Steelers-Panthers: What to watch for...
September 2, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode
BLEEDING BLACK AND GOLD...
Three things to look for in tonight’s Steelers preseason final vs. the Panthers:
As you all know, the Steelers have been one of the worst short-yardage teams in the history of organized football since Jerome Bettis retired. In the offseason, there was plenty of hand wringing and lip service about the situation and the need to return to “Steelers football.” But we haven’t seen the slightest indication this preseason that the Steelers are any more equipped to convert a 4th-and-inches or goal line situation than they were the past two years. Jonathan Dwyer is this year’s short-yardage candidate and he’ll likely get a long look tonight.
Roster spot fights
There are probably six roster spots at stake (some more at stake than others): Antonio Brown vs. Stefan Logan for the WR/KR spot; Jonathan Dwyer vs. Isaac Redman at RB; Doug Legursky vs. Kraig Urbik on the O line; Doug Worthington vs. Sunny Harris on the D line; Stevenson Sylvester vs. Patrick Bailey at LB/special teams; Crezdon Butler vs. Anthony Madison at DB/special teams. Of course, keep an eye out for the dreaded final-preseason-game phantom injury.
Oh yeah, that quarterback position
We really didn’t have as much issue with the quarterback situation in Denver as most people did (partially because we think Mike Tomlin already knows he’s starting Byron Leftwich in the season opener). This will be Ben Roethlisberger’s only chance to work with guys like Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown in game situations. Dennis Dixon deserved his shot and there’s no way going in you could have game planned for him to fail as spectacularly as he did. Ditto the situation with Leftwich facing constant pressure. You don’t go into a game thinking “we can’t use this guy in this spot because our offensive line is terrible.” We expect to see all four QBs tonight: Roethlisberger in a first-quarter cameo with Dixon finishing the half and then Leftwich in a third-quarter cameo with CBatch bringing it home.