Pittsburgh Steelers: Five Most Underrated Players for 2013
Five Most Underrated Players for 2013
Moving ahead to the 2013 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers look to improve on their 8-8, non-postseason campaign. The team will look a bit different from 2012. Many key players have moved on to other teams throughout the league, while other key players have been given a chance to make a bigger impact on the team’s success.
There are some players on the Steelers’ roster that can be undoubtedly considered the team’s most valuable players. Furthermore, there are some players that haven’t lived up to expectations, and desperately need to improve their game to not only help the team, but to help themselves keep a job.
Then there are some players who produce on the field, and are not given their just due for what they contribute to the team. These unsung heroes get overlooked for a number of reasons. Some don’t get the recognition simply because they don’t play a position that gets an abundance of face time on television. Some play in the trenches, a place where one can’t accumulate eye-popping stats. Some players even put up the big numbers everyone wants to see, but are overshadowed by teammates that play alongside them.
Many can make an argument for numerous players on Pittsburgh’s roster as the most underrated player. I’ve looked up and down the Steelers’ current depth chart several times and picked the five most underrated players that the team will have going into the 2013 season.
These players I chose not only are underrated in my opinion, but also can be huge difference makers in Pittsburgh’s quest to reclaim the AFC North.
Nose tackle Steve McLendon doesn’t have much on his resume as a professional nose tackle in his first three years in the league, but the strides he has taken during that time indicates that he can be the most consistent defensive lineman for the Steelers for years to come. Since coming into the league in 2010, McLendon has played behind Casey Hampton. Now that Hampton is more than likely out of the door, McLendon will get his chance to show how good he is.
The 6-4, 280 pounder has literally grown into his position as a nose tackle, and has shown that he has improved skill-wise year by year.
LaMarr Woodley and the recently departed James Harrison have headlined the Steelers’ linebacking corps over the past couple of seasons because of their stellar play and dominating reputations during that time. What’s been lost in all of that attention was the play of Lawrence Timmons.
Twice in Timmons’ six years in the league, he has surpassed 100 tackles in a season, and has a career total of 23 sacks. In 2012, Timmons filled the stats sheet with 106 tackles, six sacks (which tied for first on the team), three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown. With Harrison out of the picture, Timmons just might be a bit better known throughout the league in 2013.
The position of kicker is probably the most underrated position on any football team. Shaun Suisham, who has played eight years in the league, was one of the most accurate kickers in the league in 2012. Suisham connected on 28 of his 31 field goal attempts (90 percent) last season, and since joining the Steelers on Nov. 16, 2010, he has converted 65 of 77 field goal attempts (84 percent).
In addition to his accuracy, Suisham has shown power in his kicking game by connecting on a career-long 52-yard field goal in 2012. Suisham has also shown his ability to be clutch when the game is on the line by kicking three field goals that gave the Steelers victories this past season.
Ike Taylor has flown under the radar as one of the most solid cornerbacks in the league in his 10 years with the Steelers. Taylor’s 14 career interceptions during that time span definitely doesn’t help him get the acknowledgement that he deserves. In addition, playing in the shadows of Pro Bowlers Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark in the secondary makes it a bit difficult to shine as well.
However, even without Polamalu for virtually all of 2012, Taylor played a huge part in Pittsburgh having the top pass defense last season. Furthermore, during Taylor’s 10 years in the league, he has been a starter since 2005, and has only missed seven regular season games.
Despite being 32 years old, linebacker Larry Foote had a career-year in 2012. Foote had 113 tackles, which led the team, and four sacks (both career highs). Just like Timmons, Foote has taken a back seat to fellow linebackers that played in the Steel City. Foote has played alongside Harrison, the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, and linebacker Joey Porter.
Foote’s contribution to the Steelers hasn’t been overlooked by the organization. Earlier this month, Foote signed a three-year deal with Pittsburgh. His production on the field as of late has assured the Steelers that he can be a force as an inside linebacker in the short term. What shouldn’t be overlooked is what he can pass on to linebacker Sean Spence, who missed his rookie season due to a knee injury.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google