Well, 2020 has not gone in a way that any of us or any of the Steelers players had planned. However, we are still trying to look in a positive light to a 2020 NFL season. If things go well, we know who and when the Pittsburgh Steelers will play. Let’s take a look at some of the key players that everyone should keep their eyes on this season.
Big Ben Roethlisberger has fans, and he has detractors, but one thing most agree on is that he has a toughness worthy of the town of Pittsburgh. After not being able to play for basically the entire 2019 season with elbow surgery and recovery. Many eyes will be watching the aging elite quarterback seeing how many more yards he has in him. While it is true, there will be a time when Roethlisberger finally has no choice but to retire. There is a good possibility, with a repaired elbow on his throwing arm. He now may have extra yardage that even he didn’t think was possible. Combine all of this with his experience and leadership abilities and the new men on the roster to use as weapons, and the Steelers can have a real run at their next Lombardi trophy.
Young and talented, entering his fourth year as a professional, as well as his fourth year as a Steelers player. Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster has had an awful lot of situations thrown at him. Not just on the field but off the field as well. Between having to deal with bad press fallout from what former team members had done or said. To go through the heartbreaking loss of wide receiver coach Darryl Drake who suddenly passed away at the beginning of the preseason in 2019.
On top of that, losing Roethlisberger last year left him in a situation to try to play with rotating quarterbacks. Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges went back and forth as the starting quarterback. Both of them have talent but not the experience needed, so 2019 was a tough year. That opened the door for a lot of critics to question if Smith-Schuster can handle being the star receiver. What to watch for this year will not be his play on the field, but how much of a leader he can become in his own right as newer draft choices come in and begin to learn the ways of the Steelers. Look for him to shine on and off the field and put his critics to rest.
The Watt Brothers
The Steelers made some strong moves in getting new players on the team in the offseason. One of the bigger steps in this was bringing Derek Watt over to join his brother TJ Watt. Derek signed a very lucrative contract making him one of the highest paid fullbacks in the league. TJ Watt has already been a strong presence on the Steelers. The entire Watt family of players is well known and strong, fueling many rumors that the Steelers will eventually try to also bring JJ Watt over from the Houston Texans making the Steelers the only current team with three active brothers playing. TJ has already shown how he can help fire up the defense. What will Derek do on the offense? Odds are the addition of his brother is only going to reinforce and strengthen a strong, domineering force.
While all the players the Steelers chose in the 2020 NFL Draft were all quality picks, Chase Claypool is going to have a lot of eyes on him come 2020. His performance will be a big part of the Steelers offense. Claypool was the first pick the Steelers chose, in round two, having traded their first-round pick away. The Steelers decided another weapon for Roethlisberger was needed.
Claypool, out of Notre Dame, has a 6’4″ frame to go get the long ball Big Ben likes to throw. He has the talent to balance out the field and help free up other receivers. Every rookie has to deal with the transition to the NFL, and if Claypool can successfully make that transition, it will only make the offense more potent. Having another skilled man on the field opening up the throwing lanes for the Steelers will keep opponents defenses split and on their toes.
While everyone is hoping the season starts in normal time and normal rules. The bottom line as the teams begin to start the transition of reporting to training camps. The Steelers have many weapons at their disposal and have added to every part of their game with this year’s draft and trades. The Offense, defense, and special teams have been greatly improved. There is a real chance if we get a typical season and the players stay healthy, the 2020 season can finally be the stairway to seven.
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