The 5: Pittsburgh Steelers to watch versus the Las Vegas Raiders
Every week, ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ regular-season games, Steel City Underground will analyze the depth chart, injury reports, and key matchups against their upcoming opponent in order to point out “The 5” – Steelers players to watch.
After the Steelers’ 23-16 comeback against the Bills in Week One of the 2021 NFL regular season, the Steelers will hold their home opener at Heinz Field against the Las Vegas Raiders for Week Two. It will be interesting to see how this one goes after last night’s crazy finish between the Raiders and the Baltimore Ravens. This game will be just as tough for the home team. After a very sluggish first half against the Bills, this week’s focus for me is on the offensive side of the ball.
No other way I can say it; Ben looked rusty at the beginning of the game against the Bills. He missed many throws, especially one that was a possible game-changing play – such as the Najee Harris miss in the red zone. I know it was only week one, but I want to see more from Ben.
He did finish strong looking like his old self. I am not worried about him as a player. I am worried about him not getting the time he needs. I think that we will see them build upon the second-half offense and get better. The sky’s the limit. However, I think that they need to involve more guys in the scheme. Some players barely got any attention on Sunday and they need more playing time.
The Tight Ends
I think that both tight ends will be more involved in the offense against the Raiders. Both Eric Ebron and Pat Freiermuth can feast at home this week. While both barely got attention in the passing game against the Bills, both of them made clutch catches to continue drives in key moments.
One part of the offense that really struggled was the red-zone offense. I expect them to change up the offense and mix in both of these guys to utilize their matchup potential to help score. I wanna hear that “Muuuthhh” at Heinz!
I believe that JuJu will have another big game this week against the Raiders. While his stats did not shock many people in Week One, he also had some old-school moments that reminded me of Hines Ward. He had many clutch combat catches on third downs and even ran over two Bills players on one of Ben’s bootleg plays. Seeing how Sammy Watkins performed in his role against the Raiders, I can see the Steelers utilizing JuJu in a similar role.
We all know well that this offensive line is young and is still growing. One thing that I noticed is during the second quarter, Kendrick Green was pulled for J.C. Hassenauer. Whether it was a substitution or injury, we do not know. What was interesting was the offensive line actually played better once Hassenauer was in the lineup.
Green returned a couple of drives later and he did perform a lot better. So, it will be interesting to see if that same instance occurs again. It could have just been Week One jitters for a young rookie. It will be very interesting how he handles that Raiders pass rush this Sunday.
My only defensive player this week is Tomlin’s Swiss army knife, Tre Norwood. Norwood had a pretty explosive debut against Buffalo. He was used in the slot, inside linebacker, and had some safety rotations. He showed us that he truly can play all over the field, just like Minkah Fitzpatrick. Norwood did have a moment early in the game that almost cost us a score when he bit really hard on the play-action pass of Josh Allen. I like his hard tackling, his awareness, and how he is purely aggressive. He does fit into the defense very well. Look for him to make more play this week!