Steelers vs Bills – What I’m Watching For On Offense

The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to take on the Buffalo Bills, with whom they’ve gotten intimately familiar over two days of practice, later today in their second preseason game. Before we get there, here are some of the things that I will be focusing on in game two in response what we’ve previously seen on the offensive side of the ball.

For starters, the Steelers will be taking on a 4-3 defensive front for the second time in two weeks. But this time they’ve gotten the opportunity to get some practice reps going up against that four-man front.

They only practice against their own 3-4 front during normal circumstances. I don’t know how exactly I would be able to quantify it, but it would be interesting to know whether the practice reps against the Bills’ front helped them in the game. This will likely be of greater concern for the second-team offensive line.

Last week, Justin Brown received playing time with all different groups of receivers, even lining up outside across from Antonio Brown for a couple snaps. He lined up wide and in the slot, but will he be a target for Ben Roethlisberger this week? He only threw two passes in his first appearance on the Steelers’ opening drive.

Also pertaining to the wide receiver position, where will Darrius Heyward-Bey feature in the pecking order? Derek Moye was essentially the second-team outside receiver along with Brown a week ago, but he has been fluctuating between groups of receivers throughout camp.

To get more general, it sounds as though Martavis Bryant put in some good work in practice this past week. It should be telling to see where these three receivers fall in the pecking order, but I will be especially interested to see where Heyward-Bey lands because of the time that he missed with a concussion.

Do Cody Wallace and Guy Whimper get any reps at guard this week? In order for Wallace to be able to play guard, that might require asking rookie Wesley Johnson to play center with the second-team offensive line. Meanwhile, I’m not sure how much if any time Whimper has gotten at guard, but that may be by design if the coaches want to leave him at tackle.

The backup quarterbacks had some shaky performances a week ago. Can they look sharper this week? Bruce Gradkowski had two overthrows in particular that stuck out like a sore thumb, one of which could have gone for a touchdown to Matt Spaeth. Landry Jones also struggled to place the ball well for his receivers, even if they should have been able to come own with some of them.

Rob Blanchflower has received some accolades this week, according to certain reporters. Can he start to make a move on David Paulson as the third tight end? Or is Michael Palmer still the third tight end, as per the depth chart? The reserve tight ends only received 11 snaps between them last week. We need a larger sample size than that to gain anything of interest.

And the eternal question: is there a fourth running back worthy of the roster spot? Tauren Poole? Miguel Maysonet? Josh Harris? Maysonet may have been the best of a poor showing for the group last week with his two receptions. But I’m waiting to see one of them make a move. If none of them do, none of them need to take up a roster spot.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • steeltown

    I think more than anything im hoping the 2nd Team OL has a better performance, hopefully Wallace gets some reps at OG and Adams doesn’t completely regress. Also, hoping Wes Johnson has s good showing.

  • dkoy85

    All those mentioned and I’m interested to see if Archer has another splash play and again how he runs between the tackles.

  • sweetleb

    I would like to see the first team offense score 2 td’s, and all the d-starters play and gets some turnovers. also no players get hurt.

  • John Hinton

    I agree with everything said here especially the last part…”no players get hurt.”

  • cencalsteeler

    I’d like to see the first team start putting it in the endzone. This settling for field goals is becoming the norm. After watching Wilson’s performance last night with Seattle, it’s time for our O to start stepping on the peddle and put up some 7’s.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/JohnnyLoose Johnny Loose

    I see what you mean but Ben only was in for one drive. Not only that, once they got to the red zone, the play calling was more than likely vanilla. No need to try and run up the score board in preseason.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/JohnnyLoose Johnny Loose

    I want to see steady improvement for the o-line and the offense punch it in the endzone. And everything else that was mentioned.

  • cencalsteeler

    True Johnny, but that’s something that has been haunting us in the past, settling for field goals. I give a pass last week, but with the starting O getting more reps today, it’s something I’d like them to start addressing. It needs to become second nature to score 6, as opposed to us being used to seeing Suisham trot out for a fg. The teams that are predicted to make playoff runs this year- Seahawks scored 41, NO scored 31, Pats scored 42, in week 2, respectfully. If we want to contend, we need our O to start producing those kind of numbers.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/JohnnyLoose Johnny Loose

    I agree 100%