The meaningless games are over, and it is time for the games which will be tallied on every team’s win-loss record.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they start the year off with a trip to Cleveland to play the Browns. Some Steelers fans still view this as a cake walk for the black-and-gold, and it certainly could end up being just that, but this isn’t your father’s bumbling Browns anymore.
After several key offseason acquisitions, and a slew of quality rookies about to enter the prime of their careers, the Steelers will have their hands full on Sunday with Mother Nature reportedly bearing down on them along Lake Eerie.
It is time to check in on 5 Steelers to keep an eye on, as they will have a huge impact on the outcome of the game...win or lose.
1. Terrell Edmunds
Edmunds is reportedly getting his first start of his young career, and when the Steelers took him with their first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, not many saw this happening. Nonetheless, Edmunds’ speed, athleticism and overall playmaking ability make him someone who can change the game in the blink of an eye. The question now remains if Edmunds’ rookie gaffes, which are bound to happen, will be of the back-breaking variety. Keep your eye on No. 34.
2. Antonio Brown
Everyone knows how good Antonio Brown is, but fans haven’t seen him yet this season. After sitting out the entire preseason with an injured quadriceps, Brown looks to pick up where he left off in 2017. It is difficult to simulate game speed and explosion, and the hope is Brown doesn’t suffer a setback in the sloppy conditions in Cleveland.
3. James Conner
Without Le’Veon Bell, it is James Conner’s time to shine. The second-year running back will get his first NFL start in Week 1, and it is time for Conner to show he is a mudder. With less-than-ideal weather conditions expected, Conner could be the staple which keeps the offense together in the form of the ground game. A great opportunity to showcase he is ready to be a feature back in the NFL, but also a chance for him to also show how important Bell’s return is he slips up in more ways than one.
4. Jon Bostic
Without Ryan Shazier, Bostic will have a giant spotlight on him as the team hopes to get their run defense, and overall athleticism back after the dreaded Sean Spence experiment of 2017. Bostic has had mixed reviews during the preseason, and fans are hoping he is comfortable in the system to be able to fill in better than those who tried last season.
5. Chris Boswell
Wind and rain are not a kicker’s friend, but if there is anyone who is accustomed to these conditions it would be Boswell. The Wizard of Boz being on point and converting on all of his kicks will be huge in the game. But equally important will be his kickoffs. Not allowing the Browns to get quality field position, and forcing them to drive on the defense, will be a huge help for a defense still searching for its identity.