Pittsburgh Steelers Preview: 10 Players To Watch This Preseason
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of questions to answer this preseason, just like every team in the NFL. There are many position battles going on in training camp and players are fighting for spots on the roster.
Here is a list of players to keep an eye out for this preseason who have the potential to really help the Steelers both this season and in the future.
Last offseason Isaic Redman was the star of Preseason however was not able to crack the roster and was relegated to the practice squad for much of the 2009 season.
This year Redman is having another strong camp and has shown to be ahead of rookie Jonathan Dwyer in both blocking and receiving ability.
Redman has also helped his stock this camp by working a little bit at fullback in practice and showing his versatility to the team.
He was a fan favorite last offseason and still was going into camp this offseason and will need to have a good showing in Preseason to force the Steelers into a tough decision for the short yardage back position on the team.
Antonio Brown WR
The Steelers selected two receivers in April's draft—Emmanuel Sanders in the third round and Antonio Brown in the sixth round.
Sanders is a lock to make the team and has had a good camp; however, Brown has surprised many fans and has had a very good camp as well.
Brown has shown a good ability to get open in practice and has been getting some looks as a return guy as well.
The only knock on Antonio Brown in camp so far has been some easy drops that he has had and will need to show that he can hang on to the ball in preseason.
With Brown having great speed and performing well in camp, he could play himself onto the roster by carrying over his play onto the field this preseason and showing that he can be consistent in both catching the ball and in the return game.
Stevenson Sylvester ILB
Stevenson Sylvester was drafted in the fifth round this offseason and was the last of three linebackers, along with Thaddeus Gibson and Jason Worilds, the Steelers selected in the draft.
Coming into camp, Sylvester was not expected to really make an impact due to the fact that veterans Keyaron Fox and Larry Foote are firmly ahead of him on the depth chart and was slated by most as a practice squad guy.
However, Sylvester has been one of the bright spots at training camp this offseason and actually has looked the best out of the rookie linebackers.
Look for Sylvester to continue to make a name for himself in preseason and compel the Steelers to keep him on the roster this season.
Doug Legursky C
Many fans probably do not know who Doug Legursky is; however, if he keeps up his good camp, they will know him soon enough.
Legursky signed with the Steelers in 2007 as an undrafted free agent. However, he has just been a practice squad player other than last season when he dressed for eight games as a reserve.
That being said this may be Legursky’s time to shine as he is having a very good camp and might show to be an upgrade to veteran Justin Hartwig at center.
Hartwig has been slowed by an injury all camp and although he was an upgrade from former starter Sean Mahan, has not been as good as many fans would like in his time in Pittsburgh.
If he can keep up his play in the preseason the Steelers could opt to cut Hartwig in favor of the less expensive Legursky.
Jonathan Dwyer RB
Jonathan Dwyer was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL draft this offseason and coming into camp had fans buzzing that he could be the steal of the draft.
However, since camp has started Dwyer has been an overall disappointment considering all the hype surrounding him coming in.
Hampered by an injury for some of camp, Dwyer fell behind in both knowledge and reps in practice and prompted some people to question whether or not he would make the team.
Now pretty much healthy, Dwyer has had a good couple days at practice and has the coaches excited to see what he can do this preseason.
Look for Dwyer to get a lot of work this preseason as he needs to show that he has grasped the playbook and has gotten better in both blocking and out of the backfield as a receiver.
Ziggy Hood DE
By all accounts, Ziggy Hood is having maybe the best camp out of any Steelers player this offseason.
The former first round pick from last year has looked unblockable for the entire camp and is looking to make more of an impact on the team from his rookie season.
Hood was expected to be more of a factor in the defensive rotation this season however with how well he is playing right now he could unseat Brett Keisel as the starter.
Look to see if Hood can keep up his dominance this preseason because if he has truly turned the corner as a player, the Steelers defense will be vastly improved this season.
Crezdon Butler CB
Crezdon Butler was drafted by the Steelers in the fifth round of this year’s draft out of Clemson and has flashed his potential in spots this offseason.
He looked outstanding in drills leading up to camp and fans looked to have Butler carry that over to training camp in route to locking up a roster spot.
Butler has looked good at times in camp; however, he has had a typical rookie camp with his own ups and downs.
Let’s see if Butler can translate his good camp into the preseason games because he could end up being a steal for the Steelers in the draft.
Maurkice Pouncey C/G
Maurkice Pouncey was the 18th overall selection in 2010 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and is looked upon as the savior of the offensive line by the fans.
Pouncey was drafted as the future at center for the Steelers. However, he probably will start his career at right guard until he develops.
As of now, Pouncey has not cracked the first team offensive line, but he is on the heels of both Ramon Foster and Trai Essex at right guard.
Pouncey could actually start at center if he shows the Steelers enough in preseason, but he'll probably end up the starter at guard this season.
Keenan Lewis CB
This could be Keenan Lewis’ year to shine as the former third round pick has shown good development in training camp.
Last season, Lewis was hindered by an injury which prevented him from making any sort of impact as a rookie.
That being said, Lewis has shown good coverage skills in camp and has been in competition with William Gay for the nickel corner job. However, Gay seems to have that sewn up at this point and time.
Lewis’ skill set is more of a starting caliber corner and has been working with the second team defense at that top corner spot.
Lewis is a very important player for the Steelers because if he can show something this season, that could give the Steelers enough confidence to not re-sign veteran Ike Taylor when his contract is up.
Dennis Dixon QB
A former fifth round pick by the Steelers in the 2008 draft, Dixon has started only one game in his NFL career, against the Baltimore Ravens last season.
Dixon is currently in competition with Byron Leftwich to become the starting quarterback while Ben Roethlisberger serves his suspension.
Unfortunately for Dixon, he has not had a good camp so far and probably will not be the starter when the season opens unless he really has a great preseason.
Even if he does not win the job, the Steelers have been talking about using Dixon in a special package on offense and could unveil a taste of it in the preseason.