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2014 Steelers season scenarios: Roethlisberger starts in 16 regular season games

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The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback has had his share of injuries that have kept him out of the lineup throughout his career, but can he make it back to back years without missing a start?

Ezra Shaw

Scenario: Steelers QB, Ben Roethlisberger, starts all 16 regular season games in 2014

Why it will happen: In 2013, Ben Roethlisberger started all 16 regular season games for only the second time of his career. Some of his health was the simple fact that when he was being sacked on a regular basis in the first half of the season he was lucky enough to avoid any type of injury, but it was the second half of the season that only saw him sacked seven times throughout eight games that was the main reason the Steelers never had to turn to a backup quarterback to start a football game.

Roethlisberger running the no huddle as the Steelers' primary offense in the second half of last season was another large part for his health. The Steelers are looking to continue to run the no huddle offense in 2014, which could lead to Roethlisberger being able to read defenses and calling protections that will keep him upright and healthy.

On top of the no huddle scheme, the Steelers' are returning their entire offensive line from 2013. That might not seem like a big deal considering the unit is often maligned for it's poor play, but all linemen should know the offensive calls and be able to hit the ground running in 2014.

Lastly, the Steelers' running attack should be improved, which will help take the burden off Roethlisberger and allow the team to set up the pass with the running game. Le'Veon Bell is poised for a breakout year in his Sophomore season, LeGarrette Blount adds a hard nosed dimension to the team, and Dri Archer is the speedster that could take a run the distance.

The increased use of the no huddle, the offensive line cohesion and the improved running game all make Roethlisberger staying healthy and starting in all 16 regular season games a scenario that certainly could pan out.

Why it won't happen: The key to Roethlisberger staying healthy could ultimately rest on the health of the offensive line. Remember when Maurkice Pouncey was injured in Week 1 of last year and Kelvin Beachum had to play center for the duration of the game? It wasn't a pretty outcome for No. 7 and the offense, and that outcome could be the same if key members of the offensive line are injured again in the 2014 season.

The offensive line is obviously the front line of defense in keeping Big Ben healthy, but the no huddle offense seems to be a double edged sword in terms of protection. As often as Roethlisberger can take read the defense and make the appropriate call to be sure the unit is in the best possible protection, the wrong read could also be made and would leave defenders with an unimpeded path to the franchise quarterback.

Roethlisberger's injury history is an interesting one, it hasn't always been the devastating hit that knocks him out of the game, but the awkward landing or the twisted ankle that has done him in for the 2-4 week injury report. That in itself is why the Steelers' offensive line has to keep Roethlisberger from absorbing so many hits on a weekly basis.

Keys: The keys here are simple. The offensive line stays healthy and Roethlisberger utilizes his offense to the best of his ability via the running game and no huddle offense. The Steelers need Roethlisberger healthy to compete, and that has been evident throughout his career; however, if the team runs the football with more efficiency in 2014 and they stick with the no huddle as planned, Roethlisberger starting 16 games is not out of the realm of possibility for the upcoming campaign.