Some surprises for Steelers snap counts in Sunday’s win over Detroit
The Steelers win over the Lions didn’t have too many surprises in terms of playing time this week. Everyone was anxious to see what the wide receiver snap count breakdowns would be with Martavis Bryant‘s benching for Sunday night’s game announced well in advance of the primetime contest. JuJu Smith-Schuster saw 80% of the Steelers offensive reps, which actually isn’t a career-high for him (that came in Week 5 against the Jaguars with 65 snaps/82% share – both of which are his current bests). JuJu also played an identical amount of snaps on offense back in Week 3’s loss to the Chicago Bears.
Having played so much this Sunday, with a win, must feel good for Smith-Schuster, who had a career day as well.
In Bryant’s absence, a few more receivers saw more snaps. Justin Hunter played a season-high 20 snaps (31%) however, he was the only beneficiary of Bryant’s benching. Eli Rogers played 19 snaps, his most since going on the inactives during Weeks 4 and 5, but nowhere near his usual workload from the first three weeks of the season. Darrius Heyward-Bey also saw five snaps for the third-straight week in a row.
Jesse James continues to play most of the offensive snaps, eclipsing 90% or better for the fourth time this year. With Vance McDonald injured, Xavier Grimble matched last week’s 41% playing time for his season high.
James Conner continues to plug-and-play, this week with four reps. One of those came in the Steelers victory formation to end the game.
Offensive lineman Matt Feiler saw his first action of the year, playing nine snaps while Marcus Gilbert was ruled out and Chris Hubbard left the game for a short spell. Feiler also filled in for Hubbard’s usual jumbo package spot.
On defense, the biggest omission of playing time was James Harrison, who was assumed to receive a role following T.J. Watt landing on the injury report late last week. Harrison failed to play a snap, while the other outside linebackers also fell victim to, what was, little-to-no rotation by the coaching staff. Anthony Chickillo played eight snaps while Arthur Moats saw the field for the first time since Week 5, with five reps.
Watt and Bud Dupree almost never came off of the field. Ditto for Ryan Shazier, who was once criticized for being oft-injured, has yet to miss a snap all season. He played the entire game again for the eighth time this year.
Vince Williams also brought his “A” game, falling one snap short of his season-high with 54 of the Steelers 71 defensive snaps.
After playing a substantial amount of time in Weeks 3 and 4, S J.J. Wilcox has swapped spots with Robert Golden. Wilcox entered the game for a single play, while Golden subbed in for a banged up Mike Mitchell. Golden would also see a season-high on Sunday playing 46% of the game.
The biggest winners Sunday were Mike Hilton and Tyson Alualu. Hilton continues to be a fixture on the Steelers defense while Alualu benefitted from Stephon Tuitt‘s injury the last two weeks. The free agent signing has proven to be valuable, as he has a sack in each of those two games.
Wrapping up the counts, we saw Tyler Matakevich and L.J. Fort enter the game for one play, once again coming on the field for a special goalline package. Cornerbacks Artie Burns and Joe Haden played almost the entire game, with each leaving for this single play.