By Alex Kozora
A couple of points of interest for tonight’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles.
Running Back Opportunities
LeGarrette Blount traveling with the team is a sign he will play but it is not a guarantee. If he doesn’t suit up, how will the workload be split up? And who will play on obvious passing situations? Le’Veon Bell is the only blocker and receiver out of the backfield. With Tauren Poole and Will Johnson questionable, this could be a major opportunity for someone like Josh Harris to get some quality playing time with the first team offense, working only behind Dri Archer.
Needless to say, it’ll be extremely disappointing if the Steelers are without their top two backs in the traditional “tune up” game of the preseason.
Depth Chart Clarity
As much as we do talk about it, it’s sometimes difficult to get a solid read into the pecking order based on the first two games. Sometimes, coaches will rotate guys and see how they respond with different groups. By the third game, the dust begins to settle.
That goes for special teams too. Whoever runs with the first team this week are players the Steelers want to see Week One. Pay attention to those units, too.
Speed Versus Speed
The Steelers’ defense has been lauded for how fast it is. Its first true test of that will come tonight against the Eagles’ offense. One that will spread you out and put you in some uncomfortable matchups. And uses enough misdirection that will probably get the Steelers out of position once or twice, testing their recovery speed. Let’s watch Mike Mitchell take the correct angle to track down Lesean McCoy to prevent a big run. Let’s watch Ryan Shazier run down the seam with Zach Ertz. That’s a lot different than Scott Chandler.
The first starting left tackle the Steelers have faced this year. And Peters is one of the better ones. It’s great news that Jarvis Jones is expected to play. Now let’s see if he can excel in a difficult matchup. A nice litmus test to see what kind of progress Jones really has made from year one to year two.
Impact Plays Wanted
Specifically, from Justin Brown and Cortez Allen. Obviously, both of their roster spots are safe and neither have had bad training camps. But a splash play tomorrow would calm any nerves some Steelers’ fans may harbor.
No Huddle on the Road
I wouldn’t expect to see it as much as we did Saturday but I’d hope to see Ben Roethlisberger get the chance to run no huddle on at least one series. It’s much more difficult to use on the road and is consequently run less, but isn’t something that should completely be taken off the table. Tomorrow is the first opportunity to take it for a spin on the road and learn from any mistakes that occur.
On the Bubble
This is the final showcase before the first round of fifteen cuts will have to be made. Players sitting on that bubble – Jordan Hall, Kashif Moore, and Ethan Hemer are just a few that come to mind – can attempt to keep their NFL careers alive. They may still wind up getting cut in the end, but staving off that pink slip one more game will allow them to add a little more to their reel. Chances will be plenty for the backups in the final preseason game.