Steelers preseason Game 2 preview: Who’s hot, who’s not, who’s getting a shot
As the Steelers enter the second preseason game Thursday night at Green Bay, here’s a look at who’s hot, who’s not and who’s getting a shot to make an impression on the coaching staff.
James Washington: The second-round pick has steadily improved during the opening two weeks of training camp and has worked his way into the first-team rotation at wide receiver. Ben Roethlisberger is encouraged by Washington’s progress and the way the rookie receiver hasn’t shied away from contact or blanket coverage.
Ola Adeniyi: He’s coming off a strip sack in his first pro game, and he continues to get meaningful reps in practice. Sure, some of that is attributed to injuries to Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt and Anthony Chickillo, but Adeniyi has done nothing to hurt his chances of making the team as an undrafted free agent.
L.J. Fort: The oft-overlooked inside linebacker had the prettiest interception of camp when he ended a recent “Seven Shots” exercise with a leaping, one-handed grab over running back Jaylen Samuels. Fort filled in last year in subpackages after Ryan Shazier’s injury. If he keeps making plays, he might work his way into the rotation this year.
Sean Davis: A groin injury has kept the third-year safety on the sideline in recent days. Practice time is invaluable for Davis because of his swing from strong to free safety. The injury, though, has limited his chances to build a rapport with strong safety Morgan Burnett, plus the other defensive backs who are on the field in subpackages.
Marcus Allen: The rookie safety from Penn State also has been missing from practices recently because of an injury. Allen hasn’t done much to stand out from other young defensive backs. He has the size to be a disruptive presence in subpackages and on special teams, but the only way to prove it is to be on the field.
Stevan Ridley: Coach Mike Tomlin said he knows what he has in Ridley, the veteran running back who joined the Steelers for the final two games of the regular season in 2017. Ridley, though, is no lock to make the roster and hasn’t helped his cause by sitting out the past two-plus practices. Ridley could suit up in Green Bay, but his absence from practice isn’t a strong indicator of his availability.
WHO’S GETTING A SHOT
Trey Griffey: The son of Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. lost the team’s home run derby this week, but he has eked out some more important wins on the practice field. Coach Mike Tomlin openly applauded Griffey for a “combat” catch he made against Coty Sensabaugh on Sunday, and the first-year player followed with another steady showing Monday.
R.J. Prince: Much of the camp publicity has found its way to the other player signed out of a rookie minicamp tryout, wide receiver Damoun Patterson. But Prince quietly has been having a good camp and has gotten some work on the second team because of injuries at guard. With B.J. Finney likely not playing against Green Bay, Prince perhaps can build on the 15 snaps he received against the Eagles.
Bucky Hodges: Although the Steelers appear to be set at tight end with Vance McDonald, Jesse James and Xavier Grimble, the only one to stay healthy the entire camp has been James. This has given other tight ends a chance to step up, including Hodges, who was added to the roster after camp started.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.