Photo: David Hague – Inside Pittsburgh Sports
As the Steelers suit up for their first preseason game Thursday night, all eyes will be on 2008 1st round pick Rashard Mendenhall.
Mendenhall who only appeared in four games last season, will get the bulk of carries during the 1st half as Willie Parker may sit out (back spasms) or only play a series or two.
What to watch For
RB Rashard Mendenhall – The talented running back has had a solid camp but he still has a lot to prove.
What the Steelers want to see from Mendenhall tonight and during the entire preseason is his ability to run between the tackles. They still don’t know what he brings to the table in that area as he was barely on the field last year.
Keep an eye on Mendenhall’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He adds that dimension to the Steelers running game along with his breakaway speed in the open field.
WR Mike Wallace – The Steelers 3rd round pick has jumped Shaun McDonald on the depth chart as the Steelers #4 receiver after a strong week of practice.
Wallace who runs a 4.33 forty yard-dash has improved his route running and quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch are becoming much more comfortable throwing to Wallace.
Wallace will begin the game as the Steelers #1 kick returner on the depth chart. Stefan Logan, Joe Burnett and Shaun McDonald will also get some looks as the teams primary kick returner tonight
KR/WR Stefan Logan – The former Canadian football league star, knows he has to have a sensational preseason to make the roster.
He has drawn comparisons to Darren Sproles due to his speed, elusiveness in the open field. Logan is the Steelers #8 wide receiver on the depth chart and will have to make his mark in the return game.
WR Limas Sweed – With Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes expected to only play a series, Limas Sweed will get plenty of reps in the Steelers preseason opener.
The 2nd round pick in 2008, has had a strong camp and the #3 wide receiver job is his to lose.
DT Ziggy Hood – The Steelers 1st round pick, Hood has been a fast learner in camp. Regarded as a student of the game, Hood has been getting plenty of tips from Aaron Smith following practices.
QB Dennis Dixon – The 2nd year quarterback has high hopes of unseating Charlie Batch to be Ben Roethlisberger’s primary back-up but Dixon has done nothing in camp put Batch on the hot-seat.