The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t just returning to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA this July for training camp, they will also be preparing for something they never have before — a three-game preseason schedule.
If you recall, last season the Steelers and Dallas Cowboys faced off in the Hall of Fame game, giving them four total preseason games. While the other 30 NFL teams had to adjust to a 3-game slate of preseason games, the Steelers and Cowboys had their traditional allotment.
In the past, here is how the Steelers would handle their 4-game preseason:
Game 1: Very few starters play
Game 2: Starters will see minimal playing time
Game 3: The final dress rehearsal
Game 4: Most starters sit as backups fight for final roster spots
This begs the question how the Steelers, and Mike Tomlin, will utilize these games? On top of the fact they have one less preseason game, how will Tomlin handle the Steelers’ quarterback battle during these exhibition games?
If Ben Roethlisberger were still at the helm, outlining just how the team will deploy their starters would be much simpler; however, with Roethlisberger retired every and any thought is on the table.
To get a glimpse of what other teams did last season, when the NFL increased the regular season to 17-games and cut the preseason to three games, look at the Steelers’ fourth, and final, preseason game a year ago. It was a trio to Charlotte, NC to play the Carolina Panthers. The Steelers’ third string players were blown out 34-9, and that was mostly due to the Panthers using the third game as their final dress rehearsal.
In the game, Sam Darnold finished 19/25 for 162 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT and a 119.1 rating. Meanwhile, the two backup quarterbacks just accounted for just 17 attempts once Darnold left the game. Compare that to the Steelers playing just two quarterbacks, Joshua Dobbs, who finished the day 6/11 for 35 yards before leaving with injury, and the late Dwayne Haskins, who finished 9/16 for 105 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.
Yes, these games are meaningless, but coaches value these games. On top of that, for teams like the Steelers who have plenty to figure out with their lineup, it does make you wonder what the plan will be when the preseason rolls around.
So, what do you think? Let us know how you would handle the 3-game preseason in the comment section below, and, in case you forgot, below is the team’s preseason schedule:
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason and get ready to report to training camp on July 26th.