Steelers: Still room for improvement

“Never stop improving”

Chances are, that’s a moniker of most, if not all, professional sports teams. Even champions never stop looking for ways to get better (videoing defensive signals and deflating footballs not withstanding).

The Steelers were not champions last year, but they did step closer to grasping the trophy. This year, expectations are high. During the busy off-season, players have been released, free agents have been signed, and rookies have been drafted.

Through it all, supposedly, holes have been patched. Still, there are a few areas which the Steelers could upgrade, and there’s still time and opportunity to do so.

Here’s a look at a few of those areas:

Cornerback:

Just yesterday, former Steelers cornerback, Brandon Boykin, was released by the Carolina Panthers after signing a one-year 840K contract in March.

Seems odd? Definitely. But odd appears to be the status quo for Boykin. After the Steelers traded a fifth-round pick for him last summer, he barely saw playing time until late in the season. Boykin’s name became the topic of one of the most puzzling questions of the entire year: why isn’t Brandon Boykin playing?

Boykin’s surprising lack of playing time with the black n’ gold, coupled with his premature release by Carolina, can only raise more questions about whether there are character issues involved. Still, the Steelers could still use some experienced depth in their defensive backfield.

First round pick, Artie Burns, while possessing great talent, is just a rookie. Senquez Golson is practically a rookie as well, being that he missed last season with a shoulder injury.

Provided it can be determined that no character issues exist, Boykin could be a good insurance policy should one or both of the young corners falter.

Quarterback:

The Steelers backup quarterback situation is a bit precarious. Landry Jones has yet to prove that he’s a definitive and dependable number two, despite rescuing the Steelers in an early season game last year when Mike Vick was ineffective. Bruce Gradkowski was signed to a one-year deal, but has barely played a down in three seasons.

Zach Mettenberger (7) throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Could the answer be Zach Mettenberger?

The Tennessee Titans released Mettenberger yesterday. The 6’5” 236 pound product of LSU started a number of games over the past two seasons. While his numbers weren’t stellar, he’s got a cannon of an arm and is only 24.

Also, wouldn’t it be fantastic to have two quarterbacks with last names that rhyme?

The question is whether Mettenberger will clear wavers. Chances are he won’t because there are too many teams with greater quarterback issues than the Steelers. Sure enough, he was claimed by the San Diego Chargers off of waivers by Tuesday afternoon.

Wide Receiver/Specialist:

The Washington Redskins just released wideout Andre Roberts. Roberts was a disappointment in Washington, having originally been signed from Arizona to be a number two receiver. He spent a good portion of last season on IR. With the Redskins drafting Josh Doctson in the first round of this year’s draft, Roberts became expendable. However, one thing that he’s known well for is his ability to return punts and kicks.

The Steelers have been looking for a player to fill that position since the failed attempts of Dri Archer and Jacoby Jones last year. Roberts could compete with this year’s seventh round pick, DeMarcus Ayers, from Houston to be the fifth receiver/return specialist.

In the weeks leading up to training camp, there should be more options available to the Steelers in their attempts to put together a roster that can go all the way to Super Bowl LI, assuming that they never stop improving.