Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said his starters will see more action in Saturday night's third exhibition game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field and that he expects rookie linebacker Lawrence Timmons to make his debut.
"Tentatively we're going to play our first groups a lot longer than what we've done at this point," Tomlin said Thursday morning. "It is our intention to play guys longer in this game."
That means quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who played a total of three series in the first two games, should play at least into the second quarter. Running back Willie Parker, who missed the first two games because of a knee injury, will also start and receive extended playing time in the first half.
"We'll tend to play those guys more than we've played them," said Tomlin, who indicated the starters will play even longer in the fourth exhibition game against Philadelphia.
Timmons, the team's first-round draft pick who missed nearly all of the offseason workouts and two weeks of training camp with a groin injury, returned to practice Monday and has been given an increased workload.
"We anticipate playing Lawrence some. How much will kind of be determined on conditioning and what he's capable of handling from an assignment standpoint," Tomlin said. "He hasn't played a bunch of snaps, but it's obvious that he's taken advantage of the mental reps in the classroom work."
Backup nose tackle Chris Hoke (knee) is the only player ruled out for Saturday. Tomlin said that tackle Marvel Smith (back), safety Anthony Smith (abdomen) and center Chukky Okobi (ribs) could play, although Okobi indicated Thursday that he would return for next week's home game against the Eagles.
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