by Eric Stashin
I recently had the opportunity to pose 5 Questions to Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (click here for some of his coverage). I asked him about Santonio Holmes, the rookies the Steelers brought in, the loss of Alan Faneca and much more. Let’s see what he had to say about the upcoming season:
1. Santonio Holmes seemed to take a step forward last season, coming just shy of a 1,000-yard season and scoring 8 TD’s. How has he looked in training camp and does it look like he could take that next step forward?
Scott Brown: Holmes appears poised for stardom this season. He and Ben Roethlisberger spent a lot of time working together during the offseason, and there is no denying that the Steelers QB has a tremendous amount of trust in Holmes. If he stays healthy Holmes should eclipse the 1,000-yard mark and post double digits as far as TD receptions.
2. In the 2008 draft, the Steelers focused on offense, taking RB Rashard Mendenhall in the first round and WR Limas Sweed in the second round. What roles do you see these two youngsters having with the team this season?
Scott Brown: Mendenhall should provide the complement to Willie Parker at running back that the Steelers have not had the last two years. He has run well in the preseason though the three fumbles he lost are a concern. If his fumbling problems continue he won’t get many meaningful carries. Sweed has been a bit of a disappointment as he has had trouble catching the ball. At best, he will be the Steelers’ fourth WR this season.
3. Heath Miller has become a solid tight end over his first three seasons, but do you see him taking the next step this season, especially in the red zone or could Matt Spaeth steal some of his touches?
Scott Brown: Personally I see him posting similar numbers as he did last season. I do think Miller will be better but that Matt Spaeth will get more opportunities this season, particularly in the red zone. Miller is a solid fantasy TE but I don’t see him making the kind of jump that would make him an elite fantasy TE.
4. Ben Roethlisberger seemed to overcome the interception problems he had in ’06 (23 picks). Do you think that could become a problem for him again and what type of season do you see him having?
Scott Brown: I think Ben is going to have another big year. The 2006 season was an abberation and there were a lot of mitigating circumstance for why he played the way he did. He proved last season that he is an elite NFL quarterback, and, at 26, he is only getting better.
5. How will the departure of Alan Faneca influence Willie Parker and the rest of the offense this season?
Scott Brown: I think Chris Kemoeatu is going to be a pleasant surprise while taking over at left guard for Faneca. It wouldn’t surprise me if he is Faneca’s equal as a run blocker so I don’t expect the running game to suffer as a result of the loss of Faneca. The bigger concern with the line is whether it will be able to protect Roethlisberger. If it doesn’t do a better job than it did last season that could open up Roethlisberger to throwing more interceptions or even missing games because of injuries.