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Steelers vs. Seahawks Preseason Week 1 Report: Introducing the New Team

Jordan Schofield / SteelerNation (Twitter: @JSKO_PHOTO)

Steelers vs. Seahawks Preseason Week 1 Report: Introducing the New Team

The Pittsburgh Steelers have officially made it to their first game without Ben Roethlisberger on the roster in 18 years. In addition, albeit it is just a preseason game, this weekend’s scrimmage against the Seattle Seahawks will be the inaugural event for Steelers’ fans at the newly named Acrisure Stadium. Although we won’t be able to see the full starting lineups on both sides of the ball in this game, there is still a lot to look forward to as the Steelers begin their new era. Between a new quarterback, new offensive line, new receiving corps, and improved defensive unit, there is a variety of details to unpack heading into kickoff on Saturday evening.

Steelers Prep for Seahawks

The Steelers prepare for their first preseason game versus the Seahawks in Latrobe, PA. (Jordan Schofield/SteelerNation (JSKO_PHOTO Twitter)

Let’s take a look at some things we can look forward to when the Steelers take on the Seahawks.

MATCH-UPS AT A GLANCE

Offense: I think it is safe to say that the majority of eyes will fall on whoever lines up under center for the Steelers. Head coach Mike Tomlin already declared Mitch Trubisky as the starting quarterback this week, with Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett also expected to see a fair amount of playing time. We’ve seen each quarterback shine and fade at different points throughout camp, and this will be their first ‘real’ opportunity to prove their respective cases for the regular season QB1 spot. In addition to quarterback, there are two other offensive position battles to watch on Saturday; those being the receiving group and the depth at running back. With the Seahawks not necessarily bringing the best defense into Pittsburgh, expect a lot of opportunities for everyone on the depth chart.

With Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool presumably sitting out this week, the door is open for the rookies and veterans to rise on the depth chart. This will be George Pickens’ and Calvin Austin III’s first live NFL action of their careers, so needless to say, those are two names to watch. We’ve seen the footage out of camp of Pickens making incredible catches and Austin III burning the secondary, but how they’ll be rolled out in the offensive attack is still undetermined. Pickens is slated to square off against former-Steeler Artie Burns, so expect a lot of attention to be drawn to that match-up. Anthony Miller, Miles Boykin, and Gunner Olszewski are others to keep an eye on. Miller and Boykin are each looking to reignite their careers while Olszewski is looking to be the All-Pro return specialist the Steelers need. With only a few open roster spots available for receivers, there is a small margin for error in preseason action.


Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Raises the Bar for George Pickens in Preseason Week 1: “He’s got talent, but there’s a difference between talent and skill.”


Steelers Prep for Seahawks

Steelers’ George Pickens (#14), Anthony Miller (#17), and Calvin Austin III (#19) in training camp in Latrobe, PA. (Jordan Schofield/SteelerNation (JSKO_PHOTO Twitter)

With Najee Harris also sitting out this week, the battle for RB2 is going to be in full effect. Incumbents Benny Snell Jr. and Anthony McFarland Jr. are fighting for roster spots while undrafted free agent rookie Jaylen Warren is making a strong case for himself that can’t be ignored. With how impressive Harris was as a rookie, and how the complete opposite could be said for Snell Jr. and McFarland Jr., there seems to be a steep drop-off in talent level on the depth chart at the running back position. For fans who were, and maybe still are, waiting for a veteran free agent signing to help the group, may be getting a little impatient in waiting for who will emerge as the counterpart to Harris in the backfield. With this being Warren’s first NFL action after putting on a show at camp, watch for him to be that true dark horse favorite heading deeper into August.

Defense: Along with the Steelers, the Seahawks are also bringing their own quarterback battle into Saturday’s scrimmage. With Russell Wilson now with the Denver Broncos, Drew Lock and Geno Smith are fighting for the starting spot with their first test being the Steelers defense. With Pittsburgh having success against both quarterbacks in 2021, they should be eager to tee-off on Lock and Smith. Similar to the offensive unit, don’t expect to see T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and possibly others seeing any playing time. Therefore, we’ll be able to watch the defensive position battles in the spotlight. It is also important to note that this will be newly-named defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin’s first time on the sidelines as the play-caller on defense.

Steelers Defense Preps for Seahawks

The Steelers defense prepare for their first preseason game versus the Seahawks. (Jordan Schofield/SteelerNation (JSKO_PHOTO Twitter)

With the Steelers having one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL last season, this was clearly one of the biggest points of emphasis in the off-season and now in camp. With Isaiahh Loudermilk now in his sophomore year, he’s going to see a lot of action with Heyward not participating. On the other side of the line, rookie DeMarvin Leal has been another bright spot in camp and is ready to show he can be that elite defensive end to open up opportunities for Alex Highsmith and Watt. The Steelers are all too familiar with how valuable depth is along the defensive line, and this game featuring rookie running back and 2021 Heisman-candidate Kenneth Walker III will be a great indication to the strength of their rush defense in 2022.

The Steelers linebacker unit is also the product of a slight face-lift as well. In the middle of the group, we’re watching the battle between Devin Bush and Robert Spillane for the starting left inside linebacker spot. With Bush’s fifth-year option not being picked up heading into this season, he’s clearly on the hot seat in earning a starting spot. Spillane came into the spotlight in a big way in 2020 as a depth piece, but seemed to take a step back in 2021. But after being a strong contender in camp, Spillane is giving Tomlin and defensive assistant/linebacker coach Brian Flores a good reason to give him the starting spot in tandem with Myles Jack. Beyond Bush and Spillane, also watch Mark Robinson and Buddy Johnson duke it out for the depth spots. Robinson has shown to be a “thumper” at camp and Johnson is looking to build on his rookie 2021 year.

Steelers Spillane Prep for Seahawks

Steelers LILB Robert Spillane (#41) leads the defense in drills in training camp. (Jordan Schofield/SteelerNation (JSKO_PHOTO Twitter)

On the outside, there is not a lot of depth behind Watt and Highsmith. We will most likely see third-year man Derrek Tuszka and free agent veteran Gerard Avery get a lot of reps at outside linebacker. With Watt missing some time in 2021 due to injury, the Steelers are in need of depth at outside linebacker in 2022 and, similar to the back-up running back spot, there is a steep drop off in talent level from Watt and Highsmith to Avery and Tuszka.


Steelers.com – How to Watch Steelers vs. Seahawks


PREDICTION

The Steelers currently sit as 3.5-point favorites heading into Saturday with the point total hovering around 36 points for the game. In line for what we typically see in a preseason game, I wouldn’t expect a lot of offense from both squads. With that said, the Steelers defense is going to be the difference in the game and bail out the offense as they work through their kinks. Therefore, I’m thinking a 16-14 Steelers victory to start the preseason.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Although they share a 10-10 all-time record in regular season and postseason games, this will be the first time the Steelers and Seahawks will meet up in the preseason. Their last match-up came in Week 6 of last season where the Steelers were able to squeak out a 23-20 overtime victory. Although this game doesn’t have a lot of meaning behind it, this will be a series of ‘firsts’ for the Steelers as they begin life without Roethlisberger.

 

What are you watching for on Saturday? What do you think the final outcome will be? Let us know in the comments below!

#SteelerNation

Growing up in Pennsylvania, the Steelers played a major role in my life. I have watched every game since 2001 and have an entire closet solely dedicated to Steelers jerseys. You can find me on Twitter at @TheBenSauce_ and Instragram at @benmic_alien. I now live in the Charlotte branch of Steeler Nation. I can't wait to share my passion for all things Steelers with you!

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