The Pittsburgh Steelers and all their fans are eagerly awaiting the moment the team gets to play in a live game for the first time this season. After weeks of going against each other in training camp, this will be the first time we will get to see them play someone in an opposing jersey in 2022. Before the game against the Seattle Seahawks kicks off, here are five things for you to keep an eye on.
1. Quarterback Quandary
Without a doubt, the most talked about question over the course of the off-season is who will be the starting quarterback this season. Currently, the depth chart has shown Mitch Trubisky to be the starter with Mason Rudolph being the secondary, and 2022 first round pick Kenny Pickett listed as QB3. Each of these quarterbacks have shown flashes of brilliance in camp, but now the stage is bigger. Here are some things to keep in mind going into the game.
We haven’t seen Trubisky be the starting quarterback of a team since the Chicago Bears 2020 NFC Wild Card game. So how will he perform as the starter in a live game situation? As for Rudolph, the question remains if he can shake off the “career backup” label. If he performs well, would that propel him into the driver’s seat for the starting job in Week 1? Lastly, can Pickett handle the pressure and manage to shine in his first professional performance?
2. Pickens’ True Potential
Regardless of where you heard it first, everyone has been talking about second round pick, George Pickens. So far through camp, he has remained one of the dominant headlines with dominant performances to match. From contested and difficult catches, to trash talking opponents (who in this case happen to be his teammates), Pickens has already been viewed as a potential superstar in the making.
This is all well and good, but game speed and live tackling are among two of the important factors that guys like Pickens will have to adjust to. He may be able to “beast and feast” in practice, but can that success transfer over to his performance in an actual game? If so, then expect him to be a regular on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays this season.
3. O-Line Optimization
One of the main goals that the Steelers tried to address this off-season was the upgrade along the offensive line. James Daniels and Mason Cole were brought in as free agents and the team re-signed Chuks Okorafor as well. Add them with guys like Dan Moore Jr., Kendrick Green and Kevin Dotson and you have a decent group of guys up front.
With the new additions and the reshuffle of players at different positions, mainly Green shifting to guard from center, you must be wondering if they can gel with one another and play together. The 2021 Steelers offensive line was viewed as one of the worst in the league, so how much better will this new group be in comparison? Hopefully, they’ll be a solid unit on game day.
4. Battles Under The Radar
Quarterback competitions are usually the battles that capture the most attention, meaning a lot of other position battles go unseen and under the radar. As mentioned above with the offensive line, Kendrick Green is now in a battle with Kevin Dotson to determine the starting left guard spot. Dotson isn’t slated to play in the preseason game as he is currently dealing with an ankle injury he suffered in practice, meaning Green now has his shot to start at left guard and ultimately could secure himself that spot long term.
On the defensive side, another battle is heating up at the inside linebacker position. It’s been established that free agent acquisition Myles Jack is expected to start, but who will be lining up next to him? Many are speculating that it will be Devin Bush and that he will have a career resurgence in 2022. His biggest threat is Robert Spillane, who filled in rather nicely when Bush went down in the 2020 season and has had some great plays during camp. Whoever starts on Saturday may be viewed as having the advantage, but it’s who has the better performance in game that will have the ultimate leg-up in this race.
5. Rookie Showcase
Preseason games are usually the best time for young rookies and undrafted free agents to show everyone that they belong on an NFL field. Offensively, guys like the speedy Calvin Austin III and ball-catching machine Connor Heyward have been making some noise so far in camp, so we should expect that they will be making some plays against Seattle.
On the opposite side of the ball, DeMarvin Leal and Mark Robinson have also been popping off in camp. Their athletic intensity will be on full display and will most likely wreak havoc on the opposing offense.
There are also some undrafted free agents that shouldn’t be overlooked. Jaylen Warren and Master Teague III will be the ones handling the rock in the run game while guys like Chris Steele and Carlins Platel will be making “splash plays” and locking things down on defense.
What are looking for the most in our first preseason game? Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts below.
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