NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers: Who’s Riding High, Who’s Sitting Low

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Who's Riding High, Who's Sitting Low?

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Three weeks into the preseason, and the panic button looks as tempting as ever before. After a sloppy start to the 2013 preseason campaign, Pittsburgh Steelers fans everywhere are in a state of pandemonium. While the season has not started, it is nearly impossible to ignore the signs of this season slowly starting to go downhill. Injuries, new systems being introduced with new players and just overall poor performance has Steelers fans scratching their heads, mulling over the possibilities this season could bring.

After a hard fought, overtime Saturday loss against the Kansas City Chiefs, a Pittsburgh team that looked promising after the NFL Draft is now 0-3. While it is only preseason where starters don’t even play a full game, one must still ponder if this squad is ready for the regular season.

With multiple miscues on all three phases of the game of football throughout the preseason, changes must come and come quick in order to continue the historical success the Steelers have enjoyed.

This preseason hasn’t been too terrible, as a number of players have made their mark on this Pittsburgh roster, some starters and others just hopeful to make the team. With cuts from the team involving Baron Batch and Stevenson Sylvester among others, the roster looks to be thinning up by the day before the Saturday deadline to trim the roster to 53 men. So in my very first “Riding High, Sitting Low” edition, we take a look at who’s doing so three weeks into the preseason.

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Riding High: Ben Roethlisberger

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Roethlisberger looks slim as ever, moving around fantastically after the minor knee surgery he had in the offseason. Evading defenders like he’s playing Madden 25 and making incredible, decisive throws, “Big Ben” appears to be ready for a successful, healthy 2013 campaign.

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Sitting Low: The Offensive Line

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

I know what you’re thinking, how could a quarterback be riding high while his offensive line is sitting low? You would think it would be hard to explain. However, this Steelers offensive line makes it pretty simple. Notoriously known for not having the best offensive line in the league, the front 5 were torn apart by a very well coached and disciplined Washington Redskins defensive line. Not to mention, the pressure wasn’t exactly off the quarterback the other two games. With a Barry Sanders like essence, the offensive line play forces Roethlisberger to make plays and look like Superman.

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Riding High: Shamarko Thomas

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Shamarko Thomas came out of Syracuse with a chip on his shoulder. Looked down as too small, Thomas draws comparisons to former Indianapolis Colts safety Bob Sanders. Shamarko earned the nickname “Headache” during the training camp tenure for his hard hitting mentality, and his preseason performance has not disappointed. Seen flying around the field and forcing turnovers with excellent tackling, the nickname has lived up to expectations.

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Sitting Low: Special Teams

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams has never been too kind to the Steelers. With one of the weakest units in the AFC and quite possibly the NFL, Pittsburgh has brought in multiple coaches to try and fix this problem. Besides Shaun Suisham, who has played fantastically and consistently, all units on special teams look dreadful. With already a blocked punt and a 109 yard kickoff for a touchdown allowed, the story looks as if it won’t change in 2013.

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Riding High: Markus Wheaton

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

With the departure of Mike Wallace to the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh needed a receiver to replace the role of speedster, and Markus Wheaton has accepted that challenge. With speed and route running to take the top off the defense, Wheaton has impressed early and often on the field. While fellow receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders will be solidified wideouts, Markus is now beginning to put his name out there.

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Sitting Low: Le'Veon Bell

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Wow, the Le’Veon Bell hype train has sure slowed down a lot. Drafted in the second round, Bell made noise throughout training camp, impressing the veterans on both sides of the ball. However, a sore knee kept him out of Week 1, and was forced to wait until Week 2 to showcase his talents. On the first drive on Monday Night Football, Bell was taken out and was later diagnosed with a mid foot sprain and will be out for about six weeks, if not more. The good news is that it will not require surgery. The bad news, he’s now a passenger in the running back race.