In the NFL today, having depth is absolutely key to making a run deep into the playoffs, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are no strangers to those late winter games. On both sides of the ball, the team is graced by players who can step into a spot vacated by an injured starter and perform very well. Let’s take a look at the backups at every position on the offense.
QB – #4 Byron Leftwich
Leftwich has been buffeted around the NFL over the past couple of years, and will never be a starting quarterback in the NFL for the long-term, but he is a very serviceable backup with game experience in a multitude of situations. He won’t wow you with his arm and definitely won’t with his legs, but he can make the throws needed to move the Steelers offense down the field.
RB – #33 Isaac Redman
Redman is a short, stocky back that you’d expect to excel in short yardage situations, but his real claim to fame during his tenure with the Steelers has been his receiving capabilities. He’s failed to get into the endzone via the ground game, but has found it twice through the air, including an exciting catch against AFC North divisional foes the Baltimore Ravens last season, during which he made multiple defenders miss and crossed the plane for the winning touchdown.
Mewelde Moore and rookie Baron Batch could also challenge for this spot, but figure to be in the mix for the third down back position on the depth chart. Moore has yet to be re-signed by the club, and may not be back at all, pending Batch’s progression.
FB – #64 Doug Legursky
Legursky is an offensive lineman, who has, at times, lined up at the fullback situation in order to generate a push that David Johnson couldn’t provide. The Steelers aren’t a team to use a traditional fullback in a lot of formations, so they use what they’ve got to get by.
WR – #88 Emmanuel Sanders
Sanders came on strong in his rookie season, really maturing during the end of the season and into the playoffs. He caught for nearly 400 yards in a limited capacity, and looks to strengthen his role in the offense this coming season.
WR – #84 Antonio Brown
Like Sanders, Brown came into his own during the end of his rookie campaign, also bringing a return ability to the table for the team. He and Sanders match up well with each other, and it will be fun watching them jostle for the number three receiver job next year.
TE – #89 Matt Spaeth
Spaeth had a great rookie season in 2007, with three of his five catches turning into touchdowns and giving Steelers fans excitement heading into the 2008 season. Since that rookie season, however, he has yet to duplicate those results and finds himself in a blocking capacity when he’s on the field.
He had a chance to shine during the games that Heath Miller missed last year due to injury and couldn’t get it done, drawing the ire of Steelers fans because of a dropped touchdown, and just sloppy play.
LT – #72 Jonathan Scott
Scott filled in very well last year, starting nine games during the regular season, and seemed to be a very comfortable fit at the left tackle position. He’s not going to the Pro Bowl anytime soon, but neither is the man in front of him, and is an adequate backup at left tackle.
LG – #62 Keith Williams
Both guard spots are up for grabs at every position, and as an added roulette slot, if the Steelers re-sign Willie Colon and move him to guard, it will shake things up more than ever. Williams looks to be the main backup at both guard spots, but it could also be Legursky here as well as at center.
C – #64 Doug Legursky
Legursky showed that he can step in and play well in the absence of Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey, and will retain the backup center spot in the meantime, as well as being in contention for the backup at either guard and fullback. Very versatile player the Steelers have in Legursky.
RG – #62 Keith Williams
As above, Williams and Legursky are going to be the ones coming in if something happens to one of the starting guards.
RT – #65 Marcus Gilbert
Gilbert has the potential to be the future at virtually any spot on the Steelers offensive line besides center, he brings an added cohesiveness beside Pouncey, playing on the same line at Florida. The best case scenario is that he gets to learn from one of the great tackles of this generation in Flozell Adams and develop his potential into a solid contribution.