In previous years, KaptainKirk has put out "Upon Further Review," a look at the the Broncos upcoming opponent. It was a massive post that many of you might have found tedious to take in. It was decided that we should break this preview up into three separate posts. In this way, it will be more tolerable and reader-friendly. So when the Denver Broncos play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night in Denver, here’s what they will face on the Offensive side of the ball.
Here are the starters for the Pittsburgh Steelers Offense:
FB: Will Johnson
TE: Heath Miller
- The Steelers will be without rookie RG David DeCastro and more than likely will be without starting running back Rashard Mendenhall.
Big Ben Roethlisberger has been a solid QB for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has lead them to, 2 Super Bowl Championships, and have been a constant Playoff/Super Bowl contender during his time at QB. He figures to be his dominant self this year, now that he is healthy.
Peyton Manning will be making his 2012 debut after his year off. It will be interesting to see how he operates coming off 4 neck surgeries. Manning has had his up and downs this preseason, but looked solid in the Week 3 "Dress Rehearsal" game against the stout 49ers defense.
The Running Backs:
The Steelers more than likely will be without starting runner, Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall is recovering from a torn ACL. Runners Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman figure to carry the load until Mendenhall is back to 100%. Redman did suffer minor ankle/hip injuries during the preseason, which led to Dwyer getting 1st team reps during the preseason. Dwyer was impressive during the preseason, and if i had to bet, i would expect him to get the starting nod Sunday night. A guy to keep an eye on is speedy rookie Chris Rainey. His explosiveness and speed could be an issue.
Willis McGahee is the Broncos starter, no doubt about that. He has looked solid in limited work during the preseason. After him, it will be interesting to see who gets carries and snaps. Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball and Ronnie Hillman all figure to get some time in the backfield sunday night. My question is, do they activate all 4 runners, or keep one inactive? It will be interesting to see how that plays out. Moreno and Hillman both finished the preseason with strong performances. For what it's worth, Lance Ball has taken a majority of the 2nd team reps this preseason.
The Steelers have some speedy WR's. Mike Wallace, who might be the best deep threat in the entire NFL, just reported to the team this past weekend. He missed out on the entire Preseason, and Training Camp. It will be interesting to see if he is in football shape. Opposite of him is Antonio Brown. Brown is a dangerous WR as well. Both Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter will have their hands full with both of these guys. Emmanuel Sanders and veteran Jerricho Cotchery round out the group at WR. Rookie Chris Rainey may also see some reps at WR. The Steelers will try to get the speedy Rainey in space.
Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas both figure to have big seasons under Peyton Manning. Both are big physical WR's with speed. They will test the Steelers secondary. Veterans Brandon Stokley, Matthew Willis and Andre Caldwell round out the group and will be called upon a lot, when the Broncos go into 3-4 and even 5 WR sets.
Heath Miller is about as solid as they come at TE. He isn't flashy, or a big time playmaker, but he will make plays. He's a solid run blocker, and will be a threat in the middle of the field and the red zone. The Broncos will have to keep an eye on the dangerous Miller. Backup Leonard Pope will see snaps as well. The 6'8 tight end can be a big time redzone threat with his size, and his a solid blocker.
The Broncos signed both Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme were signed to be starters for the Broncos. I would expect to see many 2 tight end sets with these guys. Dreessen will get the start because of his blocking skills, but Tamme will be a threat in the passing game. Don't overlook Dreessen in the passing game though. He will be a threat in the redzone for Peyton Manning. Manning loves to utilize his Tight ends, so keep an eye on these guys to make an impact.
The Steelers as of late have struggled with their OL. They drafted Guard David DeCastro and Tackle Mike Adams in the first 2 rounds of this past Aprils draft. However, DeCastro who was looking solid, suffered a nasty injury during the Preseason, which will sideline him for most of the season, and Adams has struggled during camp and the preseason. The Steelers will starts long time Steeler Max Starks, and second year player Marcus Gilbert at the tackle positions. Both whom will have to try to stop pass rush specialist Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. In the middle is Pro-Bowler Maurkice Pouncey at the center position and Willie Colon and Ramon Foster at the guard positions. Overall this group has to have a solid night against the Denver pass rush.
The Broncos OL has a big task ahead of them. They must protect Peyton Manning. Manning does get rid of the ball quickly, but Dick Lebeau figures to bring the pressure at times. Orlando Franklin and Ryan Clady have to keep Pittsburghs pass rushers at bay. The interior O-Line also has a tough assignment. If the Broncos want to do anything on the ground, Zane Beadles, JD Walton and Manny Ramirez all need to have solid nights against the Steelers tough D-Line. Throughout the Preseason, this group has looked good, but it will be interesting to see how this unit does Sunday Night against a tough Steelers D.