The Steelers look to conclude preseason play with a winning record and a healthy offensive line Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers. Steeler HC Mike Tomlin is set to try a third man at RG in Doug Legursky, after taking looks at Ramon Foster and Tony Hills in previous games. Legursky is a 6-1, 315 pounder, who is normally a backup at the center position.
The offensive line remains a point of concern for the Steelers who have been plagued by injuries up front. Salary cap constraints have also made it tough for the Steelers to patch the O-line as the likes of Flozell Adams have departed due to monetary necessity.
Offensive and defensive starters will be rested in preparation for the Week 1 tilt with the Ravens in Baltimore on 9/11. Perennial clipboard carrier Charlie Batch, a 14 year veteran, gets the nod at QB for Pittsburgh against Carolina. Both Batch and Dennis Dixon will take all of the snaps as Byron Leftwich is out with a broken left arm.
The Steelers will be trimming their roster down from 80 to 53 men by the NFL deadline of Saturday, September 3. That means many young players will be looking to make a final impact against the Panthers. RB Jonathan Dwer, P Jeremy Kapinos and K Swayze Waters among others need to make a major statement to make the final roster.
Carolina will look to finalize their QB situation against the Steel Curtain. Lucky for both Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen, they will face backups rather than starters. Then again, that might not bode well for either player as the desperation to make a roster spot statement could mean hard times for the Panther duo. Both will get long looks for HC Ron Rivera. Regardless, look for spirited play from the Steeler reserves and some big hits on both sides of the ball in this final tune up for both teams in Charlotte.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 31 Carolina 17
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Written by Karl Sannicks, II