Football is here, and finally we get to see the Black & Gold take to the field! The Steelers open their preseason on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles. Here are 11 things to know before watching the matchup.
The Stars Won’t Be Out
The Eagles and Steelers will both be sitting major stars in the pre-season opener. Ben Roethlisberger, Anotnio Brown, Bud Dupree and TJ Watt are out for the Steelers. Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Mike Wallace and Alshon Jeffrey are out for the Eagles.
The Quarterback Competition
NFL teams don’t keep 4 quarterbacks. Landry Jones, Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph will all be looking to break from the pack and make an impact in this game, especially Rudolph being a rookie.
Conner’s Sophomore Season
Le’Veon Bell’s absence is a bonus for James Conner. He showed up to camp in great shape and has been impressive in practice. Now is the time to see if he can step up and be “THE” guy in Bell’s absence.
The Champs Are There
It’s only pre-season, but it’ll be hard not to notice that the Steelers are going up against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Steelers haven’t won a Super Bowl since Super Bowl XLIII, and haven’t played in one since Super bowl XLV.
- Steelers rookie QB Rudolph ready for preseason debut
- Steelers’ Antonio Brown returns to Saint Vincent, will not play in preseason opener
- With Le'Veon Bell away, Steeler running backs get extra work
The offensive approach is usually quite vanilla in the pre-season, with teams not wanting to give too much away. But this is a good time for new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner to iron out the communication kinks in his first tour of duty calling the plays for the offense.
Loading Up The Secondary
The Steelers have been using seven defensive backs in one of their packages. With TJ Watt and Bud Dupree out of action, we may get a good look at this new wrinkle in the Steelers defense.
Rookie James Washington will be looking to establish himself as a playmaker early on, with the absence of the deep threat once provided for the Steelers by Martavis Bryant. Don’t be surprised to see college teammates Rudolph and Washington making a few connections on the field.
Quadree Henderson made a huge impression as a returner while at the University of Pittsburgh. The receiver’s best chance to make the team will be returning the ball for the Black & Gold. He may get his first chance to impress in this game.
The Steelers for the time being seem to be content seeing what Tyler Matakevich has at the inside linebacker position in place of injured Ryan Shazier. He can start proving them right in the opening pre-season game.
The Number One Pick
All eyes are typically on a team’s number one draft pick and this is no exception. We already mentioned that we might see more of the Steelers secondary on the field. Terrell Edmunds gets his first chance to show why the Steelers made him their number one choice in the NFL Draft.
The rules aren’t just for the regular season. Changes to kickoff rules and to leading with the helmet in particular will be on display. It will be interesting to see how the referees call it.
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