Saturday the Steelers will host the Detroit Lions to Heinz Field for the first preseason game of the 2010 season. We have listed below 10 things to look for Saturday heading into the game.
Robo Kickoff Guy? - Daniel Sepulveda was allowed to kickoff last Friday under the lights and reportedly Mike Tomlin was happy with what he saw. Preseason is the perfect time to have a live game battle between Jeff Reed and Sepulveda for the rights to kickoff this year. I hope Robo punter gets a chance to become Robo kickoff specialist. Tomlin said it depends on how many kickoffs they get so hope for a ton of Steelers scoring.
Special Ed Kick Coverages - We look forward to seeing all phases of special teams on Saturday as out is Bob Ligashesky and in is Al Everest as special teams coach. Look for free agent signees Arnaz Battle and Will Allen to be head hunting on coverage teams along with a mix and match of draft picks and undrafted free agents as well. I expect some good tackling out of this bunch. Isaac Redman and Keenan Lewis are others to watch on teams.
Dwyer Caught Up? - Sixth round pick Jonathan Dwyer missed precious camp time early on with hamstring injuries. He has returned to work this past week and by all accounts is turning the corner. He will likely get a ton of work on Saturday and I will be looking for little things like his pad level and blocking in addition to his running ability. I am really rooting for this kid to stick out in this game.
See Troy Run! - I have good sources that Troy Polamalu will indeed play a series or two against Detroit. I have mixed feelings about this and was hoping he would wait until the second game of preseason to get on the field, just so it would give him one more week. Regardless, it will be good to see him running around and testing the knee. I do not need to see splash plays, I just hope he gets his limited work in and gets out by the end of the first quarter. Everyone say your prayers.
Center Of Attention - I want to see Justin Hartwig fight Doug Legursky and the rookie Maurkice Pouncey for his job. Hartwig is coming off of torn labrum surgery in the offseason and might not even play much Saturday. Regardless, if Legursky and Pouncey are the only one\'s in the ring Saturday night, it is still a fight and any split decision will go to the veteran Hartwig. Ndamukong Suh could see time over whoever plays center so that will be fun to watch as well. This could free a huge roster spot, should the Big Legursky or the rookie knock off the reigning starter in an unanimous decision. Pouncey will also play some guard and I suspect Legursky will as well at some point in the game. When I go back over the tape, I will be focused on the center spot the first time through.
Sanders/Brown Unseat Human Pinball? - Sure I will be watching rookie wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown play at the wide receiver position, but I really want to see what either can bring to the return game. Incumbent Stefan Logan is one dimensional and holding another valuable 53 man roster spot. I hope all 3 get shots returning both kickoffs and punts. As it is slated right now Brown will only return punts, Sanders only kickoff returns this week and Logan will likely get to do both.
Urbik & Hills Milk Carton Watch - Not much has been reported on 2009 3rd round draft pick Kraig Urbik other than he has been getting some snaps at center with the 3rd and 4th teams. We were hoping to hear a little better second year progress report. 2008 fourth round draft pick Tony Hills has been getting schooled in practice by the young guys and is now nursing an ankle sprain. There is a chance Hills will not even play as well. Both these guys are on the milk carton and hopefully they show up on Saturday night. If not, they could be just future answers to Steelers trivia questions. Both might get some reps against the Lions top pick Ndamukong Suh so they better be on their toes.
Fullback Watch 2010 - Let\'s see it Bruce. Isaac Redman, David Johnson, Frank Summers, Sean McHugh, Dwayne Wright, Doug Legursky? Can any of these guys keep their shoulders low enough for approval? Is this another Arians Summer mirage or does Bigfoot really exist? We will be watching closely.
Ziggy Hood 2.0 - Evander Ziggy Hood has arrived by all reports and is the talk of training camp. We will be watching his snap count and where all he lines up on Saturday. The 2.0 version of Ziggy Hood will be on full display Saturday night and we can not wait to see it. Watch out, Matthew Stafford.
Ben Fitting In? - We mean two different ways by using the words "fitting in" in relation to Ben Roethlisberger. Will he play first team or second team in the first preseason game and how will he be received by the fans at Heinz Field? How much work can you really give a quarterback that is ensured to miss at least the first 4 games of the season? What if he is ineffective or throws a pick, will he be booed? Will he fit in with the team and be his joking self before the game? Over reaction? Sure it is. We think it will turn out just fine, but it needs to be asked and answered just the same.