As the Pittsburgh Steelers gear up to play the St. Louis Rams Sunday in Week-3 NFL action, a lot of players could make a difference for the Black-and-Gold. As the Steelers and Rams both try to move their records to 2-1, something will have to give in this inter-conference matchup.
Here are five players for the Steelers who could play significant roles in the Steelers coming back to Pittsburgh to play the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football at 2-1, or limping back home with a 1-2 record, if things go South in St. Louis.
5 Players to watch:
C Cody Wallace / Offensive Line - Wallace is considered a worthy backup to All Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, but even someone as accomplished as Pouncey would have his hands full with the Rams' defensive front, especially Aaron Donald. Wallace and the rest of the interior offensive line will have to play a perfect game to keep the Rams' front seven from getting after the quarterback and shutting down the run to make the Steelers' offense one-dimensional. This very well could be the toughest test for the Steelers' offensive line in 2015, and a solid performance could show just how good this unit has become.
RB Le'Veon Bell - Bell makes his triumphant return to the team following a two-game suspension to start 2015, but most forget how the last time Steelers fans saw Bell in a meaningful game was in Week 17 last season when he left with a knee injury. Bell must be itching to make some plays and, as Mike Tomlin said in his weekly press conference, he'll get plenty of opportunities to do just that. Expect Bell to be used in a multitude of ways against the Rams, and his versatility will be much needed to keep the St. Louis defense honest.
ILB Sean Spence / ILB Vince Williams - Regular starter Ryan Shazier is out of this game with a shoulder injury, which means a combination of Spence and Williams will try to anchor the ILB position alongside Lawrence Timmons. When Shazier was out of the lineup in 2014, it was Spence who played primarily in passing situations and Williams who would play in short-yardage and running situations. Expect Spence to get more snaps than Williams, but even a combination of the two backups will be far cry from the player fans got to see in Shazier last week against the San Francisco 49ers. If Spence and Williams can simply be stopgap players for the short term, the Steelers' defense shouldn't miss a beat.
QB Ben Roethlisberger - It's difficult to ask a quarterback to be near-perfect on a weekly basis, but that's exactly what happens with the great quarterbacks. Roethlisberger is clearly in such a category in 2015, and the Steelers' offense cannot afford a letdown game from No. 7. Roethlisberger has been in full control of the offense and he showed the capabilities to call plays out of the no-huddle offense last week against the 49ers, to the tune of a 43-point output. The Steelers will rely on Roethlisberger to make plays when it matters most, and that means continuing to stay perfect in the red-zone, as they did in Week 2 at Heinz Field.
K Josh Scobee - It's tough to imagine a rougher start for a Steeler placekicker than what has happened with Josh Scobee. Scobee missed two field goals in his first game against the New England Patriots and, despite not having a field goal attempt last week, he missed a 33-yard extra point attempt at Heinz Field. Scobee mentioned a lack of confidence starting to permeate his game, and a game inside of a dome could be the perfect answer for a lack of confidence. Scobee could be called upon to make a big kick for the Steelers, and kicking in the dome on a turf surface could be just what the doctor ordered. The Steelers won't be parting ways with Scobee anytime soon, so it's time for him to regain some of that lost confidence.