| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

It's only exhibition, but these Steelers could solidify roster spots vs. Eagles

Steelers/NFL Videos

Email Newsletters

Sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
The Bills' Corey Graham breaks up a pass intended for Steelers receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey during practice Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

steelers gameday

at Eagles

7:30 p.m.

Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia

TV/radio: KDKA-2, WTAJ-10/ 102.5 FM, 970 AM, 1450 AM, 1480 AM, Steelers Radio Network

Line: Eagles by 31⁄2

By Alan Robinson
Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, 9:30 p.m.

The game counts for nothing, but for many wearing a Steelers jersey, it could count for everything.

Around the NFL, there's a phrase to describe it — “the all-important third preseason game” — and while it's almost become a cliche, it is true.

After the Steelers' starters play the first half, or most of it, or perhaps even a series into the second half Thursday night in Philadelphia, there will be no tomorrow for 15 players on the roster.

There also won't be a next week because they'll be gone before the fourth and not-that-important preseason game Aug. 28 against Carolina at Heinz Field. After that, another 22 will be cut before the season starts.

The Eagles game is meaningful for everyone — the starters, especially quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, want to gear it up, develop a rhythm, get into a regular-season mode because they'll likely play little if at all against Carolina.

The defense will get a test in the Eagles' hurry-up, fast-paced offense that operates at a higher rpm than any the Steelers will see during the season. And for the bottom 50 or so players on the roster, this is the time jobs are won — and, more often, lost.

“(We're) getting to the meat of this thing a little bit, and if guys (are) going to make a move, it's kind of now or never,” coach Mike Tomlin said.

Here are 10 players who will have much on the line at Lincoln Financial Field:

Cam Thomas, DE/DT — The Steelers just brought back Brett Keisel, and how much the 12-year veteran plays could be dictated by how well, or poorly, Thomas performs.

Steve McLendon, NT — He needs to show more after missing part of camp with a concussion.

Markus Wheaton, WR — The No. 2 starting wide receiver's job is his to lose. He hasn't done it so far, and he doesn't want to start now.

Brad Wing, P — The best punter in college football three years ago wants to make sure the Steelers don't have to shop on the waiver wire during Week 1 like they did last season.

Mike Adams, OT — He's gone from starting a year ago to competing for a backup's role.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR — Rookie Martavis Bryant has made more plays than this former first-round pick, and time is running out.

Landry Jones, QB — He might not get in this one, but he'll likely play a lot against Carolina. He hasn't shown much in two years, and it's time he did.

Chris Carter, OLB — He was yanked after one series against Buffalo, and his roster spot is in jeopardy.

Howard Jones, LB — The ace of the special teams so far, can he make another big play?

Antwon Blake, CB — The Steelers badly need a reliable backup here, but he hasn't shown consistency.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Steelers

  1. Unsung backups provide boost for Steelers defensive line
  2. Run game needed for balance vs. Seahawks
  3. Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
  4. Steelers plan to use smart pass rush against Seattle QB Wilson
  5. Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
  6. Steelers kicker Boswell puts best foot forward
  7. Steelers defense has taken to adjustments made by Butler
  8. Rookie linebacker Chickillo adjusting to role with Steelers
  9. Steelers notebook: Tomlin not grooming successor to RB Williams
  10. Steelers not giving up on wresting AFC North from Bengals
  11. Steelers notebook: Players get back to work after bye