10 players to watch in the Steelers-Eagles preseason game
(Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Steelers will square off with the Eagles tonight on the other side of the commonwealth at Lincoln Financial Field. It will be the second preseason game for the Steelers and first for the Eagles. Philadelphia's first-year head coach Nick Sirianni said he'll play his starters to begin the game, which includes quarterback Jalen Hurts.
For the Steelers, Mike Tomlin said more starters will see action in the second preseason game, but Ben Roethlisberger will sit out as he did in the Hall of Fame Game. And that the quarterback rotation will remain the same -- Mason Rudolph starting the game and then Dwayne Haskins replacing him and Josh Dobbs finishing it out.
There's plenty of Steelers players to watch in Philadelphia tonight, as some will see their first action of the season and others will be trying to build off their performances in the Hall of Fame Game or trying to bounce back.
Below are 10 Steelers players to keep an eye on tonight.
Kevin Dotson - Dotson has been dealing with an ankle injury since the beginning of training camp and just started practicing last week. And surprisingly during those sessions, he hasn't been with the first-team. He's been getting reps with the second-team, instead. Mike Tomlin was pretty blunt when asked about why Dotson wasn't with the first-team.
"He has done nothing to earn first-team reps," Tomlin said of Dotson. "What are we talking about? He’s a second-year guy that hadn’t worked."
This comment by Tomlin caused an uproar on Twitter, as many perceived it as Tomlin putting Dotson on blast. Dotson understood where Tomlin was coming from, but he sent out a few tweets to clarify to fans that he's been dealing with an ankle injury. Dotson thinks Tomlin's comments just sounded a lot worse on Twitter without context.
“I think it was just a statement,” Dotson said Tuesday. “I haven’t legit done anything. There’s nothing to look at for a body of work. I have not practiced once except yesterday. He wasn’t lying. It just read differently on Twitter. Reading it sounds worse than it is.”
Dotson is expected to have reps with the second-team tonight, so look for a pissed-off Dotson who'll be looking to make a statement. Rashaad Coward, who Tomlin has been impressed with in training camp, will run with the first-team.
Devin Bush - Tomlin said that Bush is scheduled to play tonight in Philadelphia. It will be the first game action for Bush since when he suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 6 last year against the Browns. Bush will probably only see a series or two, but it will be interesting to see how he looks in live-action. There are big expectations for Bush, as he's now in Year 3 and the Steelers need him to be one of their best defensive players. They also don't have much depth at inside linebacker and Robert Spillane didn't look all that impressive in coverage last week in the Hall of Fame Game, so a lot is depended on Bush this year. He needs to prove that he was worth the investment to trade up 10 spots in the 2019 NFL Draft. However, for tonight, it will be good to just see Bush back playing after he had a long offseason of rehab.
Pat Freiermuth - Rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth will also make his preseason debut tonight, as he was held out of the Hall of Fame Game last week due to a shoulder injury. There have been glowing reports on Freiermuth out of Steelers' training camp, so it will be intriguing to see the second-round pick out of Penn State in his first in-game action. Freiermuth reportedly has showcased great route-running abilities and has caught everything that has come his way at camp.
Mason Rudolph/Dwayne Haskins - As mentioned, Tomlin will keep the same routine as he did in the Hall of Fame Game with the quarterbacks tonight. Neither quarterback really separated themselves from each other in the battle for the No. 2 quarterback position against the Cowboys. It was an incomplete game for both Rudolph and Haskins. However, it was disappointing to see Rudolph fumble the ball on the first series, which resulted in a turnover. Josh Dobbs actually had the best game of the three quarterbacks in Canton, and Tomlin mentioned after the game to not overlook Dobbs. Hopefully, we'll get a better look at Rudolph and Haskins tonight against the Eagles, and see if one of them can take more of a command on the No. 2 quarterback spot. I would have liked to see Haskins get the start for this game to see how he does with the first-team, but Tomlin decided to go with the same procedure.
Najee Harris - First-round pick running back Najee Harris had a nice showing in his debut against the Cowboys last week, albeit it was a small sample size. Harris finished the night with seven carries for 22 yards (3.1 average) and one reception for three yards. It will be interesting to see how many carries Harris gets in the second preseason game. I think 7-10 carries would be a good number, and then next week against the Lions in the tune-up game have Harris play the entire first half with the rest of the starters.
Anthony McFarland Jr. - Kalen Ballage and Benny Snell Jr. are banged up, so they'll probably be out for tonight's game, which means second-year running back McFarland should get plenty of touches. McFarland has a big opportunity against the Eagles to showcase his talents to the coaching staff.
Mathew Sexton - Sexton had an impressive 36-yard punt return in the Hall of Fame Game that gave the Steelers a spark when they were down 3-0 in the third quarter. Tomlin said after the game that Sexton's big return "ignited" the team to a 16-3 win over the Cowboys. We'll have to see if Sexton can build off what he did in Canton in Philadelphia tonight.
Carlos Davis - Tomlin said Davis had a strong performance against the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game during his press conference on Tuesday, so the 2020 seventh-round pick out of Nebraska will be someone that I'll be watching closely against the Eagles. Davis is in competition with Isaiah Buggs for the backup nose tackle position.
Dan Moore Jr. - Moore was pretty solid in the Hall of Fame Game at left tackle, so I want to see if the rookie can maintain that success tonight in Philadelphia. Moore's most impressive play last week was when he got to the outside on a screen play and threw a key block to free Diontae Johnson for a 12-yard gain.