12 Steelers Players To Watch Closely In The Preseason Finale

The Pittsburgh Steelers will close out their 2014 preseason schedule Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field and below are several players worth keeping a close eye on in this game.

Darrius Heyward-Bey – After the praise that Heyward-Bey received from head coach Mike Tomlin during his Tuesday press conference, I expect that the former first round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders will be a busy man Thursday night on special teams against the Panthers. After missing the first preseason game with a concussion, Heyward-Bey has logged seven special teams snaps in the last two games. One would think he will see at least that many Thursday night. Look for him to be on all four of the primary units. This is a big game for him.

Brett Keisel – Tomlin said Thursday that he’s going to throw Keisel into the deep end of the pool this week to see just how well he swims. In other words, he wants to see what kind of football shape that the veteran is in after missing all of training camp. How many snaps will Keisel play? More than 25? How will he look during those snaps? I will be watching him closely.

Landry Jones – There’s a good chance that Jones plays the entire game Thursday night like he did last year in the preseason finale and he certainly could stand to use the extra work. Tomlin said Tuesday that he’s looking for “consistent, above-the-line play” out of the former fourth-round draft, who might be headed for the practice squad if he doesn’t deliver just that. It’s time for him to show some long-term upside as this will likely hopefully be the last time we see him play until next year during the preseason.

Howard Jones – Jones really needs a strong showing Thursday night if he expects to make the final 53 man roster. While he has been around the football a lot so far during the preseason, as evidenced by his three fumble recoveries, he really needs to show more on special teams as that’s what is going to decide whether or not he sticks. He should get a lot of playing time in this game.

Josh Mauro – With Cameron Heyward likely to sit this game out, Keisel will start on the right side. After he’s done swimming in the deep end of the pool, Mauro figures to be the next man up. He’s still likely a long shot to make the final 53, but a strong showing certainly won’t hurt his cause.

Justin Brown – Heading into the preseason, Brown seemed like a lock to make the final 53 man roster this year, but after being pretty much invisible in the first three exhibition games, I’m not so sure we can say that right now. Regardless, he needs to stick out in this game of scrubs or else he might just be headed back to practice squad once again.

Nick Williams – With the Steelers releasing Brian Arnfelt this week, I suspect the team is looking hard at Williams to be a member of the practice squad this season. Will he get into the game before Ethan Hemer and Mauro this week? He should play a lot and needs to show long-term upside. He very well could be going up against former Steelers draft pick Chris Scott in this game and that’s one player he should be able to dominate.

David Paulson – Where was Paulson last week on offense? Zero snaps. Count his special teams snaps closely this week as well as it looks like he is outside of the bubble heading into this final preseason game.

Rob Blanchflower – Blanchflower finally got some good burn last week on offense and special teams but it might be too late. Like the aforementioned Williams, he might be getting a good look Thursday night for the practice squad.

Stephen Houston – Could the last running back in be the one that makes the practice squad? Houston and Josh Harris are the only backups left after the cuts this past week and both figure to get a lot of playing time after Cheech and Chong are done.

Will Allen – Oh, hello, Will, glad you could finally re-join the party. Will you be the starting strong safety with Troy Polamalu sitting this game out? Also, will you get burn on special teams in this game? Just how safe is your roster spot?

Jordan Zumwalt – We’re not even sure if Zumwalt is finally over his groin injury. If he is, it’s time for him to show Thursday night that he’s worthy of a practice squad spot. Will Danny Smith even let him play on special teams if he does suit up?

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • treeher

    I’d like to see Gradowski get at least 1 quarter in with first team. Based on history, it would be remarkable if Ben doesn’t miss any time two years in a row.

  • Chad H

    Cheech and Chong. Now that’s funny. Hopefully they will burn it up!

  • Steelers12328882

    Just about everyone I will be watching except Paulson. Could care less about him. I’d replace him with Shaq Richardson, if he even plays. To tell you the truth I don’t care about Will Allen either. He’s old and slow. Replace him with Brad Wing because it’s time to see some consistency with the punting.

  • richheddleson

    Huh?

  • Jacque Strappe

    As for Will Allen, I understand the comfort that Tomlin finds in having him on the roster, but when he keeps Shamarko off the field, I have to wonder what they’re watching. ST makes plays.

  • srdan

    Is Shaq not playing tonight?

  • Steelers12328882

    Huh, what? I’m suggesting 2 replacements for his list of players to watch.

  • steeltown

    Definitely be watching the RBs Houston and Harris, one of these guys will most likely make the practice squad. Also JB and DHB at WR and the other two im really watching are Blanchflower and Richardson. With Mauro, N.Williams and HoJo im starting to think they’ll all end up on the practice squad, looking for a good showing none the less

    And of course, my man Keisel!

