The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their final exhibition game of 2018 in two days when they host the Carolina Panthers. While most of the roster will have been set by now, there are still a couple of positions that may still be up for grabs. Here are five players that may have the most to gain by authoring strong performances in this otherwise rather meaningless game.
Joshua Dobbs: While I have been pretty clear about my position on how I expect things to unfold from here on out, Joshua Dobbs certainly comes into this game understanding that he has everything to play for. The second-year quarterback said that he believes he has played well enough to be on the team but knows that it’s not up to him.
The problem is that he needs to play so well that they can convince the coaching staff that he is capable of being Ben Roethlisberger’s backup quarterback in a couple of weeks, not in a couple of years. His developmental period is over. So he needs to have an exceptional performance against the Panthers to have any shot of making the team. Otherwise, he is auditioning for a roster spot elsewhere.
Marcus Allen: The fifth-round rookie safety has missed the majority of his offseason, but is back in time to participate in the game in which he should receive his most extensive playing time. After missing practically all of the spring, Allen has continued to deal with injuries in training camp and beyond, missing the second preseason game.
But he got to get into the last game late and popped up a couple of times, most notably in intercepting a late-game Hail Mary pass. The coaching staff is probably looking to tip the scales in his favor to make the team, so I would expect to see him get extended playing time.
Stevan Ridley: Maybe I’m wrong on this, but right now I see Jaylen Samuels as the favorite for the number three spot. The Steelers wanted to test his rushing ability and endurance in the last game, and he passed both, while also getting special teams snaps.
So I think at this point Ridley (and Fitzgerald Toussaint) are just fighting to convince the team to carry four running backs. Ridley has missed the past two games, so he desperately needs to get back on the field, after he looked good in the preseason opener.
Lavon Hooks: Call me crazy, but I think Hooks could legitimately make a push for a roster spot. The practice squad veteran has arguably looked like the best defensive lineman behind the starters so far this preseason and could potentially threaten either Daniel McCullers or even L.T. Walton. But he needs to end on a high note. I’m talking 1970s Rob Halford falsetto high note.
Olasunkanmi Adeniyi: Adeniyi has put together a couple of impressive strings of snaps so far this preseason, but I think he needs one more to really solidify in the team’s view that they need to carry him. and he might need to prove that even more on special teams than he does on defense.