Since May, through OTAs, minicamp and two weeks of training camp, it’s been Steelers vs. Steelers, teammates going against each other in practice.
On Saturday night, they finally face a different opponent when they play the New York Giants in the preseason opener at Heinz Field.
“We are excited about the next phase of development for us which is to step into a stadium on Saturday night vs. the Giants,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “That is an exciting process in itself, but to do it at Heinz Field is equally exciting for us.
“It’s time for us to see some unfamiliar faces and schemes and approaches to the game of football. To see our level of understanding, our ability to play under those conditions and circumstances, I am excited about that.”
Starters are expected to play approximately 10-12 snaps in the game, and then it’s going to be time to take a look at younger players, many Tomlin will see for the first time in NFL game action, including the team’s draft picks.
“I am just looking for a good representation of not only what they are capable of, but more importantly what it is they know,” said Tomlin. “Not just in terms of assignments, but what they know about the game. Things like their ability to communicate in the field of play, their understanding of the unwritten rules of the game of football, and the things that they should know innately.
“The things you don’t coach are the things I am going to value seeing from some of the guys I don’t have an in-game experience with.”
While some position battles will play out on Saturday night, including the starting running back job, Tomlin knows that while jobs can be won this week, it’s not likely.
“I never have a timetable in terms of when jobs are won,” said Tomlin. “I just think when it’s definitive you know. The possibility of that is yes, the probability is no. We have a lot of time to develop this football team not only in terms of establishing who the 53 are, but the division of labor within that.”
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Expect to see
“I’m not ready to say it’s permanent,” said Tomlin. “I am ready to say it’s permanent for Saturday night. I do believe that it has been interesting and produced some positive results. We’ll see what it looks like inside a stadium and kind of go from there.”
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Tomlin said that punters
“It has been my history that, at least the first time out I will go halves with them,” said Tomlin. “I haven’t decided who gets what yet.”