Pittsburgh Steelers: Five Emerging Players

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Ryan Shazier:

Dec 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talks with linebacker Ryan Shazier (50) in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

With many veteran defensemen leaving the team, including Ike Taylor, Brett Keisel, and of course, the legend himself, Troy Polamalu, young defensive players will be expected to step up, and assume larger roles in a defense that struggled majorly last season. Ryan Shazier’s rookie season was cut short by injuries that held him off the field, but what he displayed on the field showed that he has great potential.

In Shazier’s debut against the Bills, in the preseason, he accounted for 11 tackles, and a very skillful interception against EJ Manuel, in just the two quarters he played. His speed is unmatched in the world of linebackers, showing the athleticism and quickness that caused many to compare him to Brian Urlacher.

The speed Shazier moves at, combined with the vision he showed in finding holes in the defensive line, Shazier could be greatly used in blitzes, as well as jumping routes and pursuing players. While he didn’t have the rookie season many people wanted to see, Shazier will be expected to be very productive this season, and there’s nothing that says he can’t be, as long as he stays healthy.

Next: Stephon Tuitt