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Saturday August 18 2018
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Slow Ride

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The Steelers started the offseason by signing franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a significant contact extension. A day before training camp opened, they capped the offseason by extending the contract of general manger Kevin Colbert.

In between those two moves, they signed defensive lineman Cameron Heyward to a six-year contract and extended head coach Mike Tomlin's deal another two seasons.

The team essentially spent the offseason putting the finishing touches on their brief rebuilding process and loading up for another run.

With their four most important pieces in place, in addition to a new defensive coordinator and an offense loaded with weapons, the team's championship windows are now wide open once again.

The time for improvement is over. It's time to win.

While a Super Bowl championship isn't a must, a playoff win—or two—most certainly are.

The Steelers have not won a playoff game since the 2010 season. That blame falls directly on three of the gentlemen mentioned above: Roethlisberger, Tomlin and Colbert. And rightly so.

Those three make up 75 percent of the core that is being charged with making the Steelers champions again.

This is Tomlin's team. The era of winning with Bill Cowher's players is over. Only Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, James Harrison and long snapper Greg Warren remain from the Cowher era.

The offense is Roethlisberger's now. Sure, the young stars are Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Maurkice Pouncey, but the offense belongs to Big Ben.

Defensively, with locker room leaders Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith, James Farrior, Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu all retired, the clear leader, in no uncertain terms, is Heyward.

The roster is filled with Colbert's draft picks and Tomlin's vision.

The legacies of those four—Ben, Cam, Coach T and the GM—will be shaped in the coming seasons. While Roethlisberger, Tomlin and Colbert all have championships to their names, they can go from great to legendary by capturing another. Heyward is entering the prime of his career and has the chance to go from a good NFL player to the backbone of a championship defense.

The path to a title is a rocky one. It will be hard to keep the black and gold semi between the ditches when the road winds the way it undoubtedly will. There will be plenty of speedbumps along the way.

But make no mistake: the Steelers are loaded up for another ride. And the drivers—all four of them—have been chosen. This is their vehicle, and it will travel as far as they can guide it.

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