  • Pud Pushman

    I agree 100%. Even though wing is the only punter on the team I would put him back at safety instead of Allen. His right leg would be an upgrade over Allen’s

  • steeltown

    Huh?

  • cencalsteeler

    Since we resigned Keisel, I only think its right that you go back to the Keisel avatar for his going out season. Respect!
    I am really high on Houston. I hope my hunch is right, and this guy opens some eyes tonight.

  • cencalsteeler

    I’m with Tomlin on this Wing debate. It’s not as bad as everyone is making it out to be. Sure, there have been a few inconsistencies, but I saw some nice punts that ended up rolling into the endzone. If the coverage team was down the field or the back spin was there, his average would look a lot better. He should be o.k., but I too, will be paying attention to him.

  • steeltown

    Trust me I strongly considered it… it may still happen

  • cencalsteeler

    Make me proud Landry!!!!!!!

  • JohnB

    I wish Shark would get the start over Allen.

  • NW86

    I was going to say the same thing. He has a much better chance of actually playing during the regular season than Landry, and this is his last chance to get game reps until then.

  • NW86

    LOL, the confusion is that you said “replace Allen with Wing” and people were thinking you meant that literally, on the field.
    Folks, he meant, replace Allen with Wing on the “players to watch tonight” list.

  • Craig M

    What about this DE Villanueva, 6’9″ 277? Used to be a WR in school- is he scheduled to play much tonight. Big tall target w/ decent hands- TE material or is that just to far a reach?

  • Nolrog

    I have a feeling they are going to be totally smoking tonight!!

  • Giahead33

    I was thinking that too….i really like Bruce, he’s a good little Qb!!

  • Giahead33

    They’re gonna roll up the grass tonight!!!

  • Chazsteelerfan

    Three yards and a cloud of smoke!

  • Doni609

    Too many ‘ifs’ in that comment! Heck, if Tomlin were 20 years younger and replaced his continuously running mouth with a strong leg and if he didn’t think he was coach then maybe he could kick……..obviously!

  • Steelers12328882

    One is too many?

  • Steelers12328882

    Huh?

  • cencalsteeler

    Doni, you need a hug,……obviously!

  • steeltown

    I think he’s still on the streets

  • joed32

    I’ve been looking forward to seeing him but he seems to be still injured.

  • Weiss Chad

    We haven’t signed him as of yet to my knowledge anyway

  • http://www.nyob.com/ Dr. Doom

    Dave-Cheech & Chong and what the hell went wrong. lol

  • GoSteelerz

    This was whole conversation was pretty funny!!!! I was confused myself until NW86 set me straight!!!! LOL :D

  • GoSteelerz

    We already know what Will Allen can and can’t do, let these other guys like Shark finally get some reps!!!! Gosh, this frustrates me to no end!!!!

  • John Fraraccio

    I had purposely refrained from nicknaming the gents in question…THEY weren’t funny…but now I yield to the superior label.

  • Craig M

    But steeltown, do you think because of his size, history of once being a WR, apparent ability to handle blocking as a DE it’s to far a reach for him changing over to TE?

  • Craig M

    Probably just young immature rich guys simply acting irresponsible, I would hate to tell you the stuff I pulled when young, and I wasn’t even well off.

  • Luis Garcia

    Will be high on CiGarrete and LeRoll

  • Milliken Steeler

    Huh?

  • Luis Garcia

    Gotcha, so NW86 was the only one to get Steelers12328882… Brad, Harris. Swann and Stallworth!

  • steeltown

    He’s capable of catching passes and obviously he’s thrown his weight around upfront, so yea I think he could.

  • Jim Foles

    Zumwalt wont make our PS. he will be nabbed. He showed he can play hard .. someone will steal him. he forced the fumble for hojo too. plus covered the backfield east and west just fine. we will cry for years if we lose him..

  • SteelersDepot

    he has played 25 snaps so far. nobody is going to claim him.

  • Jim Foles

    kinda like spence played o nfl games so far. like arnfelt last year made the 53. JZ may make the 53 if spence is on the ir/pup. how did spence’s tear dissapear so quickly? i like spence but his knees may not help him stay on the team much longer. i like upside, smarts, effort and hitting, JZ has that.

  • Jim Foles

    swap out landry with connor shaw if he is released.

  • SteelersDepot

    Spence can’t go on PUP as he is not eligible. Spence has played zero games because he had a torn up knee. It will take a minor act of god for Zumwalt to make 53. Accept that. Also arnfelt was promoted to 53 late last season because of injuries on d-line. where is he now?

  • Jim Foles

    we draft guys for upgrades, he is an upgrade.

  • SteelersDepot

    ha. check back here when he is waived on Saturday.

  • Weiss Chad

    Hopefully our backfield Harold and kumar don’t take another trip to white castle this week