Steelers links: Keeping Ben healthy

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
8:41
AM ET
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should go over 30,000 career passing yards in the Steelers' season opener. He needs just 156 yards to reach that milestone against a team he lit up for 363 passing yards last season. The number Roethlisberger and the Steelers are focused on in 2013 is 16. Roethlisberger hasn't played in every game since 2008, the last time the Steelers won the Super Bowl. Stability at quarterback is so important in the NFL, and Roethlisberger is the caliber of signal-caller who can carry a team.

Cornerback Ike Taylor may have had Sunday's game against the Titans circled on his calendar for a while. The Titans threw his way early and often last season, and Taylor probably had his worst game of 2012, one reason why the Steelers lost 26-23 in Nashville. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck threw for 290 yards and a touchdown in that game, but the Steelers may face a more favorable matchup on Sunday. Former first-round pick Jake Locker will start for Tennessee, and the Steelers' defense more often than not torments inexperienced quarterbacks.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette veteran beat writer Ed Bouchette looks at what will make or break the Steelers' 2013 season. A young offensive line has to come together quickly to keep Roethlisberger upright and also improve a running game that ranked near the bottom of the NFL in 2012. The Steelers also have to flip the turnover script. They had 10 more turnovers than takeaways last season, and putting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks would go a long way toward rectifying what was one of the Steelers' biggest problems in 2012.

The Steelers veterans -- and there are still more than just a sprinkling of them after significant roster turnover -- have heard this before. Encroaching age should have the Steelers looking to the future and not at making a run at a seventh Super Bowl title.

General manager Kevin Colbert is another one who refuses to use the word transition when assessing the 2013 Steelers. The Pittsburgh native is also not interested in talking about his legacy despite the Steelers winning two Super Bowls and playing in another one since he joined the organization.

Cracking the Steelers' starting defense as a rookie is rare unless there is an injuy. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones is poised to do that at some point this season as the first-round pick will make too much of an impact for the Steelers to keep him off the field.

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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