3 Veteran Steelers a Shortened Preseason Hurts Most
If the NFL shortens or removes, the preseason this fall, the league's summer position battles will end after six short weeks in training camp. For many, that means less wear and tear on the body while they prepare for the regular season, but to some, it's a missed opportunity to showcase themselves.
Devlin Hodges, Zach Banner, Mike Hilton, and other veteran Steelers might not be where they are now without a preseason. Which makes you wonder, who's going to miss out this season?
Without looking at the rookies, these three veterans will have to work twice as hard to prove themselves this summer.
The Steelers signed Wisniewski intending to fill Ramon Foster or B.J. Finney's role in 2020. That didn't mean he was an automatic starter, but he certainly planned to compete for the job.
Mike Tomlin summed it up best when he said Matt Feiler would get the first reps at left guard (over Wisniewski and Kevin Dotson), and Banner/Chuks Okorafor would compete at right tackle.
"Just in terms of volume, the number of snaps will be significantly less," Tomlin told reporters last month. "You have to acknowledge that there's an element of teaching that's been lost in the virtual offseason, and that can affect the competition, at least at the initial stages."
If there are no games for Wisniewski to play a starting role and see how he clicks with the starting five, there's a small chance he walks into Week 1 a starter.
Layne's sophomore season has the potential to be his first real contribution to the Steelers. The former third-round pick has a high ceiling, but needed time to develop as a rookie.
This year, he should get the opportunity to play a more prominent role on the outside. Without Artie Burns, Layne is the first backup behind Cam Sutton, which could lead to an expanded role in 2020.
If there are no exhibition games for Layne to show his improvement, there's limited time to prove he needs more reps.
This could mean a slower progression into the gameplan, which could ultimately leave him on the sideline for most of the early part of the season.
Sticking with defense, 2020 could be the year the Steelers finally find a role for Allen. The expectations the safety had coming out of Penn State never transitioned to the NFL, but with a need for a cover linebacker might be the turning point to his career.
There's this feeling the Steelers will try and work Allen into that primary hybrid role this season. He's a sure tackler who has ball skills but lacks natural instinct to start at safety.
So, the best place to try next is playing a safety/linebacker role like Mark Barron and Morgan Burnett were put into the last two seasons.
It's not that Allen won't get the chance to showcase his ability in the role; he'll have limited time to earn in-game trust. The Steelers will have a difficult time handing him high reps with a small sample size of live game action at the position.
2020 could be the next step for Allen, but it might not happen early in the season, which could lead to a smaller role throughout the year than he could've had with a full summer.