The Steelers had an exciting start to the preseason with a victory over the Seahawks. Here are a few players who stood out, both good and bad.
The Steelers came away with a dramatic victory over the Seahawks in their preseason opener Saturday night, with rookie QB Kenny Pickett finding receiver Tyler Vaughns for a score with just 3 seconds left. There were a lot of players and position groups who stood out in the win, but also a few who failed to make an impact at all. With that being said, it was still an overall good day for Pittsburgh fans. Here are the ‘studs” and “duds’ for the Steelers preseason opener.
Steelers trio of QBs lead the list of studs
The Steelers QB trio (Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett) combined to go 26/37 for 251 yards and four touchdowns, with Trubisky and Pickett especially standing out. Mason played well in his own right but made the most mistakes overall among the trio.
All three lead scoring drives, but it was ultimately Pickett who knocked off Seattle with a last-second touchdown. It was a great showing from a group with a lot of question marks, helping ease Steelers fans’ minds.
Steelers backup running backs
One of the biggest concerns for the Steelers offense heading into camp was who their backup running would be. It was a wasteland behind Najee Harris last season and the team only added to the position through the undrafted free agent pool. Despite that, the backups looked phenomenal in the win over the Seahawks.
They had three players over six carries, with Anthony McFarland leading the way with seven carries for 56 yards. Jaylen Warren (six for 34) and Master Teague (six for 31) also had excellent days. Warren contributed in the passing game as well, catching four passes for 30 yards and a score. This performance will hopefully lead to the Steelers trusting one of these guys to give Najee a breather, something Benny Snell (injured for this game) couldn’t do last year.
Steelers Tre Norwood
On a day where the Steelers defense looked shaky overall, safety Tre Norwood was a bright spot in the secondary. He was all over the field in coverage and finished with three solo tackles and two pass deflections. Not gaudy numbers by any means, but he looked like a veteran in his second season. He has competition for being the third safety, but a game like this will definitely help his case.
Honorable mentions: George Pickens, James Pierre, Gunner Olszewski
Steelers linebackers among huge duds to start preseason
Steelers linebackers not named Myles Jack
The Steelers run defense last season was uncharacteristically bad in 2021, in large part due to their linebackers. It’s a significant reason why they signed former Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack when he was cut this offseason.
Jack played very well in his limited snaps, but the same cannot be said about his position mates. Devin Bush still looked hesitant to play the run, and Robert Spillane’s struggles in coverage were easily exposed. The same can be said for Buddy Johnson and rookie Mark Robinson.
Robinson at least forced the fumble that led to the game-winning touchdown, but overall the linebackers were painful to watch. If the Steelers want to be a top defense in 2022, one of these players has to step up to be a competent starter next to Jack.
Steelers pass rush
The Steelers have led the NFL in sacks every season since 2017, and much of that is due to the presence of T.J Watt and Cam Heyward. They had plenty of other good rushers during that time, but they led the way. Their depth this year is weaker than it has been in any other year, especially at edge. It showed in this game with expected 3rd edge rusher Genard Avery missing the game. They did have three sacks, but they rarely touched the Seahawk’s QBs outside of those plays.
If this game is any indication, Pittsburgh badly needs their starters to have healthy seasons this year after they were banged up for much of 2021. They would be smart to watch the waiver wire to see if any players with pass rush ability come available as well.
Dishonorable mentions: James Daniels, Dan Moore Jr