5 Players to Watch in the Steelers’ Preseason Opener

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4. Byron Leftwich/Dennis Dixon

Strange to be talking about Leftwich and Dixon so early.  And they aren’t one person either (I know I’m cheating here).  But this QB battle for the #3 spot will be interesting to watch.  Dixon walked away from the team for less than 24 hours before he realized he wasn’t going to get the contract he wanted, so he decided to come back to the Steelers who agreed to a one year deal.  Leftwich has only appeared in four games over the past two seasons.  Dixon even less.  In my opinion Batch is the #2 passer.  He proved his ultimate worth while Big Ben was suspended last season.  However, Batch is getting old… like Bret Favre old who could get shelved quickly should that offensive line miss a block or two.

These two will get the most playing time this preseason.  Not really sure who will come out on top, but one guy will get cut by the end.  Each have their pros: Dixon is has a quick release and quick on his feet, Leftwich has a canon of an arm.  They each have their cons too: Dixon is still young and his decision making isn’t quite there yet, Letwich has a very slow release of the ball.  This won’t be an exciting race, but will be integral in helping the Steelers get back to another Super Bowl.

5. RB Baron Batch CB Keenan Lewis

I really wanted to write about Batch in this post somewhere.  There’s no secret that I have (had) a good feeling that this 7th rounder out of Texas Tech would make the team.  With his season ending ACL tear, Batch is no longer the feel good story of the summer we were all rooting for.  Instead I’ll throw Keenan Lewis under the microscope.  Lewis is hoping to get out of the doghouse this season and separate himself from a very disappointing 2010.  Thought to be a contender for B Mac’s #2 spot, Lewis threw it all away when he received two personal fouls in the first half and punched through a glass sign to vent his frustrations before halftime.  It didn’t sit well with Tomlin, and Lewis was stuck on ST’s most of the season.

With the addition of two more corners selected in the draft (and assuming that Gay keeps his nickel spot… doubtful) that has four corners battling for essentially two more spots on the roster – Lewis, Crezdon Butler, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown.  These four will get lots of playing time over the course of the season, and will more than likely be part of the final round of cuts the team needs to make for their 53 player roster.  I don’t have much faith in this guy, and he will need to do some spectacular things early to grab attention away from Allen and Brown.  B Mac is still on the PUP and Allen has been listed as inactive for this game as of Thursday morning.  Time to saddle up Lewis and show your stuff.

So there you have it.  Five players to keep an eye on tonight.  There are many others, and this list will change as the preseason marches on into September and those final cuts.  So enjoy your Friday night football and GO STEELERS!!!