Let's get it started
Key veteran additions:
WR Cedrick Wilson.
Key veteran departures:
LB Kendrell Bell; WR Plaxico Burress; DT Kendrick Clancy; TE Jay Riemersma; OT Oliver Ross; CB Chad Scott; OG Keydrick Vincent.
Most significant change:
The Steelers decided against re-signing Burress in the offseason. Burress was a lightning rod for criticism in Pittsburgh, but he was QB Ben Roethlisberger's friend and favorite deep-ball threat. The Steelers are asking WRs Antwaan Randle El and Wilson to pick up the slack. How this affects the offense remains to be seen.
Reasons for optimism:
It's Roethlisberger's second season as starter. That's one reason for Steelers supporters to smile. Roethlisberger was outstanding as a rookie with poise and accuracy beyond his years. Another reason: the return of NT Casey Hampton and ORG Kendall Simmons from knee injuries that ended their 2004 seasons prematurely.
Causes for concern:
Although Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis proved an effective power-running duo in '04, both backs are 30 or older. Also, the depth on the offensive line is a concern. Overall, though, this is a team with less to worry about than most squads.
Battle to watch:
Randle El vs. Wilson. Randle El knows the offense, but he has shown a tendency to put the ball on the ground. Wilson, a former 49er, has good speed. The loser of this battle figures to fit in as the third receiver.
Don't be surprised if ...
reserve OLB James Harrison becomes the team's top pass-rusher. He impressed the team last season and figures to be put in position to get after the quarterback.