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Steelers’ 2023 Preseason Looks Like a Mission Accomplished

Drawing conclusions based on the NFL preseason is risky at best. On the other hand, something about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2023 preseason looked not only different, but more promising than other preseasons in recent memory. Besides winning all three preseason games — doing so handily with impressive performances by their first-team unit — several players likely to be keys to the team’s prospects during the regular season distinguished themselves in their tuneups against the Buccaneers, Bills and Falcons. Other players demonstrated their readiness to provide valuable depth and special teams support.

Another positive sign occurred when the Steelers trimmed down their roster to the 53-player limit. Because the preseason was so successful in showcasing the potential of rookies and other young players, we didn’t see any major surprises on cutdown day. Whether those surviving the final cut are proven veterans or players only beginning their NFL journeys, Pittsburgh’s 2023 roster looks significantly stronger across the board. The Steelers’ coaching staff didn’t have many tough personnel decisions to make at the end of this preseason because the players who claimed roster spots mostly did so in convincing fashion. In particular, second-year players Kenny Pickett, Jaylen Warren, George Pickens, Calvin Austin III, Connor Heyward and Mark Robinson clearly bolstered their already strong cases for permanent spots on the roster.

Undoubtedly, the sledding will be far more difficult beginning on September 10th when the Steelers kick off their season against the power-laden San Francisco 49ers. But while the Black-and-Gold didn’t fare well last season against the league’s stronger teams, this preseason seems to signal it’s less likely for any NFL team to overlook a matchup with the 2023 Pittsburgh Steelers.

With his rookie season in the books, Kenny Pickett looks poised to make a big splash during his sophomore year. The arm strength and accuracy Pickett demonstrated during his brief stints in preseason games speak of a young quarterback with a promising future. Pickett’s development surely will be aided by the impressive, overall talent level of the Steelers offense and its revamped OL.

Defensively, the preseason play of rookies Keeanu Benton, Nate Herbig and Joey Porter Jr. sufficed to demonstrate that the Steelers will have newfound energy and depth. Barring injuries, we already know that Cameron Heyward, T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick will be the anchors of this unit. But particularly in terms of stuffing the run and pressuring opposing quarterbacks, the Steelers’ offseason infusion of young blood seems bound to yield a very positive impact.

Given their general upgrades in talent, plus the extra time they enjoy to prepare for Opening Day, there’s good reason to expect a Steelers squad coming out of the gate this season stronger than in many previous seasons. But in the wake of what looked like a nearly-perfect preseason for the Black-and-Gold, fans’ rising expectations will be sternly tested in the weeks ahead. Nevertheless, considering both the caliber of young players on the team and the known capabilities of their veteran teammates, the sky appears to be the limit for these 2023 Pittsburgh Steelers.

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