Pittsburgh Steelers: Getting Ready To Play In Hall Of Fame Game


The 2015 NFL exhibition season kicks off this weekend with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings squaring off in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Sunday night’s game will cap off a weekend of festivities that includes the enshrinement of 2015 inductee, the Steelers’ own Jerome “The Bus” Bettis.

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As for the game itself, what should Black and Gold fans expect when the two teams go to battle? Because the Vikes and Steelers are playing in this game, they each will play in five pre-season games instead of the normal four. That gives Mike Tomlin an extra opportunity to study the talent he has and more chances to make decisions on who the final 53 will be.

Being this is the first of five, Steelers fans can expect very little playing time from the starters and second string players. With that said, don’t anticipate more than 2-3 snaps for Ben Roethlisberger and his offense as well as for the defensive players. What Mike Tomlin and his staff will be looking for the most is how much the rookies have learned and how quickly newcomer Brandon Boykin has  learned Pittsburgh’s playbook and defensive style.

The veteran Boykin came over in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for a draft pick after it appears the shoulder injury to rookie Senquez Golson is much more serious than first thought. The latest word is that Golson could be facing season ending surgery. Boykin has been in the NFL for three seasons but did have six interceptions two years ago. This game will also mark the return of Adrian Peterson following his suspension for last year’s domestic legal problems.

At the start of this week, the Steelers were relatively healthy with just Golson, Maurkice Pouncey, and Martavis Bryant battling injuries. Bryant had an ingrown hair that was causing problems with his elbow so he will sit out 10 days while the procedure he had done has time to heal. Pouncey returned on Monday from the Physically Unable to Perform list with a foot problem.

The Vikings are listing no injuries on their report. Minnesota picked up 10 players in this year’s draft so they will be evaluating talent on Sunday night just as Tomlin will be doing. The Vikes will be testing Minnesota’s first round draft choice Trae Waynes from Michigan State at cornerback, a player the Steelers also had their eye on during the draft process.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers /

Pittsburgh Steelers

Head Coach Mike Zimmer will be wanting to see how Waynes handles the dangerous receiving corps of Pittsburgh. On the other side of the field, Pittsburgh’s #1 is Bud Dupree and new Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler is looking to get plenty of production from the University of Kentucky product as well as additional pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

With Golson not playing, that gives fourth round pick Doran Grant and opportunity to step in and show that he can play as well as Golson. Two other defenders to watch closely will be defensive end Anthony Chickillo and safety Gerod Holliman. Both came in this year’s draft, both have been making noise in training camp thus far. Don’t forget the handful of undrafted rookies as well and of course the veterans who are returning for another go-round albeit they will only be in this game for a flash.

One thing to keep in mind about Sunday night’s clash and the following five games is that they count for NOTHING. There has been discussion for several years now about eliminating two pre-season games and adding two additional regular season games. What to look for in this game on both sides and the rest of the pre-season schedule is primarily how the rookies adapt to the NFL, if the veterans seem to still be in their prime, and watching for any injuries.

On a final note, congratulations to Jerome Bettis for an honor that is well deserved. He should have been a first ballot inductee but he got his due and will be enshrined this weekend and imortalized forever. Now if we can only get L.C. Greenwood into those hallowed halls!

Next: Pittsburgh Steelers: Best Coaches All-Time

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