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Pittsburgh Steelers Will Be Searching for Answers to Depth Questions on Offense Against the Washington Redskins

August 18th, 2013 at 8:04 PM
By Mark Mihalko

The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Washington Redskins Monday to close out week two of the full preseason slate and for some players; it could be their last chance to make an impact. With this being the second preseason game, the starters on both sides of the ball will likely play at least a quarter, giving plenty of young players a chance to make an impact.

'Audible to Thomas, Broncos vs Steelers 2012' photo (c) 2012, Craig Hawkins - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
Offensively, with many of the starting positions solidified, the important snaps will come once the starters depart. At this point, there are still a lot of questions to be answered when it comes to the reserve offensive line, back-up tight ends and wide receiving corps.

Along the offensive line, it would seem that only Kelvin Beachum and possibly center / guard John Malecki stand on solid ground as reserves. Those two players offer some experience and position flexibility, and can provide depth at all five positions. While it would be an unlikely scenario for the team to keep only seven linemen, someone must step up.

If the cut-down day was today, veteran Guy Whimper would likely be the eighth and final member of the offensive line to make the team. While Whimper has not set the world on fire, he would at least be a veteran presence. However, cut down say is a couple of weeks away, so there is time for a lineman or two to make a name for themselves.

One player that was working toward that end, Justin Cheadle, will miss at least this week with what is being called a significant hamstring injury. Joe Long, Mike Golic Jr. and Chris Hubbard all have a chance, but their time to make an impression is dwindling.

The tight end position is still in some flux due to the unknown status of Heath Miller. Reportedly, the Steelers will activate him from the PUP list prior to the start of the regular season, although, he may not be ready to play. David Paulson should be the opening day starter, but behind him, there are question marks.

With Matt Spaeth out for an extended period, the team may decide to use their injured reserve exception on him; to save a roster spot after the initial roster is made. If that is the case, the second active tight end on the roster Week 1 may not be known for some time.

Jamie McCoy or recently signed veteran Michael Palmer could be that player, although like along the offensive line, they need to start making plays. The wild card is potentially David Johnson, who is also on the PUP list. If the veteran can return to practice soon, he could steal that roster spot.

The wide receiver position will be one of the better position battles to watch, as the combatants for the final spots have all shown some ability and have made plays. At this point, sixth round pick Justin Brown appears to have a solid grasp of the fifth receiver position, and will likely make the roster; although J.D. Woods is also making a strong case for that spot.

Reggie Dunn, Derek Moye, David Gilreath and others must open some eyes this week and in coming weeks to have a chance at the final roster. This is especially true with Gilreath, who must make amends for his poor performance in the opener.

The biggest question comes from the final numbers if the team decides to keep six wide receivers instead of five. If that is the case, the recent hot topic of return ability could play a role. If that is the case, like tight end, those final decisions may not be known until the roster is announced.

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Tags: Chris Hubbard, David Gilreath, derek moye, Football, Guy Whimper, Jamie McCoy, Joe Long, Michael Palmer, Mike Golic, NFL, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers, Reggie Dunn

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