The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday night on the road, and that game will be the team’s second preseason game of 2022. While it’s understandable that there will be a lot of eyes on several Steelers players who will see action on Saturday at night against the Jaguars, I wanted to highlight nine players who I feel should be watched very closely in this second three-exhibit contest of 2022.
QB Kenny Pickett – After an impressive performance in the preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks last weekend, Pickett will get better quality playing time Saturday night against the Jaguars as he is expected to shadow the quarterback starter Mitch Trubisky in the race. Pickett maximized a short passing game in his NFL preseason debut last Saturday night and in this game against the Jaguars he should be playing with several offensive starters and probably into the second half. Pickett needs to show that he can push the ball down the field a little bit more against the Jaguars and put some points on the board like he did against the Seahawks. Pickett could very well leave Saturday night as the Steelers’ backup quarterback and that could result in the team seriously considering trading Mason Rudolph.
RB Jaylen Warren – Like Pickett, Warren, an undrafted rookie free agent, had a strong showing last Saturday night against the Seahawks as a running back and pass catcher. He also showed that he could pick a charging linebacker and contribute on special teams. However, Warren had a blemish on his NFL preseason debut, as he fumbled once. That fumble led to him having to take care of a football all week in training camp. If Warren puts in another strong performance against the Jaguars on Saturday night and protects the football in the process, he could clinch a spot on the 53-man roster.
G Kevin Dotson – After missing the preseason opener against the Seahawks with an ankle injury, Dotson is expected to make his 2022 debut on Saturday night against the Jaguars. However, Dotson isn’t expected to start, but he should follow Kendrick Green into the game at left guard. Dotson still has a great chance to beat the starting left guard, so it’s imperative that he put in a good game Saturday night against the Jaguars. If Dotson struggles Saturday night, it might be time to worry about the Steelers’ left guard position for 2022.
T Dan Moore Jr. – After an opening preseason performance more or less last Saturday night against the Seahawks, Moore believes he will have a really good test against the Jaguars, as he is likely to face rookie running back Travon Walker several times, the first overall pick in 2022. NFL Draft, in Jacksonville. Walker looked like the real deal in the Jaguars’ first two preseason games, so that matchup should be fun to watch on Saturday night. He pops the popcorn for this SEC player in the SEC Player Showdown.
OLB Genard Avery – Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith is not expected to play Saturday night against the Jaguars due to a rib injury, so it should set the stage for Avery to make his team debut. Avery missed the preseason opener against the Seahawks with a groin injury, but returned to practice last week. Avery is currently expected to be the Steelers’ backup outside linebacker behind Highsmith and fellow starter TJ Watt, so it will be exciting to see the Memphis product get his first action on Saturday night. Avery really needs to show something as a pass-rusher, since he’s already pretty strong against the run, based on his NFL tape to date.
DT Tyson Alualu – I hope Alualu gets the green light on Saturday night against the Jaguars so he can wash off whatever rust he may still have at this point. Alualu, who missed most of the 2021 season with an ankle injury that required surgery, entered this year’s training camp on the Active/PUP roster with a minor knee issue. While the longest-serving Steelers player on the roster he was removed from the Active/PUP list on August 8, he was still unable to participate in the team’s first preseason game last Saturday night against the Seahawks. . If Alualu does end up playing against the Jaguars, his use will likely be limited. Still, it would be nice to see him back in the middle of the Steelers’ defensive front in the same way he was sorely missed in 2021.
ILB Devin Bush – In the Steelers’ preseason opener against the Seahawks, Bush was virtually non-existent, not even recording an assisted tackle in that game in his 15 total defensive snaps. Bush needs to get out of the bind he’s been in since returning from his knee injury in 2020. To date, Bush has struggled to make splash plays on defense and that includes tackles for non-sack losses. If he wants to remain the Steelers’ unquestioned starter for 2022, Bush really needs a good game Saturday night in Jacksonville against the Jaguars. If inside linebacker Robert Spillane gets past Bush on Saturday night, we could start to find out in the preseason finale whether the team’s former first-round pick from Michigan can play on special teams.
Saint Tre Norwood– Last Saturday night in the preseason opener against the Seahawks, Norwood was one of the few Steelers defensive players who played extremely well and it was great to see him from second-year safety. Against the Jaguars in Jacksonville, Norwood is likely to get plenty of playing time once again, so the stage is set for him to have strong back-to-back games. Norwood is likely to see more playing time in season two from him and some of that will come as a slots advocate. One or two welcome plays Saturday night against the Jaguars, along with a few more pass breakups, is what should be expected based on the way he played Saturday night at home.
P Pressley Harvin III – Surprisingly, Harvin did not play in the Steelers’ preseason opener last Saturday night against the Seahawks. However, the Steelers have since parted ways with the other kicker they had on their roster, so Harvin is now set to make his debut in 2022 against the Jaguars. Harvin reportedly had a great training camp and needed it after a very disappointing rookie season that included losing his father at Christmas. A strong performance against the Jaguars will ease fears when it comes to the Steelers’ punt phase of the game. Here’s to him by blowing some up in Jacksonville on Saturday night.