The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Buffalo Bills tonight at Ralph Wilson Stadium and below are 5 key matchups to watch in the Steelers third preseason game of the 2012 season.
Marcus Gilbert Versus Mario Williams – It appears that Mario Williams has been playing on the left side since arriving in Buffalo and not on the right as I originally thought. That means that Marcus Gilbert will the draw the straw of defending the former first overall draft pick. Last week Gilbert started at left tackle to show his position flexibility and now with Max Starks ready to start at left tackle, Gilbert will return to his right tackle spot this week. Williams has been pretty quiet thus far in the preseason and hopefully it remains that way Saturday night.
Chris Carter Versus Cordy Glenn – Chris Carter will make his third consecutive start at right outside linebacker with James Harrison and Jason Worilds still sidelined on the PUP list. Carter will face Bills rookie left tackle Cordy Glenn, who they drafted in the second round this past April. While Carter has played well at times in the first two preseason games, he has yet to record a sack and has been inconsistent at times against the run. This is a game that Carter needs to dominate in during his snaps.
Steelers Interior O-Line Versus Kyle Williams – The last time the big defensive tackle faced the Steelers in 2010 he dominated the interior of the Steelers offensive line. It was mainly left guard Chris Kemoeatu that he got the best of, but he was a disruptive force for most of the game wherever he lined up as he recorded 8 solo tackles and 2 sacks during that game. Saturday night it will be up to the rebuilt interior line combination of Willie Colon, Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro to control Williams as he will switch sides and gaps throughout the game. Look for quite a few double team blocks to be used in an attempt to move the 300 plus pound defensive tackle out of the way.
Steve McLendon Versus Eric Wood – Bills center Eric Wood is coming off of a knee injury and is expected to get extended playing time in this game. On early run downs, Steve McLendon will face the underrated center along with a double team ever now and again, so it should serve as good test for the former undrafted nose tackle out of Troy. McLendon has been disruptive thus far through the first two preseason games, so this should be a good matchup to watch.
Ike Taylor Versus Stevie Johnson – Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson is reportedly fighting through a groin injury, but should play. He should draw cornerback Ike Taylor quite a bit in coverage Saturday night. Johnson caught 7 balls the last time the Bills faced the Steelers in 2010, but he also dropped the game winning touchdown in overtime of that game after getting over the top of Taylor. I am sure he will be reminded about that drop in this game.