Labriola On

'The starters will start' in third preseason game

It's the third week of the preseason. Which means the Steelers will approach things in a manner that's as close to the regular season as is reasonable. Which means, that as Bill Cowher once said, "The starters will start."

Through the first two weeks of the preseason, Coach Mike Tomlin rested some of his front-line players, while being cautious with some others who were nursing some minor injuries that wouldn't necessarily have sidelined them had it been the regular season.

But for this game – at 4 p.m. on Saturday against the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field – it will be much closer to "all hands on deck."

"I like the process the group went through this week," said Tomlin. "Our mind-set is that those who are healthy are going to play, and we're going leave the light on for those who have been partial participants. There have been some partial participants this week, and since we don't have to declare availability, we're going to leave the light on for them. Those guys being Antonio Brown, Morgan Burnett, Dan McCullers, and T.J. Watt. All of them have worked in a limited capacity this week, and we'll continue to push forward toward the game and determine their availability at the 11th hour."

Tomlin said the specific plan at quarterback right now is that both Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones will play against the Titans, and then depending upon how the game unfolds, there may be some snaps available for Joshua Dobbs and/or Mason Rudolph.

"Some guys who have been out for an extended period of time, guys you could classify as out of this game are Ramon Foster, Xavier Grimble, Mike Hilton, and Vance McDonald," said Tomlin. "Those are guys who haven't been working and are dealing more on a week-to-week capacity, as opposed to a day-to-day or limited participation capacity."

Tomlin wouldn't specify how many series, or how many quarters, the front-line guys would play against the Titans, because he said the determining factor there is going to be more about what they do on the field than how long they're on the field.

"We have a plan, but we're also light enough on our feet," said Tomlin. "There are certain things we want to see, and so that plan is subject to change. I'm not going to back myself into a corner. We're going to give those guys an opportunity to show that they're game-ready."

Because that's really the whole point of the third week of the preseason.

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