The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers are a team with plenty of question marks surrounding it heading into training camp at the end of July. These questions will certainly be answered when the pads come on at Saint Vincent College, but there are certainly some players who could turn heads this year. Some might even say they could shock fans in 2022.
To be clear, when I said there are players who could shock fans, you have to immediately look at players who have pretty low expectations placed on them. In other words, if T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick or Najee Harris show out in 2022, no one would be shocked. It’s pretty much expected.
So, let’s take a look at the five players who could shock fans this season, in no particular order:
There are some fans who don’t believe Heyward is a lock to make the team, and that’s their opinion. However, it isn’t just Heyward’s 6th Round status, but his versatility which has me thinking he could turn heads in 2022.
Yes, I think Heyward makes the team, and I think Matt Canada has plenty up his sleeve for a player who can play fullback, tight end, H-back and even running back. I think Heyward will turn some heads this year.
When Gentry was drafted he looked like a former quarterback. Some even said he looked more like a baby giraffe than an NFL tight end. His second season was cut short with a knee injury, and his third year was when he came into his own both physically and positionally.
Some compare Gentry to Matt Spaeth, but to me that is a cut on what Gentry can bring to the offense outside of blocking. Look for Gentry’s role to only increase in the offense in 2022.
Been paying attention this offseason and all you’ve heard is about how Witherspoon is the Steelers’ best coverage cornerback, but the worst tackler.
His lack of physicality has been on display, but I see Witherspoon not just picking up where he left off in 2021, but also being a more complete corner. You don’t think the Steelers have a CB1? It might just be Witherspoon this year, and not by default.
Blame Adrian Peterson for setting a ridiculous precedent with returning from a serious knee injury. Since AP essentially returned to action after just 9-10 months after tearing his ACL, fans think this is the normal timeline for recovery of the injury.
But it isn’t. Most athletes would say it takes two years to feel normal again. For Bush that equates to this season. Throw in the fact he should be extra motivated by the team passing on his 5th year option, and this could benefit the 2022 team. I think Bush will look more like the 2020 pre-ACL tear Bush this season.
If you thought putting Bush on this list was sac religious, you’re probably fuming over seeing Kendrick Green on the list.
I think Green will come into camp with a motivation to prove his worth to the team. Not going in with a backup’s mindset. I expect a big step forward from Green at guard and center, and that is great news for the Steelers, even if he is the main interior offensive lineman.
After all, when was the last time there wasn’t an injury somewhere along the line? Green improving equates to the Steelers avoiding a situation like last season where the team is in dire straits after an injury forced their hand.
I expect Green to be vastly improved in 2022.
For more in-depth analysis on these players, and the reasoning for them being on this list, check out my Let’s Ride podcast below: