It seems like just yesterday the Pittsburgh Steelers were rolling, or flying, into Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA checking into their dorm rooms. All of a sudden the team has wrapped up another training camp and is headed back to Pittsburgh after Week 2 of the preseason.
At this time it seems relevant to highlight some players who stood out and upped their stock during their time away from home, and others who disappointed and/or left us with more questions than answers heading into the final weeks of August and the NFL preseason.
Here are the Winners and Losers from the Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 Training Camp:
While known for video games and social media use almost as much his play on the field, Smith-Schuster has had a very strong training camp. Reports from Saint Vincent were Smith-Schuster is poised not just to avoid a sophomore slump, but to excel in his second year as a professional. As he looks to make fans forget about Martavis Bryant, Smith-Schuster seems to be another budding superstar in the Steel City.
The hype surrounding this camp was almost 90-percent excitement over seeing Mason Rudolph in a black-and-gold uniform for the first time. In his first preseason game he didn’t disappoint, although the sample size is minuscule. For as slow as Rudolph started camp, he has been performing better and better each step of the way. Rudolph was as-advertised throughout training camp, and that is promising.
Anyone see this kid coming? I sure didn’t. Patterson had been impressing viewers of camp prior to his outburst in Week 1 vs. the Eagles. When you come from Youngstown State as an Undrafted Rookie Free Agent (UDFA) and have people talking about you making the 53-man roster...you are doing some really good things.
When the Steelers pulled the trigger on Edmunds as their first overall draft pick many fans were left scratching their heads. Many wondered just how Edmunds would fit into the Steelers’ defensive scheme. After training camp, Edmunds has done nothing shy of show everyone why the team drafted him in the first round. The game has never been too big for him, and although he has made his mistakes, the arrow is certainly pointing up for the rookie safety from Virginia Tech.
Speaking of rookies who have impressed, James Washington might have had the most rave reviews of the bunch. All the others, Edmunds, Rudolph and others, have had moments where they look like rookies in the NFL. If Washington has had those moments, which I’m sure he has, they weren’t talked about often. The rookie from Oklahoma State seems to be on the JuJu Smith-Schuster path. He may not start from Day 1, but look for him to be a force by season’s end.
The hype was high with Sutton coming into his second season, and like Smith-Schuster, he hasn’t disappointed. Sutton had a strong outing in Week 1 of the preseason, and he provides more than just the William Gay role in the Pittsburgh defense, but valuable depth across the board.
Everyone was excited to see McDonald after a full season with the team, and his first training camp, but that didn’t happen. A foot injury early in camp has made him a spectator for nearly the entire time at Saint Vincent College. At a time when people always follow talk about McDonald with “If he stays healthy”, his luck has left these doubts lingering far longer than most would have thought. Now comes the time when fans wonder if he is the next Ladarius Green, or will be healthy, and stay healthy, when the regular season rolls around.
There was a lot of excitement surrounding Watt entering training camp. How will he perform in his second year? What will the switch from the right side to the left look like? Fans will have to wait to find out after Watt suffered a hamstring pull early in camp and has sat out the entire camp. Watt will likely rebound, but frustration here lingers.
Davis is playing a new position, so putting him on this list wasn’t easy. However, when it comes to the basics, like tackling, Davis leaves a lot to be desired. Throw in a nagging groin injury and Davis hasn’t had the best camp of his career. Will he rebound when the games count? Fans better hope so.