Pittsburgh is not a franchise accustomed to frequent changes; whether that be their coaching staff, or their franchise players. From the top down, Pittsburgh is an organization notable for its consistency year in and year out. This year will be different, as the Steelers will be entering 2022 mini camp with a new GM (Omar Khan) and a new look. Of course, Mike Tomlin will implement the same philosophies that has made this team a perennial playoff contender, but the players inside of the locker room might look a little different.

With new players come new position battles, and there are a few spots up for grabs heading into camp. Here are four positions in Pittsburgh that will be heavily-contested for playing time in 2022:

Quarterback

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In case you have been living under a rock, Pittsburgh will have a new QB this season. Ben Roethlisberger hung up his cleats after 18 successful seasons wearing the black and gold. Currently, there are three candidates battling to become Ben’s heir apparent; Mitchell Trubisky, Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph.

Throughout the duration of OTA camp, Trubisky received the first team reps in practice. Trubisky has shown that he’s talented enough to be a starting QB during his time in Chicago and Buffalo, however, his biggest problem has been his lack of consistency. If he can tighten up the mental errors, there is no reason why he can’t be the starter all season.

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In the rear view mirror is Mason Rudolph (currently taking reps with the second team) and of course, Kenny Pickett (currently taking reps with the third team). Being the lone QB selected in the first round of this year’s draft, Kenny Pickett enters 2022 with high expectations. The Steelers will be patient with him for now, but expect him to get plenty of opportunities if Trubisky hits a rough patch.

How much will the change of scenery help Mitchell Trubisky? Is Kenny Pickett NFL-ready right now? Does Mason Rudolph have much of a chance in this battle, or is he just an afterthought? Steelers fans will hope to get those answers as the season progresses.

Wide Receiver

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Even with JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington‘s departures this offseason, Pittsburgh’s receiving corps in 2022 should still be fun to watch. Expect to see promising young talent emerge from this group of receivers.

Diontae Johnson is expected to be the number one go-to-guy after showing major improvements in 2021. He received some criticism after not showing up for the first week of OTA camp, but there should be no reason for pessimism now that he’s back on the field with his team. In addition to Johnson is Chase Claypool, the third year receiver with the speed to compliment his 6’4″, 240-pound frame.

While Pittsburgh already has two reliable options at the WR position, the question remains as to who their third and fourth options will be.

Will it be George Pickens making his presence felt as a rookie? His height and his ability to win jump balls could be very useful in this offense. How about fellow rookie Calvin Austin? Can his 4.32 speed be useful in Pittsburgh’s short-passing, jet-sweep heavy offense? And what about Anthony Miller? Can the fifth-year receiver find his niche with his third NFL team? In order to be a serious playoff contender, Pittsburgh will need to find these answers quickly.

Interior Offensive Line

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After a lackluster performance in 2021, Pittsburgh has made it an issue to address their offense line heading into 2022. The tackles will likely remain the same, with Dan Moore lining up left and Chukwuma Okorafor lining up right, but the interior has been overhauled.

Currently listed as starters on the interior is Kevin Dotson (LG), Mason Cole (OC) and James Daniels (RG). Cole signed a three-year deal with Pittsburgh after sharing reps last year with Garrett Bradury in Minnesota. James Daniels also signed a three-year deal with the Steelers after spending four seasons with the Chicago Bears. Daniels has experience at center and at both guard positions, making him a useful option in Pittsburgh.

LG is the spot at camp mostly up for grabs. Battling for that spot is Kevin Dotson and Kendrick Green. Dotson has shown himself to be a capable player as long as he can stay healthy. Green struggled to anchor in the middle and will be looking to be more successful at guard than he was as a center last year. Will there be a runaway starter at LG, or will the two of them split time throughout the season?

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Interior Defensive Line

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are known for being a hard-nosed team with a strong defense that’s hard to run on. 2021 was an exception; they lacked depth on the defensive line and ranked dead last in rushing yards allowed.

Cam Heyward will be 33 years old entering this season. He hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down and should have another great season in 2022, but it would not be surprising if any signs began to show this year. It was obvious last season that they were missing the presence of Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt, and the rushing stats show that. Alualu was back on the field and healthy for camp. Tuitt, on the other hand, retired after not showing up for the first week of camp. Dealing with the loss of his brother and recently completing his college degree at Notre Dame, Tuitt has decided that it’s time to move on from the sport.

Alualu & Heyward should be the biggest contributors on the D-Line, but who else will make their presence felt up front, whether that be as a starter or as a rotational backup?

Chris Wormley played in over 700 defensive snaps last year and should be very productive this season. DeMarvin Leal will definitely be in the mix as a rookie DL. Isaiah Loudermilk will be returning for his sophomore season. Adding more depth to the position will be Henry Mondeaux and Montravius Adams. Which, if any, of these players will stand out and compliment Cam Heyward?

I would like to thank you for taking your time to read through this article. For more sports-related content, head over to Belly Up Sports. We have articles, op-eds, and podcasts available on our website. Disagree with anything? Think I’m missing something? Want to continue this discussion? You can find me on Twitter @RevKoka.

About Author

Rev Koka

American with proud Nigerian roots. Former student-athlete. WCU alum. MMA and football enthusiast. Offensive line lover. Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Waver of the Terrible Towel.

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