The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Thursday night when they traveled to play the Carolina Panthers in Week 4 of NFL preseason action. The Steelers were _____ in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good performance.
With it being the preseason, many of the player who are being criticized are not even going to be employed by the Steelers organization come September, but the judgement process must go on. Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.
Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after Week 1 of the preseason...
Stat Line: 7/11, 125 yards, 1 TD
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a battle for backup quarterback, but was it really a competition since Week 2? In hindsight, it wasn’t, but Rudolph solidified his position as the team’s primary backup quarterback in 2019. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it was exacty what he’s been doing all preseason, playing solid football.
Ulysees Gilbert III
Stat Line: 3 total tackles
At this point I feel Gilbert has earned a spot on the 53-man roster. Sure, he only had 3 tackles, but his special teams play has been a highlight, and that enhances his chance to make the team. His speed and awareness on the field is worth keeping around, but will it be enough to push out a veteran like Tyler Matakevich?
Stat Line: 8 total tackles, 4 solo, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 QB Hit
Like Gilbert, Skipper has played his way onto this team. If he doesn’t, the fan base might gather their torches and pitchforks and storm the Steelers’ facility. Skipper, combined with Ola Adeniyi being injured, should equate to him being on the 53-man roster when the Steelers start serious preparation for the Patriots in Week 1.
Stat Line: 3 takeaways, 2 INTs, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 TD
With giveaway/takeaway ratio being considered the utmost importance in 2019, the Steelers did a good job taking the football away this preseason. The turnovers by the offense are still there, but the defense flying to the ball and taking the ball away was necessary for this 2019 team. So far, so good.
Stat Line: The Preseason is over
The preseason has a place in the process, but we are all thankful it is over. Next up, roster cuts, then 100% focus on the New England Patriots in Week 1.
Stat Line: 1 reception, 1 yard, 2 targets
The Steelers’ depth at tight end is beyond known. It isn’t good, period. While most had realistic expectations for 5th round pick Zach Gentry as a rookie, some viewed him as a potential answer at the position. Those who thought that likely have already come to the realization he is not the answer, but more of a project. I’m not suggesting Gentry won’t make the team, but if the team has to lean on him in 2019, it is bad news for those ahead of him on the depth chart.
Stat Line: 3/5, 21 yards, 0 TDs
Last year it was Week 4 of the preseason where most think Dobbs beat out Rudolph for the backup job behind Ben Roethlisberger. In 2019, it was Rudolph who punched his ticket while Dobbs squandered behind the most experienced players seeing the field on Thursday night. Throughout 4 preseason games, and plenty of time played, Dobbs failed to get the Steelers into the endzone once. Not only is Dobbs the QB3 on the depth chart, he might have to worry about his future with the organization.
Backup Offensive Line
Stat Line: 5 sacks surrendered, 7 QB hits, 18 yards rushing
Many might look for me to put Devlin Hodges into this Losers category, but did anyone watch the offensive line he had in front of him? The Steelers knew what they had in Hodges, and what they have in their 3rd string offensive line. Players like Jerald Hawkins and Derwin Gray might be looking for a new home sooner rather than later. Just not a good performance by the backups along the offensive front.
Benny Snell Jr.
Stat Line: 8 carries, 12 yards, 2 receptions, 23 yards
I’ve tried being patient with Mr. Snell, but it just becomes more and more obvious he isn’t ready for the NFL level...YET. I am not going to say Snell won’t make the team, because he likely will as a special teams player, but his lack of burst and overall speed is evident for the former Kentucky product. There is a silver lining here, and it is if he makes the team, and sits and watches, he should realize what needs to be done for him to be able to play at the professional level.
Stat Line: 2-of-3 FGs / 1-of-2 XP
Camp battle between Chris Boswell and Matthew Wright? Nope. Wright was the only kicker who kicked in Week 4, likely to let him try out for other teams, and he followed it up with two misses. One field goal miss, and one extra point miss. Seems the Steelers are riding with Boswell in 2019, and he is about to get paid as his signing bonus kicks in.