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Mile High Morning: Meet the Broncos' Week 2 opponent; Broncos celebrate Nuggets' Game 7 win


The Lead

The good thing about a short week is there's no time to dwell on the previous game's shortcomings — only time to make the necessary corrections.

That said, let's take a look at the Steelers, the Broncos' next opponent, and the key storylines as the Broncos prepare for their first road game.

Last week: W 26-16 @ Giants

Like the Broncos, the Steelers opened their season on "Monday Night Football." They earned a convincing win on the road over New York after going on a 23-0 run that lasted from midway through the second quarter to late in the fourth. But Pittsburgh's win came at a cost, as they lost several key players to injury.

The return of Big Ben

After missing most of the 2019 season with an elbow injury, Roethlisberger looked no worse for wear in his first game back. He completed 21-of-32 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions. He had a number of spectacularly accurate passes and managed to spread the ball around to eight different receivers. Expect the Steelers offense to stretch the Broncos' defense and try to take advantage of one-on-one matchups with sharp passes.

"I feel great right now," Roethlisberger said after the game. "I'm gonna be sore tomorrow but in terms of the elbow and everything else I feel really good."

Getting defensive

The Giants may not have an offense like Kansas City's or Baltimore's, but Pittsburgh's defense put up a great showing regardless. Their defensive stand to keep New York out of the end zone after recovering a muffed punt 3 yards from the goal line was most impressive. They did give up two plays of at least 35 yards, but otherwise they gave up no plays longer than 18 yards.

It's a talented bunch from top to bottom — seven of the 11 starters were first-round picks. Things won't get any easier for the Broncos' offense as it continues to work out the kinks implementing a new system under Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur.

Injury updates

Pittsburgh lost two starters — right tackle Zach Banner and running back James Conner — to injury in their season-opening win. Banner announced on Twitter that he'll undergo season-ending knee surgery on Friday.

Conner, who suffered an ankle injury early in the game, was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2018, the most recent season in which a healthy Roethlisberger led the offense. He was replaced in the backfield by Benny Snell Jr., who averaged 5.9 yards per carry on 19 carries for 113 yards on Monday.

The Steelers also are struggling with injuries at right guard, as five-time Pro Bowler David DeCastro missed the opener with a calf injury. Stefan Wisniewski started in his stead, but left the game with a pectoral injury in the fourth quarter.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that the team was "still in the process of getting scans" on Wisniewski and Conner. Though he was also unsure about DeCastro's status, he said he is hopeful that the starting right guard will be able to practice on Wednesday.

Below the Fold

Tyrie Cleveland may not have the draft pedigree of Jerry Jeudy or KJ Hamler, but the seventh-round pick is worth knowing. The Athletic's Nick Kosmider detailed the touching story of how Cleveland is carrying his brother's memory as he begins his NFL career. "Every day in the meeting room, I had his picture right on my desk," Cleveland told Kosmider. "Every day I could see his face and that made me push harder. I know he has faith and that he's looking down over me, watching over me."

After DeAndre Hopkins agreed to a contract extension that made him the highest-paid receiver, could Courtland Sutton be next? ESPN's Jeremy Fowler may have picked Tampa Bay's Chris Godwin to be the favorite, but he selected Sutton as the "under-the-radar possibility."

The Unclassifieds

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