Believe it or not we have reached the final week of the preseason! The Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Charlotte to take on the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. The Steelers got their first win of the preseason last week over New Orleans while the Panthers dropped a 19-17 game to New England.
What: Pittsburgh Steelers 1-2 at Carolina Panthers 1-2
Where: Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, NC
When: Thursday September 1st 2016 730pm ET
Weather: After rain most of the day, kickoff is supposed to see temperatures in the high 80’s with some sun.
Line: Panthers -4
TV: KDKA TV Bob Pompeani, Charlie Batch with Missi Matthews and Jeff Verszyla on the sidelines
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Rabble TV: Not Broadcasting tonight but we will be doing the season opener against the Redskins!
Key Injuries: Ladarius Green has been moved to the regular season PUP list while Bruce Gradkowski has been put on season-ending Injured Reserve.
Availability: Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and DeAngelo Williams will not play. They are among a host of regulars who won’t see action in this one.
Final 2015 NFL Ranks : Panthers 11th total offense (2nd Rushing/ 24th Passing)/ 6th total defense (4th Rushing/ 11th Passing)… Steelers 3rd total offense (16th Rushing/3rd Passing)/21st total defense (5th Rushing/30th Passing)
What You Need to Know: The Steelers and Panthers hook up for the 17th time in the preseason and 14th consecutive season.
What’s at Stake: Not a damn thing.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead the all-time series in the regular season 5-1. The Steelers have won six of the last nine and lead the preseason series 10-7.
Series Highs: Preseason not available
What to Look For: In this space in the regular season, I’ll provide you with three keys to a Steelers’ win. Thus, “Three-Point Stance.” For the preseason, I’ll give you what we’re watching for since winning isn’t the number one objective.
The Steelers will likely see Landry Jones and Bryn Renner handle most of the snaps from the quarterback position. Newly acquired Zach Mettenberger could see a couple of plays but I really doubt it. The major battles to keep an eye on are are tight end and running back. Can Fitzgerald Toussaint hold off Daryl Richardson and can Xavier Grimble do enough to become the third tight end? Receivers will also be battling but in this case it may be to see who makes the practice squad and who gets cut outright.
Defensively, first round draft pick Artie Burns is expected to see his first action so he’ll get plenty of attention from the viewers. In terms of battles, put your eyes on the linebackers first. L.J. Fort has been just a bit better than Tyler Matakevich in my opinion but I don’t have a say in terms of who makes the team. Both guys have battled hard and I expect it to continue. The other area of focus is at safety. Will the Steelers stick with Mike Mitchell, Rob Golden, Sean Davis and Sharmarko Thomas? Or does someone else have a shot? With Doran Grant doing both safety and corner he could be the answer.
Keep in mind there will be guys giving everything they have but it won’t be enough. Hopefully they all find spots somewhere or as Coach Noll used to say, “get on with their life’s work.”