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Which 2nd or 3rd year players will breakout for the Steelers 2017?

In the latest Steelers Mailbag, I answer some burning questions surrounding the black and gold as the 2017 regular season inches closer.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

In the latest episode of the Steelers Mailbag podcast (listen in the player above), I tackle the following questions surrounding the black and gold. Take a look at the questions, check out my answers, and feel free to answer them yourselves in the comment section below:

  • Which 2nd or 3rd year players will breakout in 2017?

This was a tough question, and the person asking wanted one player from each side of the football. For me, on defense it was Javon Hargrave. “Gravedigger” just has the look of an NFL player, and his skill set should play well in the Steelers’ scheme. I expect big things from him.

On offense, I chose Eli Rogers. With Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant on the field, it should leave Rogers with a lot of one-on-one coverage, something he should be able to exploit with relative ease. He won’t reach huge numbers, but he will be a difference maker.

  • What would the Steelers do if a player sat during the National Anthem?

This is a question which hasn’t applied to the Steelers yet, and hopefully it doesn’t. I’m sure the Steelers organization would step in, but ultimately let their players make their own decisions. No one wants negative publicity, but I would imagine the Steelers would do whatever they could to get their players to toe the company line.

  • Any updates on Le'Veon Bell?

The All-Pro running back has yet to report to camp, and I am sticking by my original plans of Bell reporting when the Steelers break camp. The team breaks camp officially Friday, in preparation for their second preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, which would put Bell reporting to the team next Monday. We will see if my prediction pans out, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he stays away another week.

  • Mike Mitchell's injury is worrisome...should be be okay?

No one is really talking about Mike Mitchell, and the fact he hasn’t practiced since the first day in pads. Mitchell hasn’t reportedly been sent to Pittsburgh for further medical care, or diagnosis, and that typically means the team is just being cautious. Fans should recall in Mitchell’s first year with the Steelers, a nagging groin injury suffered in camp lingered all season and had to be surgically repaired after the season. They are likely trying to avoid that situation again.

If Mitchell doesn’t return to practice, in some way, next week, then you might want to start wondering if something more severe is going on.

  • After 1 preseason game, who wins the final WR spots?

With Sammie Coates still on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, this is a difficult question to answer, but I still think the four locks are: Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Eli Rogers and JuJu Smith-Schuster. After that, there are two spots for about 4 players. I think the team tries to get Demarcus Ayers on the practice squad, cuts ties with Darrius Heyward-Bey and Cobi Hamilton, and keep Sammie Coates and Justin Hunter.

However, if Coates can’t prove he is healthy, look for the team to let go with him, and keep veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey.


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