The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their final game of the preseason tonight, hosting the Carolina Panthers, in what will be the most meaningless of the four—except to those players who are still pushing for a roster spot. And you never know what those players may eventually turn into.
Suffice it to say that that is what we’re going to be watching for tonight.
Let’s start at quarterback. Joshua Dobbs is fighting for his job. He knows that he has to play extremely well to convince the team that he is either capable of being the backup or promising enough to justify carrying a fourth quarterback, working under the presumption that Landry Jones will be gone in 2019. There are at least half a dozen followers here who vehemently insist that he is already ahead of Jones. Let’s see how he plays in this game.
The running back position also has to be sorted out. Has Jaylen Samuels already locked up a roster spot, or does he need to solidify it tonight? Stevan Ridley and Fitzgerald Toussaint are still fighting. Either one or two of these names will make the team, and frankly it could literally go half a dozen different ways.
I do think the wide receiver and offensive line groups are all pretty well sown up in terms of the 53-man roster, but practice squad spots are at stake, with players like Damoun Patterson and Zach Banner looking to stay there.
Can Lavon Hooks along the defensive line make a strong final push to make the team? Is Joshua Frazier, the rookie seventh-round pick and former player under the team’s new defensive line coach, still even in the running to make the 53? He’s probably on the practice squad bubble right now.
Most of the focus at linebacker is on two undrafted free agent rookies: Matthew Thomas inside and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi outside. Both have flashed, the latter with a couple of sacks and the former racking up tackles, even getting some play with the first string in a sub-package designed for him. Assuming they make the team, will it be as excess, or at the expense of others such as L.J. Fort or Keion Adams—even Anthony Chickillo?
In the secondary, I think the only question at cornerback is whether or not Coty Sensabaugh makes the team. The injury to Mike Hilton and the lack of progress from Brian Allen would seem to play in his far. The safety position could go with either four or five players, and nobody has jumped out to claim the fifth spot yet, but there is reason to believe the team would like rookie Marcus Allen to make the team.
Finally, a punter competition? Who was expecting that? Mike Tomlin acknowledged it so it must be true. Hey, Kameron Canaday quietly ‘beat’ Colin Holba last year for the long snapper job.