Preseason football is about evaluating talent more than it is about preparing starters. The Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants will be focusing on evaluation when they open their schedules at Heinz Field, Saturday August 10th at 7:30 pm ET.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin spoke recently of his plans to play his starters for 'about a quarter' which should be translated into a series or two. Chances are Steelers head coach MIke Tomlin will follow a similar plan.
Both teams have plenty of reasons to want their first units working in real game conditions, but the fear of injury is too great to leave starters in too long for an exhibition game. However, neither team will mind as each have young players who be given the majority of the spotlight.
The Steelers have several players nursing injuries, primarily defensive backs Curtis Brown, Cortez Allen and Terry Hawthorne. All three are expected to return later in the preseason, but will most likely be out of Saturday's matchup as will DeMarcus Van Dyke and possibly tight end Matt Spaeth.
With so many injuries in the secondary, younger players like Josh Victorian, Isaiah Green and recent addition Buddy Jackson could play most of the team's first game, with Ike Taylor and William Gay most likely relegated to the bench early on.
The Giants have a few players returning from injuries and PUP lists themselves. Justin Tuck is dealing with tightness in his back, but Coughlin hopes to have him on Saturday. Chris Snee and Terrell Thomas have been removed from the team's PUP list, but are unlikely to make appearances in the first game as they work their way back into practices.
While Coughlin will be trying to protect his starters, he does want to see how his rookie reserve QB Ryan Nassib will perform against an opponent's defense.
"He occasionally suffers from a lack of experience when something new confronts him but he has been impressive. He’s a tough kid. He’s battling."
Nassib could be in for some hard lessons during his first visit to Dick LeBeau University, even if he will be playing against the Steelers second-stringers.
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