This evening along the North Shore, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Carolina Panthers meet for the 12th consecutive year to close out the preseason. It will be the last chance for some of the players to claim a spot on the 53-man roster before the final cuts on Saturday.
Both teams would like to see somekind of improvement from their defenses as the Panthers have surrendered 66 points in three preseason games while the Black and Gold have given up 67 points.
These two will meet up again in the regular season at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept 21 at Bank Of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Preseason Game #4 – Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
Date: Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014
Kickoff Time: 7:30 p.m., ET
Site: Heinz Field
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
TV Coverage: KDKA-TV 2
Announcers: Bob Pompeani and Edmund Nelson; Jeff Verszyla on the sideline
Radio: WDVE 102.5 FM / WBGG 970 AM
Announcers: Bill Hillgrove and Tunch Ilkin; Craig Wolfley on the sideline
Additional Audio Coverage: Fans in Mexico can also listen to Steelers broadcasts on Grupo Imagen and games are heard on www.steelers.com/espanol.
Live Stream: NFL.com Preseason (https://preseason.nfl.com/)
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin has said we will not see either Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu or Cameron Heyward in action tonight. Players who are nursing inuries and will be on the sideline include linebackers Jason Worilds, Jordan Zumwalt, and Sean Spence, wide receiver Lance Moore, and cornerback Shaquille Richardson.
While the Steelers backup offense has produced 40 second half points in the first three preseason contests, it is time for Landry Jones to convince the coaching staff to keep three quarterbacks on the roster to start the season or to even sign him to the practice squad.
Someone who may be playing himself onto the team is Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was impressive with his three catches for 54 yards and a touchdown last week against the Eagles. But, it is what he brings to special teams with his speed that Tomlin may want to keep around after tonight. The 6-foot-2 Maryland product has served as one of the gunners in punt coverage and one of the corners in punt returns this preseason.
Running backs Josh Harris and Stephen Houston are the last two backups left after the first-round of cuts this week. Will the last one to make an impression tonight be the first one invited onto the practice squad on Sunday?
After being re-signed last week, 35-year-old defensive end Brett Keisel is expected to be thrown in the mix tonight to see what he can contribute. Endurance will be an interesting factor to keep an eye on this evening.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has said that among the starters not playing tonight will be quarterback Cam Newton, who is out with a fractured rib that occured in last week’s 30-7 loss to the New England Patriots.
Also, not seeing any action in the Steel City will be defensive end Charles Johnson, who is out with a hamstring injury and right guard Trai Turner, who is out with a groin injury.
Dick LeBeau’s defense will see a lot of quarterback Joe Webb for the Panthers as Derek Anderson is home awaiting the birth of his child and Matt Blanchard in on injured reserve. The 6-foot-4 Alabama-Birmingham product has been solid in the preseason and has impressed the coaching staff.
There will be three familiar faces to Pitsburgh fans on the opposite sidlline as former Steelers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, center Fernando Velasco and right guard Chris Scott all return to the confines of Heinz Field with the Panthers.
Two-time Pro Bowl safety Roman Harper will get his first start tonight, as he has had a problem with turf toe in the preseason. It will be interesting to see if offensive coordinator Todd Haley will have his quarterbacks throw in Harper’s direction this evening to take advantage of a little bit of rust on the veteran.
The Black and Gold will kickoff Week 1 of the regular season at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept 7 when they host their turnpike rivals, the Cleveland Browns along the North Shore. Are you ready?