Pittsburgh Steelers: David Johnson

What worked against David Johnson coming out of high school could, ironically enough, help the Northern Iowa running back as teams give him a long look in advance of the 2015 NFL draft.

"I was tall and lanky," Johnson said of why he only received scholarship offers from Northern Iowa and Illinois State. "I was 190 [pounds] with clothes on. With me playing wide receiver in high school, a lot of teams were projecting me to play wide receiver in college."

Four years and 35 pounds later, Johnson has answered any questions about his size for a running back. And the receiving skills he developed in high school when he also played wide receiver could help distinguish Johnson among the running backs in the draft.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock has given Johnson a third-round grade and said the three-time 1,000-yard rusher could go higher than that in the draft.

Johnson, who had 203 receiving yards in a game against Iowa last season, shined at the Senior Bowl, and he could interest the Steelers given their need for a quality backup to Le'Veon Bell.

Johnson measured 6-foot at the combine --- he insists he is 6-1 – and weighed 224 pounds. Even though Johnson clearly established himself as a running back at Northern Iowa he said he continually polished his receiving skills, which should only help his draft stock.

"After practice, I always tried to work on my routes with the receivers," Johnson said.

A couple of notes
  • Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder, who 283 career catches tied an ACC record, has spent a lot of time watching film of Steelers wideout Antonio Brown. Like Brown, the 5-8, 174-pound Crowder is not the biggest wideout and the two share something else. Scottie Montgomery worked closely with Brown as the Steelers wide receivers coach in 2010-12. He did the same the last two seasons with Crowder as Duke’s offensive coordinator. "Coach Mo thought that in college, my game could really be like Antonio," Crowder said. "I was given opportunity to sit down and watch film of Antonio Brown. I’m a smart guy. I try to watch a lot of guys, Brandin Cooks, TY Hilton, but Antonio Brown is the guy I watched the most."
  • T.J. Yeldon said he has interviewed with the Steelers at the combine and the Alabama running back is familiar with at least one player on the team. "I pretty much like Le’Veon Bell’s running style," said Yeldon, who rushed for 3,322 yards and 37 touchdowns in three seasons at Alabama, "I watch his highlights a lot." Yeldon said he is hoping to turn in a good time in the 40-yard dash at the combine to answer any questions teams may have about his speed.
Marquee draft prospects from major schools will command a lot of attention at the NFL scouting combine, which starts Wednesday in Indianapolis. But here is a look at three prospects from smaller schools that the Pittsburgh Steelers may covet based on their needs.

CB Quinten Rollins, Miami (Ohio)

The good: The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder is a tremendous athlete who starred for the Red Hawks' basketball team before playing one season of football. All Rollins did in 2014 was intercept seven passes and win Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. Given Rollins' upside there may not be a more intriguing prospect in the draft.

The concern: Rollins has excellent quickness -- he is second in all-time steals for Miami’s men's basketball team -- but does not have great straight-line speed. He is also raw and has a significant learning curve ahead of him at the next level.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock on Rollins: “I’m a Quinten Rollins guy. He’s quick, he’s explosive, he’s got great jumping skills. I’m really intrigued by the kid. I think the one question I have along with all of the scouts is what is his long speed. If he runs 4.5 (seconds in the 40-yard dash) I’ll be really surprised and I think he’s a second-round pick all day long. He got beat a couple of times at the Senior Bowl and it didn’t look like he had makeup speed, so he’s one of the kids whose 40 is really important this week.”

RB David Johnson, Northern Iowa

The good: A big back with soft hands, Johnson had three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons at Northern Iowa. The 6-1, 225-pounder torched Iowa with 203 receiving yards last season and had a 19-yard touchdown run in the Senior Bowl.

The concern: Johnson did not consistently play against top-caliber competition at Northern Iowa, an FCS school.

