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Pittsburgh Steelers projected starting lineup: Who will start in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills?

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
Bethany Cohen
ANALYST

The Pittsburgh Steelers will start their 2021 NFL season with a road game against the Buffalo Bills. It will be a rematch of the Week 14 game last season, when the Steelers encountered their second consecutive loss of the season after starting 11-0.

A homefield wild-card loss to the Cleveland Browns has forced the Steelers to be laser-focused this offseason, ensuring that last season's collapse won't be repeated in 2021.

Who will play in Week 1 for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Offense

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger restructured his contract this offseason, returning to the team in what might be his final season. Roethlisberger played just one preseason game as a tuneup, playing three series that accumulated to a perfect passer rating of 137 yards and two touchdowns.

Running Back: Najee Harris

The Steelers officially have a run game on their offense and it's being led by rookie Najee Harris out of Alabama. Harris has impressed the Steelers' coaching staff and fan base all preseason and is likely the answer to the Steelers' lackluster ground game in 2020.

Wide Receivers: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool

The Steelers' wide receiver core has the most depth of any position on the roster. Of all the Steelers receivers, this will be a redemption game for Diontae Johnson, who was nearing the 1,000 receiving yards mark last season but was derailed by numerous drops that came to a head against the Buffalo Bills. This ultimately forced head coach Mike Tomlin to bench him.

Tight End: Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth

Eric Ebron was the perfect addition to the Steelers offense in 2020 and he will have a rookie alongside him this season. Freiermuth caught two touchdowns from Ben Roethlisberger and has great catching and blocking abilities.

Offensive Line: LT Chukwuma Okorafor, LG Kevin Dotson, C Kendrick Green, RG Trai Turner, RT Zach Banner

The Steelers' offensive line went through a complete overhaul this offseason. The retirement of Pro Bowl center has now led to rookie Kendrick Green making the start. Okorafor is making the move from right tackle to left tackle with Banner, who missed most of last season due to injury, will take over at right tackle. Dotson, who is entering his second season will replace Matt Feiler at left guard.

Defense

Linebackers: T.J. Watt, Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, Melvin Ingram

The Steelers defense lost linebackers Devin Bush and Bud Dupree last season to ACL injuries. Dupree left for the Titans in free agency and Bush is back and ready this season alongside T.J. Watt, who is entering his final season of his rookie contract and coming off a career season in 2020. Pittsburgh signed Melvin Ingram to take Dupree's place and traded for Joe Schobert from the Jacksonville Jaguars this summer.

Cornerbacks: Joe Haden (LCB), Cam Sutton (RCB), James Pierre (NB)

Veteran Joe Haden is entering his fifth season and will play alongside Cam Sutton, who has become a starter this season after the departure of Steven Nelson. James Pierre won the training camp battle and will start at nickelback.

Safety: Minkah Fitzpatrick (FS), Terrell Edmunds (SS)

Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the top safeties in the NFL and there was never a doubt that he has his coverage taken care of. Edmunds has slowly become a better safety and an integral part of the Steelers secondary.

Defensive Tackle: Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu (NT)

The captain of the defense, Cam Heyward enters his 11th season with the Steelers. In 2020, he recorded four sacks, 54 combined tackles and one interception. Alualu will start at nose tackle as he returns to the Steelers after nearly signing with the Jaguars this offseason.

Defensive End: Stephon Tuitt

Tuitt is a big part of the Steelers defense alongside Heyward. He had 11 sacks in 2020, which is second on the team behind T.J. Watt's 15 sacks last season.

Special Teams

The Steelers special teams will see a big overhaul this season. Kicker Chris Boswell will once again handle kicking duties. Sixth-round draft pick Pressley Harvin III will be the new punter after the release of Jordan Berry. Christian Kuntz is now the long snapper after the Steelers released Kam Canday.


Edited by Colin D'Cunha
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