PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With the season just days away, KDKA-TV Sports Director Bob Pompeani is giving his takes about the Steelers in 2019.
CBS Digital’s Katie Johnson spoke with Pomp previewing the upcoming year. The number one question surrounding the team heading into the new season is how the team will carry on without the services of departures of key stars like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.
“Better than most people have thought,” Pompeani said. “It’s hard to lose that kind of production, I’m talking about guys like Le’Veon Bell who was an all-purpose kind of guy they would push towards 1,800 yards and Antonio Brown arguably one of the best in the business at least what he did on the field even last year when JuJu Smith-Schuster moved up because AB was getting double teamed, all of a sudden he still produced 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns.”
Pompeani went on to explain that Smith-Schuster is ready for the bigger role as the number one wide receiver in the offense.
“He proved that with 111 catches last year,” Pomp said. “If you look at his numbers and compare them to someone like Michael Thomas in New Orleans who just got paid over $100 million, his numbers in his first two years than what Michael Thomas put up in New Orleans. So if he has a big year this year, then look out.”
Pompeani says he is most excited to see what rookie first-round pick Devin Bush will do this season with the black and gold.
“He is a guy they had to move up in the draft [for] and they needed to trade some picks to get to number 10 overall, and boy, he’s been terrific so far. He’s been all over the field, in coverage, getting to the quarterback quick, this is an era of pass-happy football so you need speed to compensate some of the guys and the Steelers have had trouble over the years over the middle of the field they have gotten beat, they’ve got linebackers who can drop back into coverage and we will see how it goes in his first year.”
Pomp says the defense has to be better this year.
“They did not produce a lot of turnovers. It’s very ironic that the team who led the league in sacks with 52, only produced eight turnovers. Normally one goes hand-in-hand.”
Pompeani says he expects big years out of James Conner, Jaylen Samuels and Vance McDonald.
The Steelers kickoff the 2019 campaign on the road in Foxborough against the Patriots Sunday night at 8:25 p.m.