Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Offensive Unit Knows It's Time to Put Up and Score

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Offensive Unit Knows It's Time to Put Up and Score

Article excerpt

The offensive lineup the Steelers used on their first day in pads looked like one Pirates manager Clint Hurdle might trot out for a Sunday matinee: No Ben Roethlisberger, no Le'Veon Bell, no Martavis Bryant, no JuJu Smith-Schuster, no Sammie Coates.

And after a while, no James Conner either. He departed early Sunday with a shoulder injury.

The Steelers hope all of those absences will be temporary; Roethlisberger was given the day off to attend a funeral and returned to practice Monday. Nevertheless, the depleted personnel on offense looked much like it did in the middle of the Steelers' 36-17 loss Jan. 22 at New England.

Avoiding injuries, suspensions and holdouts will be the first order of business for that offense to flourish like the many expectations out there for it to do so. The Big Three of Ben, Bell and Antonio Brown need to stay healthy - and Bell is doing his part by refusing to sign his one-year, $12.12 million contract and staying away from training camp. Bryant needs to get through all the final hoops the NFL still requires him to jump through as he works his way back to full participation more than 16 months after his one-year suspension for drug use.

After that, they need to follow the Nike slogan: Just do it.

"We know we have the potential pieces in there," Pro Bowl guard David DeCastro said, "and now we have to stop talking about it and make it happen."

Their stated goal is 30 points each game. They reached it five times in 16 regular-season games in 2016, including a 35-30 loss to Dallas. They made it once in three games in the postseason. They averaged 24.9 points per game last season when only one NFL team topped 30, the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, at 33.8.

Their 399 points were the fewest in their past three seasons, including 2015 when Landry Jones and Michael Vick combined for five starts at quarterback for an injured Roethlisberger and center Maurkice Pouncey missed the entire season with a leg injury. …

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