The Pittsburgh Steelers are about to play their first competitive game since January when they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday night.  It’s the first of three preseason games on the schedule.  Here are seven Steelers players to keep a close eye on in this game.  Each has a lot to gain or lose, and each could have a significant impact on the 2023 season:

1.  Anthony McFarland:

Anthony McFarland is having himself a camp so far.  He has all but locked up the third running back spot on this roster.  His dynamic play making ability make him a potential important part of this offense in 2023.  The Steelers have been using him in a variety of ways in training camp.  McFarland’s ability as a receiver out of the backfield is the most intriguing.  We’d like to see lots of this come Friday night.

2. Nick Herbig:

The assumption was that Nick Herbig was just too small to play outside linebacker in the NFL.  Most assumed he’d be moved inside sooner rather than later.  He has proven us all wrong by showcasing a variety of pass rush moves so far in camp.  We will be interested to see how he holds up against the run versus Tampa.  If Herbig passes that test, we may have a bonafide edge rusher on our hands here.

3. Hakeem Butler:

Hakeem Butler’s athletic profile is so tantalizing.  We’re talking about a 6’5”, 230 pound man with sub 4.5 speed.  Drops and inconsistency have been his biggest drawback.  If he can put it all together the Steelers will really have something here.  Here’s a little taste of what Hakeem Butler is capable of from Tuesday’s practice:

4.  Luq Barcoo/Madre Harper

One of these two corners may just beat out James Pierre for the 4th corner position.  Both are tall, long, and athletic just like the Steelers seem to prefer nowadays.  This should be a great battle right down to the wire this off-season.  We had Barcoo making the team in our 53 man roster position prediction: Steelers 53 man roster prediction 2.0: Still too early edition

5.  Calvin Austin:

There is perhaps no more important player to the Steelers offensive success short of Kenny Pickett.  Calvin Austin’s speed, and big play ability will be key to opening up this offense.  If Austin can stay healthy in 2023, this offense could be extremely dangerous.

6. Kendrick Green

Yes, you read that right….Kendrick Green.  His switch to fullback is the most interesting storyline coming out of Steelers training camp.  We can not wait to see this in a real game situation.

7. Kenny Robinson

Kenny Robinson has been one of the surprises of camp.  A virtual unknown coming in, Robinson has been busy carving out a spot on this roster.  The backup free safety is up for grabs, and he is making himself a major factor for that job.