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 offensive players that Steelers fans will likely want to watch closely Saturday night against the Colts along with reasons why.
C Maurkice Pouncey – Sure, we already know who Pouncey is as a player but even so, it will be nice to finally see him get some game action Saturday night being as he’s missed a lot of time with a leg injury. Saturday night will more than likely be the first and last time we get to see the Steelers starting offensive line play together during the preseason.
QB Landry Jones – The last time we saw Jones take a snap in a game he threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Cobi Hamilton in overtime of the Steelers 2016 regular season finale to beat the Cleveland Browns. Jones, who missed the first two preseason games with an abdominal injury, appears to now be ready to make his 2017 debut Saturday night and it would be nice to see him play the equivalent of a full half or more against the Colts to help him get ready for the regular season.
RB James Conner – While Conner had a nice NFL debut last Sunday, he still needs some more work as an offensive player and especially when it comes to him catching the football out of the backfield. While Conner might not see as much offensive playing time in his second preseason game, he’ll likely get an extended look Saturday night on special teams so that will be worth paying close attention to.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster – If the Steelers second-round draft pick this year ultimately plays Saturday night, he’ll be a welcomed sight being as he’s played just a handful of snaps so far during the preseason due to him first dealing with concussion and then a bone bruise on one of his legs. If he’s indeed healthy enough to play Saturday night, hopefully he’s on the field for at least 20 offensive snaps as he really could use some extensive game work.
T Jerald Hawkins – Hawkins’ play against the Atlanta Falcons was much better than what he put on tape in the team’s first preseason game against the New York Giants. Saturday night against the Colts he’ll have the opportunity to build on what he did Sunday. Watch him closely at left tackle as part of the second-team offense and I hope he plays well into the fourth quarter.
WR Justin Hunter – Hunter played 33 snaps in his Steelers debut against the Falcons and ended with three catches for 16 yards and a touchdown. He’s now set to see extended playing time with Jones Saturday night and thus should be targeted deep a few times. Hunter didn’t play any special teams snaps against the Falcons so he’ll really need to shine as a wide receiver in the Steelers final two preseason games if he wants to make the final 53-man roster.
RB Knile Davis – After not seeing the field on offense any in the game against the Falcons, one can easily speculate that Davis will get some carries Saturday night with Fitzgerald Toussaint being primarily used on special teams. Davis needs more work at running back and could potentially get it behind the Steelers starting offensive line.
TE Xavier Grimble – Grimble has had a rough preseason so far. Outside of his called-back touchdown catch in the preseason opener against the Giants, he’s really not looked like a player that should be considered a lock to make this year’s 53-man roster. We need to see him catch everything thrown in his general vicinity. Additionally, it would be nice to see him start making more of an impact on special teams in the final two preseason games.
RB/PR/KR Trey Williams – The undersized running back might have earned himself a few carries this week thanks to the success he had Sunday against the Falcons as a punt returner. Even if Williams doesn’t play any at running back late in Saturday’s game, you can probably count on him returning a few more punts and quite possibly a few kickoffs as well.
TE Jake McGee – Really, how can you not want to see more of McGee moving forward? He’s been a solid run blocker so far during the preseason and thus now deserves the opportunity to play earlier in a preseason game. I’d like to see him targeted multiple times in the passing game Saturday night against the Colts and possibly as a member of the second-team offense. I also suspect he’ll get another long look on special teams Saturday night and hopefully he continues to have some success in that phase of his game as well.