Steelers vs. Panthers: A Preseason Week 4 tradition

Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE

The Steelers take on the Panthers in the 11th consecutive Preseason Week 4 game for both teams. Any reason they choose to play each other in this week? Any reason's as good as any other.

The Steelers and Panthers figured they'd just make it a regular thing.

Carolina's taxi squad vs. the Steelers roster non-hopefuls. It's the Anti-Super-Bowl. The Game Fans Don't Want to Pay to See. Preseason Week 4 is as anticipated event as the morning commute in the sense it's jam-packed full of people who will not be on an NFL roster.

Yet, the one constant, outside the regular season ticket prices, is the Steelers playing the Panthers. Last year, the game was highlighted and marred by Sean Spence. After an outstanding performance, the rookie linebacker tore up his knee in a grotesque fashion - he has yet to recover.

In 2011, Jonathan Dwyer began his ascent to Steelers Preseason Hall of Fame notoriety by cracking off 88 yards on 13 carries, including a 50-yard touchdown run.

Thursday's preseason finale against the Panthers will be the 11th consecutive year in which these two teams played each other in the fourth week of the preseason. Dating back to 2003, it's been the same teams, alternating locations, taking up their final tune-up before the regular season.

Any reason as to why they do it is as good as any. Why not? The Steelers have had two different coaches in that time, and the Panthers have had...several more than two. But the ownership groups haven't changed, and if they're comfortable with that, they may as well go ahead.

The key thing for both teams is getting through this final game without any injuries to the low-level depth chart inhabitants that might play more than one or two snaps. That didn't happen last year, and it certainly wasn't the fault of the Panthers. But as is the league tradition of playing a meaningless final preseason game - one in which it's very hard to argue the performance of any player is the final straw of making the roster.

The league deadline to announce the final 53-man roster for every team is 6 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 31. A large portion of the roster has to be set by this point, and if any player is still on the bubble, perhaps this game will impact that.

So there's the notion of something meaningful. After all, one Steelers linebacker may have made the team based on his performance in this game last year.

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