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NFL Trade Deadline 2014: Steelers should be defensive and special teams buyers

Lack of depth and consistent production on the defensive line, coupled with a woeful kick-return game, should entice the Steelers to kick a few tires before the trading deadline.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone's quick to want to usher-in the Dan McCullers Era in Pittsburgh. And perhaps that truly is the long-term plan here. But reality suggests a more-suitable bridge is necessary, and that may be something the Steelers see upon reviewing their team's Week 8 game vs. the Indianapolis Colts.

The NFL Trade Deadline is set for 4 p.m. ET Monday, Oct. 28, and it's highly unlikely the Steelers will pull off any blockbuster kind of deal, judging by the team's lack of history in making such moves during the season. Perhaps faced with the possibility of not finishing the season, Cam Thomas proved in one game he's a better nose tackle than a defensive end. As the main culprit heading into Week 7 behind a sagging defense in terms of production, releasing Thomas had to at least have been under consideration, provided the team had suitable backup options in place. McCullers performed reasonably well in 10 snaps - hardly a deep enough sample to make a move on Thomas - and with starter Steve McLendon missing his second week with a shoulder injury, the Steelers may just have gotten caught at the wrong time to make a move.

That doesn't mean other moves can't be considered.

Following a Week-6 meltdown and after picking up a penalty, wide receiver Lance Moore appeared to be plunged into Mike Tomlin's doghouse, but he caught his second touchdown pass in two games in Week 8, grabbing a short one on a gimmick play, a pass from wide receiver Antonio Brown. Moore got in for 23 plays, giving him 59 snaps in the last two weeks. That's more than double what he had in Weeks 1-5 combined. The fact the team deactivated Justin Brown, the team's starting slot receiver in their first five games, strongly suggests they plan to use both Moore and Brown the rest of the way.

As far as special teams goes, fans should expect either a vastly improved performance from rookie kick returner Dri Archer, or some kind of subsequent move at the position in coming weeks. It would seem if they wanted to make a move, it would be for a backup running back with kick-return ability. But Archer has enough value on offense right now, so he isn't making any case for a reduction of snaps. His 17.9 yards per return is more than three yards lower than the second-lowest in the league among returners with nine or more opportunities. That's really hard to ignore.

Barring injury in Week 8, it wouldn't appear the Steelers will be in the market to buy, but a steal is a steal. If they can find a good deal on a veteran player on either side of the ball, particularly a kick returner, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them make a move. Steals don't come around often, though, and they usually carry with them the stigma of reclamation projects (see: Harvin, Percy, New York Jets). That's probably not the kind of thing a middling team looking to find its identity needs at this point in the season.