Hey everybody! Let me be the three hundred and seventy third person this week to remind you that the Steelers are playing tonight. The Home Team has traveled to Philadelphia and will be taking on the Eagles tonight at Lincoln Financial Field. Here’s a list of some Steelers that you won’t be seeing on the field tonight: James Harrison, Willie Colon, Rashard Mendenhall, Max Starks, Mike Wallace, and Casey Hampton. Some players strapping it up for the first time as members of the Black and Gold tonight include: Sean Spence, Mike Adams, Chris Rainey, and David DeCastro. The recent draft picks have been scrutinized by the coaching staff, fan base, and media, while at training camp out there in Latrobe. Many observers have been quick to weigh in on the early talents (Rainey) or short comings (DeCastro) of these new Steelers. For his part, Mike Tomlin, is withholding his opinions until his players get to display their skills “In a stadium environment”. ‘In a stadium environment’ is a phrase that sounds like football! Brian Billick, former head coach of the Ravens (TCSFB), used to warn folks who tried to judge the talent potential of players participating at the combine or early in training camp by saying, “Don’t fall in love with a man in shorts”. That statement, and Brian Billick in general, have always cracked me up but let’s face it; the ‘man in shorts’ line doesn’t sound very footbally to me, Ma.
Sure this is the first preseason contest and each team’s offenses and defenses will look as vanilla as this sentence, but it’s Professional Tackle Football and I’ll be watching. As always, there are roster spots up for grabs. The Steelers would have difficulty keeping Rainey, Baron Batch, Dwyer, Clay, Mendenhall, and Redman around unless one or more of these dudes becomes a special teams stand out. Tomlin is taking his prospects to a stadium to answer stadium sized questions at defensive back, D-line, running back, and whatever the hell is up with that tight end/fullback position. Oh, yeah. There’s a nagging little question hanging over the wide receiving corps as well.
These questions will all be answered by the time the regular season gets under way in Denver. It is also true that these questions do not all have to be answered tonight in Philadelphia but parts of the picture may come into a sharper focus. Mike Tomlin will get his first chance this season to see who is Stadium Ready and who should have stayed in shorts.