Taking their calculated shots when opportunity knocks

ATLANTA - After further review …

PLANS CONFIRMED: Any doubt regarding the Steelers' intentions to test secondaries willing to cover their outside wide receivers 1-on-1 this season was seemingly erased in the preseason finale.

The play-by-play sheet passed out in press boxes at NFL games confirmed as much, particularly the entry that chronicled the Steelers' possession that began with 7:44 left in the fourth quarter.

It included the following:

"3-6-PIT 20 (6:26) (Shotgun) M.Rudolph pass incomplete deep left to A.Cruickshank."

That's a deep ball from the third-string quarterback (Mason Rudolph) to a wide receiver (Aron Cruickshank) so new to the team he wasn't included on the flip card handed out to the media that contains the rosters and depth charts for each team in the latter stages of a preseason game the Steelers were winning by 24 points.

It played out that way by design on Thursday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Steelers wasted little time attacking in such a fashion.

Starting quarterback Kenny Pickett's second pass of the game went for 33 yards to wide receiver Diontae Johnson on third-and-5 from the Steelers' 13-yard line.

Four plays later Pickett hooked up with wide receiver George Pickens for 35 yards to the Atlanta 1.

"Yeah, just seeing those guys 1-on-1, I'm always going to give them a chance," Pickett maintained after the Steelers' 24-0 triumph. "They're both great players, really talented guys.

"I want to make sure I do my part and put the ball out there for them and then they do the rest."

In between Pickett and Rudolph launching deep balls down the sidelines against single-coverage, Mitch Trubisky tried wide receiver Gunner Olszewski twice in such situations.

One fell incomplete but one resulted in a 32-yard penalty for defensive pass interference.

Even fourth-string QB Tanner Morgan got into the act. He lobbed a ball down the sideline and into the end zone on fourth-and-10 from the Atlanta 22 with 1:54 remaining.

Cruickshank went up and caught it but came down out of bounds.

Head coach Mike Tomlin will be anticipating more of the same when the regular season commences.

"We've done it in practice," he said. "I expect to see it in stadiums."

HARRIS HEARD FROM: Running back Najee Harris was active early after being kept almost entirely under wraps in the first two preseason games.

His four rushes for 18 yards included a 12-yard burst and a 1-yard touchdown run.

He also turned a screen pass into a 16-yard gain.

Harris had carried twice for 6 yards and caught one pass for a loss of 1 yard in his first two preseason efforts.

What he did against the Falcons was enough to whet Pickett's appetite.

"He's going to be ready to go for the season," Pickett insisted. "He's going to be fresh.

"He does a lot of great things. I'm excited to be back there with No. 22 again this year."

THREE FOR THE SHOW: The Falcons had five possessions in the first half and the Steelers countered with three different combinations at inside linebacker at the outset of defensive series.

Initially, it was Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts at the position. Then it was Holcomb and Kwon Alexander, and then Roberts and Alexander.

And then the cycle repeated.

"I just feel like the whole room is playing good off each other," Roberts said. "We just have to keep that going."

THE STREAK CONTINUES: Rookie outside linebacker Nick Herbig had at least one sack for the third time in three preseason tries, one of five registered by the Steelers against the Falcons.

Herbig accounted for 3.5 sacks in August.

POSITION FLEXIBILITY: Kendrick Green started at right guard in place of James Daniels and moved to center in the second quarter when the Steelers began their fourth offensive series.

Dan Moore Jr. started at left tackle and then moved to right tackle for one drive when rookie Broderick Jones entered the game late in the first quarter at the outset of the Steelers' third possession.

Rookie Spencer Anderson played left guard and right tackle.

First-year pro Dylan Cook played left guard and right tackle.

Second-year pro Ryan McCollum played center and right guard.

"Largely, I thought we got hats on hats," Tomlin said. "There wasn't a bunch of unblocked guys. When you're moving people around and mixing and matching groups that's always a concern.

"I just think that's encouraging."