It felt good to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers remind the Cleveland Browns who was still the superior team in the division. Now that the highly emotional contest between those two is finished, the Steelers will need to keep the same intensity as they head to the desert for a showdown with the Arizona Cardinals. This should be a fun showdown to watch as the Cardinals come in with a good offense and awful defense meanwhile the Steelers will counter with a sometimes-sluggish offense and great defense. Here are all the stock movements that have transpired over the last week.
RB Benny Snell – Stock Up
Shortly after the Steelers’ week eleven loss to the Browns, I pondered if the team would have been better off signing a veteran running back in the prior offseason. Well, I have to admit, I was wrong because it turns out that Benny Snell may just be the answer to the current running back woes. Since returning from a knee injury two weeks ago, Snell has put up 161 rushing yards. Only eight running backs have rushed for more yards than the rookie since his return and he has looked like a real problem solver for a position that has been through numerous injury problems this season.
WR Diontae Johnson – Stock Down
The rookie wide receiver did not have his best game on Sunday as he fell short of expectations, especially when it comes to playing above the neck. Diontae Johnson had more than a few mental gaffes. There were two penalties and then a miscommunication between him and his quarterback that led to an interception. Johnson also caught just one of his five targets and opted to run out of bounds on his lone catch in the game’s final minutes. He’s got the skill and talent, there is no questioning that but with December football finally here, Johnson is going to have to stay disciplined and play some technically sound football.
QB Devlin Hodges – Stock Up
Duck fever has swept over the city of Pittsburgh as the town has fallen in love with new quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges. The undrafted rookie quarterback won his second career start against the Browns and will look to move to 3-0 this Sunday. Hodge has rejuvenated the Steelers’ offense not by throwing ducks but by throwing dimes. He had more than a couple great passes last Sunday and will need to continue slinging it this weekend. While most ducks fly south in the winter, this duck is staying right here in Pittsburgh and if there is any destination that he is planning on migrating to, it’s the postseason.
CB Joe Haden – Stock Up
Father Time has put on hold for the extended future because the now 30-year old Joe Haden is still playing tremendous football. Since week 10, Haden has recorded nine passes defended, tied for second in the NFL during this span and two interceptions. Despite being the oldest player in the secondary, Haden is not showing any signs of slowing down. Instead he is only showing signs of getting better as the season goes along and that would line up with his career tendencies. Haden has played in 31 games during the month of December and he has recorded five interceptions and 27 passes defended.
LB Devin Bush – Stock Down
Do not get me wrong, Devin Bush simply has too much athleticism to not be a great player but he did struggle in coverage against the Browns on Sunday, though there is nothing wrong with that. It is hard to remember at times that Bush is still a rookie and he is going to face a few learning curves from time to time. It will be interesting to see how the rookie linebacker adapts now as December is often a crucial time for many rookies. Dating back to his Michigan days, Bush has never played more than 13 games in a season and this Sunday will mark game number 13 for the Steelers. Hopefully he can dodge any trouble that may come his way this month because the Steelers will surely need his playmaking ability as they make their final push for the postseason.
C/G B.J. Finney – Stock Up
Hats off to B.J. Finney as he did an exceptional job filling in for Maurkice Pouncey while he served a two-game suspension, though no one should have expected anything different. The Steelers are 11-1 when Finney starts and are averaging 128.1 rushing yards per game with him in the starting lineup. There has to be a certain level of comfort within the team to have such a trusted option like Finney as he can fill in either at guard or center. Pouncey stated earlier this week that Finney made himself quite a bit of money with his play over the last two weeks and he could not have been more correct.
OLB Bud Dupree – Stock Up
Three words come to mind when I think of Bud Dupree and they are “pay that man.” The Steelers’ outside linebacker continues to impress on a week by week basis and it looks like he is in the midst of a hot-streak. Over the last two games, Dupree has recorded 2.5 sacks, three quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. Both forced fumbles have helped not only the Steelers’ defense but also their offense. His first strip sack sealed the game against the Bengals while last Sunday’s strip sack led to the offense pushing their lead to ten. As the weather gets colder, Dupree’s play only looks like it’s getting hotter and that could not be more timely.