Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Steelers already received some good news earlier today when it was reported that Christian Ponder will be sidelined for Sunday’s game.
While the absence of Minnesota’s starting quarterback represents a huge plus for the Steelers, the fact that starting cornerback Chris Cook and starting free safety Jamarca Sanford will reportedly miss this weekend’s contest should provide Pittsburgh’s offense with clearance for an aerial show.
Although Pittsburgh’s offense has struggled this year, their passing game finally appeared to come alive against the Chicago Bears last Sunday.
Ben Roethlisberger is coming off of another game in which he threw for over 400 yards, Antonio Brown enjoyed a career day against Chicago with almost 200 yards receiving, and Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller could see the field once again as well.
Without Cook, Sanford, and their other starting cornerback A.J. Jefferson hobbled, Minnesota’s secondary could be ripe for the plundering this Sunday. Even with Jefferson in the lineup, the Vikings will be forced to employ nickelback Josh Robinson, rookie first round pick Xavier Rhodes, and career backup Marcus Sherels in sub-packages at cornerback. With Sanford sidelined, the Vikings will be forced to turn to the inexperienced Andrew Sendejo (zero career starts) at free safety.
If that group of personnel does not inspire Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, and Markus Wheaton to enjoy successful afternoons at Wembley Stadium, then I am not sure what would.
Make no mistake, I understand that offensive coordinator Todd Haley wants to establish the run at some point now that rookie Le’Veon Bell is healthy. Yet with half of Minnesota’s starting secondary set to miss Sunday’s game, it would be extremely unwise for the Steelers to not attack that particular weakness with their Pro Bowl quarterback and his current group of pass-catchers.
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