The Steelers hope to keep their momentum rolling, and here are five bold predictions for their game against the Jaguars.
The Steelers roll into their next preseason game looking to build off the strengths from their first game. While the team will still be cautious with some of their stars, we should see some more of the starters get more burn together. To be clear, a loss here, or anywhere in the preseason for that matter, still isn’t a concern, but the hope has to be for a build from the performance last week.
On paper, there are quite a few players who could seemingly cement a roster spot with a good game here. Likewise, there are quite a few players that seem to be floundering their chance right now. All of this will be on display this week, and here are five bold predictions for the Steelers second preseason game.
Harvin puts his practice to good use
A storyline to watch this offseason seemingly was what the Steelers would do at the punter position. Pressley Harvin was drafted in the seventh round last year, but inconsistencies marred his first season. The team didn’t bring much in for competition, and after cutting Cameron Nizialek, Harvin is the only punter on the roster.
Add in his solid weeks of practice and a lot is riding on Harvin this week. A good day of punting will likely lock him into the roster. Meanwhile, a repeat of last season’s struggles could force the team to scout the rest of the league for their next punter. All said I think Harvin puts together a good game in his preseason debut.
Daniels has a bounce-back game
The Steelers crown jewel of the offseason was signing James Daniels to a moderate-sized contract. The former Bears guard has been a good pro to this point, and the team seemingly locked up a potential multi-year starter. Early reports in camp were spotty while his first actual preseason game confirmed that issue.
This week has seemed to be different though, as Daniels was constantly winning in camp. Add in the fact that he is probably far more comfortable with his teammates now and I think Daniels gets back on the right track. He has all of the traits to be elite, so don’t be surprised when he finds his grove this week during the game.
Steelers defensive line shows up
One of the more disappointing elements from the game last week, the defensive line continued to show a lot of weakness when trying to stop the run. When rushing the passer and applying pressure they are fine, but the Seahawks ran at will against this defense. Sure, the linebackers didn’t help matters, but this line has to get better at stopping the run.
With the starters staying in a little bit longer, I think this unit does rebound this week. They should have their hands full with the Jaguars backfield. If this unit can flash some of the stiffness that they have shown in years past, it will be a welcome watch for a team that needs to get their run defense sorted out this season.
Pickett officially jumps Rudolph
I will make this clear upfront: I think Mason Rudolph has, to this point, outplayed Kenny Pickett. To be fair neither has been bad, but Rudolph has been the more consistent in practice and has shown more variety in his passes. That said, the Steelers are ready to move forward with their higher investment and the player they envision starting long-term.
I think this game is a lot of the same. Unless Pickett absolutely crashes though, I think Pickett will officially be the number two quarterback moving forward. This means Rudolph will be sitting as the third option, and more than likely he may be dangled as trade bait. While he has been a pleasant surprise, I think this is the last week with Rudolph seeing significant second-team snaps.
Saturday is the Warren show
One of the biggest winners from all of training camp has to be undrafted rookie running back Jaylen Warren. Despite having little fanfare heading into training camp, he has arguably been the most productive back in all of camp. The Steelers need a capable backup behind Najee Harris, and Warren is making the case that it should be him.
He looked the part in the first game, although a fumble did sour his final stat line. He has been carrying a ball all throughout camp this week and has still been running hard. I think all of this carries over into a great performance against the Jaguars. If he can keep this momentum, there is little reason to believe that Warren won’t make this final roster.
The Steelers should be a little more settled this week and as a result, some players can really cement their roster spots this week. There is a lot riding on quite a few players this week, so keep these five bold predictions in mind for the game.