Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 things to Expect in First Preseason Game

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Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Things to Expect in First Preseason Game

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

On the day of the first Pittsburgh Steelers game in seven months, excitement runs through the steel city. Pittsburgh will take on the New York Giants in their preseason opener Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EST, and can be viewed on NFL Network. With a feeling similar to a kid on Christmas morning, die hard spectators of the black and gold will flock to Heinz Field to watch their beloved Steelers in action once again. As a fan waiting for the game, what can you really expect to see Saturday evening?

The preseason is used for many things. For fans, it’s a way to see their favorite players in action and a chance to get back to watching the sport they have a burning passion for. As for players, it’s a way to release all the pressure from training camp and smack around someone other than themselves. In addition, players also use this time as a transitional period to prepare for the regular season. In a coaches perspective, it’s a fantastic way to not only warm the starters up, but also assess the talent that lay behind them.

Pittsburgh will do just that. Players have been chatting all week about playing their first game, the coaches as well. “I think it’s time for us to see some unfamiliar faces, and schemes and approaches to the game of football,” said Mike Tomlin in an interview with CBS-Pittsburgh. Tomlin’s statement couldn’t be any more accurate. In the first preseason game, the Steelers will look to adjust to new things and new faces. Here are five things to expect in Pittsburgh’s return to the gridiron:

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Minimum time for Starters

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Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

To unfamiliar football fans or fans new to the game, the first-string players don’t play too much in the first preseason game. It’s actually a rare occurrence to see them play more than two or three series. Every team around the league does it, not just Pittsburgh. It’s the first game and coaches just want their premier players to get a minor taste of actual game action back into their mouths, also to prevent injuries that could possibly keep them out for the long run. So while you will see the likes of Antonio Brown and Troy Polamalu, it won’t be for very long.

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Le'Veon Bell, and Lots of Him

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Le’Veon Bell has been the offensive talk of training camp. Looking very crisp and sharp during the practices, expect to see Bell, and much of him. Coach Tomlin hinted around at the possibility of Le’Veon playing with the second-string players for a while, acknowledging the need to expose new players to the field. With this notion in mind, Bell will see a lot of carries.

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Dick LeBeau and His new Tricks

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Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has been around for years. Notorious for mastering the art of the zone blitz, offenses around the league are used to the strategy Lebeau has been using for over a decade. However, you may see some changes tonight. Word around camp is that the defensive mastermind has some new tricks up his sleeve, and it’s doubtful that an ace of spades is up there. Whatever it may be, hopefully the hype lives up to it.

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Wide Reciever Race is Wide Open

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With the injury to Plaxico Burress, a new spot needs to be filled on the Steelers depth chart concerning wide receivers. With receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders already safely claiming their spots, the rest are up for grabs. Markus Wheaton and Jerricho Cotchery headline the minor "battle" going into the Giants game. Wheaton, the new, agile rookie with blazing speed and ability to stretch the field, against the veteran Cotchery, who’s ability to go over the middle and overall football knowledge is an edge in the race. It’ll be an interesting thing to watch.

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Unsung Rookies Will be Heard

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

While the headline rookies should make some noise, the others that were selected by Pittsburgh should make some more noise in this game. People will see a lot of Landry Jones, who fans hope will develop into the quarterback of the future for the Steelers. On the defensive side of the ball, Shamarko Thomas has stolen all attention with his ability to fly around the field and lay the wood on receivers and running backs, much like another safety that wears black and gold.


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