5 Steelers in need of the most improvement on Saturday
Although there are a multitude of reasons for the NFL to hold preseason games, the two biggest things to take away from the contests or for teams to prepare for the upcoming season and for players to show they deserve a spot on the 53-man roster, the 16-man practice squad, or to have an opportunity with another franchise. As teams go into their preseason games, there aren’t always a large number of spots on the roster that are reasonably available. But for the few spots that remain, players who appear to be the front runners need to solidify their performances in-stadium.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they are preparing for their second preseason game, this time in the friendly confines of Acrisure Stadium. After having one game where players put their performances on tape, there are some players who are believed to be fighting for a roster spot who may not have had their best performance in Tampa. For this reason, the game against the Buffalo Bills holds even more importance.
With all this in mind, here are five players on the Steelers who need to have an improved performance in their second preseason game. These players are ones who are believed to specifically be fighting for a potential spot on the 53-man roster.
There have been multiple reports about Cody White being the most impressive wide receiver during the Steelers offseason programs. But if football in shorts or even in training camp practices does not correlate in-stadium success, the reports don’t carry much value. In last Friday’s game, Cody White was targeted three times and only had one reception for 7 yards. Credited with a drop by Pro Football Focus (PFF), White also had -3 yards after the catch If White is going to find his way onto the 53-man roster, he will need to be a more reliable option in the passing game.
Another receiver who was believed to be in the mix for a spot on the 53-man roster, Butler came to the Steelers after an excellent season in the XFL. But not having great reports of the same success in Steelers training camp, Butler had one reception on two targets for 17 yards in the Steelers first preseason game. As for the other target, it was a drop which seemed to be a problem that was following Butler in Latrobe.
I’ve said it many times before, but the experiment of using Kendrick Greene as a fullback only works if he can make the roster at his natural position. If he can make the roster as a reserve offensive lineman, then it’s fine to use Green a few snaps a game at fullback because he’s a player who is available. But those other brief uses aren’t going to help if he doesn’t make the roster, and based on his performance last week strictly on the offensive line, there are others who should be pushing for that roster position.
Although primarily a special teams player, and remembering his special teams play the first game was of high quality, in order for Tanner Muse to squeeze onto the roster to do these things on special teams he needs to at least show he could be an adequate reserve at the linebacker position. With other players such as Miles Killebrew and Miles Boykin eating up special teams snaps and not giving much to their respective positions, it’s difficult for the Steelers to keep yet another player doing the same thing. For this reason, Muse needs to show what he can do on defense and that he could be an option there. And when it comes to defense, Muse had the lowest score of all Steelers defenders in their first preseason game.
Although his roster spot is less in danger with the season ending injury to Cory Trice, James Pierre still doesn’t have any guarantees when it comes to landing in the top 53. Surrendering six receptions on all six times he was targeted, Pierre struggled last Friday, despite leading the team in tackles, before bouncing back to have a better week of practice. But a solid performance on the defensive side of the ball on Saturday could all-but lock Pierre into his roster spot.
So there is my list of five players I feel I need to show the most improvement in the Steelers second preseason game in order to give themselves the best chance at the 53-man roster. Are these players appropriately placed on the list? Are there any others you would have in their place? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.