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The Pittsburgh Steelers face an uncertain start to the 2015 season

With the final pre-season game set for tonight, you don't expect to see any of the starters see playing time and for good reason. The pit of JP's stomach is in knots over what lies ahead in the immediate future for the black n gold.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Optimism should be in abundance for everyone at the beginning of a new year. It's a rite of passage. You get to wash away the sins of the past and start new. All the failures of the year before are gone. They don't count towards tomorrow and what's ahead. That's true for every team in sports. From little league to high schools, college and the pros. When your season is over, it's over and starting new for next season brings hope.

Brace yourselves Steelers fans, as the ride to begin 2015 will be filled with great turbulence.

I'm not just talking about the type felt on a Delta flight from Pittsburgh to Chicago either. No, this bumpy ride has been determined by a series of incidents that could very well undermine what several pundits thought would be a very action packed, high scoring and somewhat successful season for the Steelers.

We knew Le'Veon Bell would sit the 1st two games of the regular season for his dope show car ride with LeGarrette Blount in the 2014 pre-season. Although it could have been worse, not having him for the opener at New England is really going to hurt. With San Francisco in the second week and in a free fall of their own, the swallowing of the Bell two-game suspension was somewhat tolerable.

This was just the tip of the ice burg as we would find out.

No sooner does the team kick off the pre-season schedule, their kicker goes down. The one that was 90-percent on all FG attempts last season. The guy who seemingly learned how to tame Heinz Field. Losing Shaun Suisham 2.5 quarters into the year was not a good start.

Not much longer after that, the team finds out the needed to find another veteran backup QB because theirs broke a finger. That's never easy, but when word came the team was courting Michael VIck, then signed him, it was as if the team had just inked Adolf Hitler to a 1-year deal.

Running an illegal dog fighting ring isn't going to make you popular, apparently.

Then Maurkice Pouncey gets injured and requires surgery on a broken bone in his foot, all on a freak injury as he got rolled up on as Bell was coming to the end of a short running play against Green Bay. Not to mention your young DE Stephon Tuitt goes down in the same game.

Thank goodness just a few days later the news came of Martavis Bryant, the club's talented 2nd year WR from Clemson, had a problem that was connected to his apparent enjoyment of smoking pot all the time, even when he knew he'd be tested for it and that the league had a policy in place that could, and would, lead to suspension.

The kid, because that is what he is, knew when he would be tested and still didn't have the sense to stay away.

Word is the club knew of this back in the spring, and that eventually he was gonna get popped before the season began and planned on it by drafting Sammie Coates.

Could it get any worse?

Stupid question.

As it would happen, Bryant would get a 4-game suspension for multiple violations of the NFL's drug policy. And to cap off this dysfunctional sundae, the backup kicker that was signed to replace the starter who got hurt a few weeks prior, would pull a hamstring and be out for an extended period of time.

Oh, and did I mention how sieve-like the 1st team defense has looked like all pre-season? Did you see them just get shredded all day long by every QB the Bills had on their roster last week? How the rush defense was gashed and slashed by a running back that would be out of a job four days later? 

That uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach may be last night's left over pot roast, or it could be the notion that this team is heading into the regular season facing some real issues like a defense that can't stop the run or pass and an offense that is now without it's top RB and No. 2 WR plus is working on it's 3rd kicker.

To rub salt into the wound, or twist the knife a bit, Tom Brady's four-game suspension has been lifted and the Steelers will face their arch nemesis in Week 1.

I've invested heavily in Maalox Steelers fans, I suggest you do the same before Week 1 starts September 10th in Foxborough.

John Phillips is the author of this article. He works for CBS Radio Pittsburgh as a reporter/sports anchor at 93.7 The Fan & News Radio 1020 KDKA in Pittsburgh. Follow JP on Twitter @PGHJohnPhillips