Starting QBs not likely to play long tonight
Fans looking forward to watching Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre duel in tonight's 7:30 exhibition game will be left wanting for more.
Roethlisberger will be in the game for no more than 15 plays, and Packers coach Mike McCarthy says Brett Favre will be under center for 12 to 15 plays.
The Packers are playing their first exhibition game, which is why Favre will make only a cameo appearance at Heinz Field.
The Steelers are treating the game as if it's their first of the preseason despite having played in the Hall of Fame Game last Sunday. That's why their starters also will make an early exit and why coach Mike Tomlin and his staff won't rush to judgment based on what happens in the game.
"We're going to be really conscious about not making final decisions after this game," Tomlin said. "It's human nature to kind of want to do that, (but) we'll have three more left to play. The picture will become clearer if we remain patient, in terms of the process."
Running back Willie Parker practiced Thursday but won't play tonight. It won't be because of a lack of lobbying on the Pro Bowler's part.
"He's been driving me crazy, but that's OK," Tomlin said.
The Steelers are being extremely cautious with Parker, who has inflammation in his left knee. Parker has stayed busy during practices by encouraging the team's running backs.
"The running backs are starting to call him coach Parker because he's wearing them out," Tomlin said. "But that's what makes him who he is."
The storms that socked the Pittsburgh area Thursday forced the Steelers to leave camp temporarily.
With the power out in the dormitories at St. Vincent College, the coaches and players drove back to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
The team had a light practice indoors Friday morning at the Steelers' South Side facility in preparation for tonight's game.
The Steelers are advising fans who are going to the game to leave early because of construction on I-376 and the security checks at the entrances of Heinz Field.
The coaches will get their first look at rookie tight end Matt Spaeth in a NFL game.
Spaeth, the Steelers' third-round pick, was held out of last Sunday's game after he missed some practice time with a minor shoulder injury.
The 6-foot-7 Spaeth has excellent size and good hands and could emerge as a target for Roethlisberger when the Steelers are near the end zone.
"We're excited to see him come out here this weekend and play, and that will determine really kind of where he is," Tomlin said.
Following the plan
Fans shouldn't read too much into Sean Mahan starting at center -- even if Chukky Okobi (back) does play -- or Willie Colon starting at right tackle.
Tomlin said the decision to start Mahan and Colon was made regardless of how Okobi and Max Starks, who's No. 1 on the depth chart at right tackle, played in the Steelers' first exhibition game and in practice.
Starks will see action at both tackle spots, Tomlin said, just as he did in the Steelers' 20-7 win over the New Orleans Saints.
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