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2021 South Side Questions: How Would You Assess Play Of Rookies So Far?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.

They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom are starting.

There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. Even if they play them poorly. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.

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. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: What are your reactions to the play of each rookie thus far through the season?

This is probably a question that should have been asked last week, but perhaps asking it now has provided us with more time to digest. Given that the Steelers have relied upon their rookie class quite heavily this year, we can’t discuss the season without discussing the contributions of the rookies.

First-round running back Najee Harris and second-round tight end Pat Freiermuth are both starters at the skill positions, while third-round center Kendrick Green and fourth-round tackle Dan Moore Jr. have started every game along the offensive line.

Seventh-round defensive back Tre Norwood has played a fair bit as well, though his role has been scaled back, opening the season as the nickel and now playing dime, averaging about a dozen snaps. Fifth-round defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk has been in a similar rotation. Of course, seventh-round punter Pressley Harvin III is a starter, as well.

This is an open-ended question you can approach pretty much any way you like. You can assess the group as a whole, the draft class itself, break down each individual player if you want. Who’s your biggest surprise, both positively and negative? What are people doing well? What are people doing poorly?

These guys have now had six games of professional experience, and are coming out of their bye week with the time to pause and catch their breaths and regroup. They know they’ve got a long stretch ahead of them with 11 more games to go in the regular season, and they must be prepared for it.

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