Home Pittsburgh Sports Steelers Preseason Game 4 – Players to Watch vs. Panthers

Preseason Game 4 – Players to Watch vs. Panthers

While the third preseason game is always considered to be a team’s most important test before the season, the fourth preseason game is the final staging ground for position battles and roster spots. Two such position battles could be locked up by this week’s players to watch.

OG Doug Legursky
The battle for right guard may be over. Going into the offseason, the job belonged to Ramon Foster. Chris Scott made a challenge and fell short. Tony Hills gave the position a shot and couldn’t hang on. With Foster himself not standing out from the pack, the leading candidate to win the job is now Doug Legursky. Legursky had a stint at guard last year before sliding into a backup center role and performed very well in relief of an injured Maurkice Pouncey in the Super Bowl.

According to Willie Colon (via the Trib’s Mark Kaboly), Legursky is already penciled in as both the starter in the final preseason game and on opening day. If he performs well tonight, he’ll lock the opening day job up for sure. If he absolutely bombs, he could allow someone like Ramon Foster to sneak back into the picture.

CB Crezdon Butler
Butler was a bright spot for the Steelers in the third preseason game, with his 95-yard interception return being one of the defining plays of the contest as well as his young career. The second-year corner, drafted in the sixth-round last year, was almost a forgotten commodity this season. With two mid-round rookies on board and all the attention going towards the (hopeful) development of Keenan Lewis, Crezdon’s injury-filled camp made him an outsider.

Now he has put the Steelers in an interesting situation, and could make it more interesting if he shines tonight. Ike Taylor and the two rookies are guaranteed to make the roster, as neither rookie would make it past waivers and on to the practice squad. Ahead of Butler are Bryant McFadden, William Gay, and Keenan Lewis, who each at some point have been the subject of release rumors. A strong night by Butler could spell the end for one of the men in front of him or it could force the team to consider keeping seven corners on the roster this season.

WR Emmanuel Sanders
Sanders will likely get his first crack at preseason action tonight thanks to a foot injury that sidelined the receiver for much of the offseason. His injury coincided with the rapid rise of fellow second-year receiver Antonio Brown, who took the opportunity and turned it into a claim for major playing time in this year’s offense. Sanders needs to show that he’s also taking the next step as a receiver with his own opportunity tonight.

OL Chris Scott
Early in camp, Scott was looking like a stud and was the beneficiary of the first-team reps given up by players like Jonathan Scott and Willie Colon, who couldn’t begin practicing until the official start of the league year. He quickly became the favorite to win the right guard spot before completely dropping off the face of the earth. Now he’s more likely to miss the roster than make it, as rookie Keith Williams has impressed enough to stick. Pittsburgh won’t consider keeping eleven linemen on the roster, and Scott currently is that eleventh man. He could be destined for the practice squad or another team’s roster if he doesn’t open eyes tonight.

QBs Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch
No Ben Roethlisberger tonight, as is the usual plan for the fourth preseason game. There’s also no Byron Leftwich. The Steelers’ primary backup broke his arm in a game last week and his future has not yet been determined. In the short term at least, Pittsburgh needs a backup quarterback.

Batch has proven that he’s a strong spot starter, carrying play for a quarter or a half for an in-game injury, but he seems stretched as an every game starter. Dixon hasn’t yet shedded the “project” title. While his athleticism can be game-changing, his accuracy isn’t and he struggles to challenge the defense deep. Unfortunately, both are also injury prone.

Regardless, the opportunity is there for both men. Batch will start the game and Dixon will likely finish it. If one does well, he’ll lock up the backup job either for the season or until Leftwich returns (if Pittsburgh doesn’t place him on IR). If they both flop, we could start seeing veteran QBs making visits Friday over the weekend.

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