It’s the final week of the 2019 preseason and it feels a little like the last day of school. You know what I’m talking about, right? The whole concept of “we’re not doing anything important, so why bother to go?” If nobody who is going to start come Week 1 of the regular season is even going to be dressed, many fans wonder why the NFL insists on playing such a meaningless game. But for those players trying to find a way onto the bottom of the roster, and for the fans who have been following them, this game means something when it comes to the quality of play even if the final score is irrelevant.
So who will dress for the game on Thursday night? Rather than list every player, they are broken into categories with some examples given. Here are the possibilities of players who might get the night off in Charlotte:
- Any player not in their first year with the Steelers who is currently lined up to start Week 1 against the Patriots. Players such as Ben Roethlisberger, David DeCastro, James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cameron Heyward, T.J. Watt, Joe Haden, and I could go on and on. I hope you get the idea.
- Key back-up players who are secure in their role. Players like B.J. Finney who know they are the next man up at multiple positions could very likely get the night off.
- Veteran free agents signed this past offseason. Donte Moncrief and Steven Nelson may be new to the Steelers, but they probably will stay on the sidelines as well.
- 2019 draft picks dealing with injury. Devin Bush, Diontae Johnson, Benny Snell Jr, Zach Gentry, and Sutton Smith have all missed at least one game this preseason. If any of them are still battling any kind of injury, it could hold them out of the game and possibly even send them to the Injured Reserve list.
- Veteran back ups dealing with injury. Players like Anthony Chickillo who could benefit from some defensive snaps may be held out if his chest injury is lingering.
- Core special teams players from 2018. Guys like Tyler Matakevich, Jordan Dangerfield, and even Chickillo if he is healthy will probably suit up in order to get some time at their regular positions. Don’t be surprised if they don’t play any special teams as they yield to other players trying to show they belong.
- Healthy rookies. From Devin Bush on down, I expect all of the rookies to see at least some action.
- Any player hoping to have a chance to make the 53-man roster or the practice squad. If someone fails to take the field who is fighting to make the team, sitting it out is basically throwing in the towel with the Steelers for 2019.
With so many players sitting out Thursday night, the on-field warm ups will look more like a regular game than the overcrowded position groups the previous three weeks. While the score means very little, every player on the field will be fighting for their NFL future. Their names may not be familiar to some, but their effort will be top notch. It’s understood that this game may be the last for some players, yet it’s exciting to know that someone could give a performance which earns a spot they may not have been in line for before taking the field.
Who do you think will sit out Thursday? Or more importantly, who do you think will play? Feel free to leave a comment with your list of players we won’t see this week.