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Offseason Blueprint: Steelers

3/4/2014

The three players listed as far as where answers may comeInsider from the current roster are all going into their second season. That is when players typically make their biggest jump and the Pittsburgh Steelers need outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, wide receiver Markus Wheaton and safety Shamarko Thomas to do just that if Pittsburgh is to return to the playoffs following back-to-back 8-8 seasons.

Jones has to get stronger during the offseason as well as add some moves to his pass-rushing repertoire, something new assistant coach Joey Porter can help the former first-round pick do. Jones will enter the 2014 season as the starter at right outside linebacker unless both LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds return, which seems unlikely.

Wheaton, the team’s third-round pick in 2013, will get first crack at replacing Emmanuel Sanders, assuming the latter signs somewhere else as an unrestricted free agent. The Steelers are high on the speedy and studious Wheaton even though he caught just six passes for 64 yards in 2013.

They also really like Thomas, and he could replace Ryan Clark at free safety and should at worst serve as the team's third safety if the 2013 fourth-round pick makes significant strides during the offseason.