When the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Green Bay Packers in Week Two of the preseason, we once again will see a somewhat depleted active Steelers roster. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown lead the list of names not suiting up. So, while we will not learn much about the starters, we do get some insight into the depth and fringe roster players. Who are some of the under the radar names who actually could gain momentum on Thursday?
Hodges was signed mid-week before the Steelers preseason opener and hardly saw the field. However, with Vance McDonald consistently at the trainer’s table, there is a legitimate roster spot on the line for Hodges. Christian Scotland-Williams is a practice squad project, and Pharoah McKever seems to be on a similar path.
Hodges is a former wide receiver who had some pre-draft hype before falling into round six. While he has yet to catch on in the NFL, he should get a fair chance to make a name for himself on Thursday. Hodges will have to show an understanding of a playbook after being thrown into the mix and will have to show some willingness to block. If he can prove that, the noise of him making the roster could grow.
Patterson was the star of the Pittsburgh Steelers preseason opener. JuJu Smith-Schuster is unlikely to play long, and Antonio Brown is already out. James Washington will see plenty of time, but Darrius Heyward-Bey is doubtful to see real snaps. Marcus Tucker will get snaps on the outside but will see the majority of his play in the slot.
This leaves Justin Hunter and Damoun Patterson to compete for serious snaps across from James Washington for a good portion of this game. If it were me, I would be using this time to see what I had in Patterson.
Patterson was given a chance with depth players and proved that he deserved to play with a higher level of competition. When Smith-Schuster is pulled, Patterson should be thrown out, and we should have our eyes on him.
Okorafor played on the right and left side last week. The team started him, and he played deep into the third quarter. These were valuable snaps for the rookie third-round pick, and he showed some ups regarding power but also had a few issues in pass protection. However, with a rookie such as Okorafor, the first week as about foundation. Now we look for progress. He is likely to start on the right side again and should play into the third quarter on the left side.
We wondered if Samuels would be implemented in the passing game early and he was. While it was only one catch, it was worth noting how quickly the team tried to feature him in the passing game. Do we see that again?
Between the tackles, he came out with the fourth team behind Fitzgerald Toussaint and Stevan Ridley. He will have to make up ground on one of these backs to make the 2018 NFL roster. We should get a heavy dose of Samuels so it will be worthwhile to see how he adjusts.
I wrote that the team has an excellent opportunity to let Mason Rudolph not only start this game but also go into the half, regroup and come out for the second half after making adjustments. Mike Tomlin has already said Landry Jones is not going to dress for this game, which is right on script. Rudolph should get the first half and a drive or two into the third quarter. These are going to be unbelievably valuable snaps when it comes to the progression and maturation of Mason Rudolph. I will be watching in anticipation of this.
Malik Golden and Jordan Dangerfield have made a strong case to make the roster and have been over rookie Marcus Allen as the third team safeties. Does momentum continue for these two? The dollar defense has also been the talk of camp, do we see it in game action on Thursday? Even if it is just Allen and Golden in the box with Dangerfield and Nat Berhe deep? We will see.