The NFL preseason was technically back when the Jets and Browns kicked things off with the 2023 Hall of Fame game last week. However, if it didn't feel like football season then, it certainly will now. The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting set to face the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay for their first preseason game of the year, and there are a number of things that fans should be watching for.
The Steelers have plenty of positional battles that haven't yet been decided. We are looking to see how things shape up at slot cornerback as well as the linebacker depth. However, when it comes to specific players to watch in Week 1 of the preseason, these are the Steelers players you should really have your eye on.
3. Calvin Austin III, Wide Receiver
After it looked like Pittsburgh stole Calvin Austin III in the compensatory fourth round last year, our wishful thinking came to an abrupt halt when Austin was injured very early at Steelers training camp. Before we ever really got to see him take the field, Austin had sustained a season-ending foot injury.
The 2022 season was essentially a redshirt year for the young wide receiver. Instead of having a year of experience under his belt and ample chemistry already developed with QB Kenny Pickett, Austin is essentially starting from square one.
Some big plays at training camp this year have certainly offered us encouragement, but the sample hasn't always been great. Austin has been inconsistent at times as well. It would be fantastic to see Austin come firing out of the gate in Tampa Bay -- preferably earning some time with Pickett and the first-team offense.
There's no question that Austin has game-breaking speed, and that could certainly be an asset to a team that ranked at the bottom of the league in yards after the catch last season. Against the Buccaneers in the first preseason game, we need to see that Austin is somewhat polished and ready to help this team out early in 2023. His performance as both a receiver and return man will be key in this game.