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Steelers

Offensive breakdown

| Sunday, Sept. 1, 2002

  • The offense will succeed if: Quarterback Kordell Stewart is able to make the right reads and deliver accurate passes on a consistent basis. There's no reason to believe he won't do so. He has more weapons surrounding him this season, which means the Steelers won't have to rely on his running ability for big plays. Stewart's running will still be an integral part of the offense, but for a change, he ought to be able to count on the likes of wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Antwaan Randle El making big plays on a regular basis, as well as Hines Ward moving the sticks and energizing the running game.

  • The offense will fail if: The Steelers' newfound affinity for the passing game causes a drop off in their ability to shove the ball down defense's throats and control games on the ground. Not being able to run when there are eight or nine defenders near the line of scrimmage and the passing game is there for the taking is one thing. Not being able to run because the line lacks the cohesion and consistency it once had and running back Jerome Bettis not making it all the way back from injuries is another.

  • Player on the spot: Bettis. He's on his way to the Hall of Fame someday, but before he gets there, the Steelers are going to need a lot more from him than they've seen this preseason. Bettis and everyone say everything's fine and that the old "Bus" will be up and rumbling soon enough. Anything less will make the Steelers too one dimensional and put too much pressure on a passing game that's still evolving.

  • Star on the rise: Randle El. His selection caused more of an anticipatory stir than any Steelers draft pick since Rod Woodson (No. 1 in 1987), and already, Randle El has exceeded expectations. Get him on the field, get him the ball and get out of the way.

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