UBIC - Offense
Cody Wallace (C - #72) The Steelers have one of the best C and RG combinations in the NFL with Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro, when both are healthy. The last part has been iffy for the past couple of seasons. The Bolts are catching a few of breaks for this game; among those breaks is that Pouncey is injured and on the IR (Return Designation) and will not play Monday Night.
Which brings us to Cody Wallace. Wallace, like most back up linemen, would need a little more job security and starts to be considered a journeyman. He was taken out of Texas A&M in the fourth round of the 2008 draft by the 49ers. He has been on the fringes of ‘niners roster for two seasons and then his odyssey began. Detroit, the Jets, Detroit again, and then Tampa Bay for whole season in 2012. He joined the Steelers in 2013 and seems to have found a home in the Steel City. He is under contract through this season.
Wallace is a little taller (6'4") than a typical center. It may be possible to get some leverage on him, if the Bolts play Ryan Carrethers at nose a few times. The Steelers have allowed 12 sacks in their first 4 games this season, so this line has not performed as well as Coaches Tomlin and Haley would prefer.
If you get the chance, check out the "Personal" section of his Wikipedia entry. Wallace is no stranger to adversity and has had to overcome much to get to where he is. There is no question about his heart, willingness to compete, and character. He is just not as gifted an athlete as a lot of other guys he has to compete with for playing time.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR - #88) gets the honorable mention nod because he is known to us Bolts fans. After all, he gave us a good laugh when Al Davis selected him 7th overall in the 2009 draft. And more hilarity ensued when he caught 9 passes on 40 targets his rookie season. Yeah, we had a lot of fun watching him drop passes during his 4 year run at Oakland; in 52 starts he had 300 balls thrown his direction and he was able to catch 140 of them. Then he disappeared...
The Colts gave him a "prove it" contract and he did prove that his performance in Oakland was not completely on the bad QB's that franchise had until recently. Even Andrew Luck could not help his hands; he was targeted 64 times and 29 catches resulted. Pittsburgh decided to take a chance on him and he had a pretty quiet 2014, only starting one game.
Like last week's honorable mention, Heyward-Bey seems to have done something between last year and this one to improve hand function. He will come into San Diego second on the team in catches; he has been thrown to 20 times and has 15 catches for 185 yards and 2 scores. With Antonio Brown commanding double teams, the Steelers need somebody else to try and take the top off of a defense. So far, #88 seems to be doing the job.
UBIC - Defense
Keith Butler (DC) yes, sometimes coaches show up in these articles. In Keith Butler's case, he is somebody you have not heard of because we Charger fans do not really follow another team's linebacker coach. In Butler's case, that was a job he held for Pittsburgh since 2003. He does not walk into an easy situation, but then again, replacing a legend is never easy.
Coach Butler had one of the best teachers in the game to learn how to run a defense. Dick LeBeau was inducted into the hall of fame in 2010. The Steelers made the transition to Butler this past offseason, the thinking was that the 78 year old LeBeau had perhaps done all he could do and that the 56 year old Butler might bring some more energy to the job.
The Steelers still run a 3-4, will still try to put pressure on opposing QB's (13 sacks so far this season), and will come up with some wrinkles to try and make plays. Butler knows a lot about playing linebacker. He played for the Seattle Seahawks from 1978 to 1987 (we older Bolts fans saw him twice a year in those days) and he was pretty good. He may be even more aggressive than we have gotten used to with Steelers defense; their secondary is the weakest link, so expect Butler to dial up a lot of blitzes and pressure packages.
Stephon Tuitt (DE - #91) Speaking of pressure, Tuitt leads the team in sacks so far this season with 3.5. He normally plays where the Bolts own Corey Liuget plays, RDE. Pittsburgh will move him around on the line though, so every one of the Bolts o-linemen will get a shot at 2014's 2nd round pick. This is a player that has me worried about Monday night. The 6'6" 305 pound Tuitt has great quickness, a well-developed repertoire of pass rush moves and is as active and relentless as #94 for the Bolts.