The Pittsburgh Steelers head north to play Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, NY.
What: Steelers (1-2) at Bills (1-1)
When: Saturday August 29th 4pm ET
TV: KDKA Bob Pompeani, Charlie Batch and Jeff Verszyla and Missi Matthews on the sidelines.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
The Steelers couldn’t be happier to be playing a game after the tumultuous week they have had. After losing Maurkice Pouncey for a substantial part of the season and Bruce Gradkowski for all of it, things got worse when we learned receiver Martavis Bryant was facing a four-game suspension for substance abuse.
Both Darrius Heyward-Bey and rookie Sammie Coates will see time in the third wideout position with Bryant likely gone to start the season.
What We Are Watching For:
1. Can the defense keep coming together? We know Stephon Tuitt is out for sure but that shouldn’t keep this D from moving forward. Once thing is for certain, the level of quarterback play the defense will see is significantly less than last week.
Rex Ryan has already said that E.J. Manuel would start and I don’t have to tell you that he’s a big step down from Aaron Rodgers. Keith Butler and company need to make a statement and slam the door on Manuel and the Bills early and often.
2. The “Center” of Attention. With Maurkice Pouncey on the shelf for at least eight weeks, Cody Wallace takes over. The Steelers are in a tough spot with Wallace because he needs reps with the first team especially against a good Bills’ defensive front. The other side of the coin is that they need him healthy too.
Once Wallace departs today, keep an eye on recently signed Doug Legursky. I don’t expect much from him starting out until he gets the rust knocked off but either way he needs to display that he can fill in when necessary.
3. Third Spot Up for Grabs. As I said above, we know that DHB and Sammie Coates are going to get ample amounts of snaps today and look for C.J. Goodwin to get a bunch as well. Mike Tomlin has made it no secret that loves him some DHB but I see that more because of his special teams and locker room presence.
This is a monster opportunity for Coates who was drafted to play and not sit the bench quite frankly. Regardless, he and DHB have to be able to take some of the heat off of Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton.
As always, let’s hope the Steelers can come through without serious injuries today.