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Five Steelers To Keep An Eye On In Opening Preseason Contest

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Here are five guys that I think are worth taking a close look at while they're in there this evening. Obviously, few, if any of the guys I've included will be huge impact guys for our team this year, at least on a consistent weekly basis. But all have a chance to make the team, and add depth at critical positions.

Martavius Prince/Kyle Clement

One of these two guys will make the practice squad most likely. The other might be cut. If either plays out of this world for the remainder of camp and preseason, it's possible they could snag a guy like Nick Eason's roster spot. Regardless, I've been intrigued by Clement since the moment we signed him, and Prince has looked extremely solid thus far this camp.

Dennis Dixon

For much of the game, Dixon will be asked to simply hand the ball off, but he should get a chance to orchestrate several important series in the first half, and perhaps to start the second half as well. He's always been a 'gamer', so I'm interested to see if he can avoid being nervous for no good reason, and do some nice things while in there.

Travis Williams

Here's another kid I wrote about earlier in the offseason. Dale Lolley mentioned that Williams probably won't get his crack at returning until next week, when the Steelers head to Toronto to take on the Bills. He should see plenty of time at CB though, and I'm eager to see how he does in run-support in particular. He's a tad undersized.

Sean Mahan

Nobody in Steelers Country likes this guy right now, or at least so it seems. But, it's a new year. Time to give the guy another chance, starting tonight.  That's the way we do it as Steelers fans. Just as soon as he kerplunks (crossing fingers it won't happen), let the snarky comments and jokes reign again, but the slate is wiped clean, at least for me. He will start this week, with Hartwig getting the nod next week. Yes it may just be preseason, and yes he may just be in there for a little bit. But it is still the first opportunity for him to bounce back from a very sub-par 2007 season.

Rashard Mendenhall

If there was one player who might really be able to excite us fans tonight, I think it's him. I don't think the coaches will dare overwork him tonight, but I think it's possible he gets 5-6 touches. Even one big run, where he makes a guy miss or breaks a would-be tackler, might just have us all dreaming of multiple 1,000 yard backs in Pittsburgh this year.

BONUS ADDITION: Paul Ernster

Just remembered we'll be working in a new punter tonight. And since it's preseason, there should be plenty of punts. Time to see what this guy's capable of.

Discuss.