Football is back, y’all! There is nothing like knowing football is on the horizon, and Steelers fans across the globe could not be more excited. As we countdown the days until the Steelers take on the Jaguars in Week 2 of the NFL Preseason, let’s take a look at who could lock up a roster spot with a good performance.
The most interesting battles to watch in the first game may be in the wide receiver room, simply because of the incredible depth at the position. There are quality receivers the Steelers will be forced to part with before the season begins, but how many of them will there be? Do the Steelers keep, say, seven receivers? That seems highly unlikely, but there are at least that many receivers that own a valid argument to make the roster. Making a final decision on who is cut will be incredibly difficult for the Steelers front office and coaching staff.
Quarterback will steal the most spotlight, although it seems highly unlikely we see anyone other than Mitch Trubisky Week 1. The biggest battle, in my opinion, is the fight for QB3. Mason Rudolph has been lighting it up in training camp, but if the Steelers try to stash Chris Oladokun on the practice squad, the rookie is unlikely to hang around long-term, considering multiple teams in the league showed interest in him during the pre-draft process. He would likely be claimed by a team who suffers an early-season quarterback injury.
The point being, there are many directions I could have gone here. However, below are the three players I believe are most likely secure a roster spot with a strong performance on Saturday.
Steve Sims, Jr.
If you have paid any attention to my draft content over the past couple years, and if you have paid recent attention to the Steelers Fix Podcast, you know I have been a big fan of Sims since his days at Kansas. The way he moved on the field, whether it be running routes or making defenders miss after the catch, reminded me so much of Antonio Brown, and I could not help but notice the physical comparisons after discovering the similarities on tape.
Well, he is taking full advantage of his opportunities in training camp, and his versatility was on full display in Week 1 of the preseason, energizing the team with a 38-yard punt return as well as a 38-yard run on a jet sweep. With Anthony Miller done for the season, Sims deserves to be in the driver’s seat to lock up the fifth wide receiver spot. That leaves it up to Miles Boykin and Gunner Olszewski to duke it out for the sixth and final spot in the receiver room.
Heyward is an ideal piece for Matt Canada’s offense. His versatility that allows him to line up just about anywhere makes him a true weapon, and we know how much Canada loves H-backs that can be put in motion. If we are being real, Heyward could probably unseat Derek Watt and save the Steelers a little money if not for the fact that Derek’s brother plays for the team and happens to be one of the best players in football. Nonetheless, he should still be able to lock up a roster spot at tight end, even though tight end is not the most ideal position for someone of his build. Then again, fans must remember that, regardless of which position he is listed as, he will be moved all over the field and be utilized as a true swiss-army knife in this offense.
The Steelers secondary was not incredibly flashy against the Seahawks, but even though Tre Norwood’s performance was far from perfect, he was responsible for defending two passes while also making a couple key tackles. It seems almost a given that Pittsburgh will keep five safeties on the roster, as the cornerback room is not incredibly strong and may fail to yield five roster-quality players. It is also increasingly likely the Steelers use both Norwood and Damontae Kazee in the slot rather frequently in 2022, since there are no excellent options for that role in the cornerback room. Based simply on usage and versatility, I believe Norwood will secure a spot with another strong performance.
Which Steelers do you see locking up a roster spot on Saturday? Do you think the three players mentioned above deserve to make the roster? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this topic and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!