Steelers Vs. Falcons Preseason Week 2: 10 Defensive Players To Watch

The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their second preseason game of 2017 Sunday night at home against the Atlanta Falcons and while quite a few starters will once again sit the contest out due to either injuries or a coaching decision, there will still be plenty of younger players worth paying close attention to throughout the evening.

Below are 10 defensive players that Steelers fans will likely want to watch closely Sunday night against the Falcons along with reasons why.

OLB T.J. Watt – You can’t leave Watt off this list just because he had a nice NFL debut last weekend. In his second preseason game, Watt figures to have a tougher matchup this time around in Falcons starting left tackle Jake Matthews, a former first-round draft pick. You can bet we’ll be breaking down the play of Watt after this game is over just as we did this past week.

CB Artie Burns – Burns sat out the preseason opener and all signs currently point to him playing Sunday night. While Falcons star wide receiver Julio Jones isn’t expected to play Sunday night, Burns still could get a nice test in the form of Mohamed Sanu whenever he lines up outside instead of the slot. Burns has been going against Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown all throughout training camp so come Sunday night we should see a very sharp defender.

S Sean Davis – It’s unclear if Davis will make his 2017 debut Sunday as like Burns, he also sat out the Steelers preseason opener. If he does play, however, we’ll be watching to see if his tackling has improved any and if he’s used any in the slot. The Falcons have a talented receiving group and that includes a very nice developing young tight end in Austin Hooper.

OLB Bud Dupree – After sitting out the preseason opener with an injury, it’s currently unclear if Dupree will make his 2017 debut Sunday night being as he’s still missing some team periods of practice. Assuming he’s given the green light Sunday night, Dupree figures to face off against Falcons right tackle Ryan Schraeder quite a bit and that figures to be a nice first test for the former first-round draft pick. It sure would be nice to see him play some opposite Watt Sunday night. Keep your fingers crossed that winds up happening.

OLB Anthony Chickillo – Chickillo is yet another young player who sat out the preseason opener. He’s expected to play Sunday night not only at outside linebacker, but early during the game on special teams as well. If he plays predominately on the left side against the Falcons, he figures to have an easy matchup as Atlanta’s tackle depth is really lacking. Can he be this week’s Arthur Moats?

CB Mike Hilton – Hilton certainly didn’t disappoint in the preseason opener. Not only did he do some nice things on defense as a run defender and blitzer off the edge, he also did a fine job on special teams. Hilton can’t allow himself to get comfortable right now even though he’s probably already made the 53-man roster.

CB Brian Allen – Allen had a decent NFL debut last week on defense in the 54 total snaps that he played. He didn’t however, crack the stat sheet in the 12 special teams snaps that he played and it would be nice to see him start making an impact in that phase of his game moving forward as he continues to hone his craft as a cornerback.

DE Johnny Maxey – While Maxey did play quite extensively in the Steelers preseason opener, he failed to crack the stat sheet just the same. Sure, he’s only the No. 6 defensive lineman on the roster, but with that said, it would be nice to see him show a little more development throughout the remainder of the preseason and especially being as he’ll be going against future furniture movers late in these contests. I want to see a few run stops Sunday night from him and a pressure or two as a pass rusher.

ILB Keith Kelsey – Sure, Kelsey is an extreme long shot to make the final roster this year, but with that said, I thought he had a decent NFL debut in the teams preseason opener and especially on special teams as he recorded two total tackles in that phase of the game. Kelsey and fellow inside linebacker Matt Galambos figure to be doing battle right now for a potential practice squad spot and so the rookie undrafted free agent out of Louisville must continue to take advantage of every snap he plays.

DT Lavon Hooks – Is Hooks ultimately headed for the Steelers practice squad this year? It’s really hard to say at this point, but with that said, he did play 11 defensive snaps in the preseason opener. In all honesty, I didn’t watch those snaps closely this past week, but do intend on doing so ahead of the Sunday night game, in addition to reviewing his play against the Falcons. He needs to start sticking out some late in these preseason games.

  • John Phillips

    Talked to an Ole Miss alumni. He says Mike Hilton is the real deal, as most posters here will agree.

  • Steelers12

    I wanna Hilton with starting unit

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Great list; I’d also like to see Sensabaugh; Cockrell & Shepherd.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    sanu is a falcon which made me hate him less than when he was on the bungals. then the falcons gave away a superbowl and it made me hate him again.

  • derp_diggler

    I’d like to see how Sensabaugh does. By all accounts he seems to have had a pretty good training camp, but can he continue to do it in game situations? Because if he makes the squad, then that will probably mean one of either Hilton or The-Cornerback-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named won’t.

  • Steve Johnson

    I’m curious to see Coty Sensabaugh and Javon Hargrave. I also want to see if Moats will have anothe stellar game like the 1st Preseason Game.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Me too, I would like to know what happens if an offense is actually gameplaning against our defense and we line up a 5’8″ CB with 4.55 speed as a starting CB, I think I have a fairly good idea what might happen in a regular season game against the likes of John Ross in the slot, you?

  • Michael Conrad

    So what are you saying that Gay is tall and fast. Hilton is a backup slot CB.

  • Michael Conrad

    I want to see Sutton if he plays and Allen.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Taller and faster than Hilton. for those that dont know Mike Hilton wasnt a CB in college he was primarily used as a SS, that said I expect him to look good against the run and blitzing because he is an undersized safety, but in coverage as a CB against starting NFL caliber WRs I still have a lot of doubt.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Yeah but he didnt play much as a CB in college, he was a SS.

  • steelmann58

    I agree going to look real hard at Hilton and Allen especially to see if he can continue to improve.

  • Steelers12

    Ok so me n u think alike. This stuff isn’t rocket science.

  • John Pennington

    Like to see more Allen and Sutton needs to get on the field and show what he can do.

  • Ed Jones

    Sutton is still injured. He will do well once he is healthy. I’m just glad we appear to have some depth, (at least at corner, and WR). Steeler Nation #7 is waiting to be picked up and hoisted high. Let’s GOOOO

  • Jim Foles

    and TJ was a TE