With the news of Houston Texans Arian Foster being lost for the majority of the 2015 NFL season due to a severe injury to his groin, it makes every fan of every NFL team hopeful their team doesn't become decimated with injures, especially to superstar players.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have their share of superstars on their team, which begs the question: Which player can the Steelers least afford to lost due to injury?
Most teams the answer is obvious. For instance, in a place like Denver, the Broncos could say if they lose Peyton Manning for any significant amount of time their season could be doomed. For the Steelers, there are several players who could fit into this category.
Ben Roethlisberger is the straw which stirs the Steelers' offensive drink, and could be the first player named in this debate as to who they can't lose to injury. After Roethlisberger is journeyman quarterback Bruce Gradkoswki on the depth chart. Quite the drop off in terms of talent and production at the quarterback position, not to mention the unique plays Roethlisberger makes weekly which have defenders wondering how he escaped from their grasp.
Antonio Brown is another name which should be brought up. Brown is the game's best, and most productive, wide receiver and is the main target for Roethlisberger in the passing game. However, if Brown were to be lost for any amount of time, the drop off might not be as drastic as Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton would both fill in for Brown. Although neither is as dynamic as Brown, they could possibly combine to match the production of Brown and help be a band-aid for the offense in this specific scenario.
Steelers fans got a taste of what life without Le'Veon Bell is like in the 2014 AFC Wild Card game when the Steelers lost to the Baltimore Ravens. They will become reacquainted with such a scenario as Bell is suspended for the first two games of 2015, but with only DeAngelo Williams, Josh Harris and Dri Archer behind Bell, would an injury to Bell be the most devastating to the team? After all, Bell attributed over 2,000 total yards from scrimmage to the offense in 2014. Those types of number don't simply pop up on the depth chart.
A name which might not be talked about as much is Lawrence Timmons. Timmons is coming off a Pro Bowl season and is the the iron man on the team's defense. Although the team has quality depth at the inside linebacker position, losing a player like Timmons wouldn't easily be replaced. Timmons is a do-it-all type of linebacker, and his production on the field, leading the team in tackles in 2014, would not be easily replaced.
Staying on the defensive side of the football, Cameron Heyward would be another player which would be extremely difficult to replace. The Steelers lack quality depth along the defensive line, and losing possibly their best defender could certainly have some major implications on the team and winning football games. Cam Thomas and/or Clifton Geathers is a big drop off in talent and production if Heyward were to be lost for any duration of time.
Most people immediately think of the offense when they debate who the team can most least afford to lose; however, the depth the offense has is not reciprocated on the defensive side of the football. Nonetheless, it is hard to argue Roethlisberger isn't the one player the team can least afford to lose. The team's scoring starts and ends with the balance Roethlisberger produces on a week-by-week basis, and would be difficult to produce without No. 7 in the lineup.
The question of who team could least afford to lose for an extended period of time is an ongoing debate, but fans of the Steelers everywhere hope it is a scenario which they don't have to face anytime soon.