The Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp on July 21 so they can begin preparing for the Hall of Fame Game against the Dallas Cowboys on August 5.
The Steelers had extreme highs and lows in 2020.
They jumped out to an 11-0 record only to lose steam down the stretch and in the playoffs.
What are the three top Steelers storylines as the team begins preparing for the Hall of Fame Game?
3. Can The Defense Shut Teams Down?
Dupree tore his ACL in Week 12 last season, but not before starting in all 11 games and recording eight quarterback sacks.
Nelson played in 88 percent of the defensive snaps and recorded 43 solo tackles.
Hilton played in 45 percent of the defensive snaps last season and had 42 solo tackles.
These three players are a tough act to follow.
Reportedly the Steelers are also signing defensive end Melvin Ingram to help out.
— NFL (@NFL) July 19, 2021
2. Which Wide Receiver Is WR1?
It is the tale of three young wide receivers.
Smith-Schuster had nine touchdowns and 831 receiving yards last season.
Since 2017, JuJu Smith Schuster ranks among WRs:
PPR points: 14th
He's the only player currently under the age of 25 to rank top-15 in each of those metrics.
He's being drafted as the WR28 in dynasty startups. pic.twitter.com/OZKcIG0AuM
— Kate Magdziuk (@FFballblast) July 12, 2021
Claypool had 11 touchdowns in 2020.
He had 889 total yards.
It’s #Steelers WR Chase Claypool’s birthday.
Remember when he did this to your favorite team? pic.twitter.com/IZS2YPN0tg
— YinzerCrazy.com ⚫️🟡 (@yinzercrazyshow) July 7, 2021
Johnson finished with seven touchdowns and 923 yards.
Did you know….
Diontae Johnson was targeted on 19.6% of all snaps he was on the field for in 2020.
That is the highest rate in the NFL and is followed by Davante Adams, Calvin Ridley, and Stefon Diggs.
— Belly Up Fantasy 🏆 (@BellyUpFantasy) July 13, 2021
Who will make more plays and emerge as the leading wide receiver for the Steelers offense in 2021?
1. How Will Ben Roethlisberger Perform?
Ben Roethlisberger will move into 5th all time passing yards this year. Not just the best Steelers QB, and best ever QB in the AFC North: But can argue he’s a top 10-15 QB all time. Theres not a significant throwing stat he’s outside the top 10 of. Yards, Touchdowns & completions pic.twitter.com/qEJzl6Nxoy
— Adam Steel (@RenegadeAdam) July 18, 2021
The number one Steelers storyline is a no brainer.
It is all about 39-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
When we last saw Big Ben sitting on the bench after the crushing playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns, we were not sure if he was coming back in 2021.
Of course, he opted to come back but has new variables to deal with.
Those include a longer regular season.
2021 will have an additional regular season game making it a 17-game season.
Last season, he performed well early but lost steam in the final stretch of the season.
He rested Week 17, the Steelers final regular season game, because the team had nothing to gain by him playing.
The rest did not help as he looked confused and hurried against the Browns in the Wild Card game.
If it is any consolation, the entire offense looked out of sorts.
The other variable for him is a new offensive coordinator, though at least he is a familiar face.
He is Matt Canada who was the quarterbacks coach for the Steelers in 2020.
The #Steelers are finalizing a deal with Matt Canada to become their offensive coordinator, per source. Deal is considered imminent.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 25, 2021
A new offensive coordinator usually means a new playbook which can be a tall order for any quarterback especially one entering his 18th NFL season.
If we accept what Ben’s former coach Bill Cowher is saying, these concerns are trivial.
Bill Cowher or Big Ben: "I would be very surprised if he didn't have a great year this year … he continues to play the game with great passion and a great competitiveness and I think you will see that this year."
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 13, 2021
The Steelers have been the perennial favorite in the AFC North for years.
With young and rising competitors in the Browns, Baltimore Ravens, and Cincinnati Bengals now providing more of a challenge, we will see how these three storylines play out in training camp and during the preseason and regular season games.