3 Steelers veterans likely on the roster bubble in 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers helmet (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers helmet (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /
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Jaylen Samuels Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Jaylen Samuels

Samuels has had his ups and downs during his time in the NFL. He filled in very well for James Conner in 2018 when the Steelers needed him most against the Patriots in week 15.

Samuels was also a focal point of the gameplan in 2019 against the Bengals in a 27-3 win on Monday Night Football. The Steelers have enjoyed him as their number two back since drafting him in 2018.

Backfields in the NFL have shifted to having a bell-cow running back and a change of pace, receiving style back as a one-two punch. James Conner and Jaylen Samuels have been the Steelers’ choice of backfield duo for the past two seasons.

Samuels hasn’t been overly impressive and outside a couple of flashes, has been average in his first two seasons with the team. This could lead to him being the odd man out in 2020.

With the team taking a running back in the draft each of the last two seasons, Samuels could find himself fighting for his job in camp. Bennie Snell is a pretty safe bet to make the roster so the team will likely only keep one other back.

Anthony McFarland was taken this year and is a shifty, change of pace runner that the Steelers could easily replace Samuels with. He will also likely be a safe bet to make the team barring a very poor camp and preseason showing from him.

Samuels’s best bet would be to simply out-perform both Snell and McFarland this summer to prove he still belongs on the roster. Pittsburgh could opt to keep four backs but the young speedster Kerrith Whyte showed some promise in 2019 and could be kept as the fourth back over Samuels in that scenario.

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The Steelers have a solid roster foundation and their decisions this summer on whether to keep veterans or pop the bubble in favor of the younger guys could make or break a championship-contending season with Ben Roethlisberger back at the helm. Training camp and the preseason, no matter how long, will prove to be exciting and filled with position battles between veterans and young players.