The Pittsburgh Steelers play their first preseason game this Saturday against the New York Football Giants. It’s only the first preseason game but it will be very nice to see the black and gold actually on a football field competing against another team. So far a lot of things have been happening at Steelers camp, whether it be rookies making an impact, or players getting a few minor injuries, or even a former wide receiver calling out Ben Roethlisberger. There are plenty of things to keep an eye during the first game against the Giants. The projected starters won’t see much time but the role players and players fighting to make the roster should have plenty of opportunities to prove their value. Here are three things to watch for on Saturday.
Mike Mitchell and Troy Polamalu
Mike Mitchell finally made an appear in practice this week after being activated from the PUP list. The safety had been unable to participate due to a groin injury. In the game against the Giants, hopefully we see Mitchell and Troy Polamalu get some valuable reps together. They have yet to build an on-field rapport like Polamalu had with former Steelers safety Ryan Clark. Clearly Mitchell won’t be able to step in and have the same relationship Clark and Polamalu had just yet but keep an eye on how the 27-year-old Mitchell functions in Dick Lebeau’s defense alongside Polamalu. Mitchell and Polamlu will be an important part of the Steelers defense this year, and frankly Mitchell has some big shoes to fill.
Shocking right? Like we haven’t heard enough over the past few months about who is going to step up at wide receiver for the Steelers offense. Well, we finally get to see some of the young players in action on Saturday, despite the fact the Bruce Gradkowski will likely be throwing the ball, it’s finally time for somebody to step up and earn a starting role. According to ESPN’s Scott Brown, Big Ben has been primarily targeting Antonio Brown during 11-on-11 drills. Not surprising since Brown is the number one, but if that trend continues during the actual season, teams will take away Antonio and then who gets the ball? Martavis Bryant has had good days and bad at camp. The jury still remains out on Markus Wheaton and Justin Brown. The first preseason game could go a long way in determining who will actually be the number two alongside Antonio Brown for week one.
Utilization of Dri Archer
This is a guess but I doubt we see much of Le’Veon Bell on Saturday considering he has already some issues with his hamstring. That means we will probably see a heavy dose of LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer, at least in the first half. Blount has been a little bit of a headache on the field, once again according to Scott Brown. He plays with a lot of raw emotion and his mindset could be an issue later in the year if he isn’t get carries, but that’s a topic for another day. As for young Mr. Archer, the intriguing third round pick from this year’s draft, we will finally be able to see what Todd Haley has planned for him in the offense. Will he be used primarily as a pass catcher or will Haley draw up plenty of run chances and or trick plays? For a guy that might only touch the ball three or four times a game during the regular season, I for one am excited to see how exactly he is used in the Steelers offense.
There you have it Steelers Nation. Is there something else we should keep an eye during the game against the Giants?