Key players will be back in action

For the first two preseason games Coach Mike Tomlin sat his key starters on offense. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running backs Le'Veon Bell and Le'Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown have been spectators up until now. But things will change this week when the Steelers hit the road to play the New Orleans Saints on Friday night.

"Everyone that is healthy will be available to play," said Tomlin. "We'll sort out the amount of playing time as we get closer to game time. We have had a lot of guys work their way back in different forms and fashions this week."

It will be the first opportunity for the offense to work together as a unit, and Tomlin likes the fact that it will be in an environment they are going to have to get accustomed to playing in.

"We are excited about going to New Orleans and playing against these guys," said Tomlin. "They have a hostile environment. We expect a loud crowd. We need to operate under those circumstances. We are excited about seeing what our offensive unit can do under those circumstances."

The game could also be a good test for the defense if they have the opportunity to go against Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

The Steelers prepare for the Week 3 preseason matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

"Hopefully we have an opportunity to compete against Drew," said Tomlin. "I have a lot of respect for him. We look forward to the challenges he can present us on the other side."

  • Rookie Artie Burns, who has been bothered by a quad injury, practiced on Wednesday and Tomlin liked what he saw.

"It was a big day for Artie Burns," said Tomlin. "Got good, significant work from him today at practice. Hopefully there is no negative consequence of that work and he can continue to move forward."

While Burns is moving forward, several players 'probably' won't play against the Saints including linebacker Bud Dupree, quarterbacks Bruce Gradkowski and Dustin Vaughan, fullback Roosevelt Nix, center Cody Wallace and tackle Jerald Hawkins.

  • With the team back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex this week the practice schedule shifted more to a regular season week schedule.

"We had what was an in-season Friday practice today," said Tomlin. "Hit a lot of situational football things. It was a crisp practice. We judge the week's preparation by how we perform.

"Largely it's just about this continued process of season readiness. More comprehensive game planning. More preparation from a situational standpoint. It's reasonable to expect the play to reflect that."

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