Finding Past Talent in the Preseason

By Jacob Jensen

It’s almost time for the most exciting part of the football year, preseason!!! No, just kidding. The preseason is often thought of as the most boring part of the football season, but it is also the most critical for a lot of players. Preseason is the time for overlooked players to shine and prove they are deserving of a spot on the 53-man roster (or even the practice squad). Teams can find real talent during the preseason, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are no exception. Here are some current players that earned their spot during the preseason:


Roosevelt Nix: Rosie Nix earned a spot on the Steelers roster in 2015. He made the majority of his preseason plays on special teams. He even blocked a kick. Since then, he has scored two touchdowns and recorded 35 tackles. 


Eli Rogers: In 2015, Eli Rogers went undrafted. He signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent, but spent the entire 2015 season on the IR. In 2016, he was competing for the 5th and final receiver position, and won it. Since then, Rogers has had 78 receptions with 822 yards and four touchdowns. 


B.J. Finney: In 2015, the Steelers signed B.J. Finney as an undrafted free agent and he spent time on the Steelers practice squad. In 2016, he competed again for a roster spot and earned one. Since then, he has made nine starts, but has been an important piece of the Steelers offensive line. 


Ramon Foster: In 2009, the Steelers signed Ramon Foster as an undrafted free agent. He would go on to earn a spot on the roster, and was the backup guard. Since then, Foster has started 131 games and has been an important piece of one of the best offensive lines in football.


Alejandro Villanueva: In 2010, Villanueva went undrafted. After finishing his tour with the military, Villanueva tried again to play in the NFL. In 2014, he was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. During a preseason game against the Steelers, Villanueva caught the attention of head coach Mike Tomlin. After the Eagles waived him during roster cuts, the Steelers signed him. He spent the 2014 season on the practice squad. In 2015, he earned a roster spot. Now, he is the Steelers starting left guard. 


Matt Feiler: in 2014, Matt Feiler went undrafted. He was signed by the Houston Texans. In 2015, he was released by the Texans. In 2016, the Steelers signed Feiler and he joined the practice squad. In October of that year, he was signed to the 53-man roster. He is now competing for the starting RT spot. 


Mike Hilton: In 2016, Mike Hilton went undrafted and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was then released and spent a little bit of time with the New England Patriots. He then signed with the Steelers practice squad on December 13, 2016. Hilton would then earn a spot on the roster in 2017. Since then, Hilton has recorded 121 tackles, three interceptions and five sacks. 

PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 16: Mike Hilton #31 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs up field after intercepting a pass thrown by Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans in the first quarter during the game at Heinz Field on November 16, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)


The preseason is a time for a lot of guys to get a couple reps and then relax. But for a lot more guys, it’s time for you to make a name for yourself. Who will be the stand out this preseason? Who is going to make a name for themselves? Tune in on Friday at 7:30 pm EST to find out! Leave your thoughts below!


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