For the second consecutive preseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers open on Saturday with the New York Giants, this time at MetLife Stadium. The G-men pulled out an 18-13 victory at Heinz Field last August.
While the starters for the Black and Gold will not see a lot of action, it is a time for back-ups to show that they are ready to step it up and possible challenge to become starters while it is time for rookies to seize the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities. Here are four players of interest to keep an eye on this Saturday.
1) Sean Spence was drafted in the third round of 2012, but due to a severe knee injury, he missed all of 2012 and 2013. The 5-foot-11 Miami Hurricane product has played weakside inside linebacker with the first-team defense the last few days in place of first-round draft pick Ryan Shazier, who according to head coach Mike Tomlin has a “boo-boo” on his right knee.
Spence has also been running on the first team punt coverage unit and on the first kickoff coverage unit at Latrobe.
2) Meanwhile, second-year linebacker Vince Williams has been bringing the big hits at training camp. Now, can the 6-foot-1 Florida State product bring and sustain that intensity on Saturday against the Giants?
Williams is hungry for a shot a left inside linebacker opposite Lawrence Timmons along with Shazier and Spence. He will also be part of the first kickoff coverage unit.
The fourth-round pick in 2013 completed just 30 of 66 passes, a 45 percent completion rate, last preseason.
According to the numbers crunched by Alex Kozora at SteelersDepot.com, Jones this summer in training camp is 47 of 74 for a 63.5 completion percentage, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Meanwhile, Gradkowski has thrown 41 of 64, which checks in at 64 percent, plus two touchdowns and one interception over nine practices in pads.
4) With right tackle Marcus Gilbert hurting at mid-week, Mike Adams was taking first-team reps on Wednesday. It could be the last chance for the 6-foot-7 Ohio State product to prove he belongs in Black and Gold.
Adams opened last season as the starting left tackle, but was benched in favor of Kelvin Beachum after the loss to Minnesota in Week 4. He dressed as a reserve for the remainder of 2013.
A good start for everyone is in order as Pittsburgh went winless in four preseason games last summer, and then came out of the gate to start the regular-season 0-4. It was just the third time since 1970 that the Steelers went winless in the preseason.
The game will be carried on KDKA-TV with Bob Pompeani and Edmund Nelson in the booth and Jeff Verszyla on the sideline. Over on the radio side, Bill Hillgrove and Tunch Ilkin will be behind the microphone on WBGG 970 AM and WDVE 102.5 FM with Craig Wolfley on the sideline.
Check out: https://preseason.nfl.com/ for online streaming for this contest.
From The Clipboard: The Miami Herald is reporting that Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey will likely be charged with misdemeanor battery for his alleged role in a nightclub brawl in Miami in July.
His brother, Mike Pouncey of the Miami Dolphins, reportedly will not face charges according to the Herald.