Steelers who need to play better in Week 2 vs Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers will need all hands on deck this week against the Patriots, and these four players, in particular, will need to play better this week.

The Steelers got the upset win last week, but they will need to put together another strong game if they want to have a shot at winning against the Patriots. While there were a lot of positives from the first game, there were also a handful of players that didn’t perform that well. As starters, they need to play better during the second week of the season.

Though the entire game won’t fall onto just these players, a better showing from them will go a long way in setting this team up for another win. They weren’t disasters against the Bengals, but their play left a lot to be desired. Here are the four Steelers that need to play better during Week 2 of the season.

Steelers who must play better vs Patriots:

C Mason Cole

The offensive line was one of the talking points of the offseason, as the group seemed to struggle on a weekly basis. One of the more consistent players was newcomer Mason Cole. The free agent addition wasn’t wowing anyone with his play, but he was holding his own for the most part and one of the brightest spots of the line as a whole.

The line had a very mixed first game. In terms of pass blocking, the unit did ok, but the run blocking was a mess. Unfortunately, Cole wasn’t great in either regard. He did get injured during the game, and that may have influenced his play, but he needs to come out sharper this week. The entire line needs to get a solid push this week.

WR George Pickens

On the flip side of things, one of the most hyped players from all of the Steelers offseason was George Pickens. The rookie second-round pick was unstoppable in camp and looked the part of a capable receiver in the preseason. Expectations were sky-high for the rookie, but he failed to make much of an impact in his first game.

Granted, the entire passing offense was slowed and focused on short passes, but one catch for three yards was disappointing. The Steelers also seemed to favor mixing in Miles Boykin as opposed to keeping Pickens on the field. A slow start isn’t overly surprising, but he needs to recapture some of the hype he had previously.

DT Larry Ogunjobi

The Steelers defense was the winner of the game last Sunday. They were dominant in almost every facet, and the line, in particular, was bullying the Bengals offensive line. While horribly inefficient, Larry Ogunjobi had a pretty quiet outing for his first game in Pittsburgh. He failed to log a sack where pressure was plentiful.

With T.J. Watt nursing his pec injury, the team will have to get pressure from other areas. Ogunjobi needs to step up in that regard. Again, he wasn’t a liability by any means, but the team will need to get some solid pass-rushing reps out of Ogunjobi this week if they want their defense to remain elite.

RB Najee Harris

The biggest loser from last week, Najee Harris looked like a shell of his rookie self. While he was nursing an injury and didn’t have the best holes opened for him by his line, he was ineffective before finally getting pulled because of his injury. He only compiled 26 total yards on the day plus a receiving touchdown.

For a back that the Steelers have hyped as their workhorse and star of this offense, it was a poor showing from the second-year player. While the line should continue to improve in time, Harris needs to be at least average. This offense needs a running game to help move the ball, and Harris needs to become a first-round quality back.

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The Steelers found a way to win their first game this past weekend, but it wasn’t due to any of these four players. Each is capable of a lot more heading into the game with the Patriots. If the team wants to win back-to-back games, then these players will have to step up this week.