The Black and Gold looking like the Black and Blue

John Madeira, Staff Writer

Fans of the Black and Gold came into the season a little curious about how the season would unfold after all the changes the team underwent in the off season – and it hasn’t always been pretty.

Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians left the team to coach with the Indianapolis Colts, and a roster overhaul left the Steelers without key players such as Hines Ward, James Farrier, Aaron Smith, William Gay, and others.

On top of that, starting running back Rashard Mendenhall was still recovering from late season ACL surgery, and early in the year rookie guard David DeCastro (24th overall pick in the 2012 draft) went down with a knee injury.

After all that change, the Steelers got off to a slow start with wins against the New York Jets and cross state rival Philadelphia Eagles, but suffered losses against the Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, and Tennessee Titans. After the 2-3 start, the team ripped off four straight wins to bring their record to 6-3.

After back to back losses to division rivals Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, the Steelers current record sits at 6-5 heading into their week 13 matchup with the Ravens.

However, the headlines for the Steelers this year have been primarily found on the injury report, not on the field.

Key injuries to players such as Troy Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, LaMarr Woodley, Mike Adams, Rashard Mendenhall, Willie Colon, and Byron Leftwich have left the Steelers searching for answers.

Polamalu went down with a calf injury and hasn’t played since week five and has missed all but two games this year. Big Ben suffered shoulder and rib injuries and has missed two games, both of which were losses.

Antonio Brown suffered an injury against the New York Giants and missed the next three games.  LaMarr Woodley and Mike Adams both suffered injuries against the Cleveland Browns and had to sit the rest of the game, Woodley going out in the first quarter and Adams going out in the third quarter.

Running back Rashard Mendenhall has missed significant time with an ACL injury as well as an Achilles injury, while backup quarterback Byron Leftwich also suffered a rib injury and was forced to sit out the Cleveland Browns game.

Adams, Woodley, Leftwich, and Colon have not practiced and are expected to miss the game against the Ravens in Week 13.

Things are looking up for the Black and Blue and Gold though as they expect Polamalu and Brown to be back this week, and there’s a long shot chance that the Steeler signal caller will also be back.

No matter who is playing, the Steelers will rely heavily on their plethera of running backs to control the ball if they hope to topple the pride of the AFC North and get back into the AFC playoff picture.