Mike Tomlin decided to get specific when asked about the play of his quarterbacks following the Pittsburgh Steelers' victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 3 of the preseason.
Pittsburgh's head coach publicly critiqued Josh Dobbs, a third-year veteran who is trying to keep his job as the Steelers' No. 2 quarterback. Dobbs, who threw a red zone interception near the end of Sunday's game, has lost significant ground on second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph entering Thursday's preseason finale in Carolina against the Panthers. Rudolph told reporters Tuesday that Dobbs will start Thursday night's game, but the second-year signal-caller should see plenty of time as well.
"Dobbs [has] gotta take better care of the ball, particularly in those situations," Tomlin said. "We got the ball in the red zone, that's points on the board, we gotta be more prudent there."
While Dobbs' ongoing position battle with Rudolph is the focus of our final Steelers preseason depth chart review, we'll also review several other position battles to keep an eye on during Thursday's game.
|QB||Ben Roethlisberger||Josh Dobbs||Mason Rudolph||Devlin Hodges|| |
|RB||James Conner||Jaylen Samuels||Benny Snell Jr.||Trey Edmunds||Malik Williams, Travon McMillian|
|FB||Roosevelt Nix|| || || || |
|LWR||Donte Moncrief||Ryan Switzer|| Eli Rogers || Diontae Spencer ||Trey Griffey, Brandon Reilly|
|RWR||JuJu Smith-Schuster||James Washington||Diontae Johnson||Tevin Jones||Johnny Holton|
|TE||Vance McDonald||Xavier Grimble||Christian Scotland-Williamson||Kevin Rader||Zach Gentry, Trevor Wood, Micky Crum|
|LT||Alejandro Villanueva||Chukwuma Okorafor||Damian Prince|| || |
|LG||Ramon Foster||J.C. Hassenauer||Garrett Brumfield|| || |
|C||Maurkice Pouncey||B.J. Finney||Patrick Morris|| || |
|RG||David DeCastro||Fred Johnson||Derwin Gray|| || |
|RT||Matt Feiler||Zach Banner||Jerald Hawkins|| || |
Rudolph, despite remaining behind Dobbs on the depth chart, is currently ahead of Dobbs in the race to be the Steelers' No. 2 quarterback. While Dobbs has made plays both his arm as well as his feet during the preseason, Rudolph out-played him during Pittsburgh's first three preseason games.
Rudolph, a rookie last season, went 21 of 32 for 243 yards with three touchdowns and one pick in Pittsburgh's first three exhibition games. Dobbs, a third-year pro and the Steelers' No. 2 quarterback last season, is 15 of 28 for 264 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions heading into Thursday's game. Dobbs has also rushed eight times for 59 yards.
Randy Fichtner, who is entering his second season as the Steelers' offensive coordinator, recently discussed Pittsburgh's backup quarterback battle.
"I told them in the beginning that protecting the football is as important as anything," Fichtner the team's official website prior to Sunday night's game. "So, it's something that we have to continually do, and they know that. I think they've done really a good job in competition because they help each other too, and they're good professionals. They're both trying to get better for the good of Pittsburgh Steelers first and for them second, and I'm proud of that."
Fichtner said that he is happy with the progress that both quarterbacks have made this summer.
"They're both different types of quarterbacks. Josh is very mobile. He's not afraid to break it down with his legs, "Fichtner said. "He's made some really big plays for us. Mason's done a nice job improving his pocket passing, his pocket movement, delivery of the football and making better decisions."
Other Steelers offensive players to keep an eye on: Eli Rogers and Johnny Holton are likely competing for the final spot on Pittsburgh's wide receiver depth chart. While Rogers has been with the Steelers since 2015 (he signed a two-year deal with the team this offseason), Holton's solid summer has made this a compelling position battle that has yet to be decided. Trey Edmunds, who picked up a key third down on Pittsburgh's first scoring drive on Sunday, could convince the Steelers to keep him on the 53 if Benny Snell's injury keeps him on the shelf to start the regular season.
Ulysees Gilbert III
|RCB||Steven Nelson||Artie Burns||Trevon Mathis|| |
|SCB||Mike Hilton||Cam Sutton|| || |
Artie Burns, who some thought would get cut before the start of training camp, seems like a sure lock to make the 53-man roster after a strong start to the preseason. Buggs, a sixth round pick and Alabama's sack leader last season, is a lock to make the team's 53-man roster.
Tuzar Skipper, an undrafted rookie out of Toledo who received extra playing time last week following Ola Adeniyi's surgery to repair his meniscus, has had an impressive preseason. He could make it onto the 53 if Adeniyi's injury keeps him out to start the regular season.
Another rookie linebacker to keep an eye on Thursday night is Ulysees Gilbert III, a sixth-round pick who had a strong showing in Pittsburgh's first preseason game. Gilbert, one of several Steelers players from the Mid-American Conference (he played at Akron), can further strengthen his push to make the 53 with a good outing on Thursday night.
Kameron Kelly, a former AAF standout, should make the roster while solidifying Pittsburgh's depth chart at free safety.
|K||Chris Boswell||Matthew Wright|| |
|P||Jordan Berry||Ian Berryman|| |
|LS||Kameron Canaday||Trevor Wood|| |
|KR||Ryan Switzer||JuJu Smith-Schuster||Artie Burns|
|PR||Ryan Switzer||Diontae Spencer||Cam Sutton|
Chris Boswell, after having to compete to keep his job this summer, has outlasted challenger Matthew Wright and will keep his starting job for the 2019 season. The same can't be said for Jordan Berry, who will need a good outing Thursday if he wants to beat out Ian Berryman to be Pittsburgh's punter in 2019.