Pregame Blog: Steelers at Panthers

Mitch to start: Quarterback Mitch Trubisky will start against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett is in the concussion protocol following last week's game against the Baltimore Ravens and had been ruled out. Trubisky replaced him in the first quarter, throwing for 276 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.

"I'm ready. I'm looking forward to the opportunity," said Trubisky. "We'll take care of the football, we'll move it. If all the guys do their job, play together, I feel good about this week."

Trubisky has played in six games, starting four, this season and completed 100 of 158 pass attempts for 1,073 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions, three coming last week against the Ravens.

"I made some great throws out there. We moved the football up and down the field," said Trubisky of the Ravens' game. "But obviously I've got to take care of the football, especially down in the red zone. I'm looking forward to bouncing back this week and getting that opportunity."

Physicality is a must: Today's game against the Carolina Panthers will be a homecoming for linebacker Alex Highsmith, who was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, attended UNC Charlotte and grew up watching the Panthers and attending home games.

"I am excited for it. I have a lot of people coming to the game," said Highsmith. "It's a game I've been looking forward to. Growing up watching them, playing in Charlotte, it's going to be a fun homecoming. I am looking forward to it.

"It's going to be good to go back and play. I am excited for it."

Highsmith will be even more excited if the Steelers can play the game they want to on defense, which starts with stopping the run. After strong outings against the run, the last six quarters they have had their struggles and Highsmith said there are keys to getting back to where they want to be.

"Physicality. Staying in our gaps. Making the pile fall back," said Highsmith. "Attacking guys. We didn't do that enough last game, so we know it's going to be a point of emphasis this game because they have a really good running game, division of backs."

Highsmith said that physicality is something everyone on defense has, they just have to bring it out to the max this week.

"It's a mindset," said Highsmith. "This point of the year it's gotta be a mindset. It's not something that is schematics. You can't install physicality. It's gotta be a mindset. We come in, and it starts play one. We have to set the tone."

Stopping the run: A major focus for the Steelers defense this year was improving their run defense, especially after finishing last in the NFL in that category in 2021.

And they have done that. The run defense is currently ranked 15th overall in the NFL, 11th in the AFC. But they have dropped after being ranked seventh just a few weeks ago.

The solution to improving in that area and getting back to where they want to be is simple in Cameron Heyward's eyes.

"Just get better in our technique," said Heyward. "That's all we can. It's a process that's not just solved in one game. You're constantly gonna get challenged in the run game and we got to continue to improve."

The defense doesn't have a lot of time with just four games left and a Carolina team that likes to run the ball, the third straight opponent that finds success keeping it on the ground.

It's a challenge Heyward welcomes.

"If you fall short once you get another chance to address it," said Heyward. "So, I'm looking forward to just getting back to it on Sunday.

"It's just getting down to the nuts and bolts. They're a running group. They're gonna stick with their run regardless and this is a great test coming off the last one."

The test will have its challenges as the Panthers' have plays where they employ eight offensive linemen, what they refer to as the 'Arby's – we have the meats.'

"It comes down to good technique," said Heyward. "Bigger guys out there. We just got to be able to stay stout because if they're doing that, there's less chance for them to pass. We gotta make sure we have good keys, play with our hands and defeat double teams."

A look at pregame warmups before the Steelers' Week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium

Message is the same: After a huge upswing for the Steelers run defense, the last two games they have given up more yards on the ground than desired, in particular last week against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens put up a total of 215 yards with J.K. Dobbins going for 120 yards on 15 carries, an eight-yard average.

"Every week is huge to stop the run," said linebacker T.J. Watt. "But when you show leakage on film, gaps being open, yards after contact, all that stuff you want to get rid of as quickly as possible so it doesn't keep showing up on film."

The challenge to stop the run will continue this week against the Carolina Panthers, who will often employ eight offensive linemen in what they refer to as the 'Arby's – we have the meats' package.

"Of course, you are going up against a little bit more beef but other than that we've got some personnel things to kind of attack it," said Watt. "It minimizes what they can do out of the run or run action type stuff. So, there's some positives and negatives to it."

Looking to score: Diontae Johnson just shook his head and gave a wry smile when the subject came up.

Because there isn't anyone more aware of the fact that he hasn't scored a touchdown this year than Johnson himself.

The last time he scored a touchdown was January 3, 2022, in the regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns. And every week he is fighting to change that, but at the same time not making it his number one priority.

"I am trying. I am trying," said Johnson. "This is the longest I have ever been without scoring. I am thinking about it, but at the same time I don't. I am just trying to win games and do anything to help the team out.

"At the end of the day that's not what it's about. It's a team game and I am going to continue to be a team player and help everybody around me. Touchdowns are eventually going to come."

Respect for his coach: Montravius Adams hasn't been with the Steelers for long, signed by the team last November off the New Orleans Saints practice squad.

But it didn't take him long to gain massive respect for Coach Mike Tomlin, and one thing he doesn't want to do is let his coach down.

Tomlin hasn't had a losing season in his 15 years at the helm for the Steelers, and Adams said he doesn't want that to happen now.

