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7 best special teams scores for the Steelers in preseason Week 1

When the Pittsburgh Steelers took the field Friday night for their first preseason contest of 2023, a good number of players did so in an attempt to squeeze their way onto the 53-man roster or at least the 16-man practice squad. With only a handful of positions really being up for grabs, the best way for a player to earn a spot is through being valuable on special teams.

Knowing that the final few roster spots could very well come down to this third element of the game, here are the top seven special team scores by Pro Football Focus (PFF) from the Steelers game on Friday night. In my typical fashion, I do want to remind everyone that PFF scores are merely an opinion, yet it is one based on looking at every player on every play. Whether or not you agree with the opinion of PFF in their scores is completely up to you.

For these seven players, they were the only ones on the Steelers who scored above 70.0 for their special teams grade on Friday night. Along with their score, the number of snaps each player was on the field for special teams will be included. The following is the key for the six different special-teams units:

KR = Kickoff return
KO = Kickoff coverage
PR = Punt return
PC = Punt coverage
FGB = Field goal block
FGK = Field goal kick


1- David Perales, OLB
Score: 86.3
Snaps: 15 total (3 KR, 2 KO, 3 PR, 4 PC, 3 FGB, 0 FGK)

Logging 50 snaps outside linebacker but not coming away with a good defensive PFF score, David Perales topped the special team scores with his 14 snaps. Exactly what Perales did on these snaps would take more film breakdown but he was not awarded any tackles according to PFF.

2- Rodney Williams, TE
Score: 84.4
Snaps: 14 total (4 KR, 3 KO, 3 PR, 4 PC, 0 FGB, 0 FGK)

Landing in the top five of the Steelers offensive PFF scores, Rodney Williams is making a case for the Steelers 53-man roster with the second highest special team score where he had one tackle. The problem for Williams is that the Steelers tight end room is already filled with quality players.

3- Tanner Muse, LB
Score: 80.4
Snaps: 14 total (3 KR, 3 KO, 3 PR, 2 PC, 3 FGB, 0 FGK)

In his first year with the Steelers, Tanner Muse has only been used in his NFL career as a primarily special teams player. Having the worst PFF score for any player in the defense, Muse showed his special teams ability with a score in the 80s as well as two special team tackles.

4- Elijah Riley, S
Score: 77.2
Snaps: 2 total (0 KR, 0 KO, 0 PR, 2 PC, 0 FGB, 0 FGK)

Despite only having two snaps as a gunner on punt coverage, Elijah Riley made the most of his opportunity and had a tackle on one of the plays. Already making a case for the 53-man roster in the secondary, if Riley can also prove to be an exceptional special teams player his path to the game-day roster becomes even wider.

5- Kenny Robinson, S
Score: 74.5
Snaps: 12 total (1 KR, 3 KO, 3 PR, 2 PC, 3 FGB, 0 FGK)

Getting the start at safety on Friday, Kenny Robinson also added 12 special team snaps. Despite not having any tackles, Robinson graded out in the top five for the Steelers.

6- Dez Fitzpatrick, WR
Score: 73.0
Snaps: 11 total (1 KR, 3 KO, 3 PR, 4 PC, 0 FGB, 0 FGK)

Not showing anything overly impressive in his 19 offensive snaps Friday night, wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick showed he could play special teams for the Steelers with 11 snaps and a quality grade.

7- Jalen Elliott, S
Score: 72.9
Snaps: 5 (5 KR, 3 KO, 2 PR, 0 PC, 0 FGB, 0 FGK)

Having to jump on the moving train with not much practice time since joining the Steelers, Jalen Elliott still had five special team snaps and was the final player on the Steelers roster to score above a 70.0 on Friday.


So there are the top seven special team scores from Friday night’s preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While these players are not likely to make the roster based strictly on their special teams performance from one game, they are an interesting group to watch over the next two contests to see if they can continue to get the job done on the various special teams units.

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