The Pittsburgh Steelers are now in Latrobe at Saint Vincent College, where they have held their training camp sessions since 1966. While the vast majority of the legwork of building the 90-man roster is done, there is always some fine tinkering to do. Now it’s time to figure out who is worthy of a roster spot, and what their role will be.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they’re bound to have new starters.
How will those position groups sort themselves out? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in practice? Who is sitting out due to injury?
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: How many starters will play in the first preseason game?
We are now literally just a couple of days away from Steelers football returning, the team set to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday for their first preseason game. When they take the field, of course, the personnel that comes out on the field is going to look very different—one would hope—from that which will participate in the season opener in a month’s time.
A number of starters will not be participating, of that one can be rest assured. That starts at the top with Ben Roethlisberger, and probably anybody who is not as close to 100 percent health as possible. That would include Sean Davis, Alejandro Villanueva, Maurkice Pouncey, and perhaps T.J. Watt as well.
The starting offensive line in the past has logged a lot of time in the preseason. That might not be the case this year. Players like Ramon Foster and David DeCastro are also likely to get rest. Matt Feiler will play of course, as he is competing for a starting role.
What about a veteran like Cameron Heyward? He played in the first three preseason games in 2017, but only in the third last year. Stephon Tuitt played in the first three last year. Would a veteran newcomer like Mark Barron be held out? Is Donte Moncrief going to be sidelined while he catches passes with one hand?
Vance McDonald has played in one preseason game in his two years here, and that one was just days after he joined the team. Even though he’s a veteran with an injury history, I get the sense that he is going to play, though maybe not much in the first game.