We have already reviewed six Pittsburgh Steelers defensive players to keep your eyes on Saturday night during their preseason opener against the New York Giants and now it is time to look at six offensive players on the roster bubble, that in my opinion, have the most to gain or lose.
Baron Batch – Handling former Steelers linebacker James Harrison once during a backs on backers drill will only take you so far and the former seventh-round draft pick figures to be on the outside of the bubble right now in his attempt to make the 53 man roster in 2013. Batch reportedly hasn\’t had a great camp thus far, so he must take a few giant strides during the preseason. We know Batch can pass protect and play special teams, but can he run inside the tackles and read his blocks better than he did last year? Time is running out for him.
Joe Long – We are not yet sure if veteran tackle Guy Whimper will play Saturday night after having to leave the field Thursday during practice. The Steelers already have six offensive linemen that are locks and John Malecki figures to be the seventh. Being as the Steelers figure to keep only eight in total, they could use a tackle that can play both sides in case of an emergency. Long could wind up getting time at both tackle spots Saturday night to show he can be a reserve swing tackle with a little upside. We already know Whimper can\’t play on the left.
Jamie McCoy – Depending on how long Heath Miller, David Johnson and Matt Spaeth are all sidelined for, McCoy very well could find himself on the 53 man roster to start the season. The Steelers will likely ask him to do it all Saturday night, so that means he will play as an inline tight end, fullback and h-back. In addition, a backup tight end is usually asked to be a big contributor on special teams, so look for him on several of the units as well. The Steelers claimed veteran Michael Palmer off waivers on Thursday, but McCoy figures to be first up against the Giants after David Paulson and Will Johnson are done for the night.
Justin Brown – Now that Plaxico Burress will most likely be out for the season, Brown, one of two sixth-round draft picks back in April, figures to be in a three man race with Derek Moye and David Gilreath for the fifth wide receiver spot on the 53 man roster. Brown has had an even, if not strong, start to training camp and he could even get a chance to return a punt or two Saturday night. While he figures to get work with the third team quarterback, he should see plenty of action on offense and he needs to show how willing and able he is as a run blocker.
David Gilreath – Gilreath entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2011, so his time is running out. He flashed some late in the preseason last year with the Steelers and now it is time for him to flash a lot. Being as he might not be in the running for any of the return duties, Gilreath needs to make a big impact on special team if he is going to beat out Brown. His upside is very limited and that is working against him.
Derek Moye – Moye, like Brown, seems to be having a good camp so far. Like Gilreath, however, he is not known to be a special teams warrior. Now that Burress is no longer in the picture, special teams play will be expected out of the fifth wide receiver. Are his days of dropping passes behind him?