7:30 pm est
(Replays on NFL Network)
Tonight, the Pittsburgh Steelers plan to kick-off their second preseason game in Toronto against the AFC East Buffalo Bills. Mike Tomlin suggested that the starters are expected to see significantly more playing time in tonight’s game. Below are some players to keep an eye on:
Justin Hartwig – One of the very few Steelers free agent pickups is expected to see his first start tonight, Justin Hartwig at center in place of last year’s starter, Sean Mahan. Hartwig is expected to gain the starting role after Mahan struggled last year with the larger nose tackles in the AFC North. Hartwig is bigger and stronger than Mahan and tonight he could prove to everyone that he belongs to start.
Lawrence Timmons – LT was very impressive in his last preseason game against the Eagles. Timmon’s showcased why Tomlin & Co spent their #15 overall pick in the 2007 draft. He displayed his speed and his explosiveness to close quickly on the ball. Let’s hope he can put together back-to-back impressive games. It is expected that Foote will start alongside of Farrior but Timmons will play on 3rd downs\. However, if Timmons continues to impress, expect LT to unseat Foote for the starting role.
LaMarr Woodley – Woodley was not able to get a sack against the Eagles but he did display good penetration. I look for Woodley to have at least one sack against the Bills. It’s just a matter of time until he registers his first one. Overall, I think the Steelers pass rush needs to improve. I did not see the pocket collapse quickly against the Eagles and that is a little worrisome.
Rashard Mendenhall / Willie Parker – Both of these guys looked really good against the Eagles. Parker looked as explosive and fast as always and looks to be over his broken leg. I’m really excited to see more of Mendenhall. Against the Eagles, Mendenhall averaged just about 5 yards/carry and looked impressive doing so. He has a great combination of vision, size, power, and speed to really excel in this league.
Offensive Line – The OL looked adequate in its first preseason game. However, it’s way to early to determine if this OL will give up another 47 sacks this year. The jury is still out on these guys. Until they can show consistency, I can’t label this group as improved. On a side note, Starks looked terrible as usual in a backup role. Can someone please explain Colbert’s logic for paying Max Starks, a backup, 7 million dollars this year? By the way, that is the most of any left tackle in the league. YIKES.
Defensive Line – The DL really did not impress me in the last game. I thought the Eagles had some success running right up the middle of the Steelers defense. Now that Casey “I don’t weigh 365 pounds anymore” Hampon has returned to the lineup, I expect this unit to improve in this area.
Limes Sweed – Even though Sweed didn’t have many opportunities, he did make some very nice catches. I had heard Sweed had “suspect hands”. Based on the Eagles game alone, he looks to have great hands. I like what I see so far, and I think he’ll only improve from here.
Ben Roethlisberger / Santonio Holmes / Hines Ward – I just want to see these guys in action a little more. The “hot read” with Ben and Holmes that resulted in a touchdown against the Eagles was a thing of beauty. This should keep defenses honest and improve on the amount of sacks given up. This offense has the potential to be one of the most explosive units in the NFL as long as the OL can hold its ground.
Check our the Planet Steelers forum for up-to-the-minute updates on ALL Steelers Games!