Steelers depth chart: Quarterback and receiver battles heating up heading into Pittsburgh's second preseason game
Come for the Steelers' updated depth chart, stay for our predictions on Pittsburgh's biggest position battles
The quarterback battle between Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph is really close. Their numbers last Friday night were nearly identical, with the major difference being Rudolph's two touchdown passes to Dobbs' zero. Dobbs did make up for it by rushing twice for 44 yards while playing against Tampa Bay's starting defense.
Devin Bush, Pittsburgh's first round pick, is the real deal. The former All-American ILB out of Michigan recorded 10 tackles that included seven solo stops and a key fourth down stop in just one half of work. Bush also had no issue communicating the calls with the Steelers' first team defense. One of Bush's rookie teammates, however, struggled in his preseason debut, but we'll get to him a little bit later on.
The battle to earn one of Pittsburgh's final receiver spots on the 53-man roster is developing into one of the things fans should be keeping an eye on heading into Saturday's preseason game against the Chiefs. Johnny Holton, who spent his first three seasons in Oakland, finished second on the team in receiving while ripping off an impressive 59-yard catch and carry. Tevin Jones, who broke into the NFL in 2016 but has never played in a regular season game, caught Pittsburgh's final touchdown in last Friday's victory. A big night last week on special teams for Diontae Spencer has kept him in the mix as well.
We'll tackle each of these topics, and more, in our breakdown of Pittsburgh's depth chart entering their second preseason game. We will also offer our predictions for some of the Steelers' biggest position battles.
|QB||Ben Roethlisberger||Josh Dobbs||Mason Rudolph||Devlin Hodges|| |
|RB||James Conner||Jaylen Samuels||Benny Snell Jr.||Ralph Webb||Trey Edmunds|
|LWR||Donte Moncrief||James Washington||Diontae Spencer ||Trey Griffey || |
|RWR||JuJu Smith-Schuster||Diontae Johnson||Tevin Jones||Johnny Holton||Brandon Reilly|
|SWR||Ryan Switzer || Eli Rogers || || || |
|TE||Vance McDonald||Xavier Grimble||Christian Scotland-Williamson||Kevin Rader||Zach Gentry|
|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|| || |
James Washington, who caught four passes for 84 yards and a score last Friday, remains my pick to ultimately become Pittsburgh's No. 2 receiver. Holton, who head coach Mike Tomlin said has "NFL resume in tape" earlier this week, is currently ahead of Holton and Diontae Johnson to win a roster spot on Pittsburgh's 53 heading into Week 1 of the regular season.
While the No. 2 quarterback spot between Dobbs and Rudolph is still up for grabs, Rudolph, based on last Friday's performance, is my pick to ultimately win the position battle entering Saturday's game. But that could certainly change if Dobbs has a strong outing and Rudolph fails to make significant strides.
Rookie Zach Gentry, who caught a touchdown pass in his preseason debut, is currently doing enough to hold off Kevin Rader for the last TE spot on the 53.
Ulysees Gilbert III
|RCB||Steven Nelson||Artie Burns||Jermaine Ponder|| |
|SCB||Mike Hilton||Cam Sutton|| || |
Two Steelers' defenders fans should be keeping an eye on Saturday are rookie ILB Ulysees Gilbert III and CB Justin Layne. While Gilbert played well (recording three tackles and 1.5 sacks), Tomlin pointed out on Tuesday that each of his significant plays came between defensive snaps 80-89 against weaker competition. Don't be surprised if you see play earlier -- against better competition -- Saturday night, as Tomlin surely wants to see how his young linebacker performs against more players who are likely to make a regular season roster.
Tomlin went as far as to say that last Friday's stage appeared to be a little too big for Layne, Pittsburgh's third round pick out of Michigan State. Tomlin added that, unlike Gilbert, Layne was going up against starting receivers as well as Buccaneers starting quarterback, Jameis Winston. Fans should expect Layne to get another crack with Pittsburgh's starters as he looks to have a much stronger showing in his second preseason game.
|K||Chris Boswell||Matthew Wright|| |
|P||Jordan Berry||Ian Berryman|| |
|LS||Kameron Canaday||Trevor Wood|| |
|KR||Ryan Switzer||JuJu Smith-Schustr||Artie Burns|
|PR||Ryan Switzer||Dionate Spencer||Cam Sutton|
Boswell made all three of his kicks last Friday that included two field goals and a 47-yard attempt. He did more than enough to hold off Wright, who also able to make all three of his kicks last week that included a 42-yard field goal attempt.
Spencer enjoyed a strong night on special teams last Friday, returning a kickoff 35 yards while also having a 30-yard punt return. He will need another strong performance Saturday night to keep pace with Holton in the race to make the 53.
While Berry averaged 44.5 yards per punt last Friday, Berryman kept the pressure on by booting a 66-yard punt against the Bucs. The pressure will still be on Berry, Pittsburgh's starting punter since 2015, heading into Saturday night's game.
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