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Early-Season Playing Time For Steelers Subs May Come In Handy This Week

I'm not going to try to be overly-analytical here, but I think the decision to play some of our backups early this season may be a factor when we play in the thin air of Denver this weekend. Because of Denver's thin air, the Steelers will have a machine on the sidelines designed to generate blood flow throughout a player's body, but that doesn't mean we're not going to need to shuffle bodies in and out of our lineup.

On the defensive side of the ball, I'm not overly concerned. If Casey Hampton is able to play some, great. If not, Chris Hoke will be ready to go. Ideally, they'll split time and both be effective. LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons will probably get a few more snaps as well - something we've all been looking forward to. Nick Eason, Anthony Smith, and William Gay have all gotten some reps in games and should be ready to contribute when called upon. If Denver has a solid day offensively, it's going to be imperative that we rotate fresh bodies in, especially during the 2nd half. The fact that nearly every Steelers who made the team has contributed in some shape or form to our early season defensive success, makes me feel good about our chances to maintain a high-level of energy and productivity on the defensive side of the ball.

I'm a bit more concerned about our offensive line. Our first-string is good, not great, but it gets pretty thin after that. Kendall Simmons is already having issues this year, but Chris Kemoeatu couldn't even beat him out for the starting job, so I'm a bit worried about that Guard position. As for our tackles, Willie Colon and Max Starks are both capable of inducing heart palpitations, especially when their feet get tired. Any injury along the line could really derail our team, at least in the short-run before we had time to make significant sctructural adjustments to organization of the line.

Things look rosy after the line though. Najeh Davenport has impressed us all - he should get 10 carries if the running game's working for us. If we go to more of a spread-look on offense to set up the running game in the second half, I'll be thankful Nate Washington, Cedrick Wilson, and Willie Reid got significant work in with Big Ben the past two weeks.