On Sunday December 30th 2012 the Pittsburgh Steelers end 2012 just as they started it by playing their historic rivals, the Cleveland Browns.
2012 did not start well for the Steelers. Yes, they rang in New Year’s day in Cleveland with a victory, but it came at the cost of injuries to Rashard Mendenhall, a further tweak to Ben Roethlisberger’s injury added to the losses of both Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen.
- Unfortunately, that game was only the warm up.
The Steelers traveled to Denver short-handed for a show down with Tim Tebow, and lost Max Starks, Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel. Doug Legursky, starting for Marukice Pouncey, was also injured in the game.
The tendency that began in January sustained itself throughout 2012.
- Both starting outside linebackers missed significant time due to injury
- 2011 team MVP Antonio Brown missed time due to a high ankle sprain
- In the space of two weeks, the Steelers lost their number 1 and number 2 quarterbacks fallen by injury
- By the end of the game in Dallas, the Steelers were playing their number 5 and number 6 corners
- Despite investing heavily in their offensive line, the Steelers saw four starting offensive lineman spend time on injured reserve.
Finishing a season with no playoffs certainly qualifies as a disappointment to Steelers Nation. But the Steelers if ‘13 can bring better luck on the injury front, then Pittsburgh should shed no tears in bidding 2012 good bye.
Final Game for Hampton, Harrison, Keisel, Starks, Foote, Mendenhall and Wallace?
The Steelers 2012 off season marked a major transition of the Steelers as they parted ways with Aaron Smith, James Farrior, Byrant McFadden, and Hines Ward.
But of the above group, only Farrior was a starter at the close of 2011.
The season finale vs. Cleveland could mark the final game of several starters for the Steelers, many of whom wear two Super Bowl rings.
- Casey Hampton is in the final year of his contract, and while he still has something left, he is unlikely to return
- Brett Keisel likewise is finishing 2011 strong, but he will be 35 next year…
- Max Starks has no contract for 2013, and the Steelers drafted both Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert with an eye towards replacing him
- At times Larry Foote played well, at other times he was a half step behind, and a half step might be too much
- Rashard Mendenhall contract is up, and recent events hint that he probably wants out and that the feeling is mutual
- Finally, James Harrison is another who started slow but has finished strong, but he has a monster contract and the Steelers are facing serious salary cap issues
One player may have already played his final game in Black and Gold and his name is Mike Wallace. Wallace has been ruled out of the Browns game, yes you guessed it, because of injury, but he will be an unrestricted free agent, one whom the Steelers have shown no sign of expecting to resign.
On the defensive line, the Steelers have Cameron Heyward and Steve McLendon waiting in the wings. Ditto Stuart Spence at inside linebacker.
But Young Money was supposed to make the Steelers forget Hines Ward. Instead, Heath Miller out preformed them all.
And while Jason Worilds has shown flashes, but as far as being a replacement for James Harrison is concerned, thus far he has show himself far more of a Jason Gildon or even Carlos Emmons type of player as opposed to being in the mold of Joey Porter or Greg Lloyd.
Such transitions are painful but necessary in the NFL.
If this is the final time that we’ll see these men in Pittsburgh Steelers uniforms, let’s hope they go out with a bang.
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