Mayock on Johnson: “Tremendous size at running back combined with the ability to catch the football. He’s got great hands, he runs routes. He made a couple of stutter moves against the linebacker from Iowa that were just awesome. Then he comes to the Senior Bowl and he played really well. My one nitpick with him is given his size I’d like him to be more consistently physical. Instead of just bracing for contact I’d like to see him embrace contact. But I’ve got a third-round grade on him and he could go even higher.”

TE Nick Boyle, Delaware

The good: Another FCS prospect, Boyle has excellent size and sneaky athleticism. The 6-6, 270-pounder showed that in the Senior Bowl when he hurdled a defender after making a catch.

The concern: Not incredibly productive as a pass-catcher at Delaware. Boyle’s production dipped from his junior season when he caught 37 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns for the Blue Hens.

Mayock on Boyle: “An in-line tight end that’s a great blocker and also a receiver is getting more and more rare. Almost everybody is a hybrid in college football these days. That helps [Boyle]. I like him. He’s a 270-pound guy who I thought had a better Senior Bowl than he actually did during the season. He opened some eyes. I think he’s limited in the pass game but because he’s got such an upside as an inline blocker and H-back/fullback, I think he’s a valuable commodity. Opinions are all over the board on these tight ends. It’s a weak class. I think he’s probably going to go in the fourth or fifth round.”
PITTSBURGH -- This is the next in a series that takes a post-free agency, post-draft look at all of the positions with the exception of quarterback.

Our second look is at a position that returns four players from last season.

TIGHT END

Who is new: Rob Blanchflower. The seventh-round draft choice out of Massachusetts has a real chance of making the team despite the glut of players in front of him.

Who is gone: David Johnson. Injuries limited the 2009 seventh-round pick to five games in his final two seasons with the Steelers. Johnson signed a two-year contract with the Chargers in March.

Returning starter: Heath Miller. One of the most respected players in the Steelers’ locker room returned to the field a little more than nine months after reconstructive knee surgery. Miller, one of the best all-around tight ends in the NFL, will become a bigger part of the passing game assuming he is back to full strength for the start of 2014.

Most significant addition: Blanchflower. The Steelers really like this under-the-radar prospect who set UMass’ record for career receiving yards by a tight end (1,164). Blanchflower can block as well as catch passes, and tight ends coach James Daniels said, “He has a high level of aggression.”

Most significant loss: Johnson. He wasn’t flashy but he did a lot of little things that don’t show up in box scores. Johnson could line up in the backfield as well as provide blocking as an inline tight end. He also played special teams.

On outside looking in: David Paulson or Michael Palmer. The former is a pass-catching tight end who is not much of a blocker. The latter does not add much to the passing game but is a solid blocker. If Blanchflower plays his way onto the 53-man roster, Paulson and Palmer are likely battling for one spot.

Hidden number: Miller caught 58 passes in 2013 but just one of those resulted in a touchdown. The previous season, when he was at full strength, Miller caught a career-high eight touchdown passes in 15 games. He also had a career-high 816 yards on 71 receptions.

Outlook: Having a healthy Miller at the start of the season will be huge for the Steelers and particularly their passing game. Don’t overlook having Matt Spaeth for an entire season too after the eight-year veteran missed all but four games in 2013 because of a foot injury. Miller and Spaeth make a terrific blocking tandem, and the Steelers averaged 115.3 rushing yards in the four games they played together -- almost 20 yards higher than their season average. There aren’t a lot of pass-catching options after Miller so keeping the 2012 team MVP healthy is paramount for the Steelers.

Draft position needs: Tight end

April, 29, 2014
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers have nine picks in the 2014 NFL draft and this is the third in a series that looks at the nine positions they could address in less than two weeks. Keep in mind that the Steelers are likely to draft two cornerbacks so they may not take a player at every position covered in this series.

