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Steelers vs. Giants Preseason Week 1: 5 defensive players to watch

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The Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants kick off the preseason Friday night, and we give you 5 defensive players to keep an eye on throughout the game.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers-Minicamp Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Finally! Real football action us finally back for Steeler fans. As the Steelers try to break through the window and advance to the Super Bowl, BTSC has identified five players that are definitely worth locating on Friday night vs the Giants. Some are high profile, and some may be unknown to fans, but all five hope to be household names come fall.

No. 44 LB Tyler Matakevich

We all know about the legend of "Dirty Red", the too-small tackling machine with football smarts and instincts to the moon. Basically, this decade's Zach Thomas. The reason No. 44 is on this list is because he's been omnipresent at Saint Vincent, and I'm interested to see if it translates to game action. With Lawrence Timmons in Miami, Matakevich's rise up the depth chart may make him an injury away from being a starter.

CB JaCorey Shepherd

A recent arrival to camp, Shepherd can return kicks and reports have the dark horse as a possible "Redman" candidate for his pass-defense prowess. The former Eagle and Niner was brought in due to all of the injuries at the cornerback position. I want to see what he does under the bright lights.

No. 90 OLB T.J. Watt

Here's another guy that Steeler Nation is anxious to see in real time. We know all about the LB's pedigree, his play at Wisconsin and his brilliance in Latrobe. It's time to see if the future really is now. A few splash plays, even against New York’s backups will go a long way to getting the Watt hype train revved up.

No. 29 CB Brian Allen

At 6'3", the former Utah Ute has dream size for a cornerback. However, the former WR has been said to have looked more like a pass catcher than a pass defender in camp. Allen, the fifth-round project, needs to shine in exhibition action to make this team. Keep an eye on Allen. With the CBs taking a hit on the injury front, Allen could see some extended action.

No. 94 DL Tyson Alualu

Alualu was picked tenth in the same draft that saw Maurkice Pouncey selected by the Steelers eight picks later in 2010. The former Jag is not expected to start, but he's slated to be a very crucial reliever on the defensive line for Pittsburgh. Up front, he can play inside and out backing up Stephon Tuitt, Cameron Heyward and Javon Hargrave. I'm also excited to hear yinzers try to pronounce this guy's name. It's Ah-loo Ah-loo.

So train your corneas to notice these guys on Friday night. BTSC will get offensive tomorrow with five more from the scoring side of the ball.