Since the arrival of Joe Schobert via trade during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ second preseason game, the speculation has been in what role he would take the field for the team in the following two preseason contests, as well as the regular season. The role has since cleared up: Schobert will be wearing the green dot and assuming a lot of the captaining and quarterbacking of the defense from his middle linebacker spot.
As for playing in the preseason, head coach Mike Tomlin elaborated Thursday morning on the role Schobert would fill in Saturday night’s third preseason game, against the Detroit Lions.
“We’re going to play him with the first group. I don’t know that it’s needed to play him anymore,” Tomlin said. “He’s proven quickly that his football intellect is on a professional level. He’s adapting quickly and gaining the detail, but playing with people and communicating and working to play together, it’s something that’s going to be continually addressed with him. And it’s not going to get solved on Saturday night. So I don’t know that that’s our mentality. We’re going to give him some game exposure with that group and go from there.”
Saturday will be Schobert’s first time running with the Steelers’ starting defense against a new opponent since coming over from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The final two preseason contests are crucial to getting him used to his role in the defense and how it plays, ahead of Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills. Developing chemistry with fellow starter Devin Bush is also necessary.
Schobert won’t take a considerable amount of time to get up to speed. A five-year veteran and four-year starter with a Pro Bowl to his credit, Schobert earned a big-money deal from the Jaguars based on his ability to play smart football in the middle of the defense. He has also had time in camp to work with Bush and his fellow starters, and was immediately thrown in to a major role of responsibility during those practices.
He doesn’t figure to be out on the field tremendously long on Saturday. Tomlin indicated he would play with only the starters, and that group has not spent much time on the field in live action this preseason. Devin Bush played only 10 snaps during the win over the Eagles last Thursday, and the team’s other potential starters at linebacker, Alex Highsmith and Melvin Ingram, played only 13 snaps.