Our third look is at tight end:

Added: None

Lost: David Johnson

Ebron
Skinny: It will be real interesting to see what happens if Eric Ebron slides to the middle of the first round and is still on the board when the Steelers pick at No. 15. The former North Carolina star is a suspect blocker but long gone are the days when many tight ends were not much more than glorified blockers. Ebron is part of a new wave of speedy, athletic tight ends who can create mismatches, and he could play right away as well as give the Steelers Heath Miller’s eventual successor. There are a couple of other top-shelf tight ends in the draft but there doesn’t appear to be a lot of depth at the position. The Steelers have four veteran tight ends already, but they could use an upgrade at the position. They hosted Rob Blanchflower of UMass for a pre-draft visit and he might be an option for the Steelers late in the draft.

Draft likelihood: Medium

Extra points

Last TE drafted by the Steelers: David Paulson, seventh round in 2012

Last TE drafted by the Steelers in the first round: Miller, 2005

Last TE taken 15th overall in the draft: Derek Brown, Giants, 1992

TEs drafted under Kevin Colbert/Mike Tomlin: Three

TEs drafted under Colbert/Tomlin still with the Steelers: Two

Steelers draft review: 2009

April, 15, 2014
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PITTSBURGH -- The is the third in a series that reviews the Steelers’ drafts under general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin.

Next up is the 2009 draft:

Total picks: 9

Picks still with the team: 0

Wallace
Wallace
Best pick: WR Mike Wallace. The second of three third-round picks, Wallace made an immediate impact and he developed into one of the top deep threats in the NFL. Wallace had just over 4,000 receiving yards and 32 touchdown catches in four seasons in Pittsburgh and he made the Pro Bowl in 2011. His speed and production priced Wallace out of the Steelers’ range and he signed a five-year, $60 million contract with the Dolphins last year. The Steelers were wise not to overpay for Wallace and his loss helped them net three compensatory draft picks this year.

Worst pick: G Kraig Urbik. Urbik, the Steelers’ second pick -- and first one in the third round -- lasted just one season in Pittsburgh and didn’t suit up for a game his rookie season. What is puzzling is why the Steelers were so quick to give up on Urbik. He landed in Buffalo and has started the past three seasons for the Bills. Whether there was some disconnect between the scouts/front office evaluation of Urbik and that of the coaches the fact remains that Steelers got nothing out the 79th overall pick of the draft.

Best value pick: TE David Johnson. The Steelers’ final pick – and the 241st overall selection in the draft – contributed as a blocking tight end/H-back as well as on special teams before knee and elbow injuries derailed his final two seasons in Pittsburgh. Johnson, who recently signed a two-year contract with the Chargers, caught 22 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown for the Steelers.

Also of note: Defensive end Ziggy Hood may be the most dubious first-round pick the Steelers have made since Colbert joined the organization in 2000. The former Missouri star proved to be durable and his effort and commitment were never an issue. But Hood was miscast as a hold-the-point-of-attack defensive end after shooting gaps and getting up the field as a tackle in college. Hood recently signed a four-year, $16 million contract with the Jaguars. ... The Steelers erred in letting cornerback Keenan Lewis, a third-round pick, get away in free agency last year. A late bloomer, Lewis has developed into a quality starter. Now with the Saints, Lewis is sorely missed on a team that has to get younger at cornerback and replace Ike Taylor in the starting lineup sooner rather than later.

Final analysis/grade: This is a tricky evaluation because the Steelers largely did a good job in picking players who could succeed at this level albeit in varying roles. The problem is they have nothing to show from this class other than the three compensatory draft picks they were awarded this year in part for losing Wallace and Lewis in free agency. Meanwhile, at least four players from this class project as starters – for other teams – in 2014. I will give the Steelers a "C" since they got contributions from a handful of players in this draft and maximized the pick they used on Wallace.

Steelers re-sign Michael Palmer

March, 21, 2014
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PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers added depth at tight end Friday when they re-signed Michael Palmer to a one-year contract.

