The Miami Dolphins visit the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight in the Week 8 finale on Monday Night Football. The game features two teams looking to right the ship, with Miami, currently 0-6 on the season, looking for their first win and Pittsburgh trying to climb back toward .500 after a 2-4 start to the year.
While the focus for the game will be on the players with the recognizable names for each squad - players like Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Pittsburgh running back James Conner - it could be the players no one discusses who are the difference makers in tonight’s game.
For the Dolphins the player who could have an impact is tight end Mike Gesicki. He will be interesting to watch tonight. After a slow rookie season - which is not unusual for tight ends but had fans calling him a bust - he is starting to show up now. Coming into the league, the knock on him was his inability to block. What did Adam Gase ask him to do last year? Block. And block. And block. Now, under Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea, they are starting to use him up the seam and he is making some good catches. He is not dominating yet, and he is not the redzone target you would want him to be yet, but he is starting to show up and that is a great start.
As for the Steelers’ unknown player, I turned to Jeff Hartman from Behind the Steel Curtain, SB Nation’s Steelers team site, to get an idea of who it could be.
When looking at the Steelers’ roster, the one player who could have an impact on this game that no one is talking about is backup OLB Ola Adeniyi. Adeniyi is a second year pass rusher, and is very good at just that, rushing the passer. Where he struggles is in the other aspects of the position, especially coverage. With T.J. Watt nursing a sore abdomen, and Anthony Chickillo now on the NFL’s Commissioner’s Exempt List, Adeniyi is the next man up and will see significant reps even if Watt does play. He could certainly be a factor coming off the edge getting after Ryan Fitzpatrick.
We will be back later today with predictions from both Hartman and me for tonight’s game.