The Pittsburgh Steelers will kickoff their 2014 preseason Saturday night against the New York Giants and here are five players on the offensive side of the football that weren’t draft picks this year that we suggest keeping a close eye on during the game.
Mike Adams – Instead of us talking about Adams pushing Marcus Gilbert for the starting right tackle spot this year, most of the talk now seems to be about whether or not the former second-round draft pick should even make the roster. For the record, I still see him sticking this year out of necessity. Being as he will more than likely going up against the Giants second-team pass rushers Saturday night, he will be expected to more than hold his own. Adams hasn’t had a great start to camp, but there’s still time to salvage the preseason.
Justin Brown – The offseason practice hype about Brown has followed him right into training camp. While it appears as though he has cooled off since the beginning a camp, everything points to him being the No. 4 receiver on the team this year. Brown has worked at all three positions this offseason and this includes the slot. He has the size to work over the middle of the field and should be able to help in the running game. Can he get separation? Is he playing faster this year? Can he play on special teams? We shall see Saturday night.
Landry Jones – A good chunk of the second half of the Giants game should belong to second-year Jones. The Oklahoma product was awful last preseason and he needs to show remarkable improvement this year to warrant the Steelers spending a fourth-round draft pick on him in 2013. Can he work under center? Has his footwork improved? Is he going through his progressions? We will be watching him closely. He really needs a solid four game stretch as this will likely be his only playing time this year.
Eric Waters – Waters had a golden opportunity at the start of camp to make a claim for the No. 3 tight end spot, but a minor back injury that he suffered didn’t help his cause. Waters, who should be on display Saturday night as a run blocker to some degree, also needs to show that he can function in the passing game. The Missouri product might not see time in Saturday night’s game until the fourth quarter rolls around, so he needs to make the most of his snaps. Will he get some special teams work as well?
Tauren Poole – It’s still very hard to tell if the Steelers will keep a true fourth running back on their 53 man roster this year, but if they do, Poole appears to have a one stroke lead as he makes the turn as it relates to winning that potential spot. After Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer are all done for the night, Poole might be the back that opens up the second half. In addition to his work on offense, Poole’s special teams play should be monitored closely as well. Will be an upback on kick off returns? He’s still a long shot, but stranger things have happened.