5 Pittsburgh Steelers Players Who Need to Perform Well in 2013

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5 Pittsburgh Steelers Who Need to Produce

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Roethlisberger is looking to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers back to the playoffs in 2013 after missing out last season. An injury sidelined Big Ben and kept him from appearing during one of the most important stretches of the season.

It wasn't just Roethlisberger's injury that hampered the Steelers, it was their lack of a solid run game throughout the year. Rashard Mendenhall missed most of the season and appeared in only six games, failing to live up to the expectations placed upon him.

Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman carried the load in his absence and picked up the slack. They combined for over 1,000 yards, but just four touchdowns.

While 1,000 yards is nothing short of impressive for the duo filling in temporarily, the Steelers drafted guys who they believe will lead this team's rushing attack in the future — Le'Veon Bell.

Bell is a true workhorse, racking up rushing attempts at Michigan State and leading the Big 10 in rushing yards and attempts in 2012. Roethlisberger is surely happy to finally have some help in the backfield.

The Steeler defense is the best in the league and has been for the past couple of seasons — at least in the top five. The Steelers had the first-ranked pass defense in the NFL in 2012, while also having the second-ranked run defense, both of which are in terms of yards allowed.

While many guys performed well last season, some still had not lived up to expectations. There are also some guys that need to have a great season in 2013 if they want to keep their spot on the team.

Here are five guys looking to up their game or look for another job in 2013.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Brett Kiesel

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Kiesel has been a solid contributor to the defensive line of the Steelers for his entire career. Besides his first two seasons in the league, Kiesel has recorded at least 33 tackles and all but two seasons saw the big defensive end record more than three sacks. He is a beast on the end, but he's getting old. It's only a matter of time before the Steelers replace him with someone younger.

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Emmanuel Sanders

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Emmanual Sanders is listed as the No. 2 receiver on the depth chart after the recent departure of Mike Wallace to the Miami Dolphins. Not sure if the three-year vet is ready to be a No. 2 receiver, not having caught more than 44 passed or racked up more than 626 yards in his career. He will need to step up big time.

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Jonathan Dwyer

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Dwyer was the primary running back after Mendenhall got hurt last season, missing 10 games. However, he didn't get into the endzone once despite his sparkling 5.9 yards per rush average. The drafting of Le'Veon Bell will put some added pressure on the 23-year-old back, facing a major make-or-break season in 2013.

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LaMarr Woodley

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Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

OK, I'll admit, in a 3-4 base defense, it's not as easy for linebackers to rack up 60+ tackles. However, LaMarr Woodley has only accomplished the feat two times in his career, being a primarily blitz-first linebacker it seems. Sure, he can get sacks, but finishing with just 38 tackles isn't going to cut it. He needs to step up his game in 2013.

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Plaxico Burress

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody was willing to give Plaxico Burress a chance last season, but the Steelers picked him up and gave him a second chance. He played in just four games, caught three passes and scored a touchdown. He will need to do much better if he wants to retire a Steeler and extend his career by a couple of seasons.


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