NFL Preseason 2014: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Philadelphia Eagles Preview

By Keith Alrick
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Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers are two teams that seem like they just want the regular season to start. Chip Kelly is likely as bored as any fan who ends up watching the fourth quarter of one of these preseason games. Neither team is one that is trying to find an identity. It’s not as though Ben Roethlisberger is in need of reps. All that’s left to do is decide a few position battles and evaluate rookies.

Nick Foles is one player who should want the regular season to start immediately. For one thing, the debate about whether or not he is good can be put to bed. Secondly, Mark Sanchez‘s play in the preseason is starting to create some noise around the league. Sanchez doesn’t have a chance to take over the starting job in Week 1, but he has certainly given the coaching staff something to think about. If Sanchez has another big game this week then Foles’ leeway will shrink even more.

Both teams have a rookie wide receiver who played above expectations this preseason. For the Eagles, it’s Jordan Matthews. He caught nine balls for 104 yards a week ago. He has good size and hands, and he gets to play in Kelly’s offense. Those are all ingredients for success.

The Steelers’ rookie wideout has impressed people more in training camp than in actual games. Martavis Bryant is a physical freak at 6-foot-5, and many were surprised when he fell so far in the draft. It will be worth keeping on eye on him in this game to see if he shows more of his potential.

Pittsburgh also has another very talented rookie worth watching in this game. Linebacker Ryan Shazier hasn’t wasted any time in figuring out the NFL level. The Ohio State product appears to fit the mold of previous playmaking Pittsburgh linebackers.

Neither team has a real pressing position battle to watch. The wide receiver position for each team is fairly fluid at this point. It’s just a matter of slotting each guy in the best possible spot.

The most interesting thing to watch might be if Sanchez continues to play like a competent quarterback under Kelly. He was supposed to be in a competition with Matt Barkley for the backup role, but that ended quickly. As I said earlier, he is probably closer to Foles than he is to Barkley at this point.

The main thing for both teams is to get out of the game without having a guy trend on Twitter, because that probably means he got injured.

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