LATROBE, Pa. (93-7 THE FAN) — Was Warren Sapp a soothsayer? Is the aging and recently injury-prone corps of the Pittsburgh Steelers too far past its collective prime to rebound from a rare playoff miss in 2012? One pro football columnist does not necessarily think so.
Frank Schwab, who authors the NFL blog “Shutdown Corner” for Yahoo! Sports, put the Steelers outside the NFL playoff field at No. 16 as he pens his preseason power rankings and individual team previews. However, if the team stays healthier this year, he says they will return to familiar surroundings.
“With somewhat healthy years from Roethlisberger, safety Troy Polamalu, tight end Heath Miller and the offensive line, an effective running game and the defense performing well again, the Steelers should reach double-digit wins again,” Schwab writes. “The Steelers won 12 games in 2010 and 2011. The roster is good enough for another run.”
Roethlisberger, who became the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yardage last autumn, threw for 3,265 yards and 26 touchdowns against just eight INT’s, but the Steelers missed him significantly with rib and shoulder injuries. “Big Ben” is also coming off a knee surgery that was performed in the late spring.
Miller’s status for Week 1 is uncertain as he recovers from an ACL/MCL tear that occurred in the Week 16 loss to the Bengals that knocked the Steelers from playoff contention in 2012. Ranking third in receiving yardage in Steelers history, he was selected team MVP and also received Pro Bowl honors after catching 71 passes for 816 yards and eight TD’s last year.
Strong safety Polamalu, a seven-time Pro-Bowler and 2010 AP Defensive Player of the Year, has battled a chronic calf injury, and the Steelers have gone 11-11 in the 22 games he has missed over the past four seasons.
Click here to read the full column by Schwab, including his individual 2013 x-factor for the Steelers.
The Steelers open their exhibition slate Saturday night at Heinz Field against the New York Giants, a game that can be seen on KDKA-TV at 7:30.