In the Steel City, Primanti Bros throws together some pretty legendary sandwiches. Served between two thick slices of Italian bread you’ll find fresh deli meat, perfectly melted cheese, and stuffed with a beautiful trio: fresh cut fries, slaw, and tomato slices. This week, I’ll break down the three big things to look for as we approach the first Preseason game for the Steelers. We’ll do this by breaking down the big three: Tomato, Slaw, & Fries! Let’s dig in!
Tomato: Offensive Line
Though the starters will more than likely not all play, I am curious to see the depth’s production—even if it is against another team’s JV squad. With the departure of Mike Munchak, the Steelers have some question marks on the O-Line, as far as replication of production goes. Munchak turned an offensive line that had big struggles in 2013 and produced pro-bowl results as well as quality starters out of undrafted free agents. Munchak’s contributions should not be taken lightly. He is the best position coach in the NFL. Shaun Sarrett has big shoes to fill, but the Steelers organization was high on him and offered him the vacant position. He’ll have to show that the slipper fits early in his career.
Slaw: Wide Receiver
There’s competition for the Steelers opposite of Juju Smith-Schuster and in between. Free agent veteran signing Donte Moncrief was tabbed as the early starter opposite of Juju earlier this week after an impressive camp. Will we see how productive he can be in this offense early? Is James Washington going to give him a run for his money? The depth of the Steelers receiver corps will be tested in preseason action. The Steelers also have competition for their slot receiver spot. With Diontae Johnson, Ryan Switzer, and Eli Rogers all vying for the spot, it’ll be a tough call to see who is in… and who is out—maybe even off the team altogether (hint, it won’t be the 3rd round pick.) Every snap counts for the receivers on the bubble. One drop, fumble, wrong route, and missed block could be costly. Remember the 6’5” receiver out of Penn State Derek Moye? If you don’t remember… his pure effort play against the Panthers in 2013 preseason sealed his spot on the Steelers final roster. Every play matters!
Fries: 2019 Draft Picks
All eyes are on the 2019 Draft Class. Seeing their play will either excite or worry Steeler Nation. With Joe Haden likely out, we will surely see plenty of 3rd round pick, Justin Layne. Diontae Johnson and Zach Gentry will get fair playing time as well in the passing game. However, the one all eyes will be on is none other than: Devin Bush. It will be Steeler Nations first look in game gear against someone other than a teammate. In 2017, TJ Watt showed flashes of his potential in his rookie preseason debut. So far, he has not been a disappointment for the Steelers. Will Devin Bush replicate Watt’s debut? The entire 2019 draft class will be on display and we will eagerly be waiting to see what little bit of potential and plays they can make.
BONUS—Fried Egg: Secondary
Throw an egg on it for .59? Yessir! The Steelers starters will probably not get a whole lot of work in the secondary. If we get the opportunity to see it, however, we’ll take it! Free agent acquisition Steven Nelson, second year Terrell Edmunds, and contract year Sean Davis will be big ones to watch in their limited play time. Each have something to prove. Steve Nelson wants to prove he was worth the contract he signed, Edmunds to prove he wasn’t a “reach” as described by draft analysts, and Sean Davis is in his contract year with no new deal offered. Say no more! This fried egg will be one to look at each week.
The Steelers will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Heinz Field at 7:30PM Friday August 7th. Finally, football is back! Kick back with good grub, a cold one, and enjoy! Check back next week to take another bite into the preseason previews as we approach the start of the 2019 regular season.