The Pittsburgh Steelers now have just a little more than two weeks to go until their regular-season opener against the New England Patriots. With that said, they have quite a laundry list to tackle before they take the field in Foxborough. Below are just a few of the decisions and things that need to be accomplished over the course of the next two weeks.
Extensions? – Its really not too surprising that we haven’t seen any players extended since defensive end Cameron Heyward signed his new deal several weeks ago as often times the team will wait until a day or two before the regular-season starts to finish their offseason contract work up. With that said, tackle Kelvin Beachum remains the likeliest candidate to receive an extension in the coming weeks. For what it’s worth, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette doesn’t believe a deal with Beachum will get done. We have just over two weeks remaining to find out if he’s right.
Figure Out Adams’ Status – Tackle Mike Adams remains on the Steelers PUP list and that means there’s no way he’ll play this coming weekend against the Buffalo Bills. Should Adams not be cleared by this same time next week, there’s a good chance he starts the season off on the Reserve/PUP list. That course of action would result in him missing the first six weeks of the 2015 season at a minimum.
Get Vick Up To Speed – The Steelers signed veteran quarterback Michael Vick on Wednesday and he’s slated to be the back-up to starter Ben Roethlisberger now that Bruce Gradkowski has been placed on injured reserve. The Steelers need to try to get Vick as many snaps as possible in the final two preseason games and that might be tough to do this week being as this upcoming game is usually reserved for getting the first-team offense at least one full half of playing time together. On top of that, the Steelers only have two practices remaining before they play the Bills.
Legursky Needs Work – In addition to getting Vick some work in the coming weeks, newly signed veteran offensive lineman Doug Legursky has just over two weeks to get himself back into football shape as well. Legursky is also coming off of a serious knee injury that he suffered last season. Like or not, Legursky will have to be active in Week 1 as the team simply can’t rely on Chris Hubbard being the backup to Cody Wallace.
Get Timmons, Williams And Tuitt Healthy – Lawrence Timmons is currently suffering from turf toe and it seems like he’ll be lucky to play in either of the two remaining preseason games. He absolutely needs to be healthy come the start of the regular season and the same goes for Vince Williams, who will be counted on this season for depth. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt is yet another defensive player who needs to get healthy by the start of the season. If that doesn’t happen, Cam Thomas will be the Week 1 starter.
Get Better On Defense And Quick – Are you currently concerned about the Steelers defense? I know I am even though we really haven’t seen the full starting 11 on the field together much so far this preseason. This week the team is sure to be without Timmons and Tuitt, but at least the secondary should be out there in full force.
Decide On A Punter – The battle between Brad Wing and Jordan Berry for the punting job has been a great one and that certainly is excellent news. Hopefully both continue to make themselves tough to cut in the remaining two preseason games. It’s been years since the Steelers had a true weapon at that position and based on how the aforementioned defense has looked so far, the team could certainly use one in 2015 to lengthen the field.
To Dri Or Not To Dri On Returns – Running back Dri Archer is a virtual lock to make the final 53 man roster this year but being as his playing time on offense is likely to be limited in 2015, he really needs to prove that he can be a reliable kick and punt returner. It’s been a mixed bag for Archer so far during the preseason and I’m not yet convinced that he’ll supplant wide receiver Antonio Brown on punt returns this season. He has two more weeks to show he can handle both roles.