The Pittsburgh Steelers seek to snap a five-game preseason losing streak at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday when they host Buffalo at Heinz Field. Mike Tomlin’s crew defeated the Bills 23-10 along the North Shore during Week 10 of the 2013 regular-season.
As we break out the tailgate gear, let’s take a look at all three aspects of the game and who to keep an eye on this Saturday.
1 – Special Teams: There was some bad news this week in Latrobe as the Black and Gold will be without their veteran long-snapper Greg Warren. He injured his right knee on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-3 North Carolina product will have his meniscus repaired and could be sidelined for at least four weeks. The team signed long-snapper Luke Ingram on Thursday evening, so we will see if he or Bryce Davis can step up and be the answer on special teams while Warren recovers.
Meanwhile, punter Brad Wing has the punting job by default as Adam Podlesh was put in the Reserve/Did Not Report List on Tuesday. Wing had six punts against the Giants and averaged 36.5 yards per kick and a net average of 34.5 yards.
This shows that he has the leg to get the job done, he just needs to be consistent with his kicks. A good night against Buffalo will help his stock.
2 – Defense: Free safety Mike Mitchell was out of position, along with several of his teammates, and then took a lousy angle in trying to wrap up Giants running back Rashad Jennings‘ 73-yard touchdown run right up the middle.
Pittsburgh needs to get a handle on this situation as they allowed 11 plays of 50 or more yards last season which led the NFL.
It should be noted that Shazier did participate in 11 on 11 drills on the last day of camp. The Ohio State product could be a game-time decision.
If, Shazier and Jones do not play, it means there is more opportunity for Sean Spence and Howard Jones to see action as both performed well against the Giants last week. Having too many linebackers is like having too many pitchers in baseball. It is never a bad thing.
The Bills offensive line is trying to come together, but the Black and Gold were having little trouble getting to quarterback E.J. Manuel, during the combined practice on Wednesday. During Thursday’s practice, Buffalo had made some improvements. We will see whether the Steelers can still find their way through the line.
3 – Offense/Red Zone: Mike Tomlin has said that the starters will go longer in Saturday’s game against the Bills. LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount are going to be sharing their carries according to Tomlin. Last week, both players had three carries and were pulled after two drives.
Perhaps it might also be the time for wide receiver Martavis Bryant to stretch the field and show his big play-making ability. He looked good on Thursday in practice.
Mike Batista of BleacherReport.com likes Lance Moore as a possible “X-factor.” It is time to get a better idea of how much the 31-year old veteran has left in the tank.
The contest 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 preseason.nfl.com for online streaming of the game.