AFC Notes: Steelers, Dolphins, Jaguars

Given the key injuries and suspensions they’ve endured this year, the fact that the Steelers are 6-4 and in the driver’s seat for a wild-card spot in the AFC is an impressive feat.

“I don’t think there has been a team that has been through as much as we have. Period,” guard Ramon Foster said.

Overcoming its adversity and staying in the race means Pittsburgh has a legitimate chance to end up representing the AFC in the Super Bowl, Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. In their past two title-winning seasons, in 2005 and ’08, the Steelers got hot down the stretch and carried that through the playoffs. Their players are cognizant of that.

“This is the one thing we have been saying all year, that we want to play our best ball at the end of the year, to keep growing and getting better,” said linebacker Arthur Moats.

More on the Steelers and a couple of their AFC counterparts:

  • Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had lofty praise for backup Landry Jones, per the Tribune-Review’s Joe Starkey. “He is, above the shoulders, as smart and sharp as any quarterback I’ve ever been around,” Roethlisberger stated. “That’s a credit to his hard work, dedication and determination. He’s always in the meetings almost bugging our quarterback coach because he’s just constantly doing more and more.” Jones has filled in during Roethlisberger’s multiple injuries this season and completed just under 61 percent of passes on 9.39 yards per attempt, also tossing three touchdowns and two interceptions.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald took a look back at the Dolphins’ offseason, concluding that their failure to address their interior offensive line through either free agency or the draft has been particularly regrettable. The Dolphins could have used the money they spent on disappointing wideout Greg Jennings toward the guard position, which hasn’t fared well with Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas, or spent a late-round draft pick on La’el Collins. As Jackson points out, though, the Dolphins were joined by everyone else in passing on Collins – who went undrafted because of a murder investigation. Collins’ name was cleared, however, and he ultimately signed with Dallas and has had a terrific rookie year.
  • Thanks to rookie James Sample‘s injury troubles, the Jaguars will address the free safety position through free agency or with a high-round draft pick this offseason, according to Ryan O’Halloran of The Jags wanted to see if Sample, a fourth-round pick, could handle a starting role this year. However, a broken forearm slowed him over the summer and a shoulder injury forced him to season-ending injured reserve earlier this week. The Jags weren’t able to gather enough info on Sample this year to see whether he could be counted on in a No. 1 role going forward, so they’ll have to find someone else when the season ends.
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