Second preseason game, not training camp, will decide Steelers starters

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers second preseason game, not training camp, will decide who starts week one of the regular season.

The Steelers will play the Jacksonville Jaguars in week two of the preseason, which will most likely be a preview of who starts week one of the regular season. I say most likely because of the fact that, prior to last season, there were four pre-season games. The third preseason game was the game where the starters played most of, if not, the entire game.

Similar to last season, the 2022 preseason will consist of three games, so it stands to reason that the second contest against the ‘Jags’ will feature the twenty-two starters the Steelers will deploy when the regular season starts on September 11th.

Don’t get me wrong, I think training camp is invaluable on many levels, particularly this year with all the new players we currently have on the roster.  I honestly don’t know how valuable training camp is for the veterans, but for the rookies and players who are new to us, I think camp is valuable.

The Steelers will need to incorporate several new players into the fold before the season starts

If you look at the roster as it is currently constructed, you will no doubt notice the nineteen rookies the Steelers have.  That is not to say that all nineteen rookies will either make the fifty-three-man roster or will be a part of the practice squad.  The chances of that happening are slim.

What it does mean, I think, is that we will spend whatever time in camp we need to spend to get not only the rookies but the free agents up to speed.  One of the ways to accomplish this is to put them in ‘live’ game situations, e.g., the first pre-season game and the third pre-season game.

I don’t foresee any player getting an appreciable amount of playing time unless Mike Tomlin wants to see what a particular player can do against ‘real’ competition, in other words against players who are not Steelers.

Another interesting scenario that will play out in the second pre-season game is this:  Which QB will start the game and which QB will finish the game? Frankly, with the question marks we have at the most important position on any NFL team, I think Tomlin will opt to go in this direction: Mitch Trubisky will get the start, followed by Mason Rudolph and then Kenny Pickett if the game is well in hand.

Since the second pre-season game will most likely be the game the Steelers would want to win for purposes of seeing what the starters can do, if the game is a close one, Pickett may not see the field, although I can see him starting the final pre-season game.

The reality is this:  I could be completely and utterly wrong in my assessment of how important the second pre-season will be. It could mean nothing, or it could mean everything.  For all I know, the training camp battles that unfold every year will decide who starts week one.

Trending. Ranking Steelers top 3 options with WR Diontae Johnson. light

Honestly, I think Tomlin will place much more emphasis on ‘live’, in-stadium gameplay than he will place on camp performance. Again, I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am. I guess we will find out soon enough if my speculation is correct.