Today is the day where we get as close to look at what the real thing is as we are going to get. Everyone knows that the third preseason game is pretty much the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. The Steelers are pretty much going to play their starters for the first half and then I am assuming they are going from there to see what happens. If the starters look good they will yank them, if they look shaky in some spots then they will keep them in for a series or two in the second half.
We will keep with the tradition with going over things you should watch for. Here is what I am looking for:
1) Dennis Dixon playing with the first team. DD is going to get his first chance since last season’s Raven’s road game where the Steelers lost by three. DD has played really well so far in this preseason and has truly earned his chance to play with the first team and a chance to get into the regular season as a QB. Sure, maybe Byron Leftwhich is going to start as the QB of the Pittsburgh Steelers on paper, but if Dennis continues to play well there is a shorter leash for Byron to play at a below average level. Maybe this means that DD will get more of a chance to get on the field, but he has shown enough to Mike Tomlin to get on the field and that makes me feel good, because I trust what HCMT says because he is the man.
2) The Offensive line: This seems like something that goes on every week, but I guess it is something you have to look for. Markice Pouncey has pretty much been anointed the starting center so it should be interesting to see how he plays another game knowing he is going to be the man. The Steelers drafted him as a center so that is where he should play, I know Justin Hartwig isn’t too fond of it, but you know what, put up or shut up. Simple as that. It will also be interesting to see how Flo Adams plays after a few subpar games. I know after the last preseason game he said that things were still coming along (as far as learning right tackle) but they were getting better every game. That is good to hear. Hopefully it comes quicker for the QB’s sake.
3) Secondary: Keenan Lewis has been playing a lot during the preseason and during practice on the first team. Bryant McFadden was brought in to be the start CB opposite of Ike Taylor, but it is starting to look like that Lewis might press for some PT in McFaddens place. Sure Lewis has been on the first team while McFadden was out in practice but he has looked pretty good so far in the preseason and it will be interesting to see how he is going to play. Joe Burnett has also played well so we will see if he can continue that and make the team.
4) Return game: From the last I hear Emmanuel Sanders is going to take kickoffs in the first half and Stef Logan is going to take the kick/punt returning duties in the second half. Personally I think this is the end of the road for Stef Logan. He was great for the Steelers last year, but just keeping him on as a ST player is just wasting a roster spot. Sanders can return kicks and play some pretty decent receiver (from what we have seen so far) so that would make him a better player for that spot due to him being able to actually play a position other than kick returner. If Logan makes some things happen (it has to be big) then he might have a chace, but if not he is almost likely cut. That is how it works.
5) Running backs? Who is going to make the team as the fourth running back? We all know Mendy and MeMo is going to make the team, we are pretty sure that Isaac Redman is going to make the team, but who else is going to push for a spot. There are some players in the game and some things need to shake out, but someone needs to step up. Redman stepped up last year and didn’t make the team, but it made him better and he is back with a vengeance this year and is going to make the team and push for PT every Sunday. If that is what it takes then I am ok with it
Those are just a few things to look for. Should be an interesting game.
Here We Go.