7 Things To Look For Sunday Versus Cleveland
Running Back Division Of Labor - The division of labor between running backs Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall against the Browns on Sunday shouldn't be a big deal. The big deal will be if they can't run as a team against Browns 32nd ranked run defense. The Browns run a 3-4 defense base that the Steelers have had great success against in the last 10 games. The Steelers are now 10-0 dating back to last season against teams that use a 3-4 alignment. The Browns have given up 852 yards rushing in 5 games this season and have allowed 5.1 yards per carry.
Rotation At Left End - With Aaron Smith now out for the year with a torn rotator cuff, Travis Kirschke, Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood will all form a committee to fill in at left end. It will be interesting to see who gets what role on what down and distance and how they perform it that role. The Browns will surely like to attack that spot in the running game and it would be nice if all three are up for the challenge.
Health Of Troy - Sure, Troy will likely make his first return to the lineup since his week one injury, but he certainly will not be 100% and will also be sporting a knee brace. Hopefully he has a play count put on him and is eased back into action. It still would not surprise me if he sees very limited work on Sunday to get him back in the flow. He must be kept healthy at all cost.
Number 4 Receiver - Limas Sweed contributes more on special teams, but Shaun McDonald is more reliable as a pass catcher. Mike Tomlin could very well throw Sweed back on the horse again if he thinks this might become a laugher. The problem is will the defense of the Steelers allow a laugher to happen. If Sweed is inactive, it will be another message sent per Tomlin.
4th Quarter Blues - Nothing would do Steeler Nation hearts and nerves more good, than an old fashion blowout of the Browns and shutout in the 4th quarter. The Steelers defense effectively slammed the door last week versus Detroit when they were against the wall, it needs to continue.
Special Teams Improvement - Browns return man Joshua Cribbs is leading the AFC with a 16.3 yard average on punt returns and is ninth in the league in kickoff returns at 26.1 yards. He is a dangerous weapon for the Browns and the Steelers have done well overall this year covering both punts and kickoffs. On the Steelers side of the return game, the kickoff portion has been great, the punt return average needs improvement though. If things go right, Stefan Logan ought to have quite a few punt return opportunities on Sunday. It is time for him to break one.
No More Injuries - The Steelers have not had an extensive injury list through the first 5 weeks, but the players that were listed on it are big time contributors. Let us hope we can go at least a few games without serious injuries occuring.
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