With only two weeks to go until the Steelers face the New York Giants in their season opener on Monday Night Football, the Steelers wrapped up a crucial second week of training camp.
After week two, whose stock is going up?
Stock Up: Alex Highsmith
The rookies may have been the biggest winners this week, but Highsmith in particular has had his hype reaching astronomical levels lately. The team’s third-round pick out of Charlotte, Highsmith earned praise this week from Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler, and Chukwuma Okorafor for his standout practices and effort. Tomlin even went as far as to say that Highsmith is proving he belonged along with Chase Claypool.
Highsmith’s play of the week from the pool report was beating Zach Banner around the edge. By doing it, he pressured Mason Rudolph who threw an interception as a result. Highsmith’s shown up in the report other times just by making good, fundamental plays. He could be in line for some playing time as a rotational pass rusher this season.
Stock Down: Paxton Lynch
Point taken here, but Paxton Lynch’s stock is circling the drain at this moment. On Friday, he did not get any reps over Devlin Hodges in the scrimmage that the Steelers conducted. That alone is enough to say that his roster chances are likely diminishing.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the pool report also noted his week as rocky and erratic. Lynch overthrew Ray-Ray McCloud by twenty yards and missed an open Ryan Switzer up the seam on Tuesday. All in all, it was another rough week for Lynch.
Stock Up: Curtis Riley
With a limited amount of openings on the roster in the safety room, no one won more this week than Curtis Riley. Each day on the pool report, Riley was making plays and proving that he belonged. It all started last week when he got first-team reps with Terrell Edmunds hurt at strong safety, but it continued this week.
Riley added another interception and multiple pass breakups in the pool report this week across multiple days. Add in the fact that outside of the starters Riley is the only player with starting experience and this is a concoction that proves Riley is nearly a virtual lock to make the roster at this point.
Stock Down: Trajan Bandy
Trajan Bandy was thought of as an undrafted free agent darling of sorts. If any cornerback in the undrafted market was going to make the team, most pundits thought it would be Bandy. However, thus far at training camp, that hype has yet to manifest itself into anything meaningful.
Bandy has not been mentioned in the practice report once. Meanwhile, his main competition like James Pierre and Alexander Myres have made standout plays practically every practice, putting them on a path to possibly earn a roster spot. While many are rooting for Bandy based off his college tape, the lack of waves he has made thus far is not an encouraging sign.
Stock Up: Marcus Allen
Marcus Allen had nothing short of an exceptional week. After starting off the week with a strong day on backs on backers with four wins on the day per the pool report, Allen went on later in the week to be praised by Tomlin, Tom Bradley, and Butler for his versatility.
Then, on Thursday, Allen got reps at inside linebacker and actually played there. It was the first time that Allen’s versatility had shown itself formally on the practice report as an actual linebacker. Jerry Olsavsky was giving Allen one-on-one instruction, and he seems destined for a hybrid role this year.
Stock Down: Antoine Brooks
Much like Bandy, Antoine Brooks has seen his stock drop at the expense of his competition. And he has lacked the splash plays needed to really hype himself up to make the roster. There is a shortage of space on the team, and Brooks’s roster spot seems to be tied up by Allen and Riley for the most part. The issue is that Brooks seemingly has no ability to play free safety either due to his average athletic traits.
Brooks needs to start making some plays downhill and proving that he has some versatility of his own if he wishes to push Allen off the final roster, but Allen’s natural athleticism and experience may be too much for the rookie to overcome anyways at this point.
Stock Up: Ray-Ray McCloud
The wide receiver position looked like it was locked up last week with the final six on the roster firmly decided. However, new acquisition Ray-Ray McCloud is trying to make sure that is not the case just yet. A speedy playmaker, McCloud has put up splash play after splash play on the pool report, with numerous catches and a few big plays down the field that showcased his explosive ability.
McCloud’s biggest play may have been his Thursday kickoff return for a touchdown, as McCloud hit the gas pedal and was gone. With Switzer out, McCloud has seemingly filled his role and is proving he can make plays. Whether that means he can push anyone off the roster is a big question, but he’s been showing out so far.
Stock Down: Ryan Switzer
Switzer had an incredibly strong week last week and looked great per the pool reports. However this past week was a step back thanks to a foot injury that caused him to miss significant time. Switzer’s injury allowed McCloud to get his foot in the door and has since impressed with some big-time splash plays.
While he may not be in trouble yet–missing out on a roster spot seems highly unlikely–Switzer still needs to get back onto the field to secure that spot with McCloud making plays and sneaking up out of the shadows.