The Buffalo Bills will play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers Saturday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and with it being the third week of the 2015 NFL preseason, teams will have their starters play the longest in this game as many still view this game as the final "dress rehearsal" for starters to get prepared for the regular season.
There will be plenty to watch in this game Saturday, but for the Steelers there are some players who specifically need to perform well, if nothing more than simply to boost their confidence heading into the regular season. Here are 5 players to watch for the Steelers in the game Saturday.
1. Markus Wheaton - With the news of Martavis Bryant being suspended for 4 games to start the 2015 regular season, the pressure now falls on Wheaton to perform. Wheaton did just that in the team's last preseason game as he accounted for the starting offense's only touchdown, and had three other receptions which looked as if he and Ben Roethlisberger are very much on the same page. Wheaton can use all the confidence he can get heading into the regular season, and the Bills game could certainly be a stepping stone for Wheaton as the uncontested No. 2 WR in Bryant's absence.
2. Darrius Heyward-Bey - There is a trend here. Without Bryant in the lineup early in the season, the Steelers would be wise to play DHB more with the starters to get him acclimated to his role when the team goes to 3 and 4 wide receiver sets. Heyward-Bey could certainly benefit from the playing time, and certainly is a player the team is looking to fill the role as a deep threat while Bryant serves his suspension. Heyward-Bey has had a great camp to date, but as he only had three catches in 2014, he will need to prove himself on the field in a more significant role in the early portion of 2015.
3. Josh Harris - Harris is a player who was expected to fill in as a back up during Le'Veon Bell's two-game suspension; however, shoulder and foot injuries have kept him out the majority of the preseason. Harris is in danger of possibly losing his roster spot, and no message was clearer than Mike Tomlin declaring this week a "big week" for Harris as he returns to the lineup. Harris should get plenty of reps to prove he belongs on the team's roster and ensure he doesn't become a casualty on the day cuts are made.
4. Vince Williams - Similar to Harris, Williams has missed the past two preseason games with a hamstring injury, and although Williams' job is extremely safe, it is important to see him get plenty of repetitions at both inside linebacker positions to prepare himself, and to test his hamstring, for the regular season. Williams is slowly becoming a leader on the team, despite his playing time and status on the depth chart. His return, and fiery style of play, will be a welcome site on Saturday as well as something to watch for.
5. Bud Dupree - Mike Tomlin said Dupree's "arrow is pointing up", and that is a good thing for the rookie outside linebacker. The key now is to continue this progression with each time he steps on the field. Dupree has been a lightning rod for criticism throughout the preseason; however, he put the critics at bay last week when he registered his first sack, should have had another which was nullified due to a penalty, and played a more inspired brand of football. Look for Dupree to continue to impress as he gets more repetitions at the NFL level.
The Steelers play the Buffalo Bills Saturday at 4:00 p.m. EST. For all the information you would need for the game, click HERE.