While Steelers fans got to see many debuts last week, a few key players still remained to be seen. The focus was on the debuts of James Conner and Martavis Bryant in the Pittsburgh Steelers Preseason Week two. In addition to these key debuts, another point of focus was the development of Josh Dobbs and his potential improvement. On defense and special teams, young players looked to make big plays to boost their chances of making the squad. Solid efforts from Conner, fellow running back Trey Williams, Anthony Chickillo and Jordan Dangerfield helped the Steelers to a 17-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Pittsburgh Steelers Preseason Week Two Takeaways
Sunday was far short of what Steelers fans look to see offensively from Pittsburgh this season. Josh Dobbs got the start again, and again struggled to find rhythm and establish command of the offense. The Steelers failed to find the end zone with Dobbs in at quarterback. The Steelers will need to continue to have patience with Dobbs as he develops and learns to avoid big mistakes. His biggest came on an ill-advised throw as he was falling to the ground that was intercepted.
While most of Dobbs’ day was mediocre at best, one play was a bright spot. Dobbs was able to find Martavis Bryant, fresh off of his one year suspension, for a 24 yard gain. The throw was well executed by Dobbs, and Bryant made an athletic play on the ball. This play showcased Dobbs’ ability to throw downfield, a skill Pittsburgh will surely benefit from in the future. It also displayed Bryant’s athletic ability, which the Steelers will be relying on this season to contribute to the offense.
Conner Dazzles in Debut
The biggest positive for the offense came from rookie running back James Conner. While Conner had trouble holding onto the ball receiving, he showed great strength rushing. He finished with 98 yards on 20 carries for Pittsburgh. Conner not only showed the strength he was known for at Pitt, but also showed he has the speed to be an NFL running back. Conner’s 38 yards led the way on a drive resulting in a Pittsburgh touchdown, giving them a 17-13 lead. Conner’s big day helped him dazzle in his Steelers debut and lead the Steelers to victory.
Williams Provides Spark on Special Teams
The highlight of the game undoubtedly came from the special teams unit for the Steelers. With Atlanta punting from their own 16 yard line on fourth and eight, running back Trey Williams awaited the punt. Williams received the punt and returned it 64 yards up the middle of the field for a Steelers touchdown. While Williams will most likely not make the team as a running back, he may for special teams. His return at least put him in the minds of coaches and may lead to opportunities for him as either a practice squad player or on another team.
Big Plays Save Defense
On defense, things looked bleak to start. The secondary looked baffled as Matt Ryan and company scored on their first three possessions. However, the defense would look better as the game wore on. Anthony Chickillo finished with five tackles and two sacks Sunday. Chickillo will most likely be a member of the Steelers rotating linebacker crew this season. Safety Jordan Dangerfield found his way to not one, but two interceptions on Sunday. Dangerfield is battling for a roster spot in a deep safety position, and showed he can find the ball and make big plays.
While many aspects of the Steelers performance Sunday left a lot to be desired, there were indeed bright spots. Young players like Chickillo and Dangerfield having big games is a good sign for the defense. Conner looked like a legitimate number two running back, and Bryant was able to shake off the rust. Overall, necessary strides were made for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 17-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.