Five Steelers Players To Watch Against The Tennessee Titans

By Matthew Marczi

Coming off an 8-8 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have spent a lot of time moving pieces around this offseason looking for answers to right the wrongs of last year that couldn’t be fixed simply by getting healthy. Below are the five players that I am most interested in watching on opening day, as they enter the year with question marks attached to their resumes or are taking on a bigger role this year.

Mike Adams: Perhaps more than anybody else, I am anxious to see how newly-minted left tackle Mike Adams handles his first regular season snaps at the position. Adams spent his rookie year playing exclusively at right tackle in eight games, including six starts, although he was a left tackle in college. The coaching staff switched him over to the left side early in training camp and the move stuck throughout the preseason. No doubt there will be some growing pains as the second-year pro masters the nuances of his pass protection responsibilities at the NFL level.

David Johnson: A seventh-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, David Johnson seems to be a popular player among the coaching staff. However, he missed all of 2012 with a torn ACL, and he is still working his way back to full health. He needed to have a cleanup procedure done between OTAs and the beginning of training camp, which resulted in him beginning camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform List. Johnson offers versatility as a move tight end/h-back, and in fact spent most of his first two years lined up as a fullback. With Will Johnson looking extremely iffy to be a go for opening day, will David Johnson’s first snap in over a year be at his most familiar fullback spot? And how quickly will he be able to knock off the rust? With Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth still ailing, Johnson is the most veteran tight end on the roster, and will be asked to carry much of the load until they return.

Cortez Allen: Yes, Cortez Allen got the opportunity to make a few starts down the stretch of the season a year ago due to the injury of Ike Taylor. However, he has never opened a season as a starter, and will be following in the footsteps of Keenan Lewis, who had growing pains adapting to a consistent starting role before coming on to lead the league in pass deflections by the end of the year. Allen has shown a lot of promise in his first two years, first as a dimeback, then as a nickel, and finally as a starter, but his continuing that upward trajectory is an absolute must for the Steelers to have a successful season.

Jason Worilds: With a completely healthy roster, there appear to be only two starting jobs legitimately up for grabs, and both of them appear to possess a sense of inevitability of the younger player sooner or later taking hold of the job. One of those spots is running back, with second-round rookie Le’Veon Bell nursing a mid-foot sprain and certainly missing opening day, with Isaac Redman getting the start. The other position is outside linebacker, as fourth-year outside linebacker Jason Worilds looks to replace the former All-Pro James Harrison. Worilds will be taking the first snaps at right outside linebacker when the Steelers open their season on Sunday at home against the Tennessee Titans, but how long with he be able to fend off the team’s first round draft pick…

Jarvis Jones: The rookie outside linebacker showed a lot of flash in his three preseason games, the third and final seeing him leave in an ambulance after landing awkwardly upon the ball that he had just intercepted. The resulting SC chest sprain kept him to limited activity until this week, but he appears ready for a full load, and head coach Mike Tomlin said with a grin on his face during his pre-game press conference that Jarvis Jones will indeed play. How often he plays—and how often LaMarr Woodley does not—will be one of the more interesting items I intend to track during opening day.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • steeltown

    Totally agree about D.Johnson…he is still a question mark at this point

    I’ll be watching Woodley, I hope he starts to dominate like his old self.. also the entire OLine and the stable of RBs, someone please get this run game going!

  • dgh57

    I’ll be watching Redman to see if the hard work he put in this past off season to try to adapt himself to this new ZBS and with this speed coach did him some good.

    Gilbert to me is the weak link in our o-line so I’ll be watching him.

    Like to see how McLendon will handle his new starting roll at NG.

  • My eyes will be glued to Steve McClendon to see whether he can hold his ground again the Titans new center and two guards.

  • Garrett Hunt

    I think another position possibly up for grabs is ILB. Larry Foote isn’t getting any younger and there is an outside chance one of the young guys like Vince Williams could really impress.


    Foote maybe getting up in age but Foote going to bring it!

  • GunsDontKillWoodleyKills

    Isaac Redman?

  • cencalsteeler

    Jarvis’ quickness and style of play may stand out in this read option.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    The position I’ll be watching the most is the receivers, so you can add the top 4 and whoever is catching passes at TE to my top 5 watch list. The defense is awesome, our RBs are average, and of course the O-Line needs to hold up, but Wallace was our biggest offseason loss, and if the current receivers perform well then I’ll feel much more comfortable about this year. They’ll all get a chance to perform, cause we want to run it, and Tennessee knows that and will have 8 in the box to stop it. Tennessee’s secondary is its weak link, so if the passing game can’t shine against these guys we’re in for a long season.

  • Michael

    I will be watching the following 5 – Gilbert, DeCastro, Pouncey, Foster and Adams. As they go so will the team go.

  • charles

    The front D7 also.

  • Maureen A Gomes

    I know he’s on the PUP list currently but wasn’t Sean Spence drafted with the Steelers intent for him to develop as the replacement for Larry Foote as defensive captain? This process was delayed by Spence’s gruesome injury but I still wouldn’t rule him out.

  • Garrett Hunt

    I wouldn’t rule him out, but would be surprised if he returns as good as the player he used to be.

  • RW


  • Shea Fahr

    Or if he even returns this year at all for that matter.

  • alex

    no doubt…you did flip them around a bit thou…i think FOSTER, POUNCEY, and DeCastro will learn to be pretty powerful together this year…they better, or the AFC central will own us this year…its the tackles that i really question…

    Gilbert has little playing time, and doesnt show much in pre-season, so what will we get, i dont know…and Adams got eaten’ up by KCs Tamba all night long in pre-season…

  • Madi

    He will, and then some.