Dwayne Haskins engineered six scoring drives during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first two preseason games. Four of those drives took place in the Steelers’ 24-16 win over the Eagles last Thursday night, as Haskins went 16 of 22 for 161 yards and a touchdown while strengthening his case to supplant Mason Rudolph as the team’s No. 2 quarterback.
While he has played well against backups, Haskins has yet to start a preseason game for the Steelers. He won’t do so this week, as Ben Roethlisberger is slated to make his preseason debut Saturday against the visiting Lions. Haskins did, however, get a chance to run a two-minute drill with the Steelers’ first team offense during Sunday’s training camp practice. The drive resulted in a touchdown, as Haskins found receiver Chase Claypool in the left corner of the end zone. Earlier in the drive, Haskins completed a fourth down pass to receiver Diontae Johnson, who was covered by Steelers starting strong safety Terrell Edmunds.
Haskins’ success did not come without a missed opportunity by the Steelers’ defense. Earlier in the drive, Haskins completed a pass to tight end Pat Freiermuth that initially hit the hands of cornerback Cam Sutton. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin called the play a teachable moment for his defense, which has forced five turnovers so far during the exhibition season.
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“The defense had an interception in its hands and didn’t finish the play,” Tomlin said, via Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider. “You just can’t give signal callers another shot at you. That was the lesson from that period. Obviously, (Haskins) went on and produced a scoring drive, but when the defense gets its hands on the ball, we’ve got to close it out. That’s the lesson to be learned from that segment of work today.”
Tomlin, perhaps in an attempt to not fan the flame as it relates to the growing narrative surrounding Haskins, kept his response short and sweet when asked about Haskins’ showing with the first team offense.
“We’re trying to teach as much as we can,” Tomlin said, “and the best way to teach is to get him in competitive situations.”
Rudolph, who has yet to engineer a scoring drive during the preseason, led the second team offense to a touchdown during his two-minute drill. He capped the drive with a touchdown pass to Anthony Johnson, who was on the receiving end of a touchdown pass from Haskins during last Thursday night’s win over the Eagles.
Look for Tomlin to possibly reveal his quarterback order for Saturday behind Roethlisberger during his weekly Tuesday press conference. If Haskins does get a start during the preseason, it would be for the Steelers’ preseason finale against the Panthers on August 27. Regardless, it appears that Haskins is currently on track to — at the least — make the Steelers’ 53-man roster, something that was anything but a given at the start of training camp.
“[Last Thursday] was probably the most fun I’ve had since I came in the league,” said Haskins, who added that he certainly wouldn’t mind getting live reps with the first team offense before the end of the preseason. “As a competitor, of course, you want to get with the guys that make the plays. I do a great job of listening to Ben and having conversations with the starting receivers, getting to know what they like and how they see the field. If that happens, I just want to be ready for it. … I feel like I have a great relationship and chemistry with all of the receivers, but if I get an opportunity, I want to make the most of it.”