The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday night at Heinz Field in their third preseason game of the season and below are eleven things to look for during the game.
Working With A Plan – Head coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger both have admitted that there was no game plan used in the first two preseason games. Saturday night against the Chiefs that will change as the team will use their third preseason game as a tune up for the regular season. In other words, we better see the first-team offense score some touchdowns and stop saving them for the regular season like Roethlisberger joked this past week.
Ready Man – According to Tomlin, Isaac Redman will get the nod this week at running back if he is fully recovered from the stinger that forced him to miss the second preseason game Monday night against the Washington Redskins. So far he has carried the ball just twice during the preseason, so I suspect he will get plenty of work in the first half.
Tez Time – All signs point to cornerback Cortez Allen seeing his first action of the preseason Saturday night. Allen needed minor knee surgery just shortly after training camp got underway, so hopefully he can knock the rust off quickly and get himself reacclimated to the speed of the game without having a setback.
Show Us A Johnson – Like Allen, tight end David Johnson is scheduled to play Saturday night and it will be his first game action since injuring his knee over a year ago. Johnson was removed from the PUP list this past week and the Steelers really need him to show he has what it takes to be a reliable in-line tight end until both Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth are ready to play.
Pouncing Back – Center Maurkice Pouncey has looked nothing like a Pro Bowl player during the first two preseason games and last week against the Redskins, nose tackle Barry Cofield had his way with him. Against the Chiefs, Pouncey will be expected to handle nose tackle Dontari Poe with ease. If he doesn\’t, it might be time to get worried.
Flight Of The Felix? – I am not sure if newly acquired running back Felix Jones will even play Monday night being as he just joined the team on Friday, but you can bet that every move he makes will be scrutinized closely if he does. If he should only return kickoffs, it might be a sign that LaRod Stephens-Howling will be down a while with his knee problem if he winds up not dressing for the game.
Milk Carton Carter – In the first two preseason games, third-year outside linebacker Chris Carter has registered just one tackle in the 42 snaps he\’s played. When you consider the fact he\’s yet to hit the stat sheet on special teams, you have to wonder just how safe his roster spot is right now. If anyone needs to have a standout game against the Chiefs, it\’s him.
Tackling The Problems – Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert are running out of snaps that don\’t count, so we must see a better showing from the young tackles against the Chiefs. They figure to get a good workout as Justin Houston and Tamba Hali both know how to get after the quarterback.
Can The Butler Do It? – I currently have Drew Butler slightly ahead of Brian Moorman in the punter battle, but he must finish off the veteran Saturday night with a strong showing.
Anybody Special? – Time is running out for several players, but there is probably at least one roster spot that can be locked up Saturday night by a player on the bubble with strong play on special teams.
Win! – Tomlin said it best Saturday morning. “Winning is something that we do. Whether it’s preseason or the regular season, when you step into stadiums you measure your performance largely on your ability to out-score your opponent. That’s the bottom line. There are many things we’re looking for in a preseason-like circumstance – the evaluation of talent, the stacking or the division of labor – but ultimately the thing that never leaves the equation is doing what’s required to win football games.”