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Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva can solidify roster spot against Panthers

Alejandro Villanueva can lock up a spot on the roster with a good performance in the Steelers' final preseason game. Pittsburgh Steelers/Karl Roser

The Pittsburgh Steelers play their fifth preseason game at 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday against the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field. Here are a couple things to watch for during the game:

Why watch: With marquee starters expected to sit, dozens of players are competing for positioning on the 53-man roster. One of those players is Alejandro Villanueva, who's journey to the NFL is a great story. Villanueva can solidify a roster spot with a solid performance. The 6-foot-9 Villanueva, a former Army rifle platoon leader turned 345-pound offensive lineman, has worked at left and right tackle for the Steelers and figures to become a serviceable backup to Kelvin Beachum and Marcus Gilbert. But not many roster spots are safe outside of starters, a few veterans and some draft picks, so Villanueva must build on his positive camp performance.

Did you know: Running back Josh Harris has been hurt for much of the preseason and could use a few impact runs against the Panthers. The Steelers need tailback depth while Le'Veon Bell serves a two-game suspension, so Harris must take ownership of that third spot behind DeAngelo Williams and Dri Archer. Also, the Steelers face tough cuts in the secondary, where undrafted corner Kevin Fogg has stood out but could get left out by the numbers game.