The weakest link

StillersInsider's Dale Lolley says the Steelers' secondary may be this year's weakest link.

It is said that every team in this age of free agency has its weaknesses.

For the 2001 Steelers, that weakness was quite obviously it's special teams play. In 2002, the weakest link will be the team's secondary.

The Steelers made it through the 2001 season with only two games missed by starters in their secondary - one game each by cornerback Chad Scott and safety Lee Flowers.

But unless the Steelers' training staff has found some sort of elixer to keep players from getting injured, the team will be lucky to make it through 2002 with only two games missed in the secondary.

And therein lies the problem.

There is nothing wrong with the Steelers' starting secondary of cornerback Scott and Dewayne Washington, and safeties Flowers and Brent Alexander. It is a solid, if unspectacular, group that takes advantage of defensive coordinator Tim Lewis' aggressive playcalling.

But the only experienced players on the roster behind the front four are safety Mike Logan and cornerback Deshea Townsend. That's not a lot in today's NFL.

Even though Jason Simmons and Myron Bell weren't strong players, they were still experienced players. And when a starter goes down with an injury, you not only have to replace that starter, you have to replace the starter's replacement in the third-down packages.

The Steelers are counting on Hank Poteat and rookie Chris Hope to fill those voids this season.

But Poteat was unable to beat out Simmons in two previous seasons and Hope is what he is, a rookie third-round draft choice.

So while the Steelers have plenty of depth at most positions, that is a luxury the team does not have in its secondary.

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