Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
Offensive Starters To See More Action
The Steelers' offensive starters were used for 14 snaps in the preseason opener, and Ben Roethlisberger played even less than that. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin plans to keep the first-team offense in the game longer on Saturday, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The first team played into the second quarter in last year's second preseason game.
Rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, the Steelers' prized first-round pick, began practicing in a limited capacity Monday after missing the preseason opener with a knee injury, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He'll be a game-time decision Saturday, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Munchak Pushes to Keep Nine Offensive Linemen
New offensive line coach Mike Munchak wants the Steelers to keep nine offensive linemen on the roster, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Munchak was a Hall of Fame guard for the Houston Oilers and coached the Oilers and Tennessee Titans' offensive line for 14 years. The Titans fired him as head coach after the 2013 season, and his hiring was a coup for the Steelers. So on cutdown day, his opinion on offensive linemen will carry a lot of weight.
The problem is, it's hard to find nine players deserving of a roster spot after the way the backups performed in the preseason opener. Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones both were sacked once, and Steelers quarterbacks were hit four times and hurried eight times, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). The only starter charged with any of those was left tackle Kelvin Beachum, who gave up a quarterback hit.
The understudies will have to make major strides to bolster Munchak's case to leave nine offensive linemen on the opening-day roster.
Long Snapper Goes Down
Steelers long snapper Greg Warren suffered a torn meniscus during practice on Wednesday and is expected to miss four weeks, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Steelers' long snapper since 2005, Warren is one of five players on the roster who won two Super Bowls as a Steeler.
Undrafted rookie Bryce Davis will handle the long-snapping duties for now, but the Steelers also signed Luke Ingram, who was in camp with them last year.
Preseason Games Don't Count, But...
The Steelers haven't won a preseason game since they defeated the Carolina Panthers 17-16 on Aug. 30, 2012 at Heinz Field. It turned out to be a hollow victory because rookie linebacker Sean Spence suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for two seasons.
Staying healthy is more important than the score in preseason games. Nonetheless, after a 0-4 preseason in 2013, the Steelers started the regular season 0-4 and finished 8-8. It was the Steelers' third winless preseason since 1970. They went 0-4 in the 1987 and 2006 preseasons and won eight games in the regular season both times, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
So a win in one of their three remaining August games would provide the Steelers with a springboard toward a better September than last season.
Bills Also Have an Extra Game
The Steelers again face a team that has played one more preseason game than them. The Giants defeated the Bills 17-13 in the Hall of Fame Game, which kicked off the preseason on Aug. 3. Both the Bills and Giants are scheduled for five preseason games.