The Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-4 but this is far from a 1-4 football team. Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens was just another heartbreaker in what has been a season full of heartbreaking losses. Sunday’s game was perhaps the most emotional as the Steelers were minutes away from pulling out a victory against a divisional rival with their third string quarterback, only to have the rug pulled out from within them at the last second. Now, the team will head back to the west coast to take on the Los Angeles Chargers. Here are all the players trending upwards and downwards as the team heads west.
LB Vince Williams – Stock Up
Vince Williams did not just knock on the door of opportunity; he kicked the door down and wrecked everything in his path. Williams played 52 snaps Sunday which were his most since Week 15 of last season. After being reduced to a sub package role earlier in the season, the Steelers have to be considering moving Williams back to a full-time role as the defense performed a lot better with him out there.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster – Stock Down
It has been a tough few weeks for the Steelers’ number one receiver. After recording just 15 receiving yards against the Cincinnati Bengals, JuJu Smith-Schuster looked to be getting back on track against the Ravens as he had seven catches for 75 yards. Unfortunately, that seventh and final catch proved costly as Smith-Schuster fumbled the football after an impressive punch by Ravens’ cornerback Marlon Humphrey. The Ravens ended up recovering and a few plays later, they won the game. While it was an incredible play by Humphrey, a fumble is a fumble and for that Smith-Schuster sees his stock drop this week.
QB Devlin Hodges – Stock Up
It’s duck season in Pittsburgh as Devlin Hodges looks ready to make his first career start this Sunday against the Chargers. It’s hard to be optimistic about the Steelers’ chances but Hodges provided a glimmer of hope with his play last Sunday. Filling in for an injured Mason Rudolph, Hodges went 7/9 for 68 yards and led two scoring drives. While Hodges is an undrafted rookie, he did not play like one in the second half last Sunday and if the Steelers hope to win this weekend, he is going to put together another great performance, except this time he will have to do it for sixty minutes.
LB Mark Barron – Stock Down
Do not know what else there is to be said about linebacker Mark Barron. After putting together a decent performance the week prior, Barron regressed to the mean against the Ravens. Barron seemed confused and a step behind out there and he once again looked like the obvious weak link on an otherwise great defense. Now dealing with a hamstring injury, you have to wonder if the Steelers will just roll with Williams moving forward instead.
CB Mike Hilton – Stock Up
Slot corner Mike Hilton has stacked consecutive great performances over the last two weeks. Last Monday, Hilton put together his best showing of the season or so we thought, recording five tackles, one tackle for a loss and two pass defenses. Well the best performance of the season moniker only lasted six days as Hilton was even better against the Ravens, recording four tackles, one tackle for a loss, one interception and one pass defense. The interception was Hilton’s first of the season and it really was just a great play as he read the eyes of Lamar Jackson and made a play on the ball.
RB Jaylen Samuels – Stock Down
It has been a rollercoaster ride of a season for the Steelers’ second year running back. A week after he was featured prominently in the offense, Jaylen Samuels did not much against the Ravens last Sunday, recording just three carries for two yards and three receptions for 11 yards. Samuels played just 15 offensive snaps, his lowest since the Steelers’ week three loss to the 49ers and those will likely be his last snaps for a while, as he recently went under the knife for a knee scope.
S Minkah Fitzpatrick – Stock Up
Minkah Fitzpatrick has only played three games with the Steelers and he has already been the catalyst for three turnovers. After recording an interception and forced fumble in San Francisco, Fitzpatrick created another turnover last week as he bumped into Ravens’ tight end Mark Andrews which caused the ball to bounce into the hands of safety Kameron Kelly. Fitzpatrick has been everything the Steelers have asked for and more since he was acquired just over three weeks ago. Hopefully Fitzpatrick (or anyone for that matter) can create a few more opportunities for the Steelers this Sunday as it would go a long way for their chances of victory.