Joshua Dobbs – How is the rookie quarterback going to respond from a two interception game? I want to see Dobbs go through his progression and not settle for the first read so much. I am intrigued about his ability to stretch a play and use his legs to his advantage.
James Conner – The rookie running back out of Pittsburgh will finally see game action. Everyone knows his story and is rooting for him. There were many running backs on the board when the Steelers selected Conner that were regarded as more talented and a better value. Conner needs to prove he is worth the draft pick. Recovering from a shoulder injury and with Knile Davis and Fitzgerald Toussaint also competing, one can only wonder how much Conner will be involved.
Jerald Hawkins – The second year tackle needs to step up and provide some consistent play. There was talk up until training camp of Hawkins impressing and being extremely talented. According to sources, Hawkins didn’t have a good camp and his first preseason game was abysmal. A reliable swing tackle is needed and the fourth round investment in Hawkins is one that needs to pay off.
BJ Finney – I love Finney as a guard, but he is the top backup to injured Maurkice Pouncey. Finney’s play tends to drop off when playing center, but it’s nice to have a gauge on how well he could play that position if need be.
Sammie Coates vs. Justin Hunter – I combined these two names because they are battling against each other. Hunter has been a camp darling and it seems has conjured up a rapport with Ben Roethlisberger. Coates has the edge as the draft pick that has been with the team but has been dealing with injuries. Mike Tomlin said when referring to the battle: “two dogs one bone”. Who will be the consistent pass catcher with more upside?
Tyler Matakevich – I really want to get a better gauge on Matakevich. He struggles against the pass and has athletic limitations. Aside from that, he is a sure tackler with a nose for the football and has a high football IQ.
Brian Allen – Had a shaky first preseason game but could have been due to the jitters, it happens. Hopefully he is comfortable and can make a few plays like his pass breakup in game one. I am looking to see how aggressive he is when he is pursuing a ball carrier and when the ball is in the air. Stay in position, my friend.
TJ Watt – Can the hyped up first round pick repeat a two sack performance? Even though his two sacks were fairly easy, he recorded them. Not taking anything away from Watt, but consistency is key. Nobody wants to start a narrative that the game was a fluke. I would like to see Watt set a hard edge and be more involved in the run game. Along with that, not being overpowered when rushing the passer needs to be a priority for the linebacker. Developing a counter-inside move should help with that.
Mike Hilton – Whew, what a game one played by Hilton. He translated his ‘camp darling’ status into his first preseason game with the Steelers. Made some really nice tackles behind the line of scrimmage and even made some plays on special teams. With Senquez Golson still injured, Hilton needs to take his spot on the 53 man roster by storm with more consistent play.
LT Walton – Walton has received some praise by defensive line coach John Mitchell this offseason. With Tyson Alualu being the top backup at both defensive end spots, Walton has gotten time at the nose tackle position. I am looking to see if he gets any in game two. Big Dan McCullers has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff and Walton may get a chance to show his versatility.
If you missed the first preseason game versus the New York Giants, here are two recaps SCB put together:
If you need a Steelers Jersey Manual for the game, it could be found and downloaded if desired here.