The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are in a critical portion of the offseason in which the preseason takes center stage, where some of the biggest and most important questions get answered, especially in terms of personnel.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Which Steelers performance most positively affected your opinion on a player in last night’s game?
First of all, let’s be clear about what I’m asking here. I’m not asking you about who you think played the best last night. I’m not asking you who you think most improved their chances of making the roster or earning a certain role on the team. I’m asking you who showed you the most in the game on the Steelers to change your opinion about them in a positive way.
For me, I would probably say that it was rookie running back Jaylen Samuels, upon initial impression. Virtually absent in the preseason opener, he showed a little wriggle in last week’s game, but last night got plenty of opportunities and made the most of the majority of them. His yards per carry was relatively efficient considering the Titans’ defense, the linemen in the game, and the fact that a decent amount of it was short-yardage.
While not my overall opinion, Stephon Tuitt’s performance definitely instilled more confidence from me in what he will do this season coming off an injury-riddle 2017. He was frequently disruptive and cemented that with a sack in the first half.
I need to comb over it in greater detail, but Matthew Thomas aided his cause overall in showing his capacity to be a sub-package linebacker and special teams contributor, which is exactly what he would be should he make the team. He had two tackles on special teams.
I wanted to see James Conner work in the passing game, and he showed that, catching six passes for 52 yards and displaying good catch-and-turn ability to get up the field, even working up the sideline on one early play.
Terrell Edmunds’ interception in the first half helped his cause, but I thought he represented himself well overall in starting for Morgan Burnett. He has logged an extensive amount of time this preseason and should definitely figure in sub-packages early.