3 Steelers with huge expectations in 2021

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Expectations are through the roof for the 2021 season. The return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger brings hope but knowing he might not return after this it is an all-in type of season.

There are plenty of players under pressure this season but here are the three who the Steelers need the most and with the highest expectations to step up in 2021.

WR Diontae Johnson

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

2020 was supposed to be the breakout performance of Diontae Johnson. And 88 receptions is nothing to scoff at. But despite that, Johnson's 15 drops squashed any excitement for the season. With JuJu Smith-Schuster back and Chase Claypool on the rise, Johnson needs a huge performance to hold onto his place among a very talented group. Pittsburgh needs to push defenses back and if he can hold onto the football, Johnson is the best guy on the roster to do it.

EDGE Alex Highsmith

(AP Photo/Justin Berl)

Not one wants to be the guy who replaces the guy but this is where Alex Highsmith finds himself. After coming in and filling on for Bud Dupree after his injury, the starting spot is all his opposite T.J. Watt. Highsmith got one sack in five starts down the stretch but showed enough growth to have the confidence of the coaches. With only rookie Quincy Roche behind him, the pressure is on Highsmith to perform and maintain the reputation of the best pass-rushing team in the NFL.

OT Chuks Okorafor

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It would have been easy to put Zach Banner here but I think there is far more pressure on Chuks Okorafor at this point. As the only returning offensive tackle with any legitimate starting experience, Okorafor should be penciled in as the all-important starting left tackle. Pittsburgh is completely rebuilding their offensive line this season and Okorafor will be asked to protect his franchise quarterback's blindside.

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