Things appear in a state of confusion for the Pittsburgh Steelers offense. With their offensive line rebuilding and their starting running back out, should they gets some help like taking Jonathan Stewart from the Carolina Panthers?
Losses of Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall hurts Ben Roethlisberger
Not only does quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have the tough task of learning a new offense under coordinator Todd Haley but he faces entering the 2012 NFL season without two of his favorite weapons. The most glaring loss is wide receiver Mike Wallace who continues his hold out for a new contract. Roethlisberger has already said many times he wants the team to give Wallace a new deal but Pittsburgh hasn’t budged. The front office feels the deal they’ve offered is fair and if the receiver holds out for the season then Big Ben has plenty of other targets to throw to. Even so the offense also won’t have its top running back in Rashard Mendenhall. The standout runner from Illinois had a tough season in 2011 mostly thanks to a pitiful offensive line but things got worse when he tore the ACL in his knee. Since the injury happened so late in the season Mendenhall runs the risk of not playing in 2012, leaving the offense in the hands Roethlisberger and backup Isaac Redman. Is this how things will go or is there something the Steelers brass can do to help?
Mike Tolbert additions makes Stewart expendable in Panthers offense
Most people have already forgotten Jonathan Stewart of the Carolina Panthers. There was a time when he came out of college as a high value prospect who helped the Oregon Ducks win bowl games and got drafted 13th overall by Carolina in the 2008 draft. He even had his ratings compared to other stars like Darren McFadden and Rashard Mendenhall. His rookie year the young running back replaced his injured teammate, DeAngelo Williams and piled up 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns. Since then though, his numbers have dropped. For that reason Carolina brought in some insurance with running back Mike Tolbert. A former player from the San Diego Chargers, Tolbert is a reliable power runner known for uncommon receiving skills and blocking ability. He thinks he can mesh with the crowded Panthers backfield but common sense says it’s hard for an offense to feed three running backs and let Cam Newton throw the ball. Experts thought Stewart would get traded after Tolbert signed but that hasn’t happened yet. With their ongoing problems on offense, the Steelers could use a young running back to help take pressure off Roethlisberger as he tries to learn the new offense. Never mind the fact his offensive line may start two rookies this year in David DeCastro and Mike Adams.
The Pittsburgh Steelers rarely make blockbuster trades, if ever. They draft well and feel their team depths always gets them through. Ben Roethlisberger has faith but only so much. With Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall out, the team runs the risk of their quarterback wilting behind a rebuilding offensive line. Jonathan Stewart isn’t a top 5 runner but he has become expendable for the Carolina Panthers. At the right price he could find a new home in the Steel City.