PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers play their final preseason game Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. ET against the Carolina Panthers. Here is a review the first three games in terms of snap counts. We'll look at offense here, with an examination of the defense in a later post.
Notable: Roethlisberger won’t play Thursday night, and Gradkowski is likely to sit as well. Jones is expected start and play most of the way as he tries to show the Steelers he is worthy of a roster spot. Undrafted rookie Brendon Kay may get some playing time so he can put out some game film after not seeing the field in the first three exhibition games.
Notable: Coach Mike Tomlin has said both Bell and Blount will play against the Panthers, but Harris and Houston figure to get the bulk of the carries. One of them has to convince the Steelers to carry a fourth running back behind Bell, Blount and Archer.
Notable: I think Justin Brown is safe as far as making the team. It wouldn’t hurt for him to have a productive game, as the second-year man has caught just three passes for 15 yards despite playing the most snaps of any Steelers skills player. Tomlin praised Heyward-Bey’s play on special teams even though the sixth-year veteran has logged just seven snaps in two preseason games on those units. He should see a lot of action on special teams against the Panthers.
Notable: Miller and Spaeth are the only locks to make the team. I give Palmer the edge for the No. 3 spot because of his contributions on special teams. Paulson and Blanchflower, however, are still in the running. Blanchflower may be coming on after a slow start to training camp. The rookie seventh-round pick logged 18 snaps against the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday in a game in which the starters played extensively.
Offensive line: Mike Adams 104, Chris Hubbard 100, Guy Whimper 96, Kelvin Beachum 80, David DeCastro 80, Marcus Gilbert 80, Maurkice Pouncey 80, Ramon Foster 66, Cody Wallace 64, Will Simmons 50, Wesley Johnson 40.
Notable: I have Johnson, a fifth-round pick, making the team, but the rookie may have to show the coaches something against the Panthers. It will be interesting to see if he plays multiple positions Thursday night. The first-team offensive line got plenty of work together as reflected by the starters’ respective snap counts.