3 Steelers players poised for bigger roles in the season's final stretch

More snaps could these three players could result in a boost down the stretch for the Steelers.

Steelers, Keeanu Benton
Steelers, Keeanu Benton / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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After possessing a comfortable 7-4 record entering Week 13, the Pittsburgh Steelers have since dropped two straight games to a pair of opponents who are widely deemed among the worst units in the National Football League. These ugly losses to the Cardinals and Patriots were inexcusable at the time and have put Pittsburgh in a tough spot.

The Steelers could be one game away from plummeting in the AFC playoff picture and this team is desperate for a spark anywhere they can find one. It's far too late in the season to turn to a depleted free-agent market for answers as injuries start to mount up.

While Pittsburgh might not stand a great shot to compete if they make it to the postseason, these three players have shown why it's in the best interest of the team if they see the field significantly more during the final stretch of the 2023 season.

1. Keeanu Benton should be playing starter snaps

I don't know what Keeanu Benton did to deserve a demotion, but remarkably, that's exactly what has happened to the sensational rookie defensive lineman. When the 2023 second-round pick earned an impressive 48 snaps back in Week 8, we thought the Benton was in the driver's seat to a full-time role. Instead, his usage has decreased in nearly every game since.

Against the Patriots in Week 14, Benton saw a career-low 17 defensive snaps. We might have been able to chalk this up to an oblique injury he sustained, but the fact that his snaps have continually decreased showed that this isn't the reason why he wasn't on the field.

Fortunately, Benton has officially been named the starting nose tackle, but Mike Tomlin and Teryl Austin need to understand that he's so much more than a guy who should be playing on base downs. Thanks to his pass-rush chops, Benton has all the makings of an every-down interior defender, and it's in the best interest of the team to start using him as such.