From starting position battles to rookie and coach debuts, the Steelers entered the preseason with a lot of names to keep an eye on. Now at week 4, the Steelers find themselves at 2-1 with decent performances in each game. The big names haven’t seen much of the field – for obvious reasons – which gives way for some new guys to make a positive impact in areas needing a bit of help.
The Steelers went with third-round draft pick Mason Rudolph to start week one at quarterback, putting up 101 yards on 12 attempts to beat the Eagles 31-14. In his NFL debut, the rookie QB was efficient with his passing and proved he has quite a bit of potential. Considering Rudolph will be sitting behind Roethlisberger for the time being, it’s nice to see a glimpse of the future with a solid debut performance.
Linebacker Matthew Thomas made an impact in his preseason debut in week 2 and again last week against the Titans, proving his explosiveness is worthy of the regular season roster. As a whole, the defensive side hasn’t been much to write home about, giving up 51 points to the Packers in week 2. The defense has been suffering from the absence of Stephon Tuitt and Joe Hayden, but their awaited return should rectify any gaps in the secondary. Tuitt is a major key to the success of the Steeler defense, and a healthy season from the defensive end can help shape their season.
Coach Mike Tomlin recently announced that the starting punter position is still up for grabs, leaving an important performance in the balance for one player going into week 4. Matt Wile replaced Jordan Berry last week against Tennessee, recording better numbers than Berry. This position battle will likely end after their meeting with the Panthers this week, but for now, it’s a toss-up.
Wide receiver Ryan Switzer is looking to provide an extra spark as a punt returner and slot receiver. Switzer is now on his third team in less than five months but will hopefully find a home in Pittsburgh as an explosive return man. Switzer will look to compete with fellow wide receivers on the depth chart. He torched the field during his college days at North Carolina and will look to do the same in his debut versus the Carolina Panthers in week 4.
Linebacker Bud Dupree looks to continue surging into week 4, as his level of play as of late has really turned some heads. Still, the outside backer needs to remain consistent to prove he can live up to his expectations. Safety Marcus Allen has been sidelined due to an injury, but fans will keep an eye on him in week 4 as his roster spot may be on the line.
Not much is known about how Randy Fichtner, in his first season as offensive coordinator, will change up his game plan once the season hits but so far there’s little to complain about as far as play calling. Now we have Leveon Bell claiming that he’ll report to practice starting Monday, which is long overdue news for Steeler fans, but good news nonetheless. Roethlisberger, who went 11-18 with 114 yards a touchdown in his preseason debut last week, now says that his arm is feeling as strong as it ever has. A fully healthy Ben at quarterback looks likely for the start of the regular season, as he likely will sit out against the Panthers in the final preseason game.