Steel Curtain Network: A Pittsburgh Steelers podcast

5 Players the Steelers shouldn’t play in their preseason game vs. Tampa Bay

The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for their first preseason action of 2023, and the fan base is excited. The reason for excitement isn’t solely about the team being able to win an exhibition game, but can the team put together a performance which shows growth. Which mirrors the potential we’ve seen throughout training camp at Saint Vincent College.

With all that said, there are some players who aren’t needed for this game. Players who don’t need to prove anything, or are coming back from injury. That’s where this list started, and where I came up with five players who I don’t want to see playing, or even dressed, in Tampa Bay Friday night.

Let’s get to the list…

Cam Heyward

Captain Cam has nothing to prove here. On top of that, the players he will be playing alongside of should be relatively familiar as well. I don’t want to see Cam even stepping foot on the field with a helmet on.

T.J. Watt

I still remember the Week 3 preseason game last preseason when Watt has his knee rolled up on by T.J. Hockenson. He limped off the field, and he was labeled as “okay” after the game. That “okay” turned into him getting his knee cleaned up when he was on Injured Reserve (IR). Let’s avoid all of that by Watt not even playing this preseason.

Minkah Fitzpatrick

While I understand the roster turnover in the secondary could use Fitzpatrick in the deep half orchestrating things, there is no need to have him out there in Week 1. Throw in the fact Minkah has missed a lot of camp due to personal reasons, and I don’t think there is any reason to have him getting “acclimated” in an exhibition game.

Najee Harris

Notice Harris is the only offensive player on this list, and there’s a reason. Regardless of how well Jaylen Warren has played, the Steelers still want Harris to be their workhorse back. Let’s not pile unnecessary hits on the young running back. Harris said he would play if Mike Tomlin wanted him to play, but I’d be much happier if he didn’t.

Damontae Kazee

I could also throw Keanu Neal into this category, based on the fact these two have both been battling injury throughout camp and are close to returning to the lineup. Kazee and Neal will both have huge roles on this team in 2023, and pushing their way back too soon should be a concern. The last thing these players need are injuries which linger, when a little more rest could be the difference between starting Week 1 at 100%, and being banged up before the bye week.

While some might scoff at the lack of offensive players on the list, I personally feel the offense needs the repetitions. They might not need a ton of reps, but getting players like Kenny Pickett, George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, Pat Freiermuth, and the new-look offensive line reps together will be vital for this offense starting the year off on the right foot.

What say you? Who would you add to the list? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Buccaneers tonight at 7pm EST.

Hear more about this topic on my Friday “Let’s Ride” podcast, which can be heard in the player below this article.

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