Pittsburgh Steelers Friday Night Lights is officially back. Their annual tradition, playing under the lights at training camp in Latrobe in a high school-esque environment, has returned. While many key players remain out due to injury, the night will continue to highlight some crucial competitions within the team. (Editor’s note – written before FNL was cancelled due to extreme weather)
Before that starts though, we’ll reflect on over the week-and-a-half of training camp so far. It’s beyond the stage of “overreactions” at this point, so it’s time to examine the winners and losers so far.
Rookie George Pickens has been the standout star from this group, but they’ve all done well, despite suspect quarterback play at times. Fellow rookie, Calvin Austin III, has put his speed on full display. While Chase Claypool remains sidelined with an injury, guys like Anthony Miller and Cody White have shown their potential as they try to make their case for making the 53-man roster.
Dan Moore Jr.
This is arguably the biggest winner of training camp so far. As a rookie, Moore was thrown into the fire immediately, starting 17 games including the Wild Card loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. His performances were certainly up-and-down, but he showed enough to provide a glimpse into his bright future. Moore was able to hold his own against superstar edge rusher Myles Garrett in a late-season match up. He’s built off last season, showing vast improvements in camp so far, matched up against Alex Highsmith.
The defense, and linebacker group specifically, has dominated thus far. Myles Jack has shown to be worth every penny of his two-year, $16 million deal that he signed earlier this off-season. Drafted in the seventh round in the 2022 NFL Draft, Robinson has displayed his physicality in the middle of the Steelers defense. He projects to likely make the 53-man roster, starting as a special teamer and perhaps eventually becoming a Vince Williams-esque player.
Heading into the off-season, virtually no one gave him a shot at winning the quarterback competition, as most pegged it as a two-man battle. Through nearly two weeks of camp, he’s been the best, most consistent quarterback, albeit with a lot of those reps coming against the second-team. While he still is on the outside looking in, he’s at least closed the gap. He’s also shut down the talk of the Steelers potentially finding a new destination for him.
Scott was one of the standout guys from Thursday’s practice. He has a real chance at making the 53-man roster, as edge rusher depth is a true weakness of this team. In the team’s initial depth chart, released Friday, he was listed as the third-string ROLB behind TJ Watt and Derrek Tuszka, but don’t be surprised if he jumps Tuszka by the end of camp.
Trubisky is the obvious “loser” of training camp so far, as his stock has taken a bit of a hit. His slow start is completely understandable though, as he continues to learn a new offense. Additionally, he’s facing the first-team defense, one of the better units in all of football. There is still time for him to figure things out, but it’s been a rough start to camp for Trubisky, as Rudolph and Kenny Pickett have seemingly closed the gap on the Steelers’ QB1 job.
This has nothing to do with performance, but more so with unavailability. While Pickens has given the secondary fits, Ahkello Witherspoon has still performed well in training. As a matter of fact, Witherspoon is the only guy of the team’s top three CB’s that is healthy right now. Levi Wallace remains out with an illness, while Cam Sutton went down with an injury on Thursday. Guys like James Pierre and Justin Layne will need to step up their games a bit or else the Steelers may look into the market for a guy like Joe Haden.
Benny Snell Jr.
This isn’t to say Snell has had a bad camp by any means. In fact, he had a successful day on Thursday, according to SteelerNation’s Brandon James Wallace. With that being said, the gap has closed between Snell and the guys behind him. This is more of the fact that undrafted rookie, Jaylen Warren, has shown a lot of potential. Warren’s power and pass-blocking could perhaps make Snell’s skill set expendable, if the team possibly opts to go younger. Steelers rookie Mataeo Durant has shown flashes of his ability as well, although he seems more destined for the practice squad.
Rader is heading into his third season with the Steelers, if he indeed remains on the team. He has a lot of work cut out for him though, as rookie Connor Heyward overtook him for the third-string TE spot in Friday’s initial depth chart released by the team.
What are your guys’ thoughts on these winners and losers so far? Who would be your picks, and who would you add/remove from this Steelers list? Will you be at Friday Night Lights? Let us know your opinions in the comment section below!
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