NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Players to Watch in Week 7

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5 Players to Watch in Week 7

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

This upcoming Week 7 is probably the most excited Pittsburgh Steelers fans have been all season. Their team is coming off their first win of the entire year after going winless in the preseason, and starting the regular season with a 0-4 record. Now the Steeler faithful are hoping that Pittsburgh can start going back to their winning ways.

The Steelers’ next opponent is the division rival Baltimore Ravens. While Pittsburgh is currently the cellar dweller of the AFC North, Baltimore is in a second-place tie with the Cleveland Browns with a 3-3 record (that’s right, I said the Browns).

Both teams seem to have struggled in the same departments on offense, and are not too far from each other in the NFL’s offensive rankings. Defensively, the Ravens are in the middle of the pack in overall defense in the league, but are thriving in stopping the run. As for the Steelers, they are sixth and fourth in overall and pass defense respectively, but have found difficulty in defending the run.

Matchups on both sides of the ball will be key in this all-important game. Baltimore’s potent pass rush will challenge Pittsburgh’s offensive front, while the Steelers will try to bring their pass rush back to life. Pittsburgh’s secondary will cause problems for one of the league’s leading receivers, and one of the Steelers’ offensive weapons will be in position to exploit one of the weaknesses of Baltimore’s defense.

Here are Pittsburgh’s five key plays to watch in Week 7.

Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+

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5. Heath Miller

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Tight end Heath Miller could be in for a productive game against the Ravens in Week 7. So far this season, Baltimore’s defense has given up 468 receiving yards on 24 catches to tight ends. That is an average of 4.0 catches for 78.0 yards per game. In Miller’s previous three games, he has had receiving totals of 35 yards, 70 yards, and 84 yards. Miller’s gradual improvement is showing that he is returning to his Pro Bowl form after having reconstructive knee surgery.

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4. Jarvis Jones

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Even though he doesn’t have any sacks on the season as of yet, rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones has shown improvement week after week by pressuring opposing quarterbacks. In Week 7, Jones just might get his first career sack against a Ravens offensive front that has allowed 19 sacks in the first six games of the season (tied for eighth most in the league).

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3. Ike Taylor

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As one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the league, Ike Taylor will once again be assigned to cover one of the most productive wide receivers in the game. Taylor will have the privilege of shadowing Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, whose 568 receiving yards are currently fourth in the NFL.

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2. Marcus Gilbert

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Last week, Pittsburgh’s offensive front still had some trouble in pass protection even in victory, giving up four sacks. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert will have his hands full with Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil all day. Dumervil’s 5.0 sacks on the season are tied for eighth on the league.

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1. Kelvin Beachum

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The left side of the offensive line is more important of an issue for the Steelers’ offense. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum will have to protect Ben Roethlisberger’s blindside. The task won’t be an easy one, since Beachum will be matched up against Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is fourth in the NFL in sacks with 7.0.