The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their third preseason game of 2017 Saturday night at home against the Indianapolis Colts and this contest should feature an extended look at several of the team’s starters on both sides of the football in addition to several players with legitimate shots at still making the final 53-man roster or 10-man practice squad.
Below are 10 defensive players that Steelers fans will likely want to watch closely Saturday night against the Colts along with reasons why.
OLB Bud Dupree – As things stand right now, Dupree will make his 2017 debut Saturday night and if that ultimately happens, it will great to see the 2015 first-round draft pick back on the field again. By the sound of things, Dupree will get to go against Colts right tackle Jeremy Vujnovich Saturday night. Vujnovich, by the way, a former undrafted free agent, has never started a regular season NFL game. In short, it will be disappointing if Dupree doesn’t have a solid showing against the Colts.
ILB Ryan Shazier – All signs point to Shazier also making his 2017 preseason debut Saturday night as it appears he’s finally recovered from his hamstring injury. Shazier really could use some game action beside new starter Vince Williams. While Shazier might not play more than two or three series, he’s always fun to watch when healthy and on the field.
OLB James Harrison – While he isn’t likely to play too many snaps against the Colts, old man Deebo is expected to make his 2017 debut Saturday night. All of Harrison’s snaps will likely be against Colts starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo and the two already know each other quite well.
CB Cameron Sutton – The Steelers first of two third-round draft picks this year appears poised to make his NFL debut Saturday night after missing a lot of time during training camp with a hamstring injury. One would think that Sutton’s debut playing time will come on the outside but we probably can’t totally rule out him getting some limited slot work as well. Additionally, I suspect Sutton will get some limited burn on special teams against the Colts and likely as a gunner.
CB Coty Sensabaugh – Will Sensabaugh start Saturday night over Ross Cockrell? It’s worth watching the game just to see if that happens. A strong showing Saturday night against the Colts might just be enough for him to permanently wrestle away the bone from Cockrell.
CB Ross Cockrell – Speaking of Cockrell, it will be interesting to see if he can bounce back from his poor Sunday showing against the Atlanta Falcons. He had trouble covering a few unknown Falcon wide receivers in that Sunday preseason game and he’s now in jeopardy of losing his starting job to aforementioned Sensabaugh.
CB Mike Hilton – If you aren’t already on the Hilton bandwagon, I regret to inform that all seats have now been taken. The Mississippi product has put together two nice preseason showings so far and will be looking to improve of them Saturday night against the Colts. Hilton has done everything except for intercept a pass so far during the preseason while playing in the slot so maybe he’ll get his first one Saturday night. Much like new Steelers tight end Jake McGee, you cant have one of these preseason game watch lists without putting Hilton on it.
CB Brian Allen – Allen has managed to do something that several other Steelers cornerbacks have failed to do since the end of July and that’s stay fully healthy. This year’s fifth-round draft pick has played quite a few defensive and special teams snaps so far during the preseason but only has one pass defensed and assisted tackle to show for his efforts. Allen figures to get even more second half playing time Saturday night and still has an outside shot at making the final 53-man roster.
CB Dashaun Phillips – The Steelers acquired Phillips via a trade with the Washington Redskins Wednesday night. If he plays any defensive snaps Saturday night, they figure to come late in the game and at the slot position. It also might be worth watching Phillips play some on special teams against the Colts. As things stand right now, Phillips is a great practice squad candidate and he has meaningful NFL game experience to boot.
ILB Matt Galambos – The Steelers have really taken a long look at Galambos so far during the preseason as he’s played a ton of defensive and special teams snaps. He might very well wind up on the practice squad this year so it’s important that he finishes out the preseason with two strong showings.