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The Steelers using special teams to help their causes

Will Danny Smith be making the case for any of these players?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The 2023 Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of special teams experience to replace from a year ago. About 1,500 veteran snaps will come from somewhere else this season. There’s no doubt that special teams contributions will be a big factor in determining the last few roster spots and practice squad members. Let’s see who Danny Smith could be making the case for during cut-downs.

Quincy Roche / David Perales

Tomlin says edge rushers are the engines that drive the Steelers defense, so one could argue the need for 5 players at that position on the 53-man roster. Roche and Perales haven’t necessarily excelled at outside linebacker this camp, but both made major contributions Friday on special teams. In fact, PFF gave Perales the highest special teams score for Pittsburgh (86.3). And Roche caused a fumble on a Tampa punt return late in the game.

Mark Robinson

Robinson needs to contribute on special teams to justify his spot in a very crowded inside linebacker room. That’s why it was good to see #93 on the field for some punts and punt returns. He had 7 special teams snaps in total on 3 different units.

Luq Barcoo

Barcoo wasn’t given a stellar grade by PFF (55.9), but he did log 10 special teams snaps on 4 different units.

Kenny Robinson

Robinson not only earned starting snaps at safety on Friday, he also played on 5 special teams units. He logged 3 snaps each on kickoffs, punt returns, and field goal blocks. He was also on the field for 2 punts and a kick return. He didn’t have any tackles but was very visible.

Tanner Muse

Muse logged 14 special teams snaps on Friday, basically running core-four with 3 kickoffs, 3 kick returns, 2 punts and 3 punt returns. He was also in for 3 field goal blocks. He earned two special teams tackles on Friday, and PFF gave him an impressive teams score of 80.4. It’s looking like a 2 dogs/1 bone situation, at best, between him and Nick Kwiatkoski (who suffered a shoulder injury on Friday). Although if Nick Herbig plays more special teams going forward, both Muse & Kwiatkoski may be on the outside looking in.

Elijah Riley

Riley only had 2 special teams snaps on punt coverage, but he made the most of them, registering a highlight-worthy tackle late in the second quarter. He’ll have to contribute more to all the different units if he’s to replace someone like Tre Norwood or Miles Killebrew.