After a sloppy and disappointing 2019 campaign, these five Pittsburgh Steelers must answer the call during the 2020 NFL season.
When Ben Roethlisberger landed on injured reserve last season after less than two games, the Pittsburgh Steelers faced a worst-case scenario. Even without their star quarterback, the team went 8-8, narrowly missing the playoffs. This coming season, with Roethlisberger nearing retirement, the Steelers must go all in and get career performances out of several players.
The following players have either frequently dealt with injuries, inconsistent play or both. As some of the team’s great veterans enter their mid to late 30s, Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl window is inches from shutting.
So, for Pittsburgh to reach its peak, the team needs an immediate boost from the following five players as they must rise to the occasion in the 2020 NFL season.
5. Bud Dupree, OLB
Pittsburgh drafted Bud Dupree with the 22nd overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He routinely disappointed the team throughout his first four seasons in the league, only producing 20 sacks and 33 quarterback hits during that time. However, Dupree experienced a breakout season in 2019. Now, he must prove he’s capable of performing at that level in back-to-back seasons.
Last season, Dupree set single-season career-highs with four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 11.5 sacks, 68 tackles and 17 quarterback hits. Pittsburgh franchise-tagged the Kentucky product this offseason, meaning Dupree needs another solid season if he wants a significant payday next year.
Pittsburgh’s defense also needs Dupree playing at a high level. While Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt give offensive lines enough trouble as it is, Dupree put the team’s pass rush over the top last season. The stellar pass rush also creates opportunities for Pittsburgh’s secondary, which had its best season in more than half a decade.