The Steelers had a bye in Week 7 and are set to return to action on Monday night against the Dolphins on Oct. 28. At 2-4, Pittsburgh has a lot of work to do in order to contend for a wild card spot or push Baltimore for the division lead. However, all isn’t lost for coach Mike Tomlin’s squad. The Steelers play their next three matchups at home, and the bye week came at a good time with a handful of players nursing injuries.
With the bye week over and the preparation for Miami (and the next 10 contests) underway, here are five Steelers to watch for Week 8 and beyond:
Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Players That Could Shape the Rest of the Season
Tyson Alualu, DL
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Losing Stephon Tuitt is a significant blow to the Steelers’ defensive line. However, Alualu has played well as a reserve and should be a capable replacement. He’s tallied 12 tackles and a sack in limited snaps this year but will be under the spotlight more with a move into a starting role.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, S
The Steelers paid a hefty price (a first-round pick) to bring Fitzpatrick into the fold this year. The Alabama product has been a solid addition to the secondary and figures to benefit from the bye week and an opportunity to get even more comfortable within the scheme. Fitzpatrick’s development and emergence will bolster a secondary that seems to get better each week, especially once cornerback Steven Nelson is back to full strength.
Donte Moncrief, WR
Moncrief was signed to pick up some of the slack in the passing game once Antonio Brown was traded to Oakland. However, he injured a finger in the preseason and dropped a handful of passes in a miserable start to 2019. Moncrief caught a pass in the Week 6 win over the Chargers and needs to become a key part of the passing game. With Rudolph back in the mix for Week 8, and James Washington recovering from an injury, Moncrief could be more involved against the Dolphins.
Mason Rudolph, QB
Rudolph took a brutal hit and suffered a concussion in the Week 5 loss to Baltimore. Devlin “Duck” Hodges filled in admirably in the win over the Chargers, but Rudolph is the team’s best option at quarterback. Prior to the injury against the Ravens, Rudolph connected on 13 of 20 throws for 131 yards and a touchdown. Rudolph’s play will be crucial to any run the Steelers can make over the next 10 contests.
Benny Snell, RB
Jaylen Samuels is out indefinitely due to knee surgery, and James Conner was banged up in the win over the Chargers. Snell – a rookie from Kentucky – ran hard in the Week 6 victory, accumulating 75 yards over 17 carries and catching a pass for a 14-yard gain. Snell is likely to see a lot of work over the next few games, and the rookie can build off his promising performance with a favorable matchup against the Dolphins. And most importantly, Snell's emergence will allow Samuels to ease back into the lineup once he's healthy and help to spell Conner to keep him fresh for the stretch run.