In their preseason opener, Pittsburgh Steelers fans witnessed just about everything they were hoping to see. Kenny Pickett looked cool, calm, and collected as he marched his offense down the field for the opening score. Meanwhile, young players like Calvin Austin, Jaylen Warren, and Anthony McFarland Jr. exploded for big performances.
Now Pittsburgh's defense will be put to the ultimate test. On Thursday, the Buffalo Bills announced that quarterback Josh Allen will indeed suit up and play against the Steelers at Acrisure Stadium this Saturday night.
Allen is coming off his second Pro Bowl season in which he earned 4,283 passing yards to go with 35 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. For the second straight year, Allen led all NFL quarterbacks in Approximate Value -- an attempt to attach a single value number to each NFL player, per Pro Football Reference.
Allen is clearly one of the best in the league at his position thanks to unmatched traits, impressive legs, and his ability to push the ball down the field with ease. Now Pittsburgh's defense will be put to the test in Week 2 of the preseason.
Steelers defense must show up against the Bills
Obviously, we would love nothing more than to see a repeat performance of the one we saw against Tampa Bay in the preseason opener. However, that's unreasonable to expect. The Buccaneers were without many of their starters and it showed.
Though our eyes will still be on Kenny Pickett and the offense to see if they can perform well against a much stronger unit, I want to see what this defense can do against Josh Allen in Week 2 of the preseason. Clearly, we don't have many questions when it comes to players like T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cameron Heyward, but we would love to see young players and rookies step up for the second straight week.
In the preseason opener, both Nick Herbig and Keeanu Benton had phenomenal performances against a depleted Buccaneers' defense. If they can still manage to be impressive against a stacked Bills offense, this will be a telling sign.
Perhaps more than anything else defensively, I want to see Joey Porter Jr. in what could be a trial by fire. The rookie cornerback has been dealing with an injury, but he's nearly back to 100 percent and is expected to play. If Porter can lock down his man with Allen ripping the ball down the field, this will be a great sign.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott indicated that Josh Allen and the starting offense will play for about "a quarter and a half." This will give the Steelers plenty of time to give their starting defense the dress rehearsal, and I'm hoping they can get Herbig, Benton, and Porter involved while Buffalo's starting offense is still in the game.