As is usually the case for the first preseason game, don’t expect to see too much tomorrow night when the Steelers take the field for the first time under new coach Mike Tomlin in the Hall of Fame game. To start, we know that we won’t see starting running back Willie Parker, as he hasn’t practiced for four straight days with swelling in his left knee. The starting back will be Najeh Davenport, who will play some third downs as well. “We want to see what Najeh can do in that area,” Tomlin said. Davenport, who was resigned in the offseason, seems to have the inside track as the backup to Parker.
Big Ben will get the start at quarterback, and following him will be Charlie Batch, Brian St.Pierre and then Bryan Randall. I would be shocked if Ben plays more than say two series. As far as wide out Santonio Holmes, he will play, but other than a few plays that will be it. “We’d like to give him a lot of work, but not at the expense of a potential health risk because of conditioning,” Tomlin said. Holmes has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury and just started practicing again Sunday.
So no matter what happens tomorrow night, don’t get too excited one way or another. The thing I will most be looking to see is if the team seems somewhat crisp and ready to go after hitting each other in some rather intense practices for the past two weeks. If Tomlin has these guys ready to go and ready to hit someone in another uniform, I think that will be the biggest start for a season in the right direction.
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