The Pittsburgh Steelers are done with the exhibition season, and are now officially onto the regular season. As they take now prepare for the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, it is worth looking at who could make an impact for the Steelers, but might not be making headlines.
Throughout the preseason every player on the roster gets some attention, both positive and negative, but there are always those that fly under the radar. The players who will certainly impact the outcome of games, but are being overlooked.
On the most recent episode of the BTSC podcast the ‘Steelers Preview’, myself and Dave Schofield gave our list of five players who we feel are impact players, but aren’t getting the publicity of others.
This almost immediately eliminates the rookie class, considering how much discussion constantly swirls around these new players, but some of the players below certainly deserve more attention.
Let’s get to the lists...
Analysis: For as much talk as the offensive line has received this preseason and training camp, Trai Turner has been nothing more than a foot note. He certainly won’t be a foot note when it comes to the success, or failure of the 2021 offensive line.
Similar to Turner when he was signed, Derek Watt was all the talk early in camp. Wheel routes and deep passes downfield turned into Watt being nothing more than a special teams player. Does Matt Canada have something up his sleeve for Watt? If so, it will be a shock to many.
Diontae Johnson has been through a lot since last season. After having the drops in 2020, Johnson hasn’t been noticed in 2021. Not because he hasn’t made plays, but because he seems to have gotten over his case of the drops. If Johnson is only noticed for making the necessary plays, he will make headlines for all the right reasons. This would be a nice change of pace for the former Toledo receiver.
There was no camp competition for Boswell. Sam Sloman never had a chance of unseating Boswell, but if Boswell were to have another 2018 season it could be a disaster for the Steelers who could offensively struggle. You can’t leave points on the board, even if it’s just an extra point.
Banner is on the Injured Reserve (IR) list to start the season, but his impact will have a lot to do with what the Steelers can, or cannot, do along the offensive line. Dan Moore being called into action could be a short term issue if Banner can not just come back, but come back strong and take over the right tackle job once and for all.
Analysis: Since Jeff is already covered Turner and Johnson, I won’t hash them out again. Tyson Alualu as often been the underappreciated man of the Steelers defense that just goes out there and does his job. If this defense is going to be elite, he’s going to need to continue to do so.
Eric Ebron has been devalued by so many Steelers’ fans that some are asking for him to be traded prior to the start of the season. Ebron brings a lot to the table as a receiver, and his blocking skills during the 2021 preseason were greatly improved.
After not getting his fifth-year option picked up, Terrell Edmunds is in a contract year and has a lot to play for. If he’s not doing his job in the defense, player such as Minkah Fitzpatrick and Joe Haden will not have the freedom to make the plays Steelers fans have grown to expect.
Bryan Anthony Davis
(Editor’s Note: BAD was not feeling well, and was unable to input his analysis.)
What about you? What are some players you are expecting to have a big impact on the team, but aren’t getting a lot of talk? Let us know in the comment section, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.
Want to hear more about this? We talked about it exclusively on the “Steelers Preview” podcast. Take a listen to the show below: