Earlier this week I wrote an article about the Pittsburgh Steelers snap totals for their Week 2 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. As I usually do when writing this article, I look over the numbers and see what, if anything, stands out. In Week 1 it was the even distribution of plays between the defensive line and outside linebackers, hence the focus of that in the article. Week 2 I couldn't help but notice the amount of young players who were seeing the field in the form of double-digit snap totals.
While most fans think it is just the defensive side of the ball undergoing an obvious youth movement, the fact is the offensive side of the football is also seeing some younger players stepping up and making contributions in one way or another.
What criteria is used to be considered a "young" player? I looked for players who are still in their rookie NFL contract, exceptions being players like Ross Cockrell who is on his second NFL contract, but that is solely due to being released out of his rookie deal with the Buffalo Bills prior to the 2015 season.
Just look at the names of the players who aren't just playing, but are making plays for the team through the early portions of the regular season:
TE Jesse James
WR Eli Rogers
WR Sammie Coates
TE Xavier Grimble
FB Roosevelt Nix (when healthy)
CB Artie Burns
CB/S Sean Davis
NT Javon Hargrave
DT Stephon Tuitt
ILB Ryan Shazier
OLB Anthony Chickillo
CB Ross Cockrell
Quite the lengthy list from an organization who most believe isn't willing to allow their young players to see the field with any regularity.
In the latest Steelers Connection podcast, not only do I detail these players, but I also talk about how it should hush some of the criticism of the coordinators, the head coach and especially the general manager. In fact, this youth movement could be what puts the Steelers 'over the top' in their search for a 7th Lombardi.
To hear more, simply listen to the podcast above!