Carolina Panthers vs Pittsburgh Steelers: Steelers Preseason Week 4 Game Preview

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Carolina Panthers vs Pittsburgh Steelers: Steelers Preseason Week 4 Game Preview
Vincent Pugliese/Associated Press
Landry Jones is expected to see a lot of action in Thursday night's preseason finale.

The Pittsburgh Steelers close out the 2014 preseason Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET against the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field.

If the third preseason game is the dress rehearsal for the regular season, then the fourth preseason game is like the half-day on the last day of school. Just like kids can't wait for summer vacation, NFL fans can't wait for the real games to begin.

It's also a half-day of sorts for starters. Traditionally, most first-stringers only play a series or two in the final preseason game.

Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and Cameron Heyward won't play at all Thursday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Get ready to see a lot of Landry Jones.

Jason Worilds, Lance Moore and Sean Spence, all of whom have been nursing injuries, also will sit. 

Teams don't like to reveal much of their playbook in the preseason finale. That's especially true in this case, because the Steelers (1-2) and Panthers (1-2) face each other in prime time on Sunday night in Week 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Steelers' preseason victory came on Aug. 16 against the Buffalo Bills. After going 0-4 in the 2013 preseason and starting the regular season 0-4, the Steelers wanted to avoid another winless preseason. But their 31-21 loss at Philadelphia last Thursday was just as discouraging as their 0-for-August last year.

The final score didn't tell the tale. The Steelers starters fell behind 31-7 after three quarters against both the Eagles starters and second-teamers. 

Pittsburgh trimmed its roster to 75 players Tuesday and must cut down to the final 53 by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday. 

Thursday's game is the last chance for players on the roster bubble to earn jobs, as the Steelers try to enter the regular season with whatever momentum can be gained from a win in the preseason finale.

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