The Pittsburgh Steelers put together a respectable preseason performance against the Seattle Seahawks. Here is my latest player stock report.
We could nitpick over a collection of minor details, but it’s hard to be too upset with Pittsburgh’s opening preseason performance of 2022. The Steelers hosted the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 of the preseason in a game that came down the wire. We got a treat from the offense — including a Kenny Pickett touchdown pass in the waning seconds to avoid overtime.
On Sunday afternoon, I rewatched the game in its entirety — stopping to rewind the play from time to time. It was pretty easy to see which players stood out in a positive light and which players were detrimental to the cause.
Here’s a look at my Steelers stock report following their preseason win over the Seattle Seahawks:
George Pickens and Tre Norwood are the biggest risers
There were several strong performances in this contest, but George Pickens and Tre Norwood were the best performers on their respective sides of the ball during Week 1 of the NFL preseason. Pickens reeled in all three catchable passes for 43 yards and an impressive toe-tapping touchdown (his two other targets in this contest were overthrows and both deemed uncatchable).
Likewise, Tre Norwood was equally impressive on the opposite side of the football. Pro Football Focus credited with zero receptions allowed on 4 targets. He also chipped in two pass breakups, including dislodging the football for a would-be touchdown reception.
Steelers offense was not short on strong performances
In addition to Pickens and Norwood, all three quarterbacks played well for Pittsburgh in their opening preseason game of 2022. They each led touchdown drives, and Mason Rudolph deserves credit for his pass in the back of the endzone to Pickens (though he also threw a dropped pick in this contest).
Mitch Trubisky led the team in yards per attempt and wasn’t afraid to look downfield. He made his first touchdown drive look easy. Kenny Pickett also exceeded expectations in his opener. While the game plan for the rookie seemed pretty scripted, it’s hard to argue with the results. His 132.6 passer rating leads the entire NFL among qualifying QBs through the first week of the preseason, via CBS Sports, and his stock is trending up.
Gunner Olszewski deserves a pat on the back for his performance as well. We know that the former All-Pro return man of the New England Patriots is going to help out on special teams, but he looked pretty natural operating from the slot. He finished the afternoon catching 3 of 4 passes for 47 yards and a touchdown.
Additionally, running backs Anthony McFarland, Jaylen Warren, and Master Teague each had impressive performances in the absence of Najee Harris and Benny Snell. They are making a strong push for roster spots.
I also thought backup offensive lineman John Leglue was rock-solid in this contest. He looked good on practically every rep. Defensively, Myles Jack played well and recorded a tackle for a loss before Mike Tomlin decided his day was done.
Steelers have a few key players with stock trending down
After a very disappointing 2021 season, I really wanted to see some signs of life from Devin Bush in his first preseason action this year. While I don’t want to overreact to a couple of quarters of play in exhibition action, Bush was pretty terrible.
The former first-round pick was late reacting against the run and wasn’t spectacular against the pass. Despite ample playing time, he wasn’t able to record as much as an assisted tackle in this contest. I normally don’t care much for using raw statistics as a basis to measure how a player performs, but as a linebacker, he should have been much more involved.
I also wasn’t thrilled by what I saw with Kendrick Green. To the naked eye, he didn’t appear to have a detrimental game, but after I went back and watched all of his snaps, he was clearly a step below the other starting offensive linemen. Green gave up a pressure right down the throat of the quarterback and looked like he was playing on ice skates at times as he struggled to anchor in pass protection (which is nothing new). I was hoping for better results.
Steelers roster-bubble players hurt their cause
While there were only a few starters I thought had bad games, some of the players on the roster bubble really hurt their cause. Delontae Scott was one of them. Despite a strong training camp so far, the second-year edge defender was manhandled against the run — getting completely washed out of several plays.
I was also disappointed by the performances of some of the young Steelers linebackers. Buddy Johnson was a former fourth-round pick with excellent athletic traits, but much like Bush, he was late to read and react to the play. Though he led the team with 7 solo tackles, most of them came well past the line of scrimmage as he would let the play come to him instead of diagnosing and making the tackle closer to the line of scrimmage.
Likewise, I thought the backup interior defensive line, including Carlos Davis, had a rough evening. I’m also convinced at this point that offensive tackles Trent Scott and Chaz Green are just bad football players.
I plan to watch the Steelers preseason game a third time just to make sure there’s nothing important that I missed, but these were the players with the most moving stock after Pittsburgh’s first preseason game against the Seahawks.