5 Steelers to watch this weekend against the Chargers

The Steelers are set for a showdown with the LA Chargers in primetime this Sunday. To preview the big Sunday Night Football contest, I wanted to highlight a handful, that is five Steelers everyone should keep their eyes on in this game.

Here are those five Pittsburgh Steelers you should watch in this weekend’s game.

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Joe Haden and Coty Sensabaugh

Since September no one has done better against big pass plays than the Pittsburgh Steelers. When you think about it, there doesn’t appear to be as big of a gaping hole in the secondary as it felt like in the past. Even Pro Football Focus backs this up with some statistics of their own:

The change was ushered in when Artie Burns was competing to keep his starting spot against Coty Sensabaugh, with the latter taking over as the full-time corner opposite starter Joe Haden. This duo may be up against their greatest test this Sunday as the Chargers boast a number of pass catching threats on their offensive side of the ball.

Keenan Allen is the team’s leading receiver with 69 receptions for 848 yards and four touchdowns. However, it’s a pair of Williams’ (no relation) Tyrell and Mike, who will add pressure to the Steelers secondary. Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams each average at least 17.5 yards per catch and have a minimum of 5 touchdown receptions each.

With Haden cracking a bit last week in his coverage and Sensabaugh a steady contributor who still isn’t 100% proven, watch these two as the Chargers offense finds ways to create mismatches with their trio of solid pass catchers.

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Ryan Switzer

Much has been made about Ryan Switzer’s ascension from special teams fill-in to playing more snaps than second-round draft pick James Washington. Originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys to the Oakland Raiders, the Steelers made a move for the second-year receiver when no one else emerged from training camp to take over punting duties from Antonio Brown. (And last year’s slot receiver Eli Rogers was not only recovering from injury still, but the NFL announced he would be suspended a game upon his return.)

Our staff here at SCU felt that Switzer was a great addition and now he’s proving why. He appears to have more of a rapport with Ben Roethlisberger and their relationship is hitting off as of late. Switzer is fifth on team with 27 receptions (behind Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, and Vance McDonald) and has caught at least one pass in each of the Steelers last four games, including a season-high six receptions last Sunday.

Add in his return abilities (plus watching if he holds onto the ball in the heat of the moment) and there are more than several reasons to keep your eyes glued to this dynamic player this weekend.

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James Conner

October’s AFC Offensive Player of the Month has not had a November to remember.

Conner started the month with 104 rushing yards against the Ravens, but has followed up that big performance with tallies of 65, 25, and 53 yards in his last three games. His receiving game has also taken a dip despite the opportunities being there.

After failing to carry the ball more than 13 times in any of the last three games, watch for the Steelers to realize what they did earlier this season when things weren’t going so well, and return to establishing the running game behind a dominant offensive line and an explosive James Conner.

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Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger never forgot about the Cleveland Browns passing on him in the 2004 NFL Draft.

If you believe for a minute that Big Ben has forgotten about the two quarterbacks taken ahead of him in that same draft, I think you’d be gravely mistaken. Eli Manning was selected first overall and then traded to the Giant in exchange for Philip Rivers, making the 2004 quarterback class one of the greatest of all time.

But in order to be the best, you have to beat the best. Watch for Roethlisberger, who currently leads the NFL in pass attempts and is second in both completions and passing yards, to try continue his big season by showing up his draft classmate.

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