The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team which has seen it’s share of success. Never having a losing record under head coach Mike Tomlin combined with making the AFC Playoffs the last three seasons, you would think there would be very few players who lacked experience in the postseason. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, there are 5 starters on the Steelers roster who have never played in a postseason game before. Now, before getting into the players who lack postseason exposure, the term “starter” is a very loose term in today’s NFL. They might not be on the field when the game starts, but they are logging serious snaps throughout the game.
For the Steelers, the following players have ZERO playoff experience heading into the AFC Wild Card game against the Miami Dolphins this Sunday:
RB Le’Veon Bell - Bell was injured the past two years the Steelers made the playoffs, and it is a welcome sight to see him healthy heading into the postseason for a change. I don’t think the stage will be too big for No. 26 when the intensity ramps up.
CB Artie Burns - The Steelers’ first round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft will be on the outside guarding the likes of Jarvis Landry and company when the Dolphins come to town. He was the starter in Week 6 when the Steelers lost to Miami, hopefully his preparation and progression continues into the postseason.
DE Javon Hargrave - The team’s third round draft pick out of South Carolina State will be a very important part of the Steelers’ defensive line on Sunday, and hopefully beyond. They certainly need all hands on deck along the defensive line to stop the Miami rushing attack.
SS Sean Davis - The second round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft has been dynamic as they come since being named a starter, but the stage will get mighty big for Davis this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. Davis looks cool, calm and collected in the back end of the defense, and that shouldn’t change this weekend.
WR Eli Rogers - Although a second year player, Rogers had to watch the Steelers play in the postseason in 2015 as he nursed a broken foot back to health. He has become a very important part of the team during the 2016 season, and the playoffs will be the perfect stage for him to shine.
These are the players who are the starters who have zero playoff experience under their collective belts, but there are plenty others who will see the field, but also don’t have any experience on the NFL’s big stage.
WR Demarcus Ayers
TE Xavier Grimble
WR Cobi Hamilton
ILB Tyler Matakevich
DE John Maxey
DE L.T. Walton
S Jordan Dangerfield
ILB L.J. Fort
Again, some of these players, like Walton, were on the Steelers’ roster in 2015, but never saw the field.
Will this make a difference on Sunday when there is no guarantee of a next week? Some will argue yes, while others will say it becomes just another game, but for the veterans on the team who have been there, and done that, it is up to them to help mentor these younger players to know what to expect when the playoffs roll around.
There is a deeper sense of desperation, more detail to the game plan and more of an emphasis on every play from scrimmage. It’s the playoffs, you can never let your guard down, and the Steelers will be putting plenty of players on the field, whether it be special teams or elsewhere, who have zero playoff experience.