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Preseason Game #4: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Carolina Panthers - Open Thread

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Today is a joyous day. Tonight marks the end of the 2008 preseason schedule. Hallelujah! In addition to the games not -quite- satiating our appetite for football, preseason games also, of course, expose players to injury. We've been fairly lucky thus far with injurys (fingers crossed), at least anything severe. If we get through tonight unscathed, we should feel good about our chances to at least get out of the gates healthy and competitive when the regular season kicks off next Sunday.

This is your open thread for the final Steelers preseason game. Kick off is in less than an hour. If we get a link to watch the game online, I'll be sure to update this post with it for all to see.

Things to Watch For:

You may or may not know that the 4th and final preseason game is usually one in which coaches opt to play their starters very little, if at all. So, I hope you got your taste of Roethlisberger, Holmes, Timmons etc. We may see them for a few moments, but not much more than that.

However, with 18 cuts still to be made by Thursday, tonight marks a huge opportunity for guys on the bubble to make one final impression on the coaching staff and front office. Here's a few guys to keep an eye on specifically:

Willie Reid/Dallas Baker/Eddie Drummond - Last game's solid performance probably put Reid on the team, but Dllas Baker and/or Eddie Drummond still might have a chance to bump him with a special performance tonight. Drummond in particular better make something happen in the return game tonight or he's all but history.

Darnell Stapleton/Tony Hills - 9 or 10? How many OL will the Steelers keep? That's the million dollar question for these two guys. If it's 10, both should feel comfortable. If it's 9, one's headed to the PS. Stapleton may be the odd man out simply due to the saturation of Guards/Centers, and paucity of Tackles on the squad. 

Those Punter Guys - I'm assuming both Mitch Berger and Paul Ernster will get a crack at punting the ball tonight. May the best man win. Actually, it's likely Ernster needs to absolutely amaze tonight, for no other reason than that if it is a close call, the coaches will likely go with Berger because of his longer and more stable track record.

Dennis Dixon - I imagine that Byron Leftwich will get to play close to 2 quarters of football tonight. I haven't read the PG or any other paper or column about the game, so I may be missing something. But I suspect that the coaches still would like Leftwich to get some more work in tonight, injury risk be damned. Still, Dixon should play plenty, after not playing at all against Minnesota. Tonight might be one more chance for him to instill some confidence in the coaches, just in case the unthinkable happened and Big Ben was sidelined.

Orpheus Roye - My hunch is that Roye makes this team if he shows anything tonight. Eason is making his case this offseason for a spot, but I think it's Roye's job to lose.

Special Teams - Anybody that's on the bubble and on special teams tonight better take advantage and make a play. It may be their last shot.