The Pittsburgh Steelers fourth and final preseason game of 2018 will take place Thursday night at home against the Carolina Panthers. Prior to every preseason game this year I have been spotlighting one offensive and one defensive player that I believe should be focused on throughout the contest. However, none of the players that I spotlight in this series will be draft picks of the team. Instead, I am focusing on younger players who joined the team this year as rookie or first or second-year free agents.
The offensive player I chose to spotlight for the Steelers fourth and final preseason game against the Panthers is tackle Zach Banner.
When the Steelers started their 2018 training camp in Late July, Banner was unemployed as the former fourth-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts had previously been waived by the Panthers in late May. However, after losing a few offensive linemen lower on the depth chart to injuries during the first few weeks of August, the Steelers decided to sign Banner, who at that time at reportedly gotten his weight back under control.
Since he was signed to the Steelers 90-man roster, Banner, a USC product, has played in two preseason games and has had snaps at both tackle spots to the tune of just under 60 in total. He’s also represented himself reasonably well at both positions in those two preseason contests.
Against the Panthers Thursday night, Banner should once again receive plenty of playing time and probably on both sides of the offensive line. The Steelers could potentially decide to keep 9 offensive linemen in total on their initial 53-man roster and if they go that route, Banner figures to be a front runner to be No. 9.
Banner’s strong play so far this preseason when combined with the fact that he is a former fourth-round draft pick, could make him attractive to a few other teams around the league with another solid showing. In short, the Steelers might not be guaranteed to get Banner to their practice squad over the weekend should he have a strong performance Thursday night against the Panthers.
In short, Banner has a lot to play for Thursday night against the Panthers, the team that waived him earlier this summer, as they didn’t even view him as being worthy enough to participate in their training camp.