Palmer, whom the Steelers signehttp://proxy.espn.go.com/blogadmin/pittsburgh-steelers/wp-admin/edit.php?page=statusPaged last August, played in every game last season and caught one pass for eight yards. He was a core special teams player in 2013, and the fourth-year veteran joins Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth and David Paulson as the tight ends on the roster.

The Steelers lost tight end David Johnson last week when the fifth-year veteran signed a two-year contract with the Chargers.

Palmer is the fifth of the Steelers' free agents to re-sign with the team, joining center Cody Wallace, offensive tackle Guy Whimper, safety Will Allen and long snapper Greg Warren in that group.

Lance Moore to visit Steelers

March, 17, 2014
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PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers, faced with losing yet another veteran free agent, will host former Saints wide receiver Lance Moore for a visit on Tuesday, a source confirmed to ESPN.com.

Moore
Moore's visit will come a day after the Panthers meet with Steelers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery in Charlotte, N.C.

Cotchery, who turns 32 in June, caught a career-high 10 touchdown passes last season, and he appeared to be among the most likely unrestricted free agents to re-sign with the Steelers.

With Cotchery, who caught 46 passes for 602 yards, also considering other options the Steelers have turned their attention to Moore, 30, who was released earlier this month by New Orleans.

The 5-9, 190-pounder caught 37 passes for 457 yards and two touchdowns last season, but Moore is less than two years removed from his only 1,000-yard season in the NFL.

Moore caught 65 passes for 1,041 yards and six touchdowns in 2012.

The Steelers are thin at wide receiver with Emmanuel Sanders signing a three-year contract on Sunday that could be worth as much as $18 million with the Broncos. The Steelers have little in the way of experience at wide receiver behind Pro Bowler Antonio Brown.

In addition to Moore, the Steelers are scheduled to host former Packers running back James Starks on Tuesday. Wide receiver and running back are among the positions where the Steelers are most lacking depth.

The Steelers have already lost a handful of free agents, including Sanders, defensive ends Ziggy Hood and Al Woods, running back Jonathan Dwyer and tight end David Johnson.

They have signed two free agents from other teams, safety Mike Mitchell and nose tackle Cam Thomas.
PITTSBURGH – Add running back to the position at which the Steelers have a need.

Jonathan Dwyer has signed a one-year contact with the Arizona Cardinals, leaving the Steelers with depth issues behind Le’Veon Bell.

Dwyer wrote on his Twitter account on Wednesday night:

Dwyer, released at the end of the 2013 preseason, re-signed with the Steelers in September and rushed for 197 yards on 49 carries while backing up Bell.

Dwyer
Dwyer, ironically, will provide depth at running back for the Cardinals following the retirement of former Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall.

The only other running back on the Steelers' roster is Alvester Alexander, who spent all of last season on the practice squad.

Felix Jones and LaRod Stephens-Howling, who tore his ACL in the Steelers’ season opener last season, are both unrestricted free agents.

The Steelers have lost three free agents, with defensive end Al Woods signing with the Titans, tight end David Johnson signing with the Chargers and Dwyer becoming the latest former Steelers player to relocate to Arizona.
PITTSBURGH -- The Tennessee Titans announced the signing of defensive end Al Woods to a multi-year contract on Wednesday night, marking the Pittsburgh Steelers' first significant loss to free agency.

Woods did not play much until the end of the 2013 season, but the fourth-year veteran started two games and acquitted himself well in the first extensive action of his NFL career.

Woods, who turns 27 years later this month, recorded 20 tackles and two sacks and drew interest from the Packers and the Cardinals before signing with the Titans.

The Steelers have just three defensive ends on their roster -- Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood are free agents -- and only one of them (Cameron Heyward) has any meaningful NFL experience.

Hood visited the Jaguars on Wednesday, according to the Florida Times-Union, and he is unlikely to return to the Steelers.

Keisel wants to keep playing and finish his career in Pittsburgh but the team has been quiet on the 12th-year veteran's front in regard to the Steelers.

