The Steelers have their second preseason game on Saturday and there are a few players who must understand their jobs could be on the line with poor performance.
The Steelers roster has many players that will be on the roster regardless of how they perform on Saturday. There are, however, some players who need a good performance to avoid losing their starting job and/or being cut.
The preseason is always filled with stories of players who fight harder than others and earn starting jobs over veterans and other young players. Pittsburgh needs to put the best team possible on the field regardless of veteran status with the team.
With the preseason decreasing from four games down to three recently, players have fewer chances to impress coaches and earn roster spots or even starting spots. With that in mind, game two is massive in terms of fringe starters proving they should be the ones given the job for the season.
There are three players I can think of who should have an extra pep in their step come Saturday. These guys need to be available and play well to avoid falling down the depth chart or off the 53-man roster altogether.
Devin Bush must show the burst he once had
It is no secret that the fans who once loved the trade-up to select Bush are now soured on the move. This is solely based on such poor play in 2021 after a very promising first 21 games in the NFL.
Bush seemed to look the part of a future core building block in a young Steelers defense in those games. That all changed in week five of 2020 when he tore his ACL, ending his season early.
Bush came back in 2021 but noticeably lacked the burst and speed that made the Steelers want to move up and take him. This was mostly chalked up to slowly working back from his injury but things did not get much better and there were only quick flashes of pre-injury Bush.
Robert Spillane having an excellent camp and the signing of Myles Jack in free agency should have Bush eager to fly around and make tackles on Saturday to avoid plunging to second string on the depth chart. The Steelers would love nothing more than the former first-rounder to return to form and continue to start.
Benny Snell is falling behind a trio of young players
The Steelers are known historically for employing a certain style of running back so it was no surprise to see them select Benny Snell in 2019. He was a power-style runner with good college production averaging 5.3 yards per carry and scoring 48 touchdowns.
The Steelers have yet to see that translate to the NFL level as he has averaged under 4 yards per carry in his career. He lacks the burst and top-end speed to be a quality backup running back and it showed in week one when he was out with injury and others shined.
Snell has missed some practice and the week one game while Anthony McFarland and Jaylen Warren have had solid camps and both performed well against Seattle.
If Snell wants to keep his second-string role, he better give it all he has in the rest of the preseason. If he doesn’t, he will lose his second-string spot and possibly his spot on the roster at all.
Kendrick Green moving to guard hasn’t helped him much
Green was put in a somewhat unfair position being selected on day 2 and expected to start at center. Green played most of his college ball at guard and the Steelers still picked him to replace Maurice Pouncey in 2021.
Green struggled mightily and the team responded to that by signing Mason Cole, who is expected to start at center. This leaves no starting spot open for Green and he has been battling Kevin Dotson for the starting left guard spot this preseason.
Although Green may win the job by default if Dotson can’t get healthy, he still needs to prove he earned it and belongs in the NFL as a starting offensive lineman. He looks pretty solid in the run game but his issues come in pass protection and anchoring himself against pass rushers.
Green is a little small for the trenches but the Steelers will give him every opportunity to succeed and prove their rather high investment is not a mistake. He will need to show out big in the next two games and perform better than his 2021 campaign to win over the coaches and fans alike.
Overall, Pittsburgh has many positions seemingly locked in for the 2022 season but, these three are very much in danger of losing their spots on the depth chart or even the roster at this point. The next two weeks will prove who is best going to give the Steelers a chance to compete at a high level this season.