared for that.