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NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Players Whose Stock Has Gone Up

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5 Players Whose Stock Has Gone Up

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, with half the season gone and the Pittsburgh Steelers sitting near the bottom of the AFC with a 2-6 record, there are actually some players on the roster who are having a productive year. Obviously, these bright spots are highly overshadowed by the inconsistent play in every phase of the Steelers' game.

After the first quarter of the 2013 NFL regular season, I made a list of five players whose stock was on the rise, even after a 0-4 start. Among those players are quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, tight end Heath Miller and safety Troy Polamalu.

It goes without saying that Roethlisberger is the heart and soul of the Steelers, and despite committing turnovers, Big Ben is the reason why Pittsburgh has a fighting chance to win any game. As for Miller, when he returned to the lineup in Week 3, his production increased over the next three games. However, even though his presence on the field is important, his receiving numbers had fallen since Week 6.

When it comes to Polamalu, things seemed to be going great for the 11-year veteran. Polamalu was perfectly jumping the snap count at the line of scrimmage and playing with the aggressiveness that all of Steeler Nation is accustomed to seeing. But lately, his coverage in the secondary has wavered and has cost Pittsburgh a few games as of late.

Big Ben, Miller and Polamalu didn’t make my list of players whose stock has gone up after the first half of the season, but there are two players who did make a repeat appearance. Let’s take a look.

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. Cameron Heyward

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After two years of riding the bench, Cameron Heyward finally earned the trust of the Steelers' coaching staff and was given the starting defensive end position opposite Brett Keisel. Heyward has played solid football as of late, and has helped put significant pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

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4. Le'Veon Bell

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ranked No. 1 on my list of "5 Players Whose Stock Has Gone Up" after the first quarter of the season, rookie running back Le’Veon Bell is showing that he’s one of the most productive players on the offensive side of the ball. Despite an offensive line that has struggled in opening holes for the ground attack, Bell has had a few solid games carrying the rock and is tied for third among all rookies with three rushing touchdowns. In addition, Bell has made contributions as a receiver out of the backfield.

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3. Jerricho Cotchery

Bob Martin-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery is arguably the unsung hero of the Steelers' offense. In Week 9, the 10-year veteran had a career game with three touchdown receptions. Cotchery is currently Pittsburgh’s leader in touchdowns (five) and average yards per catch (14.6) among wide receivers on the season.

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2. Emmanuel Sanders

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that the Steelers got it right when they decided to match an offer to keep wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders with the team this offseason. After eight games, Sanders is on pace to have over 70 receptions and close to 1,000 receiving yards on the season.

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1. Antonio Brown

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Just like they did with Sanders, Pittsburgh got it right when they gave wide receiver Antonio Brown a huge contract extension during the 2012 offseason. Sanders is currently leading the league in receptions (61), and is ninth in the NFL in receiving yards (701).