By Nick Villano @nick_villano on July 1, 2014
The Pittsburgh Steelers missed the playoffs in two straight seasons for the first time since the turn of the century. Whether that's a testament to how good they were or a knock on how average they have been is for you to judge. Either way, there is a lot riding on this season for many on the roster. These five players have a lot to prove in the 2014 season.
Jarvis Jones came into last season with a lot of hype. The first-round pick was supposed to replace some of the released veterans who had moved on, but he didn't quite live up to those expectations in his rookie year. Some have given up already, which is a little early. He does need to show that he is the star linebacker he was projected to be or he will get a storm of negative media coverage.
Troy Polamalu may be the most well-known Steelers player currently on the team. He is in all of the national commercials and gets all the publicity. He finally looked like his old self last season and signed a new three-year contract this year. or the Steelers' defense to continue to thrive, Polamalu needs to find the fountain of youth.
Over the past few seasons, the Steelers have lost Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Hines Ward, Jerricho Cotchery and Plaxico Burress. Markus Wheaton is now slated as the No. 2 wide receiver on the depth chart. He needs to make a huge jump from only catching six passes last year to earn that spot for the whole season.
The Steelers' secondary is not as scary as it was in years past. Ryan Clark moved on to play with the Washington Redskins, and William Gay is now the No. 1 cornerback on the roster. Ike Taylor is going to have to turn back the clock to keep his spot on the defense.
Le'Veon Bell looked every bit like the future of the Steelers' backfield last season. Despite that, the team still spent money on the position, bringing in LeGarrette Blount out of New England and drafting Dri Archer in the third round. Bell needs to have a breakout season if he is going to show coach Mike Tomlin that he is the permanent replacement at the position.
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