The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: Which starting jobs are in the most contention heading into the first preseason game?
While head coach Mike Tomlin, as he does every year, declared every position open for competition, it’s obvious that some will be much more competitive than others. Don’t expect, for example, Melvin Ingram to start over T.J. Watt, or Tre Norwood to start over Minkah Fitzpatrick. I could go down a list quite easily.
There are a lot of jobs that are at least somewhat uncertain, though. The most combative, arguably, is in the slot between Antoine Brooks Jr. and Arthur Maulet, but it’s not the only one. Alex Highsmith and Ingram could be battling to start opposite Watt, for example.
There is the battle for the starting center. Potentially battles at left tackle and left guard, as well. Starting roles among the wide receivers have to be figured out. We have a competition brewing for the number two quarterback job, which could prove more significant than in most years. And, obviously, there’s the punting position, as well.
We can put the punter job right at the top, I think. But behind that competition between Pressley Harvin III and incumbent Jordan Berry, how do the other position battles stack up in terms of competitiveness? The slot job would be up there, but what about center? What about left tackle?