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The importance of the Steelers 2012 Draft Class showing late this season

With several members of the Steelers' 2012 draft class likely to see extensive time Sunday - including two seventh round picks and an undrafted free agent - the value of this class will be a major factor in whether the Steelers make the playoffs in 2012.

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It isn't often in Pittsburgh so many rookies have so many important roles heading into a big game.

Undrafted rookie Josh Victorian will be the team's nickel back in the event Cortez Allen - who didn't practice this week - can't play at all. Curtis Brown will start, and move inside in nickel situations as Victorian moves outside.

First round pick David DeCastro will start at right guard, facing off against Dallas's pressure-filled defense. To his immediate right will stand 7th round pick Kelvin Beachum, starting his third consecutive game because rookie Mike Adams will miss that same stretch with an ankle injury.

Chris Rainey will return kicks and serve as main threat to Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman if their play is not up to running backs coach Kirby Wilson's standards.

Tight end David Paulson - one of the few positions not marred by injury this season - continues to see significant snaps as the team's second tight end.

Odds seem pretty good Allen won't be able to play against Dallas, and with the amount of passing that team does, Victorian should plan to be on the field plenty often. Dallas would probably like to add the insult to the Steelers' injuries and exploit the absence of Ike Taylor with their weapon of choice on offense - throwing the ball down the field.

The Steelers (Pittsburgh Steelers Tickets) will hope to counter by attacking on the ground, hopefully behind a strong performance from DeCastro and newly minted left guard Ramon Foster, who's in for the injured Willie Colon.

Will they be able to get anything going offensively? They'll need to because it appears Dallas has a fairly strong advantage should they decide to spread the field with receivers and attack in a shorter passing game.