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 Detroit Lions in Week 3 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 unlikely we see anyone other than Mitch Trubisky Week 1. The biggest battle, in my opinion, was the fight for QB3, but this week’s release of Chris Oladokun ended that battle. Only time will tell whether the Steelers attempt to fit him on the practice squad if given the opportunity. Nonetheless, the quarterback play has been exceptional this preseason, and fans around the globe are waiting with anticipation to see how the final depth chart shapes out.
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 Sunday.
Hamilcar Rashed, Jr.
This spot was saved for Derrek Tuszka, but after the shocking release of Genard Avery, Tuszka has, by all indications, already secured his roster spot. While a free-agent signing at this position cannot be ruled out, it is entirely possible the Steelers just like Rashed that much. Cutting a veteran such as Avery can mean one of three things: 1.) Avery is injured, 2.) Pittsburgh has their eyes on another free agent linebacker, or 3.) Pittsburgh loves Rashed enough to cut a proven veteran. Regardless of what the reason is, Rashed will have every opportunity to make this roster if he performs well on Sunday.
Layne has been the subject of much criticism during his time in Pittsburgh, being unable to carve out a significant role in the defense in his first three seasons in the NFL. However, his special teams prowess has given the team reason to keep him around while he continues to develop his skills for a position he has not played his entire football-playing career. With Teryl Austin’s history of developing athletic cornerbacks, I believe there is still hope for Layne to turn it around and become a key contributor on defense. He is coming off a strong performance against Jacksonville, defending one pass and recording an interception. If he can play sound, fundamental football on Sunday, I believe his roster spot will be secured.
I was all aboard the Master Teague hype train before his injury and corresponding release, but this does increase Jaylen Warren’s chances to make the roster. The undrafted rookie has had himself a great offseason, displaying a good combination of power and versatility. The other factor working in his favor is that the only real competition is Benny Snell, who had a nice touchdown reception against Jacksonville but struggled otherwise. The success each runner displays in pass protection may make the ultimate difference against Detroit on Saturday, making this one of the true must-watch battles against Detroit.
Which players do you think can lock up roster spots on Sunday? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and stay tuned to BTSC as we prepare you for another great season of Steelers football!