Entering their first preseason game, the Pittsburgh Steelers had many story lines and players to watch. How would top draft choices like T.J. Watt and JuJu Smith-Schuster perform? How would Josh Dobbs handle starting and running the offense? Who would step up and make plays and put themselves in the spotlight? These were some of the questions facing the Steelers entering Friday night’s match up with the New York Giants. These questions were answered on Pittsburgh’s way to a 20-12 Preseason Week One victory.
Pittsburgh Steelers Preseason Week One Takeaways
With most of the regular stars not seeing action Friday night, the stage was set for a very talented group of rookies to perform. T.J. Watt could not have made a better first impression in his debut. JuJu Smith-Schuster showed he has potential, but got himself into injury trouble. Josh Dobbs struggled early, but shook off the nerves and showed why Pittsburgh drafted him. Finally, players such as Knile Davis, Arthur Moats, and Miles Hilton came to play and made cases for advancement in the team’s plans for 2017.
Watt Are Nerves?
Entering Friday night, the most anticipated debut was undoubtedly that of Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 first round draft choice T.J. Watt. Everyone knows what T.J.’s brother J.J. Watt has done in the NFL, but this was our first look at the younger Watt brother in the league. Watt did not disappoint in his debut. He picked up a sack in each of the Giants’ first two offensive series, finished with three tackles, and threw in a deflected pass. Watt could not have looked better in his first game, hustling all over the field and playing the entire game.
Smith-Schuster Shows Why He Is Not A Safety
JuJu Smith-Schuster showed his speed early, taking a hand off in the backfield for a nine-yard gain up the sideline. However, Smith-Schuster’s debut night was cut short when he went to the locker room with a possible concussion. In his short time on the field, Smith-Schuster showed he not only has size, but can also run exceedingly well. He is sure to be a valuable addition to an already stacked wide receiver corps in Pittsburgh. My biggest takeaway from Smith-Schuster’s day is that he should not tackle with his head down.
Dobbs Rebounds From Shaky Start
In complete opposition to T.J. Watt’s perfect debut, Josh Dobbs could not have had a worse start. In the first four Pittsburgh possessions, Dobbs completed one pass to a Steelers receiver, and two passes to the Giants defenders. However, once Dobbs got over the clearly present nerves, he began to show the strengths that stood out to Pittsburgh on draft day.
Dobbs’ two biggest strengths entering the draft were his mobility and deep ball accuracy. On the Steelers fifth drive, Dobbs ran for a 16-yard gain on third down, and found Cobi Hamilton for 44 yards. Dobbs was clearly uncomfortable starting the game. His pocket presence was uneasy and his throws looked second guessed leaving his hand. But something clicked when Dobbs started doing what he does best. After the run and the deep pass, Dobbs looked comfortable. Dobbs showed signs of being the quarterback the Steelers hope he can be, now comes the matter of improving.
As is the case for most preseason games, there were a few surprise efforts that will not go unnoticed this week at Steelers Camp. First was Knile Davis, who vastly out-performed Fitzgerald Toussaint. Davis’ performance will certainly play a factor in the decision of who will back up Le’Veon Bell this season. Arthur Moats somehow found a way to out perform T.J. Watt on defense. Moats finished the game with six tackles, three sacks, and an interception. Finally, Miles Hilton made a name for himself with a sack and a fumble recovery on special teams.
The worst thing anyone can do is overplay the importance of the first preseason game of the season. However, it is impossible to not feel good about Pittsburgh’s future and the young future stars it belongs to. This experience will not only help aid in their long term development, but will also assist in their ability to produce this season and help the Steelers chase another Super Bowl Championship.