4 biggest causes of concern Steelers vs. Browns in Week 17

Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Chris Wormley (95) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Chris Wormley (95) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Justin Layne (31) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The next man up hits a wall

The Steelers have been one of the best teams at employing the “next man up” mantra for their depth chart. If a starter goes down, the backups on the team are often ready to take over. One has to look no farther than Robert Spillane this year, as he stepped in and played extremely well in the absence of Devin Bush. With a large number of starters resting this week, there should be a plethora of these “next man up” type players set to play.

This is a big week for the team, as the Steelers get a rare chance to see what type of long-term talent their depth chart has. No, these reserves aren’t going to play elite, but seeing some positive traits against starters in the NFL will go a long way in them earning more playing time next year. What happens if everyone struggles though? It could mean some long-term issues with the depth of this team, something you don’t want to hear about when there will be a lot of roster turnover next year.

The reserves don’t need to play elite football, but they need to show enough skills to keep them as reserves going forward. Some solid run stops or coverage plays on defense or a few key blocks or big plays on offense will go a long way in securing confidence in these players going forward. If the Steelers’ backups look like a complete train wreck though, it could make the offseason a tougher one as the team looks to replace not just the starters they lose, but the depth players that aren’t fit to be on the roster.

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While the Steelers aren’t playing for anything this week, there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned for this game. At the end of the day, as long as the Steelers’ reserves look ok, the team comes out healthy, and they get some extra notes on the Browns, the team should be seen as winners. Actually winning the game is less of a concern as long as the team still comes out ok.