The 2012-2013 season is fast approaching and its time to start identifying some possible breakout stars for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last year's breakout star was unquestionably Antonio Brown but other breakout players included Isaac Redman and Keenan Lewis. This year, the team will likely be counting on some young players to contribute which will leave plenty of opportunities for a breakout year from one, if not more, players.
1. Jonathan Dwyer, RB - Jonathan Dwyer is currently slated as the teams number 2 back with Mendenhall out. However, there are reports swirling that he is in the best shape of his life and that he has had a great camp so far. If he continues to impress in the preseason, it is very possible that he can become the day one starter and at that point, anything can happen. It would benefit the Steelers greatly if Dwyer emerged as a legitimate number one back because that would allow them to have more leverage when negotiating Mendenhall's contract next year.
2. Emmanuel Sanders, WR - Sanders was expected to be the receiver to breakout last year but injuries in camp prevented that from happening. If he stays healthy this year, he could very easily have a huge year and for the third consecutive year, the breakout star for the Steelers could be a receiver. As we all remember, Mike Wallace broke-out in his second year and Antonio Brown did as well. Will the third year be the magic year for Emmanuel Sanders? Lets hope so.
3. Steve McLendon, NT - McLendon had a very solid season last year which many outsiders failed to notice. However, Tomlin and his staff noticed and defensive line coach John Mitchell said on draft day that he was going to surprise a lot of people this year. So far through camp, McLendon has been nearly unblockable and looks like he could be the Steelers next great nose tackle.
4. Stevenson Sylvester, ILB - Sylvester is currently competing with Larry Foote and Sean Spence for the starting linebacker spot next to Larry Foote. Regardless of whether or not Sylvester wins the spot, he will likely get a lot of playing time at both linebacker and on special teams. If he can use his athleticism and play with confidence, he could have a huge year this year.
5. Cortez Allen, CB - Allen was drafted in the 4th round last year out of The Citadel and drew praise from draft experts around the web. This year, he has looked confident and ready to play in camp and will have a chance to win the number two cornerback spot during camp. With his incredible athleticism and great instincts, he will likely be able to pile up the interceptions if he sees significant playing time.