In his press conference today, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he was unsure how much Malik Reed and Jesse Davis will be able to contribute this week.
“We’ll see about the new guys. Their ability to execute and have detail in their play, throughout the course of the week will determine whether or not they have roles or the significance of those roles,” Tomlin said via the team’s YouTube channel.
With both Davis and Reed joining the team after Pittsburgh’s final preseason game, it’s not that surprising that the two might have limited availability. Given that both are expected to be backups, it’s not surprising that they wouldn’t play a lot anyway, although Reed might have played some downs to give Alex Highsmith or T.J. Watt a breather for a play or two here and there.
With Davis, his path to playing time would mostly be in the case that Kevin Dotson or James Daniels are banged up or struggle. With the way Pittsburgh’s offensive line has performed in addition to Dotson’s injury history, it’s not all that unrealistic to expect Davis to play a little bit early in the season though. It just doesn’t appear as though it could happen during Week 1.
Jamir Jones also joined the team late in the process, but Jones is familiar with Pittsburgh due to his time spent with the team in 2021. While Teryl Austin wasn’t the defensive coordinator, he was with the team and the schemes and system are still pretty similar so there shouldn’t really be any speed bumps with getting Jones to acclimate to the team.
With all that being said, it is fair to question how much production Pittsburgh can expect to get out of both Reed and Davis. Davis is a fine guard, but given that he’s slotted to play behind both Dotson and Daniels, there’s a question of just how much he will play. In a perfect world, both starting guards stay healthy and play well enough to keep their spots throughout the season.
Reed will get reps throughout the year, but he’s undersized and struggles against bigger offensive tackles, which you can see more of in Alex Kozora’s film room from last week. I do think he’ll find a way to make an impact, as he’s been able to be a fairly productive player throughout his career, but for now, I’m tempering my expectations.
Regardless, neither guy was expected to make any sort of major impact in Week 1. Neither trade should be labeled good or bad based on the amount of reps they get against the Bengals on Sunday. Whether Davis or Reed play or not, we’ll see if Pittsburgh is able to start their season on a positive note in Cincinnati.