Last season, fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers were treated to the coming out party of running back Jonathan Dwyer. When incumbent running back Rashard Mendenhall wasn’t ready for the start of the season, Dwyer saw that as an opportunity and made the most of it. Dwyer finished the season with 730 yards of offense (624 of those rushing) and 2 rushing touchdowns. These numbers may not sound like the types of numbers to get excited about, but with Mendenahll all but gone the starting job competition for 2013 may just be lead by the 4th- year back.
I am not sure if anyone could have predicted Dwyer coming into his own as a starter in 2012. If you took a poll of the Steelers player most fans thought would break out in 2012, the majority of people probably would have guessed wide receiver Mike Wallace. He would have been my choice. But while Wallace had a nice season, he didn’t have the impact most expected.
So, as I shake my Magic 8-ball here for the 2013 season, which Steelers offensive player is going to be the one to take the next step in their career, whether it’s good to great, or great to elite? I am banking on wide receiver Antonio Brown. Wallace is all but gone via free agency, tight end Heath Miller is coming on a late season injury and his status for the start of the year is in question, and while I like the rest of the receivers on the roster, none of them have the type of play-making ability that Brown does.
Last season the offensive scheme limited some of the things that Brown is best at, and I am hopeful this season some changes are made and Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are able to really cut loose and get the football down the field. If I were making a bold prediction, I would say Brown could finish 2013 with 90 catches, and with his career 13.7 yards per catch that would put him well over 1,200 yards and close to double digit touchdowns. If the Steelers are to be successful, it’ll take an effort like this from Brown.