Below are seven matchups or things to look for on Sunday as the Steelers host the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night.
2nd Chance For Mendenhall – This is the time for Rashard Mendenhall to show us exactly what he is or isn\’t. This could be the game to establish he belongs not only in the NFL, but as a starter for the Steelers. His last start in 2008 versus the Ravens ended quickly with one hit by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. He will be spelled by Mewelde Moore regardless on third and longs, but a huge game will go a long way on where he stands in the Steelers future. After Sunday night, we should know what we have or do not have in the 2008 1st round draft pick.
Can Carey Davis Solve The Fullback Blues? – It is not like Bruce Arians uses the fullback too much, but David Johnson and Frank Summers did not get it done in the first 3 games combined. Sean McHugh is sorely missed at this point as he was put on injured reserve prior to the season. Davis has been effective in the past, but inconsistent. Merely being a good special teamer is not good enough. Davis needs to blow people up on Sunday night to prove he deserves the roster spot.
Redzone Redman Work? – Pre-season superstar running back Isaac Redman got the call from the bullpen on Saturday with Willie Parker being down this week. It is unclear if he will get the first crack at any short yardage or goal-line work, but if called upon, he must deliver. A stat line Sunday night of 2 carries for 2 yards would be huge if both result in first downs or touchdowns. Rookie free agent running backs do not get many shots, but this could very well be his beginnings of big things to come. Short yardage has not been the same for the Steelers since “The Bus” retired.
Face Me Ike vs Vincent Jackson – Silently, cornerback Ike Taylor is having a Pro-Bowl type season. He has been masterful in shutting down the oppositions number one receiver this season. Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson is having himself a Pro-Bowl like season this year as well. Jackson is quarterback Philip Rivers go-to-guy. If Ike keeps Jackson relatively quiet on Sunday night, the Steelers have a great shot at winning.
Who Has Gates? – Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is not the top tight end in the league anymore, but still demands respect. Either a linebacker or defensive back that draws him on any play must cover him like a blanket. The Steelers could very well use an extra cornerback like Deshea Townsend in certain passing situations to neutralize him.
Rolling On The Rivers – Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will kill coverages if given the time. The Steelers front 7 have yet to show they can consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks all season. Sacks are down this year as well, way down. He must not have time in the pocket and it must be done without using an 8th man in the front.
Reed My Lips, No More Misses – Skippy no missy, anymore. Kicker Jeff Reed is back home now. Does not matter the distance, 32, 42 or 52, these kicks need to be made. He is in a contract year and if he wants to stay a Steeler, he can\’t miss make-able field goals.