NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Players to Watch in Week 11

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5 Players to Watch in Week 11 For Pittsburgh Steelers

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

This Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be looking to get their second win in the second half of the 2013 NFL regular season when the 6-3 Detroit Lions come roaring into Heinz Field. With a victory, along with some help, the Steelers (3-6) could be one step closer to getting back into the hunt for the AFC North title.

Seeing that the last time these teams faced off was in 2009, we can take notice that many things have changed since then. In that Week 5 battle, Pittsburgh had a dominant pass rush that tallied seven sacks during the 28-20 victory. In addition, the Lions was without a stout interior defensive line, and without then-rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson due to injuries.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dominated the game through the air with 277 passing yards and three touchdowns. That control Roethlisberger had during that game could be repeated this coming Sunday, but the same may not be said for the rest of Pittsburgh’s team.

Of course, the Steelers’ running game isn’t as potent as it was four years ago. Unfortunately, the same can be said about their pass rush. These two parts of the game will be vital for Pittsburgh’s chances of coming away with a win.

Though the ground attack and the defensive pressure on the quarterback are two general aspects that will be focused on, there are five players this week that should be watched very carefully as well. Let’s take a look and see who they are.

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. Ben Roethlisberger

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Over the past week, rumors have been floating around about Roethlisberger wanting a trade. Big Ben has denied anything of the sort. Hopefully this off-field distraction won’t have a negative effect on his game this week.

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4. Jerricho Cotchery

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit’s 27th-ranked pass defense should be a welcomed sight for wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. The 10th-year pro who leads the Steelers in touchdowns will be looking to score a touchdown for the third straight week.

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3. Cameron Heyward

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For the past couple of weeks, defensive end Cameron Heyward has been on my radar of players to watch, and the pressure he’s been putting on quarterbacks is the reason. This week, Heyward will try to get a sack for the third consecutive week, but Detroit’s O-line has surrendered the fewest sacks in the league.

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2. Lawrence Timmons

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Linebacker Lawrence Timmons is without a doubt a reliable tackler for the Steelers. The seventh-year pro leads the team in tackles on the season. Timmons will not only be relied upon to wrap up Lions running back Reggie Bush, but will have to lead the charge in containing Bush coming out of the backfield in passing situations as well.

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1. Ike Taylor

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback Ike Taylor will have the daunting task of shadowing the best wide receiver in the NFL. Taylor is always given the assignment of covering the opposing team’s best receiver, and has done a fairly good job this season for the most part. However, Johnson will be Taylor’s toughest challenge of the year.