The Steelers continued their winning ways in Week 2 of the NFL preseason with a 27-15 victory over the Buffalo Bills. There was a lot to like from the Steelers, and very few dark spots on a night in which the stars shined for Pittsburgh. Here are the winners and losers from Week 2.
The dude is on fire. He looks composed, he’s not bailing on the pocket right away, and he is accurate. He looks more than ready for the regular season, and the Steelers look like they have a franchise quarterback under center.
Highsmith was everywhere tonight while the starters were on the field. He had a great effort play where he chased Josh Allen all over God’s green Earth for a tackle for loss, and he dropped in overage to force an incompletion on an Allen pass to Stefon Diggs.
The newly-extended edge rusher showed why Pittsburgh paid him- a good night for the fourth-year man from Charlotte.
Joey Porter Jr.
What a debut for the rookie out of Penn State. He was solid in coverage all night, and recorded his first interception in his first taste of NFL action.
Not only did he get the interception, but he bullied his man off the line of scrimmage and forced him off his route path, leading to the easy takeaway. Everything we wanted to see, “Baby Peezy” delivered.
The training camp standout continued to raise eyebrows on Saturday night, coming away with a red zone interception to kill a potential Bills’ scoring drive.
The competition for the nickel spot is really heating up. Speaking of...
Sullivan had a really solid game, the highlight being his interception. He came screaming off the edge, deflecting Matt Barkley’s pass with his left hand and diving back to the ball to secure the catch. The Steelers won’t have a ton of tough choices to make when cutting the roster and naming starters, but the nickel spot is easily their toughest.
Calvin Austin III
Last week, he showcased his ability as a burner receiver. This week, it was the return game in which Calvin Austin III displayed his excellence. The guy is a weapon. his speed his game-changing, his palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heav- whoops, sorry.
Jokes aside, Austin is a threat to make a house call every time he touches the ball. What more could you want from a guy than that?
Nick. F**king. Herbig. I mean Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, is he incredible or what?
He just continues to, not just impress, but dominate. He shoved Dion Dawkins out of the way to apply pressure on Josh Allen and nearly get a sack on the All-Pro quarterback. He had a strip sack later on in the game, which was recovered by linebacker Tanner Muse, and he also recorded a tackle for loss defending the run.
His pass-rushing move-set is very deep, and his bend is ungodly good. For someone who is undersized compared to the typical edge rusher, the rookie out of Wisconsin isn’t just going to be a guy who is on the roster, he is going to be a feature rotational piece of the defense. Thank God for Wisconsin edge rushers.
I mentioned it in my instant analysis, and I’ll follow up with it more in depth on the site in the very-near future, but are we sure Warren isn’t better than Najee Harris?
Warren capped off the Steelers’ first drive with a 62 yard touchdown run. Fun fact, the Steelers have two more 60 yard touchdowns through eight quarters of preseason play than they did in all of 2022. Warren gives the Steelers an explosiveness that they wouldn’t otherwise have at running back. He needs to be more of a focal point.
Enough. Cut him.
Gunner will likely have a roster spot as the fifth receiver on the depth chart, and had a good game receiving wise, but his time as the starting return man is over- Calvin Austin all but guaranteed he’ll be the punt and kick returner this season.
Again, are we certain that he is better than Jaylen Warren? His lack of explosiveness is becoming more and more noticeable.
You only have so many opportunities as someone fighting for a roster spot. Butler unexpectedly did not play Saturday, which all but seals his fate. He just hasn’t shown enough in camp or preseason action to warrant a roster spot.
He continues to struggle in pass pro. This isn’t a “The ship is sinking” situation, but it is something he clearly needs to work on. Giving up pressure to reserve edge rushers pretty much tells the story in it of itself.