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ones was taken off returns after fumbling two kickoffs in an early-December game. He was inactive on Sunday, a writing-on-the-wall moment.
This could be the end for Jones, who washed out in San Diego this season after signing a two-year, $5.5 million contract in the offseason. Jones will forever be a Ravens Super Bowl hero (he probably should have won Super Bowl XLVII MVP honors), but he might be out of gas at age 31.
All the injuries in Pittsburgh made Brown the epicenter of this offense in 2015. His 136 catches, 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns look even more amazing when you consider that a sluggish, ineffective Michael Vick and the untested Landry Jones combined to start five games. If Roethlisberger can stay healthy, Brown is set up for another monster campaign. He’s in the prime of his career and a future Hall of Famer: He’s up to the task and ready to fry double teams on a weekly basis.
The Steelers finished last season with the 21st overall defense, but their late-season surge helped the team finish 11th in points allowed. Excellent work by inside linebackers Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons down the stretch gives hope to a unit that played some of its best football in January. The Steelers have been viewed all offseason as a team that will tumble into weekly shootouts — with an offense powerful enough to come out on top — but Pittsburgh’s defense needs to do its part over the first four weeks of the year against the Redskins, Bengals, Eagles and cheap jerseys and Chiefs.
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It doesn’t hurt Williams that Antonio Brown and the big-play Steelers passing game attract so much attention. Coach Mike Tomlin said the team wanted to be “thoughtfully aggressive” and it paid off.
Pittsburgh’s first touchdown came when Ben Roethlisberger (300 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT) dialed up a gorgeous 26-yard touchdown on fourth-and-one to Antonio Brown. The team’s second touchdown came on a drive where coordinator Todd Haley again threw on fourth down. The Redskins, meanwhile, passed on a fourth-and-one at the Pittsburgh 40-yard line in the first quarter, setting the groundwork for a timid night from Washington.
They need all the extra preparation they can get, because the Steelers’ receivers are a little less explosive and a bit less deep now that Martavis Bryant has been suspended for the entire season under the league’s substance-abuse policy. The suspension was one of the stunners of the offseason. And it, combined with the potential suspension of running back Le’Veon Bell, has already promised that this season will look more like last year than the Steelers — who lost to the Denver Broncos in the playoffs — would have hoped.
Bryant is a freakish talent at 6-foot-4 and 211 pounds with blazing speed, and sorting out how to compensate for his loss is the most pressing issue of a so-far mostly uneventful Steelers camp. The Steelers have averaged 5.6 more points per game when Bryant has been active since he entered the league in 2014, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger averages 57. 8 more yards per game when Bryant plays.
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The Steelers first signed Garrett Hartley, who proceeded to injure his hamstring weeks later and miss the entire season. Pittsburgh then traded for Jags veteran Josh Scobee prior to the start of the season. The move blew up in their face, with Scobee missing four of 10 field-goal attempts and an extra point – including missing two field goals in a three-point loss to rival Baltimore Ravens. Scobee was cut after just four games.
The Steelers then signed Chris Boswell, who will keep the full-time gig with Suisham gone. Boswell made 29 of 32 field goals and 26 of 27 extra points as a rookie.
“When I try to game plan for an offense, I don’t take into account that he’s a rookie,” Butler said. “I take into account who I’ve got to stop, what they’re doing well and things that might give us problems and look at how we can alleviate them.”
The Steelers flummoxed an off-target Kirk Cousins in Week 1 and stymied Andy Dalton in Week 2. Mike Tomlin seems to have simplified the back end, cutting down many of the blown coverages we’ve seen in previous seasons. The defensive front has been pesky and stout — especially versus the run. With stud linebacker Ryan Shazier flying to the ball, the Steelers D has been fantastic to start the season and better than the sum of its parts would indicate.