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Pre Pre-Season Watch List

by Chris Nicolaou

Here is just a shortlist of players who should be looked at closely throughout the preseason. This post will be updated week to week, depending on additions and subtractions to the roster. Praying for an injury free season.

Offense:

Quarterback

Landry Jones  #3 – Can he make that stride that convinces SteelerNation that he can be a capable backup?

Running Back

Fitzgerald Toussaint #33– Fitz is trying to maintain the #3 running back job, which may result in a #2 if Le’Veon Bell is suspended and when DeAngelo Williams retires in the future.

Daryl Richardson #38– Can he make an impact and compete for a place on the 53 man roster?

Tight End

Jesse James #81 – With Ladarius Green out, James needs to prove he can be both a capable blocker as well as receiver.

Xavier Grimble #85– Fighting for the #3 TE spot, must beat out David Johnson. Needs to show he can block and be consistent.

Wide Receiver

Sammie Coates #14 – Can his play match his offseason and training camp hype and minimize drops?

Eli Rogers #17 – Same boat as Coates. Highly praised by Todd Haley and has a ton of hype around him. Hasn’t played in almost two years, can he produce?

Demarcus Ayers  #82 – Tough spot for the rookie, who needs to prove he has the tools as a receiver and not just a return man.

Offensive Tackle

Ryan Harris #68 – Competing for the starting left tackle position.

Jerald Hawkins  #65– Some positive reports on Hawkins thus far in training camp. He is high on my watch list, especially because like myself, much of SteelerNation disliked the selection of Hawkins.

Brian Mihalik #69– The defensive lineman turned offensive lineman. Mihalik is Mike Munchak’s newest project. Can he show us some good reps and some encouragement?

Interior Offensive Lineman

Every offensive lineman who plays guard or center not named Pouncey, Foster and DeCastro. Im not a fan of any of the guys behind the starters in the interior of the offensive line. I really am looking to see if any stick out and can make a stride.

Chris Hubbard #74
Cody Wallace #72
BJ Finney #67
Cole Manhart #64
Valerian Ume-Ezeoke #61

Defense:

Defensive Line

Javon Hargrave #79 – Has had a ton of hype in the off-season, especially when he was drafted. Can he prove that he can handle the nose tackle position and not just gap shooting out of the nickel? Can he prove that FCS guys shouldn’t be discounted?

LT Walton #96 – Looking to see if Walton can make some significant progress and earn a spot on the 53 man roster. The five-tech position outside of the starters is very open.

Ricardo Mathews #90 – Fighting for a roster spot, and a backup defensive lineman spot. He knows he is easily cut without  money attached to him.

Dan McCullers #93– Big Dan is trying to prove that he can replace ex-Steeler Steve McLendon as the starting nose tackle. He has Hargrave breathing down his neck. Has to try and prove he can offer something as a pass rusher and he is not just a big body.

Linebacker

Anthony Chickillo #56– Has had a glowing report about him in this training camp. Can he be the future opposite of Bud Dupree? Can he live up to this offseason hype?

Vince Williams #98– Williams is eyeing Lawrence Timmons’ starting inside linebacker spot since it doesn’t look like Timmons will be coming back next season. He is out to prove that he can be a three-down linebacker.

Tyler Matakevich #46,  LJ Fort #54 and Steven Johnson #51– Fighting for a spot on the 53 man roster. Can they be special teams demons? How about more than that? Who wants it more.

Cornerback

Doran Grant #24– Grant has the most to prove since he was cut last year and then signed to the practice squad. Has a huge chip on his shoulder. He could get some work at safety as well.

Montell Garner #40, Donald Washington #30– Fighting for the last cornerback spot, along with a spot on the practice squad.

Artie Burns #25, Sean Davis #28– Draft picks who will have a ton of eyes on them. Burns should be sitting the first game. They need to prove they can learn from their mistakes and show why they were drafted so highly.

Safety

Shamarko Thomas #29 – Some think Thomas’ time may be up in Pittsburgh, he has to prove he can be competent  in coverage and not be a penalty magnet on special teams.

Jordan Dangerfield #37 – Reports say that Dangerfield has had his best camp, can he finally stick to this roster?

Special Teams

Demarcus Ayers/Returners – Can Ayers unseat Antonio Brown as the punt returner? Who will return kicks and separate themselves from the rest?

Will Monday #2 – Looking to unseat Jordan Berry for the starting punter job. Consistency is key.

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