It is way too early to say that the Steelers are in a dire situation at defensive end. But they have some work to do to replenish the position, and they can't rely on the draft to yield one or two players who can contribute immediately at defensive end.

The position is one of the hardest to learn on the Steelers defense in large part because so many college teams play a 4-3, and 3-4 ends generally played tackle before advancing to the NFL.

Defensive line coach John Mitchell is one of the best in the business but the Steelers are going to have to provide him with players to work with as they continue to re-tool a defense that has been in transition.

Earlier Wednesday the Steelers lost tight end David Johnson, who signed a two-year contract with the Chargers.

Johnson had played just five games the previous two seasons because of injuries, and he didn't project as more than the Steelers' No. 3 tight end in 2014.

Free-agency primer: Steelers

March, 7, 2014
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» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

 
Key free agents: WR Emmanuel Sanders, DE Ziggy Hood, WR Jerricho Cotchery, DE Al Woods, DE Brett Keisel, S Ryan Clark, RB Jonathan Dwyer, C Fernando Velasco, OT Guy Whimper, C/G Cody Wallace, TE David Johnson, LB Stevenson Sylvester.

Where they stand: General manager Kevin Colbert has said the Steelers may be more active in free agency than in recent years, but don’t expect their philosophy to fundamentally change. The Steelers will focus on their own players and are likely to sit out the first wave of free agency and target midlevel free agents after the marquee names have signed with other teams. Colbert hinted that the Steelers could try to land a potential starter via free agency, and they could use immediate help as well as depth at just about any position on defense. Nothing would help the Steelers more than if they could sign a free agent who will make an impact like Ryan Clark (2006) or James Farrior (2002) did, though they would have to splurge to get a free agent the caliber of Farrior.

What to expect: Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, the team's top free agent, is going to command more money than the Steelers are willing to pay. He will almost certainly sign elsewhere, though look for veteran Jerricho Cotchery to re-sign with the team after catching 10 touchdown passes last season. Defensive end Ziggy Hood is likely to sign elsewhere, making it imperative that the Steelers bring back Al Woods. They could also re-sign Brett Keisel for one more season if the two sides can find common ground on compensation. The Steelers have a good chance of signing most of their free agents with the exceptions of Sanders and Hood, and that is how they will add depth to their offensive line. Free agents they could target include former Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant, Dolphins defensive tackle Paul Soliai and 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown. The Steelers met with former Lions safety Louis Delmas last month, but his knee issues may be too much of a red flag for them, and they have since re-signed veteran Will Allen.
PITTSBURGH -- This is the fourth in a series in which I will examine every position relative to the 2013 season -- and take a look ahead.

TIGHT ENDS:

2014 free agents: David Johnson and Michael Palmer

Spaeth
Miller
The good: Heath Miller came back sooner -- and played better -- than anyone could have expected less than a year after he tore several ligaments in his right knee, including his ACL. Miller played the fifth-most snaps (874) among offensive players despite missing the first two games of the season and seeing limited action in the third. Miller caught 58 passes, third most on the Steelers, for 593 yards. He also proved to be just as valuable as a blocker, and Miller and Matt Spaeth really bolstered the ground game when they were on the field together.

The bad: Miller had uncharacteristic drops and scored just one touchdown. Spaeth played in only four games, missing the first 12 because of a foot injury. The Steelers did not get much out of David Paulson and Palmer beyond special teams, and Johnson played in just five games before dislocating his wrist and landing on injured reserve. Miller's absence at the start of the season exposed the Steelers' lack of quality depth at the position.

