It is the third preseason game. There is a certain amount of excitement which accompanies the football game which experts dub the "final dress rehearsal" before the regular season, even if it is a meaningless exhibition. However, if you haven't been glued to the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp, and other preseason news, but want to know who to keep an eye on in the game Friday night, we've got you covered.
Here are 5 defensive players to keep an eye on in the game down in the Big Easy. Keep in mind the focus of this task was based on the players who will still see significant playing time in the third preseason game.
Jarvis Jones - OLB - No. 95
There isn't much which needs to be said. Jones has been as close to first round bust as you can have, and he has a lot to prove not just to fans, but to the coaching staff and himself. He takes the field for the first time this preseason, and a solid start to the 2016 season could go a long way. Will he answer the bell, or will be get stone-walled? Either way, keep an eye on No. 95.
Anthony Chickillo - OLB - No. 56
Chickillo was lauded for his pass rushing improvement throughout training camp, and then he hurt his ankle in the first preseason game against the Detroit Lions. Chickillo should play against the Saints, and if he does he could send a message to the coaching staff, and Jarvis Jones, that he isn't just a special teams player, but a guy who can make plays off the edge. The Steelers are in search of one of those players, and maybe he is their answer for the future.
Sean Davis - SS/CB - No. 28
After a rough start in Week 1 vs. the Detroit Lions, Davis was rather invisible against the Eagles last week, and that isn't a bad thing. When you play in the secondary and they aren't talking about you, you are usually doing something right. However, before fans start to ease off the break, Davis is young and needs to get as many repetitions as possible. Another solid performance could really help his confidence moving towards the regular season.
Ross Cockrell - CB - No. 31
Like Davis mentioned above, Cockrell has been solid in the preseason. So solid, I haven't even noticed him on the field. I want to keep an eye on him in this game, especially if Drew Brees dresses and plays for the Saints to see how he does with a quality quarterback throwing passes his way in live game action. If Cockrell turns into a player who is able to lock down the outside along with William Gay, he could be one of the best acquisitions the Steelers have had in the last 5 years.
Keith Butler - Defensive Coordinator
Okay, so Butler isn't a player, but this is the only preseason game where the team does a small amount of game planning leading up to the game. How aggressive will Butler be? Will he continue his barrage of opposing quarterbacks with a ton of backside secondary blitzes, or will he play it safe? Will he allow Jarvis Jones to try and rush the passer, or will that be James Harrison's specialty for the second straight year? A lot hangs on the guy calling in the formations and plays...which makes it worth watching.