LATROBE, Pa. – The Steelers open the 2016 preseason this week against the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field, but with many national media having been at the team's training camp, it was time to get their take on expectations for the team during the regular season. And the expectations are high, especially if the team stays healthy.
In the first look at what the national media are saying, both Don Banks and Judy Battista weigh in on this year's team.
- **Don Banks, *Sports Illustrated
* "I think they are loaded offensively, even with Martavis Bryant's suspension. You have plenty to make up for it with Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates stepping up. Le'Veon Bell will do what DeAngelo Williams did last year when called upon. It's about keeping Big Ben (Roethlisberger) healthy.
"I think they will win the division. If you told me it's going to be Steelers vs. Patriots either in New England or Pittsburgh, I would tell you that is the most plausible scenario I can see looking forward at this point.
"It's a pretty stacked Steelers team. If they get the defense they hope they can get, step ups from Shamarko (Thomas) and Ryan Shazier, I think this team is in position to make another run at the shiny trophy."
Judy Battista, NFL.com/NFL Network
"I think it should be the most explosive offense in the league. The suspensions don't help. You've got so many weapons you can cover up for the suspension. Martavis is a loss, Le'Veon (Bell) is a loss if he is suspended. I would still expect the offense to be explosive. We saw that last year when everyone was on the field together. If they keep people healthy, you have the offensive line, you have the running game. The early reports on Sammie Coates are strong from the offseason and Antonio Brown is ridiculous, arguably the best receiver in the league. I think they are fine on offense.
"I thought there was more of a question about the defense going into last season than this season. I think it came together faster than expected last season. There was a lot of turnover last year. It came together well. I think the defense will be fine and certainly good enough to help the offense. I think the dirty work of the defense was done last year."