8 Steelers players to watch closely in their pre-season game against the Lions

The Pittsburgh Steelers play the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon at home, and that contest will be the team’s third and final game before the start of the 2022 season. While it is understood that there will be plenty of eye on many Steelers players who will be watching Sunday’s game against the Lions I wanted to highlight eight players this week and feel the need to watch closely in this final exhibition competition for 2022.

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QB Mitch Trubesky – Although he has done nothing to lose top-back position in two pre-season games, Trubesky hasn’t separated himself from rookie Kenny Beckett and fellow veteran Mason Rudolph in the same way. In Trubisky’s defense, he played 28 attacking shots in the Steelers’ first two pre-season games and that amount pales in comparison to the playing time earned by Beckett (42) and Rudolph (55). Trubisky has a chance to make a big statement on Sunday against the Lions as he begins his pre-season final and is likely to play at least three series. So far, Trubisky’s 9 of 15 passes in pre-season for 123 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. It would be great to see him culminate in the 2022 season with his appearance in Steelers uniforms thus far.

RB Nagy Harris After missing his first two pre-season games with a foot injury, Harris is preparing to play his first game of 2022 on Sunday against the Lions. Harris was eager to play some during pre-season and according to head coach Mike Tomlin on Friday, the former first-round draft pick from Alabama will get his wish on Sunday at Acresor Stadium. It’s unknown how much Harris will play on Sunday against the Lions, and with good reason. He may only touch the football a few times, so it will be interesting to see how he does in a real game. Most importantly, Harris needs to come out of his Sunday playing time healthy and ready to start the 2022 regular season.

J Kevin Dotson Ostensibly and based on how things went last week in practice, Dotson is making his first pre-season 2022 start on Sunday against the Lions. The goalkeeper’s left starting point in the air is still going into the pre-season finale, so a strong showing by Dotson against the Lions would win him on the starting point in Week 1. Overall, the Steelers’ offensive play during pre-season was well below the streak so Dotson could easily have exited Sunday’s game as the best group if he played well.

WR Tyler Phones – With one game left before the start of the season, Vaughns certainly did his best to position himself in competition to be in the 53-man roster. Through two pre-season games, the Vaughns scored six receptions for 88 yards and a 25-yard touchdown. He’s also done a great job breaking up post catches. Theoretically, the Vaughns enter the pre-season finale on the outside of the roster bubble in the wide reception position and that may be mainly due to him not being a standout player on special teams. However, anything can happen in this final before the start of the season, and so the Vaughns need to keep showing up to position themselves in the opening position, if one materializes. At worst, Vaughns appears to have a fantastic chance of being a coaching staffer to open the 2022 regular season. It counts too long to play against the lions.


ILB Mark Robinson – Coo-coo-ca-choo, Mr. Robinson, the Steelers defense needs you more than you know, wo, wo, wo. God bless you, Mr. Robinson, the 53 makes a place for those who can play, hello, hello. Hello, hello. In all seriousness, Robinson, one of the Steelers’ seventh-round picks this year, did very well in the team’s first two pre-season games. On Sunday vs. Lions, Robinson characters to get some playtime. He’s closed on a 53-man roster at this point and is now looking to show he might be able to contribute to defense during the regular season sooner rather than later. Personally, I would expect Robinson to play a lot against the Lions and thus lead the team in all-out interventions. It has to be one of the most exciting seventh-round draft picks to watch in the NFL this year.

OLB Hamilcar Rashed Jr. – In a slightly surprising move last week, the Steelers terminated the contract of outside quarterback Jenard Avery, who was signed early in the season to be third on the depth chart in his position. With Avery abandoned, that opens the door for Rashid not only to build a roster of 53 players, but also to be the main backup behind starters TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith. Early word is that Rashid will start Sunday against the Lions as Highsmith is expected to sit again with a rib injury. Rashid, who was signed after boot camp kicked off, played well last week in the team’s pre-season game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. If he can build on that performance from last Saturday night, perhaps he can jump from fellow outside back Derek Tosca on the depth chart. It’s a big game for him.

ILB Marcus Allen It is difficult to say whether Allen will actually play on Sunday against the Lions because he has been struggling with a hamstring injury since the start of training camp. Because of his injury, Allen was not a lock to make a list of 53 men. However, Allen is the current punt quarterback and a special teams player above the line to boot. He also has experience when it comes to playing as a backup inside the line-back especially in some of the sub-packs. Allen needs an impeccable game on Sunday against the Lions, and he needs to show he’s healthy in the process. If he can achieve both of these things, he may secure a place on the list of 53 men again. Allen is set to earn $2.54 million in 2022, so Sunday’s game is big for him financially as well.

Elijah Riley – The newest Steelers player enters Sunday’s match against the Lions as a long shot to make up the 53-player roster and for obvious reasons. Although, with veteran safety and special teams Miles Kelebro banging all summer, we might see Riley get plenty of time playing on special teams and maybe even a few shots in defense. Riley isn’t afraid of calling, so if he can put in a play or two on Sunday against the Lions, maybe he can just make up the first week’s 53-man roster if Kylebro needs to go to the reserve/injured roster. At worst, Riley should stand a chance of making the Steelers’ initial 16-man coaching squad with a solid debut in the Steelers’ uniform.

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