The Steelers performed their dress rehearsal on Sunday night for the 2019 season.
That’s what head coach Mike Tomlin calls the team’s third preseason game, and the takeaways were generally positive after the Steelers pulled out of Nashville with an 18-6 victory to improve to 3-0
As a team, the “arrow is pointed up,” to borrow a phrase from Tomlin. But individually, things are always more complicated when it comes to players battling for starting jobs, game day helmets and spots on the 53-man roster.
Here are the winners and loser from Week 3 of the Steelers preseason:
DB KAMERON KELLY
Kelly was the first defensive back off the bench in the Nickel, spelled Sean Davis when he was injured at free safety, and was all around the field, racking up four tackles and a forced fumble.
That Kelly came into the game even before more-experienced nickel options such as Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton shows how much the coaching staff likes his ability and versatility.
Which #Steelers player helped their cause the most in the first half?
— Steelers Now (@PghSteelersNow) August 26, 2019
WR RYAN SWITZER
Switzer was another player that got a lot of run early in the game, starting at slot wide receiver and as the team’s primary punt and kick returner. Getting Eli Rogers back to health and adding Diontae Johnson in the draft means the Steelers have more to work with in the slot than they did a year ago, but it seems Switzer is still a player that has earned a spot.
OLB TUZAR SKIPPER
Skipper continues to be an absolute menace on defense. He had four tackles, a sack that resulted in a forced fumble and another quarterback hurry. With injuries to Ola Adeniyi (knee), Anthony Chickillo (chest) and Sutton Smith missing a lot of time with a now-healed abdominal injury, Skipper might have found a way to the 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent.
CB ARTIE BURNS
Burns started in place of the injured Joe Haden (foot contusion), and while Haden’s injury is not thought to be serious enough to keep him out of the opener in two weeks against New England, Burns’ continued use as the No. 3 outside corner and also as a multiple-phase special teamer is constant with him not only securing a roster spot, but also a helmet on game days.
OT JERALD HAWKINS
A fourth-round pick in 2014, Hawkins has struggled with injuries and even now that he’s fully healthy, has been clearly passed by both Zach Banner and Chuks Okorafor at tackle and also hasn’t worked with the second team at guard, where Derwin Gray and Fred Johnson have dominated reps.
With Benny Snell inactive, the rest of the Steelers’ running backs had a gift-wrapped opportunity to stand out, and largely weren’t able to. Jaylen Samuels had four carries for 16 yards, but stumbled on what would have been a successful 2-point conversion attempt. Trey Edmunds (six carries, 12 yards), Malik Williams (three carries, five yards) and Trevon McMillan (one carry, negative-two yards) didn’t stand out, either.
LB VINCE WILLIAMS
Williams returned from a hamstring injury for his first preseason action, but came in after Mark Barron and Devin Bush at inside linebacker. Williams played well, compiling two tackles a sack and a hurry. But it seems far from a sure thing that the veteran linebacker will regain his starting spot.
No Guaranteed Money in Dwayne Haskins’ Low-Risk Steelers Contract
Further details of quarterback Dwayne Haskins’ new contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers have emerged, demonstrating just how low-risk the acquisition is for the club.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Haskins’ Reserve/Future contract with the Steelers is a one-year, $850,000 deal with no guaranteed money.
No bells or whistles to Dwayne Haskins' reserve/future deal with the Steelers: 1-year, $850K, 0 guarantees.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 26, 2021
He's got plenty of money still due from WFT.
This was all about fit for Haskins, with a good chance to develop in Pittsburgh, while the Steelers take a zero risk flier.
Simply put, the Steelers will not be on the hook for any money if they decide to part ways further down the line. If Haskins turns out to be a diamond in the rough for Pittsburgh, they will have acquired him on a tremendous bargain.
Haskins is not getting a raw deal financially either, as he is still being paid on his four-year, $14,416,611 rookie deal with Washington. Signing with the Steelers gives him an opportunity to prove himself with a steady organization without worrying about the financial implications.
A first round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Haskins was waived by Washington in late December after the young quarterback was photographed maskless at a strip club, in clear violation of the league’s COVID-19 protocols and mid-pandemic common sense.
Haskins was shaky over two seasons in Washington, passing for 12 touchdowns with 14 interceptions, while completing just over 60% of his passes.
The Steelers are hoping Haskins can flash the talent he showed in his final season at Ohio State, where he completed 70% of his passes for 4,831 yards with 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He finished third in Heisman Trophy voting in 2018.
By signing Haskins to such a low-risk, team-friendly contract, Pittsburgh will have an excellent opportunity to determine if some of that talent is still there.
Report: Steelers Interviewing Mike Sullivan for QB Coach Vacancy
The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly interviewing Mike Sullivan for their quarterbacks coach vacancy, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac.
A 17-year coaching veteran at the NFL level, Sullivan was most recently the quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos in 2018. He also has previous experience as an offensive coordinator with the New York Giants (2016-17) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-12).
Sullivan is currently the Director of Recruiting at his alma mater Army, a position he has held since March of last year.
Sullivan would also bring additional championship pedigree to the Steelers, having won Super Bowls XLII and XLVI with the Giants.
Former Giants quarterback Eli Manning had one of the best seasons of his career in 2011 under Sullivan, passing for a career-high 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns.
The Steelers are looking to fill the void left by Matt Canada, who was officially promoted to offensive coordinator on Monday.
The Steelers are talking to Mike Sullivan, a long-time former offensive coordinator/QB coach with the NY Giants and Denver Broncos, about becoming their QB coach, per source.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) January 26, 2021
Mic Drop: Rooting for Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell Is Easy Choice
The idea that either Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell will become a Super Bowl champion after Super Bowl LV isn’t exactly something that makes Steelers fans excited for the big game. With that said, Mike Asti feels deciding who to root for should be an easy choice for Steelers fans. He wants to set the record straight once and for all of why Pittsburgh fans need to stop grouping the two former Steelers together.
While they both left the franchise in a cloud of drama, Le’Veon Bell doesn’t deserve to be treated as if he committed the same kind of sins against the Steelers that Antonio Brown did.