Aug 21, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) watches the game against the Philadelphia Eagles from the sidelines at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Steelers, 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will close out their preseason against the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field. Even though the regular season is right around the corner, don’t expect much from this game.
This is in no way sinking down into the depths of those that dwell in Negative Nancy Land. My assertion about this final preseason game, comes not from the bile I still taste from the defeat in Philly. It’s just the reality of the situation. The game in Philly was to be the dress rehearsal to the start of the regular season. And even though the Steelers were stripped down, dunked in syrup, and wrapped with cellophane, Steeler Nation will see very little of the Pittsburgh Steelers who will start the beginnings of the regular season.
Think about it. There’s several reasons why. Firstly, it’s the final preseason of the game, and I doubt that coach Tomlin will risk putting in players who already are starters and other locked roster spots. Perhaps a series or two at most, and pray that some idiot doesn’t take out a knee a la Sean Spence (you think this game will play heavily on his mind from the sidelines with his current knee injury?).
Secondly, look at who they are playing. The Carolina Panthers. It’s a team they play during the regular season. In fact, the Steelers will see them in Week 3 less than a month from this Thursday. Do you really think the coaches will be calling their “best plays” on either side of the ball? It will be vanilla at best, although that’s the best one can hope for from Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley at this point. The idea that we’ll all see a quality game and a quality game plan is in for a real disappointment on Thursday night.
I’ll still watch, there’s no doubt about that. I’ll still be watching some key positional battles that will need to play out before this team can whittle down the roster to 53. That part will be at least interesting and hopefully will happen sooner in the first half rather than later in the second half.
It’s certainly not the way I would want to go into the regular season, especially after all the bumps and bruises this team experienced once the preseason games started. Just hope we see some bright moments in what has become a preseason to forget.