Steelers

Eight days to Latrobe: How to replace AB? ☕

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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) talks to JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) as offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, left, looks at the next play. A lot will be expected of that trio in 2019. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

You don't replace a player with the talent of Antonio Brown. It's just not possible with any one player.

But you can replicate some of the things he did on the football field, most notably the 104 receptions and 1,297 yards he produced in 15 games in 2018.

The 15 touchdowns Brown scored? That might be a little different. But all of that production only added up to an 8-6-1 record in the games Brown played.

Certainly, that record was not necessarily Brown's fault, and a good argument could be made the Steelers would have been even worse off last season without Brown.

But there also is the feeling the team might be better off in 2019 with Brown now playing for the Raiders.

The Steelers will report to training camp July 25 at Saint Vincent College with the Brown saga clearly in their rearview mirror. And, in many cases, they feel like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders.

"I think things have changed pretty well around here, more team-oriented, and that's the first step," David DeCastro said. "I think everyone is on the same page."

As good as Brown was and is, he wanted to do things his own way. He demanded the football, even when he wasn't necessarily open.

Often, it worked out. Brown had an innate ability to win and catch the ball, even when double covered.

But of Ben Roethlisberger's league-high 16 interceptions in 2018, 10 came on passes intended for Brown. Without Brown to demand the football, that number could go down.

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