Jaylen Warren, Steelers Who Must Play More Snaps in Week 2 vs. Browns
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The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of adjustments to make after suffering one of the worst losses of Week 1. Very little went Pittsburgh’s way in a 30-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
To be fair, a lot of teams are going to struggle to beat the Niners this season. They have one of the most complete rosters in football and enough offensive weapons to drop 30 on anyone.
But that doesn’t mean the Steelers don’t need to take a look at things and see what needs to be tweaked.
One thing that always changes from Week 1 to Week 2 is snap counts. As the coaches get a feel for who is playing well and who isn’t they can make adjustments and get the right personnel on the field.
Jaylen Warren could be one of those players. After a strong preseason he didn’t see as much action as Najee Harris but could take on added importance as the offense looks to put up more than seven points.
Here’s a look at three players who should see more action against the Cleveland Browns.
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The case for Jaylen Warren to see more snaps has little to do with Najee Harris. The Steelers first option at running back didn’t do too bad all things considered.
Ahead of Week 1, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Warren would get a share of the early-down work. After showcasing some of his explosiveness in the preseason and serving as an efficient complementary back last season, it made sense.
Warren was comparable in snaps, but the touches were not equal. Warren only saw three carries to Harris’s six. Warren was targeted six times, but there wasn’t much to gain on those plays and he ended up with 18 total yards.
Against the Browns, the Steelers should be looking to utilize Warren even more. The Browns pass rush proved to be devastating to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1. Myles Garrett and Co. only had two sacks but they had 10 hits and constant pressure.
The Bengals’ only success came on the ground where Joe Mixon had 56 yards on 13 carries. With Diontae Johnson out, the Steelers need to lean on the run game and that means more snaps and touches for Warren.
Calvin Austin III
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It’s a good thing the Steelers have worked to build some receiver depth. With Calvin Austin III healthy and the team signing Allen Robinson II they are in complete disarray after Diontae Johnson’s injury.
The Steelers receiver is set to “miss a few weeks” with a hamstring injury, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Austin is going to be key to replacing Johnson in his absence. The speedster missed his entire rookie season with injury but proved to be an effective weapon with six catches on six targets for 37 yards.
The most promising play of the day for him, though, was a route that he ran on a shallow cross in which a hesitation move sprung him lose but Kenny Pickett was unable to hit him because of pressure.
Johnson was a reliable set of hands who could work the slot and allow for easy throws. Austin has the ability to do the same thing and he’s going to have to see a lot more work against the Browns with Johnson out of the lineup.
DT Keeanu Benton
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Most teams would prefer to bring a rookie defensive tackle along slowly, but that’s not a luxury the Steelers can afford with the Cleveland Browns on tap.
The sting of the loss to the 49ers was compounded by an injury to Cam Heyward. The veteran defensive lineman suffered a groin injury that’s going to require surgery and he could be out for several weeks, per Brooke Pryor of ESPN.
That’s not good news for a team that already had a rough week. It’s especially not good considering the matchup. The Browns have a strong interior offensive line and will look to get the run game going with Nick Chubb after Christian McCaffrey’s success.
More playing time for Keeanu Benton could be a solution. The rookie had the second-highest grade from PFF among all first-year players in Week 1 and that included a positive run defense grade on all of his qualifying snaps.
Benton saw 29 snaps (43 percent) and more than held his own.
He’s going to have to take on an even bigger role in Week 2 as the Steelers figure out a new rotation without Heyward.
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