Dunlap: Steven Nelson Vital To Steelers Success

Colin Dunlap
July 29, 2019 - 2:18 pm

Related: Burns Competes For Starting Role After Receiving Roster Bonus

LATROBE, Pa. (93.7 The Fan) - You will hear about the running back reps. People will chatter about how they will be split up. 

Going to hear all about Devin Bush, too. Rightly so. 

How the receivers will be deployed will be an enormous topic --- and, yes, JuJu can’t do it all himself so this is a valid discussion. 

Speaking of enormous topics, how about Ben Roethlisberger? I mean, after all, isn’t the quarterback always a gigantic subject going into a football season? If he isn’t, he should be. 

What of the coach? There’s that, too. Seems Mike Tomlin (as with most coaches, I guess) doesn’t have a lot of people in the middle ground. You either love him and think he’s among the top handful of guys on the planet doing what he does, or you want him fired. Yesterday. 

But there is something, to me at least, that isn’t getting talked about enough as the Pittsburgh Steelers are now in camp, the preseason will hit soon and real games will kickoff seemingly in the time it takes to blink. 

Here goes: Steven Nelson is gargantuan to this football team. I’ll even go so far as to say he just might be the most important player on the defense this season. 

Yes, the most important player on the defense. 

Not the best or most physically gifted, not the one who stands to win a ton of awards or accrue lofty stats, but the one who is most important. That is to say if he performs well, this defense has a real chance to function at its capabilities and be a unit that takes the ball away, limits big plays, wins a bunch of games and gets back to scaring the heck out of people. 

If Nelson doesn’t play well, the Steelers defense stands a very good chance of being picked apart on the back end, have multiple passes hit over their head and will instill fear in absolutely no one. If he doesn’t play well, this will again leave Joe Haden all alone on that other side to fend for himself in a defense that is increasingly built on the backs of the men in the back end. 

We have all seen Artie Burns get burned far too many times and it will probably be a stretch to think that Justin Layne will be ready to have a titanic role in the defense at such a young age. So all that, coupled with that three-year, $25.5 million contract is why Nelson gets thrown right into the thick of it. And he doesn’t get thrown just right in the thick of all this, but it’s incumbent of him to play at an extraordinary level. 

You just watch. 

Steven Nelson, and how he plays this season, will be a colossal barometer for the Steelers’ defense. To me, he’s probably their most important player. ​

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