The money (2014 salary-cap numbers): Miller's cap hit will be just under $9.5 million but the Steelers can lower that number by signing the ninth-year veteran to a new deal. Miller is going into the final year of his contract, and I will be shocked if the two sides don't reach an agreement on a new deal sooner rather than later. The drop-off after Miller is significant, and he is still one of the best all-around tight ends in the NFL. The work ethic that allowed Miller to return to the field less than a year after reconstructive knee surgery also bodes well for him continuing to play at a high level despite the advancement of age. Spaeth's cap hit this year is just over $1 million, making him a bargain if he can stay healthy. My guess is the Steelers will bring Johnson back since the price will be right given that he has played just five games in the last two seasons. The Steelers would probably feel pretty good going into training camp if Miller, Spaeth and Johnson are their top three tight ends and they add another one in the draft.

Draft priority: Higher than it looks. Miller isn't getting any younger and the Steelers certainly aren't oblivious to the matchup problems big, athletic tight ends with soft hands create in a league that is clearly a passing one. There are a couple of tight ends in this year's draft with the potential to be that kind of player. Eric Ebron tops that list, and the former North Carolina star looks like a transcendent talent. Ebron could be in play with the 15th overall pick even though the Steelers have more pressing needs, particularly on defense. I think the Steelers draft a tight end this year, but where they take one is anybody's guess.

Spaeth will help Steelers if he returns

November, 21, 2013
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PITTSBURGH -- Tight end Matt Spaeth, who practiced Thursday for the first time in three months, expects the Steelers to add him to their 53-man roster within the next three weeks.

Spaeth
If it happens, the move won't elicit much more than yawns outside of Pittsburgh. It won't even cause ripples among most Steelers fans.

But the addition of Spaeth would be significant to a team that is going to have to find a way to run the ball with three of its last four games in Pittsburgh and the other one in Green Bay.

The Steelers re-signed Spaeth last March -- he spent the previous two seasons with the Bears -- as Heath Miller insurance and to give them another tight end who can block.

Miller returned from reconstructive knee surgery faster than anyone could have expected, but little else went right at tight end.

Spaeth sustained a Lisfranc injury in training camp that required surgery. David Johnson suffered a season-ending wrist injury in October, and the Steelers have been scrambling for tight ends behind Miller ever since they lost Spaeth and Johnson.

“Those are two of the injuries that people don't talk about a bunch,” Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “You hear about [Maurkice] Pouncey and you hear about [Larry] Foote but those are two big key players for us specifically as a running football team because they're both really good blockers.”

The Steelers have three weeks from the day Spaeth practiced to add him to their 53-man roster or transfer the 6-7, 260-pounder from the short-term injured reserve list to injured reserve.

Spaeth is eager to help the Steelers this season after spending a lonely last couple of months working his way back from the right foot injury.

“It's been awful, it really has,” said Spaeth, a third-round draft pick in 2007. “I was super excited to be back here and to be able to put this uniform on and play for the Steelers and then you get hurt right away and it seems like such a long time coming to put this uniform on and go out and play on a game day so I'm excited about that opportunity.”

Spaeth and Haley said it is too early to tell when the former will be ready to play again.

“I think it's kind of going to be interesting every day to see how it responds,” Spaeth said of his foot. “The more I do the more I'm going to have to pay attention to it. So far so good.”

Mike Tomlin's take on Steelers

October, 15, 2013
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PITTSBURGH -- Here are some highlights from Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s weekly news conference:

Keisel
Keisel
-- Defensive end Brett Keisel is dealing with more of a muscle issue than a rib injury, but the 12th-year veteran is expected to play against the Ravens after practicing on a limited basis during the week. The same, Tomlin said, applies to outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who is dealing with inflammation in his knee. Wide receiver Markus Wheaton (finger) will miss his second consecutive game.

-- Tomlin said the Steelers opted to promote Isaiah Green from the practice squad rather than sign an offensive tackle to take Levi Brown’s spot on the roster because he can help them in special teams. The Steelers signed tight end Richard Gordon, who worked out for them Monday, to take David Johnson’s spot on the roster, Tomlin said, because the two have similar skill sets.

