Week 1 of the NFL preseason is always just fluff. One series out of the starters, almost no playbook on either side of the ball, and if you are a fan you just pray that everyone comes out healthy. But this is preseason game number 2. It matters more. The image is starting to become clear and decisions about rosters have to be made.
1-The running backs-With Isaac Redman nursing a groin injury and Rashard Mendenhall off the PUP but not quite ready, it’ll be up to guys like Baron Batch, Jonathan Dwyer, Chris Rainey and Will Johnson to carry the load. This is a great shot for a player like Batch to push hard for a roster spot. It’ll also be a nice chance to see if Dwyer, who might be the best pure runner of the group can show he’s healthy.
2-The offensive line-Another group bit by the injury bug. Last week rookie Mike Adams got the start and went from ineffective to injured. So it’s back to the basics. Willie Colon will get the start at LG, and Ramon Foster and Marcus Gilbert will be the starting tackles. Huge chance for Foster to prove himself against the rush OLBs of the Colts.
3-The secondary-Can someone step up? The starting spot opposite veteran Ike Taylor is still wide open, and none of the players on the roster currently seem to want it. And at safety, I want to see some of the young talent on this team like Robert Golden, Ryan Mundy and Myron Rolle can do. This group is growing old in a hurry and some of these young guys need to step up.
4.Who fills in for James Harrison and who is a potential replacement for Larry Foote? With Harrison recovering from a knee injury someone has to start in his spot and this is a perfect situation for a young player like Chris Carter or Adrian Robinson to make a splash. I am rooting for Carter. On the inside, I’d like to see Stevenson Sylvester or even Brandon Johnson get meaningful time over Foote. You know what you get with Foote, why not see if we can get more with another player?
5-Can Jerrod Johnson make either Charlie Batch or Byron Leftwich expendable? I’d prefer if neither were on the team to start the year, but the best I can hope for is that Johnson bumps one or the other. With all the things that Batch does for the Pittsburgh community, I say keep him, send Leftwich walking and park Johnson in the 3 spot. He’s going to get serious extended reps against the Colts and I hope they let him cut loose.
There will be much to be learned from this game. I would love it if Tomlin would give some of these young guys a shot agains the Colts first team defense just to see what they have moving forward. Let’s have a great game, no injuries, and a win for those Steelers!
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