The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns renew their rivalry by the shores of Lake Eerie Sunday in Week 8, and the battle of these AFC North rivals certainly has a lot of headlines swirling around it.
Will the Steelers’ be able to duplicate the offensive success they experienced before the bye week?
Can T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward carry the defense as they hope to get key players back?
Are the Browns’ injuries too much to overcome, despite having an extended break heading into Week 8?
Among those story lines are players who aren’t talked about often, but can certainly play a role in the outcome of the game. This week I was fortunate enough to ask Dawgs By Nature’s editor Chris Pokorny several questions leading up to the big game Sunday.
One of those questions was if he could give me a player who isn’t being talked about, but could play a big role in who wins and loses the game. He didn’t disappoint and gave a player Steelers fans should become acquainted with heading into Week 8. Here is what he had to say:
Most of the impactful players are the ones who people are talking about, but I will go with S John Johnson III. He has been part of the communication issues which have plagued the defense from time to time, which has been frustrating since he was the team’s big free agent signing this offseason. Last week, he came up with his biggest play of the season, dropping back to intercept a post route in the end zone against the Broncos that helped shut them out in the first half. Johnson has had a couple of other downfield interceptions negated this season due to penalties, and with Roethlisberger’s arm not being what it once was, it’ll be interesting to see if he gets another opportunity to make a big play.
The Browns’ defense is an extremely solid unit from top-to-bottom, but it seems as if there are some areas which can be exposed. Safety John Johnson might just be one of those players. Throw in the fact Denzel Ward is out with a hamstring injury, and you have to wonder if the Steelers plan on attacking the Browns through the air. It hasn’t necessarily been the best approach for the Steelers thus far this season, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do to win.
This will certainly be a matchup to watch as the Steelers hope to stretch their winning streak from two to three games, and get some mojo back heading into their Week 9.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the upcoming game between the Steelers and Browns this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET.