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Are You Ready For Some (Preseason) Football?

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The [intlink id=”19″ type=”category”]Pittsburgh Steelers [/intlink]kick off their preseason this evening at 7:30 p.m.  We all know preseason football blows but remember a few months ago when the year was in peril?  Consider preseason football better than no football at all.  Or Arena Football.  Although I wouldn’t mind having a Lingerie Football team.

Seriously, whose bright idea was it to open up a beautiful state-of-the-art facility like the Consol Energy Center then make it their first priority to bring Arenaball back to the ‘Burgh?  If Green freakin’ Bay has a Lingerie Football team, why don’t we?  Get on it, Consol bigwigs.  There are some hot Polish chicks down in McKees Rocks that could kick the Pittsburgh Power’s asses up and down the field.

*Ahem*  Sorry for the little detour.  When you’re a team coming off a soul-crushing Super Bowl defeat, the thing about the preseason is there is precious little suspense.  You may hear about so-and-so having a great camp but the bottom line is the coaches pretty much already know who is starting and who is backing them up.  However, there are still a few interesting battles to keep an eye on.

To wit:

Offensive Line – The only area where you may see some competition for a position in the starting line-up. The Steelers are extremely high on [intlink id=”85″ type=”category”]Doug Legursky[/intlink], feeling he performed brilliantly when pressed into duty last season.  Second year man Chris Scott is having a fantastic camp.  LG [intlink id=”85″ type=”category”]Chris Kemoeatu [/intlink]has been sitting out with a knee injury while incumbent RG [intlink id=”85″ type=”category”]Ramon Foster[/intlink] has always had a tenuous hold on his job. If Legursky and/or Scott continue to play well, they may force the Steelers to take a second look at their starting guards.

Secondary – [intlink id=”96″ type=”category”]Bryant McFadden[/intlink] is nursing a bad hammy and won’t play.  His starting job is safe only because the Steelers really don’t have any better options.  [intlink id=”96″ type=”category”] Gay[/intlink] is set as the nickel but the team would surely love if one of their young DBs can make a push for playing time.  You may remember last year’s first preseason game which was set to be a Keenan Lewis coming out party.  He came out alright, out of the locker room and right into Mike Tomlin’s doghouse.  He’ll get another chance tonight.  He’ll be joined by Crezdon Butler, whom the coaching staff also has high hopes for.

Running Back – I detailed this yesterday.  With Baron Batch out for the year, undrafted free agent John Clay has a shot at deposing last year’s seventh rounder Jonathan Dwyer as the team’s third string tailback.

Tight End – Matt Spaeth signed with Da Bears, leaving Heath Miller all by his lonesome at tight end.  David Johnson is one in name but in actuality is more of a blocking H-back.  Knowing Bruce Arians’ fetish for two TE sets, the Steelers tried signing Reggie Kelly to fill out the roster but he’s exploring unemployment other options.  This leaves veteran John Gilmore and a pair of intriguing rookies.  Eugene Bright is a converted DE who spent last year on the practice squad while undrafted free agent Weslye Saunders had to sit out his senior season after receiving hookers and clothes improper benefits from an agent.  Saunders is reminiscent of former Steeler Eric Green, in both physical tools and piss-poor attitude.  But if he could put it together…

Wide Receiver – The injury situation will have a lot to do with how this plays out.  [intlink id=”81″ type=”category”]Emmanuel Sanders[/intlink] and [intlink id=”34″ type=”category”]Hines Ward[/intlink] are both recovering from off-season surgery.  Neither has gone full-speed at practice.  If they’re projected to be ready by opening day, then with six slots filled (Ward, Sanders, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, [intlink id=”81″ type=”category”]Jerricho Cotchery[/intlink], and Arnaz Battle for special teams) the remaining guys are playing for a spot on the practice squad.  Although Tomlin has shown to have no respect for special teams awesomeness so if somebody comes out kamikaze-like in coverage, Battle may also be in trouble.  From training camp reports, it would seem Wes Lyons, Tyler Grisham, and, yes, [intlink id=”81″ type=”category”]Limas Sweed[/intlink] are the three guys on the bubble.  Lyons and Sweed are both giants although Grisham has the best hands of the three.  Grisham appears to be the early front-runner but anything can happen…