Football is back, sort of, and although the upcoming Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Philadelphia Eagles game in Week 1 of the 2018 preseason is technically meaningless, it doesn’t mean there aren’t specific players fans are excited to see.
While Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and other starters will be taking a night off and will enjoy being spectators, there are plenty of players fans should be excited to watch on the field for the first time this season.
Maybe you haven’t kept good tabs on the Steelers this offseason? Don’t know who you should be watching? Here are 5 players to keep an eye on during tonight’s preseason fracas.
1. Terrell Edmunds - 1st Round Pick Rookie Safety
Edmunds, unlike many of his fellow rookies, will actually see time with the starting defense. How the Steelers utilize him, and also how he performs, will be a great initial gauge on not only his progression, but his potential with the Steelers. Edmunds has been performing well in training camp, now is the time to see if it will translate to the playing field.
2. Keion Adams - 2nd year OLB
Adams had a promising rookie camp before a shoulder injury landed him on Injured Reserve. In his second year the Steelers are hoping he can pick up where he left off. He has already gotten further in his sophomore year than he did in his rookie campaign, but Adams has to show he can flash under the lights. With T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree out, Adams should be a starting outside linebacker and have plenty of opportunities to show his stuff.
3. Jaylen Samuels - 5th Round Pick Rookie RB
Samuels is a jack-of-all-trades type player, and how the Steelers utilize his talents will be fun to watch. However, will Samuels be able to duplicate his versatility at the highest level? Some have their doubts. Thursday night’s game against the Eagles will be a very good test, and also a litmus test for the Steelers and what they have in the former N.C. State product.
4. Mason Rudolph - 3rd Round Pick Rookie QB
The rookie quarterback from Oklahoma State has had some ups-and-downs throughout training camp thus far, but his arrow seems to be slowly pointing upwards. It is unknown when, and how long, Rudolph will play vs. the Eagles on Thursday, but expect the quarterback to be poised, and deal with the inconsistencies which come with playing in the second half of a preseason game with the best of them.
5. Matthew Thomas - UDFA Rookie ILB
Thomas is a player who is almost like an enigma. A big-time recruit out of High School with all the skill in the world. Unfortunately, what accompanied the skill were some off-field issues and overall lack of motivation which saw him go undrafted. The reason this is such a unique situation is how Thomas has the capabilities to be a tremendous player, and with the Steelers’ need for an ILB with Ryan Shazier injured, some would suggest Thomas could eventually fill that role. That journey starts Thursday with a good performance in his first professional contest.
Other players to keep an eye on:
James Washington — 2nd Round Pick Rookie WR
Chukwuma Okorafor — 3rd Round Pick Rookie OT
Cameron Sutton — 2nd year CB
James Conner — 2nd year RB
Joshua Dobbs — 2nd year QB
Justin Hunter — Veteran WR