Steelers Versus Panthers: 11 Things To Look For Thursday Night

The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Carolina Panthers Thursday night in their preseason finale and below are eleven things to look for during the game.

Jones I – Rookie quarterback Landry Jones figures to get a ton of playing time against the Panthers, and it will likely be the last time he sees the field until next preseason. The Oklahoma product has looked pretty shaky at times so far, and the hope is that he can at least get the arrow pointing in the right direction Thursday night.

Jones IIFelix Jones has now had a full week to absorb the play book, and we should get to see quite a bit of him against the Panthers as a result. In addition to playing at running back, Jones very well could get a few more chances as a kick returner. Should the Steelers ultimately decide to carry four running backs and one fullback to start the season, Jones will need to show Thursday night that he is worth more to the team than Jonathan Dwyer.

By a Nose – One would think the Steelers will keep either Alameda Ta’amu or Hebron Fangupo on the 53 man roster, so both now have one last chance to state their case as to why they should be kept. Fangupo might be ahead on the depth chart, but Ta’amu has outplayed him, in my opinion.

Mr. Wilson – When the Steelers signed Kion Wilson to a futures contract early in the offseason, I would have bet my house that he wouldn’t make the 53 man roster. Now, with one preseason game left to be played, Wilson appears to be one of just a few players who special teams coordinator Danny Smith will insist on having. Watch him close Saturday night.

Dunn Done? – Return specialist Reggie Dunn injured a shoulder in the game against the Kansas City Chiefs, and he missed some practice time this past week as a result. While his chances of making the roster are still slim, they will get even slimmer if he doesn’t play against the Panthers.

Where’s Carter? – If the Steelers didn’t lack experienced depth at the outside linebacker position, then Chris Carter might have been sent packing last week. He might very well wind up making the roster by default, so it would be nice if he actually started showing something on defense.

Return Of The Hyphen? – Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling put on a show in the preseason opener against the New York Giants, but a knee injury has forced him to miss the last two games. If he doesn’t play against the Panthers, then it might be time to question his availability for the start of the season and possibly even his roster spot.

Beachum Finally The Center Of Attention? – Is this the week that we finally get to see Kelvin Beachum play center or will Mike Tomlin want to see him play quarterback first. Enough is enough. Let the man get in some work over the football early before he has to play left tackle.

Butler Versus Moorman IV – This punter battle sure must be too close to call. Brian Moorman got off to a good start, but Drew Butler might actually be ahead right now. Could one shank Thursday night result in a knockout?

Moye, Double Moye – Has Derek Moye really outplayed rookie Justin Brown? It sure seems that way, but I don’t think this battle is over quite yet. A roster spot is on the line so expect to see quite a bit of these two with Jones at quarterback. The loser likely goes to the practice squad next week.

Get Your Johnson Ready – The Steelers used the game last week against the Chiefs to knock the rust off of tight end David Johnson, who had just been removed from the PUP list. This week against the Panthers I expect he will get more than the nine snaps he received last week as the team really needs to see if he is over his knee injury.

  • Nolrog

    The best part about the 4th pre-season game is that it means the regular season is almost here! Other than that, I hope we see no injuries.

  • Matt Smith

    My Johnson is always ready.

  • steeltown

    Agreed on all fronts.. I’ll be watching the same

    I’d add the overall play of Joe Long to the list

    I’m excited to see more of Felix Jones, he represented himself well last week with no practice time. Also, the NT battle is interesting I agree I think Ta’amu has played better than Fang even though he’s listed behind him on the depth chart.. and of course the Moye/Brown and the ILB battle will be decided TONIGHT

  • Shea Fahr

    Exactly. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited to actually watch the 4th preseason game..we may even win this one.

  • Marcus

    I really hope the Howling injury isn’t serious. He looked really solid, and looked like he could be more than just a 3rd down back. The Jones signing makes you wonder how serious his injury really is.

    It’s funny how preseason games seem to sort things out. All training camp we heard how impressive Pulson was. His blocking is such a liability though, and I for one am glad to have D.Johnson back. If W. Johnson wasn’t such an over achiever, D. Johnson would be a really solid FB. It’s pretty clear they trust is there with D.Johnson and not Puslon. Pulson is close, but he still isn’t ready.

  • Mkeller

    If the Steelers keep (9) LB’s I’d prefer they kept (5) OLB’s. Not a fan of Carter but he is the only experienced OLB with a shot at the team and I think Baxter has too much upside to expose on the PS. It would be nice to keep Rolle or especially Wilson at ILB (assuming Williams is the 4th guy) but I like Baxters upside the best. I just can’t see Tomlin keeping (2) rookie OLB’s as the primary back-ups. One thought…if Jarvis has actually won the starting spot over Worilds then they already have an experienced back-up at OLB in Worilds. In that scenario… long Carter and welcome aboard Baxter and Wilson.

  • William Maloni

    How about, “So long, Worlds?”
    Keep the kids and drop the underachievers.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I am getting excited. Yes I live in Charlotte and will have coverage that is all about the Panthers, but still….it is 1 game with roster spots on the line. Got to love it!

  • HarryC15

    I live down here as well, and got tickets to the game from a friend. Can’t wait to see these guys fight for roster spots! Please no injuries!

  • Jeff Johnson

    I’ll be watching the o-linemen also to see which one or one’s can step up and prove themselves

  • Jeff Johnson

    The young LB battle will be fun to watch tonight

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Have fun! I am moving this weekend, so my night and tomorrow will be spent packing boxes.

  • steeltown

    So you are saying keep Carter over Worilds?…that’s laughable

  • Matthew Marczi

    LSH is expected to play tonight I believe.

  • Matthew Marczi

    The Steelers’ primary backups at OLB in 2010 were Worilds and Thaddeus Gibson, and after they released Gibson, Stevenson Sylvester, so they are not averse to having rookies as backups.

  • William Maloni

    He’s not produced much for a second round draft pick and I doubt their season rise and falls based on his output.
    He might also fetch something in trade from a LB-deficient team and, likely, you can find a better adjective than laughable.