I think we can all agree on one fact, and that is how virtually every member of the Pittsburgh Steelers needs to step up in 2022. The team simply wasn’t good enough in so many areas this past year that expecting improvement across the board isn’t reasonable. But aside from the known names who need to be better this upcoming season, there are three players in my mind who haven’t been given much opportunity as of yet who need to step up and make themselves known in 2022. Even if just one of these players can reach the next level of their game it would make the Steelers a much better team moving forward.
Those three players are:
The Steelers took former Texas A&M inside linebacker with their second fourth round pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Johnson was seen as a thumper who could play a similar role to what Vince Williams used to play beside Devin Bush. Of course, the Steelers traded for Joe Schobert and used Robert Spillane ahead of Johnson during his rookie season. With Schobert a potential cap casualty, it is quite possible Johnson moves up the depth chart. As a matter of fact, Johnson was virtually the only Steelers rookie on the roster who didn’t have any real impact in his first season.
While I think many of us expect the Steelers to either sign or draft an inside linebacker capable of starting next to Bush in this year’s draft, I still would like to see Johnson compete for that primary back up position and get on the field in specific situations, along with making his presence felt on special teams.
Wide receiver Anthony Miller was a very interesting midseason addition for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Miller showed signs of flashy speed and the ability to make plays during his time with the Chicago Bears. After things fell apart in Chicago, and in Houston, Miller was viewed as a notable free agent target when he was released from his contract.
With the Steelers very likely losing at least one of their free agent receivers, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud and/or JuJu Smith-Schuster, Miller will receive an opportunity to move up the Steelers’ wide receiver depth chart. While only receiving one catch during his short time with the Steelers, I believe Miller has the potential to be a solid No. 3 or No. 4 receiver on the team.
Defensive tackle Carlos Davis has shown some ability to play, specifically in the latter half of the 2020 season. But behind the incredible depth of the 2022 defensive line, and injuries Davis sustained in 2021, we haven’t seen much out of the former Nebraska lineman. The Steelers will likely turn to their big three on the defensive line, but that doesn’t mean Davis cannot make an impact.
Behind the starters, Davis will compete with the likes of Isaiahh Loudermilk, and even his brother Khalil, among others to become one of the top rotational pieces on the defensive line. If the Steelers can receive a boost on their defensive line with the returns of Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu, they could definitely receive a spark within the rotation from a healthy Carlos Davis.
A lot of the Steelers defensive problems could be fixed with the defensive line returning to form with those familiar faces. Carlos Davis can be a part of the solution to the Steelers run defensive woes, and potentially become a bigger piece moving forward. He just needs to put it all together in this upcoming 2022 season.
But what do you think? Is there any hope that these three guys can step up and make some sort of an impact with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.