The preseason is officially underway. As the Pittsburgh Steelers open their preseason battle with the New York Giants there will be plenty to watch. What are the five questions that must be answered for the Steelers in this game?
Does Joshua Dobbs play the entire game?
Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones are going to be sitting out the first preseason game, giving Joshua Dobbs his first career NFL start. This should be a chance to give Dobbs an entire game to show the team what he has and what he needs to build on. Bart Houston is the only other quarterback on the roster but there is little to gain from giving him any significant snaps. This should be a great chance for the team to get a long hard look at Dobbs who will at least play the first three-quarters.
Can Justin Hunter bring his training camp hype to the NFL field?
Justin Hunter was one of the names who caught some buzz over his first few days of camp. However, as the sessions have gone along he has missed some time, and the buzz has simmered. Still, Hunter should be seeing plenty of playing time this week and will have to take advantage to keep the hype around his name. Can he break open a big play? How many snaps does he get? Does he see the field on special teams? These are questions that Hunter needs to answer.
Will Mike Hilton catch the coach’s eye?
Hilton has been another name emerging from camp. With Senquez Golson down with an injury, it is Hilton who has been taking the second team slot cornerback snaps behind William Gay. Hilton is anything from a household name, but he should be seeing the field plenty as the Steelers try to learn with us. Can Hilton make a play to give the coaches more reason to play him longer? Is this the start of an ascension to the roster? We will soon find out.
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What kind of an impact can T.J. Watt make?
Watt is going to rotate in the lineup with James Harrison this season. As James Harrison approaches age 40 it is safe to say that he does not need any preseason snaps. Watt, on the other hand, was a tight end about two years ago at this time and would need every possible preseason snap. Watt is absolutely going to get that, and should at least play the entire first half in this game. Do we get a glimpse of the ceiling that Watt possesses tonight or do we have to understand he has some work to do before being an impact player?
What does the punt return pecking order look like?
With Antonio Brown on the sideline, an underlying question will be the depth chart at punt returner. Brown will not return punts forever, and they have been looking to move on from him in that role for a while now. Eli Rogers and DeMarcus Ayers are the players to watch. Ayers is an especially interesting case because his only path to the roster could rely on him being a starting returner. It will be interesting to see how far he has to climb, and whether or not he gets a chance to prove himself to the coaching staff.