Three Steelers to watch tonight vs. Broncos
By: Mike Bires, Times Sports Staff
Beaver County Times

Sunday August 29, 2010


Third-year quarterback

After playing well in the Steelers' first two preseason games with the second-team and third-team offenses, Dixon will get a chance to play at least one series with the first stringers tonight.

ďItís based on merit,Ē coach Mike Tomlin said. ďDennis Dixon has done great with the opportunities we provided him to this point. He is deserving of some first-team snap opportunities with our people.Ē

A former Oregon star taken by the Steelers in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, Dixon has an impressive 141.0 passer rating. Heís completed 13-of-15 passes for 210 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. Heís also rushed for 58 yards on 11 attempts.

ďMy goal is to make plays regardless of itís with my legs or my arm,Ē said Dixon, an elusive, mobile QB whose style is obviously different than that of Byron Leftwich, a pure drop-back passer.

Other than saying Dixon will get first-team reps, Tomlin did not announce his QB rotation for tonight.

Rookie inside linebacker

The Steelers opened last year with eight linebackers on their roster. That was the plan again this year when they reported to training camp. But Tomlin and his defensive assistants may have to rethink that strategy and keep nine because of Sylvester, a rookie fifth-round draft pick.

With James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons set as the starting inside linebackers and Larry Foote and Keyaron Fox seemingly set as the back-ups, the Steelers were hoping to sneak Sylvester onto the practice squad.

But because the former Utah star played well in the first two preseason games _ he leads the team in preseason tackles and had a sack against the Giants _ the Steelers may have no choice but to keep him on their final 53-man roster.

If heís put on the practice squad, thereís a chance another team will snatch him away.

Second-year cornerback

Another player whoís made the most of his preseason opportunities is Lewis, who gets the start tonight because Bryant McFadden is out with an injured pectoral muscle.

A former Oregon State star taken in the third-round of last yearís draft, Lewis didnít have much of a rookie season. He only played in four games and only on special teams. But so far this summer, heís improved dramatically.

So tonight, Tomlin and his defensive coaches want to see how Lewis can handle himself with the first-team defense. Even though William Gay is listed as McFaddenís backup on their depth chart, itís Lewis who starts in Denver.

Last week against the New York Giants, Lewis left the game with a concussion. But heís been cleared to play tonight.