12 Steelers to Watch in 2012. Part 2


Earlier this week I used a dating scenario to set up a premise to convey a concept.  It was the only thing my Jager addled brain could come up with.  Here is the second installment of the two part thingy.  I hope you got some sleep because six more Steelers are looking to hook-up.

Ben Roethlisberger.  Let’s look at the lightning rod right away!  I have no doubt that Ben will retire a Steeler but his future is uncertain in several ways.  In eight NFL seasons Roethlisberger has been sacked 312 times.  He also has dealt with (big breath here…) a broken thumb, a broken foot, a broken nose, an appendectomy, a concussion, another concussion, another broken thumb, facial fractures, and a couple of bad haircuts.  Ben is a true tough guy and has worked extra hard on his image as well has his game but I don’t see him being able to play out his contract at a high level.  Date-ability factor: Use caution.  He’s an excellent provider but may end up drawing disability before the honeymoon is over.

Antonio Brown.  One of the Young Money guys on the roster.  WOW is Antonio Brown exciting to watch!  Bruce Arians must lie awake nights thinking of ways to work Brown into the offense (when he should be drawing up ONE RUNNING PLAY that can convert a 3rd and 1).   Antonio Brown has become an integral part of the receiving corps in just his second season and is going to the Pro Bowl for the AFC as kick returner.  The only downside I can see is the money AB will command once that rookie contract expires.  The Steelers have a kings’ ransom tied up in big name vets and may have left too little in the coffers to pay the talented Brown.  Date-ability factor:  Enjoy him while you can before the sugar mammas of the NFL come calling.

Curtis Brown.  Pittsburgh’s special teams have been downright sp.. sp.. sp.. respectable this season and Curtis Brown has been a major player.  The suicide squad has always been a proving ground for future Steelers stars;  Ward and Harrison, among others,  made their way to the varsity by putting time in running down return men and blocking field goals.  Although this rookie is currently on IR, he has been a force to be reckoned with on the coverage teams with 14 solo tackles and a forced fumble.  A corner back by trade, Curtis Brown looks to have a real future with the Black and Gold.  Date-ability factor:  If you like ‘em young and eager, ladies this is your man.

Ziggy Hood.  “Ziggy plays D line”(obscure David Bowie reference).  On one hand Hood is no Ndamukong Suh.  On the other hand Hood is no Nkamukong Suh!  Ziggy Hood has a great work ethic; the college story about him working his shift at Sonic following a home game hooked me from the get go.  He got his opportunities early and often backing up Aaron Smith and has progressed into a full time starter.  He is not yet dominating or a game changer but he’s not been suspended for throwing an on field tantrum either.  He has had the benefit of learning from Smith, Hampton, and Keisel and he is making the most of it.  Date-ability factor:  Someone to grow old with…

Ryan Clark.  Ryan Clark plays with a chip on his shoulder better than any player I’ve ever seen.  He was undrafted, the fines from the league, the health issues that the Steelers didn’t address with proper respect, that other safety that grabs Pro Bowls and accolades all motivate Clark in the best of ways.  He hits harder and plays through injury to show the world he deserves as many honors as ANY of his defensive teammates get.  He’s right to feel that way too!  The Giants let him go.  The Redskins let him go.  Ryan Clark holds the defensive backfield together in Pittsburgh so that others can go to Hawaii.  Number 25 is getting a little long in the tooth though but no one seems to be pushing him out of his position.  Ryan Mundy has played ok in relief of both Clark and Polamalu but is not the next star at safety.  Date-ability factor:  He might get a little moody on you now and then but he is not going to leave you when things look bleak.

The Blind Date.  It may seem like I’m cheating on this selection but there are a lot of variables to consider.  There are going to be new Steelers arriving in April of 2012 and current Steelers leaving as soon as March.  Could Stevenson Sylvester or Chris Carter be the next Steelers standout linebacker?  Is Keenan Lewis able to turn the corner at corner back?  Who is Jason Worilds?  Some will step up.  Some will step down.  And some will step away.  It will be an exciting 2012 for whoever comes a knocking, so look pretty.