By Michael K. Reynolds
During this resurgence of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who now have won five of their last seven games, much of the credit can be placed squarely on the shoulders of an unlikely group of players. In fact, the theme of the 2013 season may aptly be called, “The Revenge of the Busts.”
Start off with perennial punching bag, Jason Worilds, who since his switch to the left side of the defense has been channeling the Ghost of Steelers Linebackers Past.
Not too long ago, Worilds was considered to be just another in a long line of failed Steelers second round draft picks, joining the likes of Limas Sweed, Ricardo Colclough and Alonzo Jackson. Now his agent is probably already busy planning out travel plans for the upcoming opening day of free agency.
Perhaps the biggest transformation is Cameron Heyward, who went from being the first rounder who couldn’t get on the field to being the future foundation of the defensive line. All in the course of a few games.
Even the guy he replaced, Ziggy Hood, is now making a strong impact following his reinstatement to the starting line with the injury of Brett Keisel. And with the great bearded one suffering from plantar fasciitis, an affliction that most likely will linger for the rest of the season, Ziggy will have a big say in how the Steelers finish out their season.
Another second-round draft pick who is rapidly improving his standing is Marcus Gilbert who has settled in as more than solid at right tackle. Even Mike Adams, everybody’s goat at the beginning of the season, is making a significant contribution to the team as a blocking tight end.
And although he wouldn’t technically qualify as a bust, cornerback William Gay, the former poster boy of fan abuse, has turned the boos to cheers with one of his best seasons.
Then you have the parade of “no-names” making huge contributions like Fernando Velasco, Ramon Foster, Al Woods, Will Allen and Kelvin Beachum.
Will any of these players make the Hall of Fame? Become All-Pro? Pro-Bowlers?
Probably not. But the fact they have weathered the storm and persevered is a testimony to their character.
Their performance as well is a credit to the coaches, whose commitment to the development of these players is paying off in a big way.
But the biggest sigh of relief is no doubt coming from General Manager Kevin Colbert. The Revenge of the Busts is sweet music to his ears.