Fresh off of an AFC North division title, the Steelers are bringing back several key cogs from last year's 12-4 team. That being said, Pittsburgh is a vastly different team from the one that fell to the Browns in the first round of the playoffs.
The Steelers have revamped their running game while giving Ben Roethlisberger a new weapon at tight end. Defensively, the Steelers will have to relay on several new starters after losing Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton during the offseason. Pittsburgh's special teams unit is still anchored by Chris Boswell, a former Pro Bowler who made a career-high 95% of his field goal attempts in 2020.
Pittsburgh officially unveiled its first 53-man roster of the season on Tuesday, four days after its preseason finale against the Panthers. Here's a look at Pittsburgh's initial 53-man roster along with a projection of the Steelers' depth chart.
Note: Rookies are denoted with an *
|QB||Ben Roethlisberger||Mason Rudolph||Dwayne Haskins|
Anthony McFarland/Kalen Ballage
|LWR||JuJu Smith-Schuster||Ray-Ray McCloud|
|RWR||Chase Claypool||James Washington|
The Steelers lost several pillars of their offensive line in tackle Alejandro Villanueva, guard Matt Feiler and perennial Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. Four-year veteran Chukwuma Okorafor will slide from right to left tackle to replace Villanueva. Rookie Kendrick Green, who is wearing Pouncey's old No. 53 jersey, has emerged as the team's new starting center. Second-year guard Kevin Dotson -- following a strong rookie season -- replaces Feiler at left guard. After missing all but one game last year due to injury, tackle Zach Banner will replace Okorafor on the right side.
Pittsburgh is stacked at receiver. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool are the headliners, but don't forget about Diontae Johnson, who would have easily eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving barrier last year if not for a brief case of the drops. Eric Ebron returns after proving to be a valuable acquisition last offseason. Ebron will be paired with Pat Freiermuth, the second tight end selected in the draft.
Najee Harris is the team's new starting running back following an impressive camp. Look for Anthony McFarland to have an increased role this season after being used sparingly as a rookie. Benny Snell will also see time in short-yardage situations.
At quarterback, Dwayne Haskins won a spot on the 53-man roster while temporarily making some noise as Pittsburgh's new No. 2 quarterback. But that position will continue to be held by Mason Rudolph, who had a solid third preseason showing in Pittsburgh's win over the Lions.
Ulysees Gilbert III
After losing several starters, the Steelers' front office likely breathed a sigh of relief when Tyson Alualu returned to Pittsburgh after initially coming to terms with the Jaguars. Pittsburgh still has one of the best starting defensive lines in football, but the unit will have to rely on young but largely untested backups that include rookie Isaiahh Loudermilk.
At linebacker, the Steelers have replaced Dupree with Melvin Ingram and Alex Highsmith, who should provide solid pass rush alongside T.J. Watt, last year's runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year. Like Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick has blossomed into one of the top players at his position. And while he hasn't become a star, fellow 2018 first-round pick Terrell Edmunds is a quality starter who is coming off of his best season to date. James Pierre won a highly-contested position battle at nickel cornerback. Cam Sutton has been elevated to the starting lineup, where he will replaces Nelson as the team's new right cornerback.
Harvin comes to Pittsburgh after winning the 2020 Ray Guy Award, the award given annually to college football's best punter. Last fall, the 5-foot-11, 263-pound Harvin averaged a whopping 48 yards per punt at Georgia Tech.
Can Big Ben return to glory? Will Najee Harris rush for 1,000 yards in his rookie season? Get the latest Steelers scoop from Bryan DeArdo, our local expert who's on the ground in Pittsburgh, by downloading the CBS Sports app. If you already have the app, favorite the Steelers to get up-to-the-second news.