What Steelers starters (if any) are playing tonight vs. Falcons?

  • Will Steelers veterans suit up tonight?
  • How long can we expect starters to play?
Steelers, Kenny Pickett
Steelers, Kenny Pickett / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After what we witnessed in the first two preseason games from the Pittsburgh Steelers, there's an argument to be made that Mike Tomlin should simply shut his starters down and make sure they go into Week 1 healthy against the San Francisco 49ers. I can see both sides of the discussion.

On one hand, Pittsburgh's first-team offense has looked spectacular in the early going and their young players and rookies have shown just about as much as we could have hoped for to this point. Is it worth risking adding more reps for a chance to sustain an injury in meaningless exhibition action?

At the same time, It's worth noting that the Steelers do have over two weeks between their preseason finale against the Falcons and the start of the regular season against the 49ers -- plenty of time to recover from a few nicks and bruises. This team can't afford to start the 2023 season flat like they did last year when they went 2-6 before the bye week.

All that really matters is what the head honcho has to say.

Tomlin doesn't give a direct answer as to which Steelers starters will suit up

Recently, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin spoke with the media in his pre-game press conference ahead of the preseason finale against the Falcons. When asked about who will play in the final exhibition game, Tomlin said he plans to play 'those that are healthy,' but he did not give a clear answer.

Tomlin did note hint that he doesn't need to see as much from his seasoned veterans.

"First-team All-Pros all and 30-year-old corners I know more about, and so it's not about the guys oftentimes that I choose not to play, it's about the opportunity for others."

Mike Tomlin on veterans playing

This seemed to be directly referencing players like T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Patrick Peterson. While he didn't say for sure, it seems like these players will either be very limited or may not play at all.

Despite saying that 'those that are healthy' will be the ones suiting up, Tomlin somewhat contradicted himself by saying the following in his pre-game presser:

"By no means am I guaranteeing that everyone plays. Really, it's our ability to see what it is that we need to see before we move on."

Mike Tomlin via press conference

Tomlin doesn't always give precise answers, so, at times, we are forced to read between the lines. Gathering from what he said, it certainly sounds like the Steelers will deploy Kenny Pickett and their first-team offense for at least a series or two in this game. It's possible that this could exclude a player like Isaac Seumalo, based on how talked about veterans earlier.

The same cannot be said for the defense. It's possible that players like Watt, Heyward, Fitzpatrick, and Peterson will be on the sidelines without pads against the Falcons.

Outside of this, it sounds like every other young player and healthy man on the roster will suit up to play when the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Atlanta Falcons tonight. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. For more information about odds, streaming, or how to watch, check out our Steelers vs. Falcons game preview.