"At the end of the day something that means a lot to me is Coach T," said Adams. "Never had a losing season. I just don't want that to be under my belt. He is a guy that when I came in gave me a lot of morale to play better. I am sure a lot of guys in the locker room feel this way. We've got to get it right.

"When I sit back and think it's something that's on my mind. Just for the time I have (been here), the coaching staff and him have been great. What people say about him being a player's coach is all the way true. If we can't gel together for each other, at least we can do it for him."

Getting his shot: The Steelers signed defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall to the 53-man roster on Wednesday morning and by the afternoon he was already out on the practice field working with his new teammates.

"I am very excited," said Marshall. "It's a chance for me to come out and show why I am in the NFL."

Marshall was signed off the New York Jets practice squad. He was drafted by the Jets in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the 207th pick overall. He played in four games for the Jets in 2021 and recorded two tackles.

Marshall said the last 24 hours have been a little bit crazy, but he welcomes his new home.

"To be honest it's been very exciting and nervous at the same time coming from there to here," said Marshall. "Everything has been good. It's just the transition has been a little crazy."

Marshall said he is preparing to play if needed on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

"I have to get in, get to work, study the playbook and do everything I can," said Marshall. "The first step is to get to work and show everybody here what I can do."

Tune in: For fans who don't want to miss any of the action, NFL+ is here, which means you can now watch the Steelers live and on the go! Watch live local and primetime regular season games on your phone or tablet. Start your free trial today here.

A look at player arrivals before the Steelers' Week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium

WATCH/STREAM

  • The game broadcast is carried nationally on CBS (KDKA-TV locally in Pittsburgh). Game coverage begins Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET; The BetMGM Steelers Kickoff pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. ET and will air locally on KDKA-TV; The Neighborhood Ford Store Steelers Xtra Point Postgame Show starts immediately following the game on Pittsburgh CW. The Postgame Show will also be archived on the Steelers YouTube channel.
  • Greg Gumble (play-by-play), Adam Archuleta (analysis) and AJ Ross (sideline) are on the game call.
  • The NFL also offers fans a number of ways to watch this preseason game on their digital devices:
  • NFL+ Premium gives you the freedom to watch LIVE local & primetime Regular Season and Postseason games on your phone or tablet, full & condensed replays of every game, and MORE! Whether you are at the stadium or on-the-go, you will never miss a moment with NFL+. NOTE: NFL+ is only available to users within the United States. For a full description of features, requirements, limitations, and other information, visit NFL+ Support
  • Fans outside of the United States can stream the game via the NFL's GamePass International product.
  • Don't forget all Steelers postgame press conferences are streamed live on Steelers.com, the Steelers Official Mobile App, Facebook and Twitter.

LISTEN

  • Steelers Radio Network - Game coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. ET; Pregame programming begins at 9:00 a.m. ET; Postgame coverage starts immediately following the game.
  • Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play), Craig Wolfley (color analyst) Missi Matthews (sideline), Max Starks (sideline) are on the call.
  • Fans in the Pittsburgh area can listen locally on WDVE 102.5 FM & WBGG 970 AM.
  • The Steelers Radio Network will broadcast the game live through our radio affiliates. Click here for a list of our radio affiliates.
  • The game broadcast is also carried on Steelers Nation Radio (SNR). SNR is streamed on Steelers.com and the Official Steelers Mobile App. Fans can listen to pregame and postgame programming from anywhere in the world on these platforms. NFL geographical restrictions apply to the game broadcast stream for desktop, mobile web and mobile app users.
  • SiriusXM subscribers can listen to Steelers game live. Please visit SiriusXM's Steelers broadcast page for channel details.

EN ESPANOL

  • Puedes escuchar la transmisión del partido en español en cualquier parte del mundo ensteelers.com/espanol desde tu computadora.
  • Si estas en México y en el área de Pittsburgh ahora puedes escuchar también desde tu dispositivo móvil y desde el App Oficial de Steelers. Simplemente haz Clic en la esquina superior derecha de la pagina principal del App donde dice "Live Audio" y selecciona español.
  • También nuevo para este año, todos los juegos de los Steelers de la temporada 2022 serán transmitidos por Radio Imagen en México.Haz clic aquí para ver la lista de esas estaciones.
  • Álvaro Martín, y Arturo Carlos serán nuestro equipo del Steelers en español este domingo. Álvaro Martín está en su tercera década de crónica de la NFL y en su cuarta temporada como comentarista de Steelers en español. Arturo Carlos esta entrando en su cuarta temporada como play-by-play de Steelers en Español.

Game Pass International

Inicia tu prueba GRATIS ahora para ver todos los juegos de los Steelers en vivo en y más con NFL Game Pass International.Para iniciar tu prueba y regístrarte haz clic aquí.

Activa las notificaciones en español del App Oficial de SteelersAbre la aplicación, haz clic en la esquina inferior derecha en "More," haz clic en "Settings," haz click en la tercera opción "Notifications" y activa el icono en "Español."

CONNECT

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