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5 players to watch in the Steelers vs. Panthers Week 4 Preseason game

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be on the gridiron Thursday night, and it’s time to narrow the focus to five players we’ll keep a close eye on when they play the Panthers.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Football is back, sort of, and although the upcoming Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Carolina Panthers game in Week 4 of the 2018 preseason is technically meaningless, it doesn’t mean there aren’t specific players fans are excited to see.

While Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and other starters will be taking a night off and will enjoy being spectators, there are plenty of players fans should be excited to watch on the field.

Maybe you haven’t kept good tabs on the Steelers this offseason and don’t know who you should be watching? Here are five players to keep an eye on during tonight’s preseason fracas.

1. Bud Dupree — OLB

If Dupree suits up Thursday, fans’ eyes will be glued to No. 48 to see if he can continue to show flashes of first-round talent. While Week 4 of the preseason isn’t the best place to gauge improvement and overall talent, Dupree has a lot to prove before fans stop referring to him as “Dud” rather than Bud.

2. Marcus Allen — Safety

Fans haven’t seen much of Allen throughout the preseason due to an injury, and time is running out on the Penn State product. If he wants to make the team, and not settle for a practice squad designation, he needs to step up in a big way and force the coaching staff into an easy decision — putting him on the 53-man roster.

3. Joshua Dobbs — QB

Dobbs is getting the start on Thursday night, and while Mike Tomlin says it is because the team wants to give out even chances between all four quarterbacks, I wouldn’t be shocked if it is to see if a team is willing to make an offer for Dobbs’ services. On the day after Brett Hundley and Teddy Bridgewater were both dealt for draft picks, the Steelers could possibly swing a 5th or 6th round pick for Dobbs if he plays well. If not, he will likely be hitting the market on Saturday afternoon.

4. Mason Rudolph — QB

Rudolph’s preseason has been a mixed bag of goods. He looked solid in Week 1. Not so great in Week 2, and in Week 3 he barely had time to breathe before feeling the pressure of the Titans’ pass rush. Rudolph will likely see a half in the preseason finale, and all fans want to see is the progression continue with their young rookie quarterback. The hope is this is Rudolph’s only game time this year, and the hope is he ends the preseason on a high note.

5. Ryan Switzer — KR/PR/WR

Switzer was recently acquired from the Oakland Raiders, and in his second year he finds himself on his third NFL team. Switzer is a slot receiver, but the Steelers also want his prowess as a return man. While Switzer won’t be playing much offense, he is preparing to at least be the primary kick and punt returner vs. Carolina. Time to see what this young kid from Charleston, WV is made of.