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5 Steelers players to watch on defense vs. the Panthers

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue their 2021 preseason Friday night, and here are some players to keep your eye on during the game.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers will square off Friday night in the official Week 3 of the NFL Preseason. This game marks the fourth of four preseason games for the Steelers, and expectations will be adjusted accordingly.

In the first three preseason games, the veterans did not play much, if at all, and this fourth game shouldn’t change that with many starters already slated to miss the game. With that said, I decided to list five defensive players to keep an eye on during the game in Charlotte, NC.

Joe Schobert — No. 45 — Inside Linebacker

I would assume the Steelers want to get their inside linebacker duo of Schobert and Devin Bush more repetitions together, and watching Schobert’s comfort level within the defense will be atop my priority list to watch Friday night. Schobert’s debut wasn’t horrible, but the hope is he makes a significant step forward, even for an exhibition game, to help calm the nerves of Steelers fans heading into the regular season.

Justin Layne — No. 31 — Cornerback

Layne has been making plays, and if he can continue to do so it would provide some much needed depth at the cornerback position. Layne at one point was considered to be a quality prospect, but after two season where he was just a special teams player, many have soured on his potential. If Layne can keep staying around the football, more repetitions will come his way.

James Pierre — No. 42 — Cornerback

Like Layne, Pierre would benefit from making a name for himself. Just making a splash play. Maybe it could be forcing a fumble, an interception. Something for him to hang his hat on at the end of the preseason heading into the roster cut downs and the 2021 regular season. Pierre had all the hype surrounding him heading into training camp, and now it is time to see him shine with the lights on.

Jamir Jones — No. 44 — Outside Linebacker

Jamir Jones has caught the attention of Steelers fans, but has he done enough to impress the coaching staff and earn a spot on the 53-man roster. There are a few individuals playing for their professional football careers Friday night, and I think Jones is one of them. Sure, if he is released he could land on the practice squad, but those aren’t his goals. He needs to out-shine players like Quincy Roche and others on the fringe of the roster.

Arthur Maulet — No. 35 — Cornerback

It is unknown whether Maulet will play vs. the Carolina Panthers considering he has an injured ankle, but if he can, he should. Why? After the release of Antoine Brooks Jr., the slot cornerback role is Maulet’s to lose. However your best ability is your availability, and if Maulet missed Friday night’s game you have to wonder if he will get passed up for the role.

Honorable Mention/Special Teams:

Tre Norwood — No. 21 — Defensive Back

Norwood is the latest player to be given a shot at the nickel cornerback position. As a rookie, if he can learn this position, and also be the primary backup at free safety, talk about a find in the 7th round.

Pressley Harvin III — No. 6 — Punter

This punting battle is all but over if Harvin can continue to show the big leg, finesse and holding ability he has throughout the preseason. Another strong outing and it will be Harvin handling the punting duties in 2021.

Quincy Roche — No. 48 — Outside Linebacker

Like Jamir Jones, Roche needs to make some plays to make the 53-man roster. Roche could benefit from some splash plays to get the attention of the coaching staff before they make their final decisions on the team’s final roster.

For more of an explanation on the above list, check out my latest Let’s Ride podcast in the player below:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.