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.