Steelers' offense ready to take off


Steel City wake-up: morning links

The Steelers may have to lean on their offense as they try to snap out of their winless funk. It nearly bailed them out a couple of weeks ago in London but a late rally fell agonizingly short in a 34-27 loss to the Vikings.

The pieces finally seem to be in place, assuming Kelvin Beachum or Levi Brown is at least serviceable at left tackle, though the offense will be tested Sunday when the Steelers visit the Jets. Coach Rex Ryan has the Jets playing at a high level as New York is allowing just under 300 yards per game.

The Jets survived a scare when top cornerback Antonio Cromartie went down in practice Thursday with a non-contact injury. But his availability for Sunday appears to be in question, and the Jets are already thin at cornerback. Cromartie is a top-tier cornerback and he will probably shadow Antonio Brown if he plays against the Steelers so Friday could be a critical day for Cromartie and the Jets.

With our without Cromartie, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be front and center Sunday and that is just the way the 10th-year veteran wants it. His counterpart, Geno Smith, has created quite a buzz in leading the Jets to a surprising 3-2 start. Smith had been turnover-prone through the first quarter of the season but the rookie was near flawless last Monday night in leading the Jets to a 30-28 upset at Atlanta.

Smith will play against a Steelers secondary that could have some moving parts. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau acknowledged Thursday that William Gay and Cortez Allen are competing to start opposite No. 1 cornerback Ike Taylor. Allen is still dealing with the effects of a high ankle sprain, and he did not play well in the Steelers’ loss to the Vikings.