-- Inside linebacker Sean Spence, who suffered a career-threatening knee injury in a 2012 preseason game, will practice on a limited basis this week after coming off the PUP (physically unable to perform) list. Tomlin said there is a chance Spence, who will take part in individual drills this week, could play this season.

-- Somersaulting into the end zone is apparently a thing of the past for Steelers players. Tomlin put the kibosh on it after wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders vaulted into the end zone at the end of a 55-yard catch against the Jets last Sunday. “There’s a potential for injury,” Tomlin said. “It’s silly.”

-- Tomlin said he had “no idea” if his ban on playing games in the Steelers’ locker room had any correlation to the 19-6 win against the Jets. Tomlin also said he hasn’t given any thought about whether to lift the ban.

Brown, Johnson could be lost for season

October, 13, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Injuries were an issue for the Pittsburgh Steelers even before kickoff Sunday, and they may have cost the team two more players for the rest of the season.

Levi Brown, acquired recently from the Arizona Cardinals to help shore up the left tackle position, hurt his right triceps during pre-game warm-up, and he was unable to play in the Steelers’ 19-6 win over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Kelvin Beachum had been slated to start at left tackle even before Brown got hurt, but the latter was expected to push for the starting job as he got more comfortable with the Steelers' offense.

Brown missed the 2012 season with a torn right triceps, and the Steelers have to hope he did not sustain the same injury though coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that it is “potentially serious.”

Tight end David Johnson sustained a serious injury early in the game, one that is expected to end his season. Johnson said he dislocated his left wrist, and the injury that will require surgery also chips away at the Steelers’ depth at tight end.

Johnson, who has caught four passes for 70 yards, missed all of last season with a torn ACL.

Starting defensive end Brett Keisel sustained a rib injury that sidelined him for most of the second half.

But the 12th-year veteran said he will play next Sunday against the visiting Ravens. Tomlin said Keisel will probably just be limited in practice during the early part of the week.

“He should perk up towards the end of the week,” Tomlin said.

Rapid Reaction: Pittsburgh Steelers

October, 13, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 19-6 win over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

What it means: The Steelers' season still has life. Let's not go all Ryan Clark and say the Steelers are on their way to the playoffs, but they finally stopped the bleeding following a shaky start at MetLife Stadium. The Steelers controlled the game after falling behind 3-0 in the first quarter. The offense didn't piece together a Picasso, but it made drastic improvement after netting 8 yards on its first two possessions.

Stock watch: The defense is trending up after keeping the team in the game until the offense settled down. It also atoned for an atrocious performance in the London loss to the Vikings that dropped the Steelers to 0-4 for the first time since 1968. The Steelers limited the Jets to 165 yards through the first three quarters while building a double-digit lead. They also avoided becoming the first team in NFL history to go the first five games of a season without a takeaway. Clark ended the turnover drought in the third quarter when he intercepted a pass that Geno Smith threw into heavy coverage. But he also dropped an interception in the fourth quarter, and the Steelers later needed a Lawrence Timmons pick to put away the Jets.

Getting by at LT: Kelvin Beachum is clearly not the long-term answer at left tackle after getting flagged twice for holding and nearly yielding a sack that would have given the Jets an early safety. The problem for the Steelers is their options are really limited when it comes to protecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's blind side. Levi Brown, acquired from the Cardinals in a recent trade, injured his right triceps during pregame warm-ups, and he couldn't play against the Jets. Brown missed the 2012 season with a torn right triceps so his injury could be a worrisome one for the Steelers. Starting defensive end Brett Keisel (ribs) and tight end David Johnson (wrist) sustained injuries during the game.

What's next: The Steelers hope to build off their momentum next Sunday when they play the Ravens in a 4:25 p.m. ET divisional game. The defending Super Bowl champions dropped to 3-3 following a loss to the Packers in Baltimore, but they have beaten the Steelers the past three times the fierce rivals have met during the regular season at Heinz Field.

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