Preseason game number one is intriguing because it's been so long since there was live football. Preseason game number three is the "dress rehearsal." Game two? It ain't so bad. Here's what to watch for tonight.
1.) How does Mason Rudolph look when he gets his first NFL start?
--He will be playing behind legit NFL offensive lineman, and should have more time to go through his progressions than last week against Philadelphia.
--His ball security was a problem in camp and in game number one. Has he improved?
--Will he rely on James Washington or go through his reads and put the football where it's supposed to go?
--His footwork in the pocket is already NFL ready and was on full display last week.
2.) Le'Veon Bell and James Conner are making the team, so who else can distinguish themselves?
--Stevan Ridley is a good player. I'm sure teams around the league are hoping the Steelers put him on the chopping block. He's a good runner. Special teams is a necessary "evil" for a 3rd string RB. Is he willing and able?
--Fitz Toussaint is willing. I'm not sure how "able" he is. I like what he provides as a runner, but his kick return work last year was...well...not good.
--Jaylen Samuels can run. He can catch. Can he block? Can he play special teams?
3.) Who's the 4th outside linebacker?
--Anthony Chickillo is making the team. He's just a guy, but he's making the team. That leaves Keion Adams, Farrington Huegenin, and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi battling for the 4th spot. Each has flashed in their own way. Let's see who takes a step tonight.
--Bud Dupree will get his first playing time of the preseason tonight. Let's see if it helps the first string run defense look better than last week.
4.) How much dollar defense will we see?
--The Steelers defense played exclusively in the dollar in the last two minute drill of camp. Keith Butler said that the defense will be used based on down and distance and the given opponent. I'd like to see it in game action before the regular season.
5.) Will the Steelers cheat?
--Last week, dirty cheater Mason Rudolph sneaked a deflated football into the game. Without the diligence and bravery of Howard Eskin, he would have gotten away with it. Will he try such a rouse again? Time will tell.