By Jeremy Hritz
The Steelers are preparing for their final preseason contest this Sunday against the Detroit Lions at 4:30 pm before they announce their final roster cut downs on August 30th. The team has managed the draft, minicamps, OTAs, training camp, and now exhibition games in an effort to ensure the best version of this team possible on September 11th against the Cincinnati Bengals. As the final week of preseason games in the NFL gets ready to kickoff this evening, here are my current thoughts on the state of this Steelers team.
- Even though the team doesn’t have to make its final cuts until next week, they are being super-diligent in culling their roster. Genard Avery, who had a decent showing against the Jaguars, was released (he quickly signed with the Buccaneers), as was Donovan Stiner, who has been replaced by Eiljah Riley, formerly with the Jets.
- Hamilcar Rashed will be given the opportunity this weekend to show he can man the 3rd or 4th OLB spot against the Lions, and if not, the team will scour the waiver wire and the leftovers from the 53-man roster cut downs of the rest of the NFL teams.
- Speaking of Rashed, he was an UDRFA in 2021 and played his college football at Oregon State. In his junior year, he recorded 14 sacks, so he has flashed some potential. Not that he will do that with the Steelers, but there is some opportunity.
- In regards to Riley, he is an UDRFA out of Army who signed with the Eagles and then went on to play with the Jets where he started 7 games and had over 40 tackles.
- What is it about the Jets and their secondary leftovers? This is the second player they have signed in the last 2 years who have been released by the team. Is there a coach in the secondary there that the team respects, or is this just coincidence? I’m curious.
- There has been criticism of the Steelers for their release of quarterback Chris Oladokun, the team’s seventh round pick. Many are claiming the team wasted a draft pick on Oladokun, and they may be right, but don’t count out his return to the team on the practice squad. Seventh round picks are lottery tickets, and they rarely work out, but don’t give up on the South Dakota State product just yet.
- Rookie insider linebacker Mark Robinson has received first-team reps as a result Devin Bush’s ankle injury, and this is an intriguing proposition. Robinson is a former running back who only played one year of ILB at Ole Miss, so he is still learning the position. It will be interesting to see how he handles such responsibility, and if he can play up to the standard on Sunday if given the opportunity with the first team defense. If he does, will the Steelers have enough faith and belief to give him an opportunity to start?
- Speaking of Bush, his ankle injury only compounds his prospects with the team. Could he be on his way out? I would not be surprised.
- Can the offensive line get better with the way it is currently composed? Sure. Will it? Who knows. Their performance on Sunday will go a long way in determining what the starting lineup will look like, and who possibly stays or who goes come August 30th. Even though the team hasn’t made any significant moves at the position, I wouldn’t discount the possibility of them making calls to other teams should Sunday be another abysmal showing.
- Lastly, Kenny Pickett unquestionably has played well, but he is not going to start week 1. The job will be Mitch Trubisky’s to lose, with Pickett on the ready if called upon. As I have been saying, Trubisky will get 6-7 games to show what he can do. If he is hurting the team, it will be the rookie’s time. Look for Pickett to get even more reps this Sunday.
That is all for today, Studians! Make it a great day!