The 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers have a real penchant for keeping games interesting, whether in win or loss. No game represented that as much as the Thursday Night Football game against the Minnesota Vikings. After falling 29-0 at one point, the Steelers were just a play away from forcing overtime and nearly completing the biggest comeback in regular season NFL history. Unfortunately, depth players came into play again with injuries being a factor. Last week those depth players made the “stock up” portion of this list after filling in admirably. It was a lot more of a mixed bag this time when it came to the performance of the depth.
Here are the players with their stock on the move after Week 14:
WR JAMES WASHINGTON – STOCK UP
After being on the other end of this list last week, James Washington got the opportunity to play more in the second half of Week 14 after Chase Claypool was benched. He made an excellent catch on a 50/50 ball for a gain of 30 yards which led to the Steelers’ first score to spark their comeback. Had he played it any differently, the ball would have been intercepted as the simultaneous catch on the play goes to the receiver. Later, he had another impressive catch deep in the middle of the field for a touchdown with two defenders in coverage. He managed to bring it down for the Steelers’ 20th unanswered point.
Pro Football Focus graded him out well with a 79.2 overall score, good for second best on the offense. This high mark was including an 86.2 grade in run blocking, showing off his well rounded play. It also helps when Ben Roethlisberger praises your heart and desire after the game.
OG JOHN LEGLUE – STOCK DOWN
John Leglue was unable to build off of his solid debut performance. In Week 14, he was called for two penalties and allowed five total pressures. In other words, he played exactly how you would expect a fifth string guard to play. Unless there are more injuries, Leglue should be kept off the field the rest of the season. J.C. Hassenauer was designated to return from IR, so he will likely slide back into left guard with Joe Haeg the primary backup.
CB AHKELLO WITHERSPOON – STOCK UP
Last week, Ahkello Witherspoon was one of the three first-time Steeler starters that made this list with their stock up. Of those three, Ahkello Witherspoon was the only one to really back up his strong first performance with a good second outing. He netted two interceptions against the Vikings, one on a tip drill and one by undercutting a quick slant. These plays were necessary in the effort to give the Steelers a chance towards the end of the game, and even more impressive when you see Kirk Cousins only had three interceptions prior to the game.
I am not sure where Witherspoon will fit in once Joe Haden returns, but he has earned more opportunities on the Steelers. PFF gave him an impressive 89.5 overall grade, including a 90.5 in coverage. His biggest downside has been tackling, but he was credited with zero missed tackles in this game.
C KENDRICK GREEN – STOCK DOWN
Kendrick Green has been up-and-down in his rookie season as the team’s starting center. Week 14 was definitely a down week. A center’s most important and fundamental job is snapping the ball to the quarterback on time. He was struggling with that on Thursday, as Ben Roethlisberger was visibly frustrated throughout the game when Green would fail to snap on his cadence. Kendrick Green wasn’t called for a penalty in this game, but at least one was his fault as he failed to snap on the correct snap count.
Beyond the snapping issues, his blocking was subpar as well. He allowed multiple pressures, including a sack. Green has often been outmatched by bigger and stronger defensive tackles this season and finds himself on the turf way too often. It is only a matter of time before he gets one of his fellow offensive linemen hurt by rolling up on them from behind. PFF gave him an abysmal 44.2 overall grade, including a 25.5 pass blocking grade.