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Thread: 5 Players to Watch in the Steelers’ Preseason Opener

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    Default 5 Players to Watch in the Steelers’ Preseason Opener

    ... Found this on a Steelers blog site...

    5 Players to Watch in the Steelers’ Preseason Opener
    AUTHOR: Craig
    Aug 12th 2011

    ‘Yesterday was Thursday, today is Friday.’ Wow that Rebecca Black is a lyrical genius. Well it’s true. It’s Friday (not that Rebecca Black is a genius) and that means Washington DC will be full of Black and Yellow jerseys as the Steelers roll in for the preseason opener against the Redskins. I don’t usually put much stock in the preseason games. Full price for a game where the first stringers only play a couple series is pretty annoying. But the games are a necessary evil for coaches to fully evaluate players who will become second and third on the depth charts – something that any true football fan realizes the importance of. Let’s take a look at five players to keep an eye out for in this first preseason game.

    1. WR Limas Sweed

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ID:	30154th year receiver Limas Sweed is still fighting for a respectable spot on this Steelers roster. Sweed’s name is usually not synonymous with praise. In fact, Sweed has been one disappointment after another. He has the potential to be another big target for Big Ben, but has never shown any consistency and only brief flashes of brilliance. Many speculate that this is Sweed’s last shot at making the team. With the addition of veteran receiver Jerricho Cotchery mid-week, the pressure is on. Making matters worse, Sweed has been hampered by injuries practically since the beginning of camp – the biggest being a shoulder ailment.

    Sweed will need to step up in this first game and show that consistency the coaches have been looking for. Look for Sweed to play complete halves over the preseason as long as he can keep his shoulder and ankle healthy. It’s the final year of his contract – no time like now to show if you got the stuff.

    2. LB Jason Worilds

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ID:	3017Worlids was the Steelers’ 2nd round pick in last year’s draft. He hasn’t had much playing time having to sit behind James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley for one of the OLB positions. When he has been on the field, he’s had some good plays and shown good form with his tackling.

    This needs to be a bit of a breakout preseason for Worlids. James Harrison has three things working against himself – his back, his aggressiveness and his mouth. Any or all of those will more than likely land him on the sidelines with a suspension or injury sometime during this season. That means Worlids will need to be ready to step in and fill those big shoes.

    3. DE Cameron Heyward

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ID:	3016How could the Steelers’ #1 pick in the 2011 draft NOT make it on this list. The son of Craig ‘Ironman’ Heyward will be looking to impress in the preseason games. He’s had a bit of a rough go in camp so far. Reports from the media and those tweeting from camp report that Heyward is a bit slow right now and is getting blocked out sometimes in drills.

    Heyward will get some good reps in this first game. He will need to improve quickly as the preseason progresses. Aaron Smith has been riddled with injuries of late. The expectations are set a bit high for Cameron – #1 pick and a father who has quite the legacy in the NFL. If anyone has followed Heyward in the NFL series ‘Everything to Prove,’ you know that Cameron is up to the challenge.

    4. Byron Leftwich/Dennis Dixon

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ID:	3018Strange to be talking about Leftwich and Dixon so early. And they aren’t one person either (I know I’m cheating here). But this QB battle for the #3 spot will be interesting to watch. Dixon walked away from the team for less than 24 hours before he realized he wasn’t going to get the contract he wanted, so he decided to come back to the Steelers who agreed to a one year deal. Leftwich has only appeared in four games over the past two seasons. Dixon even less. In my opinion Batch is the #2 passer. He proved his ultimate worth while Big Ben was suspended last season. However, Batch is getting old… like Bret Favre old who could get shelved quickly should that offensive line miss a block or two.

    These two will get the most playing time this preseason. Not really sure who will come out on top, but one guy will get cut by the end. Each have their pros: Dixon is has a quick release and quick on his feet, Leftwich has a canon of an arm. They each have their cons too: Dixon is still young and his decision making isn’t quite there yet, Letwich has a very slow release of the ball. This won’t be an exciting race, but will be integral in helping the Steelers get back to another Super Bowl.

    5. RB Baron Batch... Err... CB Keenan Lewis

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ID:	3019I really wanted to write about Batch in this post somewhere. There’s no secret that I have (had) a good feeling that this 7th rounder out of Texas Tech would make the team. With his season ending ACL tear, Batch is no longer the feel good story of the summer we were all rooting for. Instead I’ll throw Keenan Lewis under the microscope. Lewis is hoping to get out of the doghouse this season and separate himself from a very disappointing 2010. Thought to be a contender for B Mac’s #2 spot, Lewis threw it all away when he received two personal fouls in the first half and punched through a glass sign to vent his frustrations before halftime. It didn’t sit well with Tomlin, and Lewis was stuck on ST’s most of the season.

    With the addition of two more corners selected in the draft (and assuming that Gay keeps his nickel spot… doubtful) that has four corners battling for essentially two more spots on the roster – Lewis, Crezdon Butler, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown. These four will get lots of playing time over the course of the season, and will more than likely be part of the final round of cuts the team needs to make for their 53 player roster. I don’t have much faith in this guy, and he will need to do some spectacular things early to grab attention away from Allen and Brown. B Mac is still on the PUP and Allen has been listed as inactive for this game as of Thursday morning. Time to saddle up Lewis and show your stuff.

    So there you have it. Five players to keep an eye on tonight. There are many others, and this list will change as the preseason marches on into September and those final cuts. So enjoy your Friday night football and GO STEELERS!!!
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Sooooo,how much did the #1 player to watch help the team last night??

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    Default Re: 5 Players to Watch in the Steelers’ Preseason Opener

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