Steelers schedule 2024: Games that could define Troy Fautanu's season

These four matchups could make or break Troy Fautanu's rookie season in 2024 and shape the direction of his career.
Troy Fautanu, NFL Combine
Troy Fautanu, NFL Combine / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers released their schedule for the 2024 NFL season, and it's looking rough. After opening the season with three of the first four games on the road, the Steelers get a brutal slate of games from Week 11 until the end of the year, and they won't face a single team with a losing record from the 2023 season during this stretch.

In order to find success against a brutal schedule this year, Mike Tomlin will rely on help from his 2024 draft class. Several players could make a Day 1 impact for the Steelers, but none will be more important to the team's success than Troy Fautanu.

The Steelers' first-round pick is expected to start right away, and the early indications are that he will slot in as the team's right tackle. Unfortunately, he will have some daunting matchups and will be battle-tested early in his NFL career. Here are four games that could define Troy Fautanu's rookie season and shape his career path.

Week 5: Steelers vs. Cowboys

Nothing is a walk in the park for a rookie offensive tackle in the NFL, but Troy Fautanu is going to get a wake-up call in Week 5. As the Steelers host the Dallas Cowboys, Fautanu could have an extremely challenging matchup against All-Pro edge rusher, Micah Parsons.

Parsons is arguably the best in the league as converting speed to power and anchoring against this type of rush is something Fautanu needs to improve on. It will also be interesting to see if Fautanu can match Parsons' speed and dip around the edge. If he can have a respectable showing against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5, this will be a great sign for the rookie offensive tackle.

Week 6: Steelers @ Raiders

If lining up against Micah Parsons early in his career isn't enough, the Steelers will be on the road the following week where Fautanu could be tasked with the difficult assignment of containing Maxx Crosby. Like Parsons, Crosby was one of the overall best defensive players in the NFL last season and was a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Crosby has been to three straight Pro Bowls and hasn't missed a game in his NFL career. The ferocious edge defender has led the league in tackles for a loss in back-to-back seasons, and keeping the quarterback clean could be an issue for Fautanu against a long, strong, and athletic player like Crosby. Talk about a brutal matchup.

Week 12: Steelers @ Browns

After slightly easier assignments in the middle of the season, Fautanu will be put to the ultimate test again late in the year. Week 12 will mark the first of two matchups against Myles Garrett and the Cleveland Browns.

While Garrett plays on the right edge more often, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz often moves him around. Schwartz could even try to get Garrett matched up against Troy Fautanu more often than we know. Garrett has innate strength and length, so anchoring against the 2023 Defensive Player of the Year could be a challenge for the undersized offensive tackle.

If things don't go well in Week 12, Fautanu will have a chance to get his revenge against the Browns in Week 14 when the Steelers will be at home for the second of their two head-to-head games in 2024.

Week 15: Steelers @ Eagles

It's hard to say which type of player Troy Fautanu could struggle with the most, but another team that could give the rookie fits is the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles added pass rush specialist Bryce Huff to their roster. Despite not being credited with a start over the past two seasons, Huff makes his living on passing downs where he earned 10.0 sacks and 21 QB hits last season.

In addition to Huff, the Eagles could mix things up with players like Nolan Smith, Josh Sweat, and Zack Baun. Philadelphia is going to be a tough matchup all around, and Fautanu won't have an easy assignment in Week 15.