The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to take on the Buffalo Bills, with whom they’ve gotten intimately familiar over two days of practice, later today in their second preseason game. Before we get there, here are some of the things that I will be focusing on in game two in response what we’ve previously seen on the offensive side of the ball.
For starters, the Steelers will be taking on a 4-3 defensive front for the second time in two weeks. But this time they’ve gotten the opportunity to get some practice reps going up against that four-man front.
They only practice against their own 3-4 front during normal circumstances. I don’t know how exactly I would be able to quantify it, but it would be interesting to know whether the practice reps against the Bills’ front helped them in the game. This will likely be of greater concern for the second-team offensive line.
Last week, Justin Brown received playing time with all different groups of receivers, even lining up outside across from Antonio Brown for a couple snaps. He lined up wide and in the slot, but will he be a target for Ben Roethlisberger this week? He only threw two passes in his first appearance on the Steelers’ opening drive.
Also pertaining to the wide receiver position, where will Darrius Heyward-Bey feature in the pecking order? Derek Moye was essentially the second-team outside receiver along with Brown a week ago, but he has been fluctuating between groups of receivers throughout camp.
To get more general, it sounds as though Martavis Bryant put in some good work in practice this past week. It should be telling to see where these three receivers fall in the pecking order, but I will be especially interested to see where Heyward-Bey lands because of the time that he missed with a concussion.
Do Cody Wallace and Guy Whimper get any reps at guard this week? In order for Wallace to be able to play guard, that might require asking rookie Wesley Johnson to play center with the second-team offensive line. Meanwhile, I’m not sure how much if any time Whimper has gotten at guard, but that may be by design if the coaches want to leave him at tackle.
The backup quarterbacks had some shaky performances a week ago. Can they look sharper this week? Bruce Gradkowski had two overthrows in particular that stuck out like a sore thumb, one of which could have gone for a touchdown to Matt Spaeth. Landry Jones also struggled to place the ball well for his receivers, even if they should have been able to come own with some of them.
Rob Blanchflower has received some accolades this week, according to certain reporters. Can he start to make a move on David Paulson as the third tight end? Or is Michael Palmer still the third tight end, as per the depth chart? The reserve tight ends only received 11 snaps between them last week. We need a larger sample size than that to gain anything of interest.
And the eternal question: is there a fourth running back worthy of the roster spot? Tauren Poole? Miguel Maysonet? Josh Harris? Maysonet may have been the best of a poor showing for the group last week with his two receptions. But I’m waiting to see one of them make a move. If none of them do, none of them need to take up a roster spot.