Steelers Who Need Strong Preseason Finish to Make 53-Man Roster
The Pittsburgh Steelers' wide receivers earned a good amount of attention throughout training camp.
The emergence of George Pickens behind Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool put the Steelers in a terrific position at the top end of their wide receiver depth chart.
Now Mike Tomlin and his coaching staff have to turn to the bottom part of the wide receiver depth ahead of Sunday's final preseason game against the Detroit Lions.
Miles Boykin and Steven Sims are under pressure to perform against Detroit to make the final cut for the 53-man roster.
Boykin only had one catch in the second preseason game against Jacksonville and Sims has three receptions for 11 yards in August.
Both players need to perform better on Sunday to prove they deserve a shot on the roster as the last wide receiver behind Johnson, Claypool, Pickens and Calvin Austin III.
Defensively, the focus will be set on the secondary, where a few players are fighting for the last cornerback spot. Justin Layne and James Pierre are among the candidates for one of the last roster positions, and they may end up in competition with the wide receivers if special teams factors in Tomlin's roster cuts.
Miles Boykin has gone from a wide receiver with the potential to break out to competing for a roster spot in his fourth season.
Boykin displayed some promise during his first two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, but he was unable to improve in 2021 due to injuries.
He scored seven touchdowns in two seasons for the Ravens, but missing out on last season hurt his trajectory and now he is stuck behind a handful of talented wideouts in Pittsburgh.
Boykin's production has been close to nonexistent in preseason and he sits firmly on the roster bubble going into Sunday's preseason finale.
The fourth-year wideout caught two balls for 17 yards in the preseason opener versus the Seattle Seahawks and then did not catch a pass against Jacksonville.
Boykin's production regression is concerning because he needs to prove what he can do on every snap.
The last preseason game is an opportunity for Boykin to prove that he can be a solid backup wideout and a contributor on special teams.
Even if he thrives on Sunday, Boykin may be on the wrong end of the roster cuts because of his contract.
Pittsburgh needs to weigh whether Boykin is worth keeping as a depth piece on a contract that pays him $2.5 million in 2022, per Spotrac.
Steven Sims finds himself in a similar position as Boykin.
Sims had two decent seasons to begin his NFL career in Washington, but then he missed out on the 2021 campaign.
Sims has not separated himself from the rest of the Steelers' candidates to fill the final roster spot at the position. He has three catches for 11 yards in two preseason games.
Tyler Vaughns and Gunner Olszewski led the Steelers in receiving in the two preseason contests and they will serve as competition for Sims and Boykin on Sunday.
Sims and Boykin are under pressure more going into Sunday because of how little both players have offered in preseason.
Sims could find himself above Boykin on cut day with a solid performance on offense and special teams against Detroit.
He could have an advantage over Boykin because he is scheduled to make $895,000, per Spotrac, which is a much more team-friendly deal to keep a No. 5 wide receiver on.
Sims and Boykin could both lose out to Olszewski, who was a special teams ace in New England, and they may be picked up elsewhere, but he has one more preseason game to prove he belongs on the Pittsburgh roster.
The last cornerback spot on the 53-man roster will be determined after Sunday's preseason finale.
Justin Layne put himself in a decent position to stick around for the regular season by making an interception in the second preseason clash with Jacksonville.
Layne, like the reserve wide receivers, needs to make a difference on special teams as well to prove his versatility to the coaching staff.
The Steelers are set at the top part of their cornerback depth chart with Levi Wallace, Ahkello Witherspoon, Levi Wallace and Arthur Maulet.
Layne needs to have a solid all-around performance to be in good standing on cut day compared to James Pierre.
The preseason interception and special teams skill set suggest Layne has the inside track to the last cornerback spot on the roster, but you can never be too sure of your roster spot in the NFL, so he needs a solid performance on Sunday to solidify his spot.