The Pittsburgh Steelers first preseason game had the look of a team playing in their first preseason game while resting many of their starters. It was not the prettiest display of football. However, a lot could be taken away from the game. Alignments, and when and how many snaps players played will matter. This is some players only chance to make the team. For others, it is their only chance to prove they are worthy of a significant role this season. Nobody’s chances to make the team were made or broken last night. However, their play will dictate the chances given moving forward. With that said, here are five players whose role and usage from game one to two should be monitored.
Pittsburgh Steelers Players to Watch in the Second Preseason Game
Coates was getting some of the most hype of any player in the NFL in training camp. In his preseason game, he did not live up to it at all. He dropped passes, fumbled balls and made poor decisions when looking for space. It should be noted that Ben Roethlisberger was not playing in this game. However, it should also be noted that Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton were not either. Eli Rogers took snaps in the slot and looked like a great fit. If Brown and Wheaton are going to jump in on the outside, then all Coates becomes is a backup outside receiver who will get minimal snaps. He will get another chance against the Eagles and he had better take advantage if he wants a real role this year.
2. Dustin Vaughan
Vaughan entered camp as seemingly just another player and now he has a decent chance to make the roster. Vaughn was 6-11 in the game and while he did not set the world on fire he was arguably the best quarterback of the three that played. Landry Jones had a rough showing and Bruce Gradkowski left the game with a hamstring injury. There is a chance that in the second preseason game Vaughn will get the whole second half to play. He will hope to force the Steelers to make a decision between the aging and injured Gradkowski or a young Vaughn with a higher ceiling.
3. Tyler Matakevich
Matakevich, the seventh round pick has been the talk of training camp. However, in the first preseason game, he failed to make a huge impact. He did get 10 special teams snaps, which are pretty important considering that is how he is going to make the team. Progressing into the second game, if he can get more special teams snaps and find a way to make an impact play on defense it will be almost impossible to keep him off the roster.
The Steelers went to Richardson a lot in the first preseason game and he delivered. He took 11 carries and turned it into 44 yards, boasting 4.4 yards per carry. Richardson is essentially on the roster as the Le’Veon Bell replacement for the first four games. With that said, he will have to prove he is better than Fitzgerald Toussaint to ensure that he will stay on the roster when Bell comes back. Toussaint returned kicks in the preseason opener and started in two playoff games. Richardson is certainly a few steps behind. However, getting nine more carries and performing in them is a start. It will be interesting to see whether they try to get Toussaint a few more carries or if they want to take a look at Richardson.
5. Montell Garner
In the last preseason game, Sean Davis spent almost all of the game in the slot. When it was not Davis however, it was Montell Garner. Garner was fine and in his limited time is making a strong case to be the team’s backup slot cornerback. It should be noted if the Steelers give him an increased role in game two because they may want a longer look at Garner. If he is to impress in these situations he will have the inside track to making his first 53-man roster as the fifth cornerback.