Under the Radar: Jaguars vs Steelers

The expected difference makers in Sunday evening's clash between the Jaguars and Steelers are quarterbacks David Garrard and Ben Roethlisberger, running backs Fred Taylor, and Maurice Jones-Drew, and wide receivers Hines Ward and Matt Jones among others. Which players could make a difference in this game that may not be on the tip of many fans tongues? We have the answers.

When the Jaguars are on offense:

Center Dennis Norman will play a big role in this game, and hopefully he will mostly be unnoticed for the Jaguars. Norman will have to help call out the protections, and Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will bring blitzes from all over the football field.

Jaguars wide receiver Mike Walker has been getting better each and every week, and the Steelers will likely force Jacksonville to throw the ball to win. Walker can beat a very average set of Pittsburgh corners and make a difference in prime time.

Marcedes Lewis is a former first-round pick, and he had what was likely his worst game as a pro last Sunday as he was credited with four drops, although some of the throws would've been difficult catches. Lewis must bounce back in prime time and give the Jaguars the lift in the passing game that he's capable of giving.

Defensive end Aaron Smith may be the best player in the NFL that hardly anyone talks about. Smith can singlehandedly stop the run, and he makes everyone on the (&* ranked Steelers defense better.

With Pro Bowl strong safety Troy Polamalu likely to spend extra time at the line of scrimmage to stop the Jaguars rushing attack, expect free safety Ryan Clark to be tested often. Clark will have to make big plays and not miss tackles or it could get ugly for the Steelers.


When the Steelers are on offense:

With Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall out, many expect the Steelers to go to an all-out air attack. They will mix in some runs and short passes, and a player to watch will be Mewelde Moore. Moore is a very solid back who can do a lot of things well.

Hines Ward is the Steelers wide receiver that's most talked about, but Santonio Holmes is the player that opposing defensive coordinators spend nights awake worrying about. Holmes has deep speed and the ability to break tackles and make big plays. He's also a threat as a punt return man.

Seemingly each and every Steelers opponent has hit the quarterback, and much of that pressure is coming from the outside. Marvel Smith and Willie Colon need to block the Jaguars defensive ends for the Steelers to have a chance.

It's up to all of the Jaguars defensive ends to play well and get to the quarterback. It's week five and the pass rush still stinks. No more excuses-Spicer, Hayward, Harvey, and Groves need to do something.

Mike Peterson has been playing terrible, and he needs to actually make tackles, not just jump on the pile.

The entire Jaguars secondary has struggled with not only covering receivers, but making tackles. If the secondary can do at least one or the other, it will be an improvement. Look for Gerald Sensabaugh to play well.


Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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