<
>

Steelers' depth chart a reminder this season comes with no excuses

1h

The only surprise of the Steelers' first depth chart of training camp is how little surprises are on it.

So many positions feel solidified. Minimal question marks persist. A few players need to maximize their potential, but in the big picture this is a ready-made that should be ready to contend if the defense is even slightly better than last year.

Steelers fans could see a few moving parts in the next month, including left outside linebacker if Bud Dupree is ready to take the job from Arthur Moats. The inclusion of Brandon Boykin will change things, but the Steelers will be in nickel coverage at least half the time, leaving room for Boykin, William Gay, Cortez Allen and Antwon Blake to get involved each week. Martavis Bryant listed as a No. 2 means nothing. The Steelers are a three-receiver team but list two receivers because that's the traditional thing to do. Plus, Mike Tomlin plays to seniority, so Markus Wheaton gets the edge here, having two years of NFL experience to Bryant's one. In Week 1, Wheaton will be in the slot, Bryant will be one of the two outside receivers alongside Antonio Brown.

The Steelers are a no-excuse team, but they don't have to say that this year. The roster says it for them. This isn't training camp hyperbole -- this is a good roster. You could play Week 1 right now and feel pretty good about your chances to follow up last year's 11-5 season. Most would put the Patriots, Broncos and maybe Colts ahead of the Steelers for AFC leverage. At worst, the Steelers belong in that group.

Ben Roethlisberger has never been better, and he's never had a supporting cast like this. Brown is eager to take ownership of the game's top receiver spot. Le'Veon Bell came to camp in bionic shape. The offensive line has been together for a few years and is eyeing a top-10 rushing offense. And the defense has six top picks in its front seven -- five first-rounders and a second-rounder, five of which came from the past five drafts. If the Steelers can't make that work, they have bigger issues than player evaluation.

The Steelers released their first depth chart, and it's a good one. Don't expect many changes. That's how it should be when built-in excuses don't exist.