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Steelers vs. Eagles: 5 things to watch for in tonight's game

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It's hard to avoid the running backs narrative but there are still other important aspects of tonight's game that will affect the Steelers' roster construction efforts.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Running backs

Let's be honest, this really can't be avoided. Looming over the team right now is the possible suspension of one or both of the Steelers' main running backs, Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount. Whether they play or not, watching the back-ups, Stephen Houston and Tauren Poole in particular, will be very telling. If they do not play, it's likely Dri Archer will run plays at tailback, and while the team doesn't want to risk injury, having him in there to get a feel for the game behind the starting offensive line will be helpful. However, with the idea in mind neither Bell nor Blount may be available in Week 1, the Steelers wouldn't want to reveal too much in terms of strategy without LeBackfield.

Up and Down Chris Hubbard

The Steelers have a few moves they can make in regards to their depth on their interior offensive line. While Cody Wallace will serve as the primary back-up at center and guard, Hubbard played well enough against the Bills to suggest they may want to keep him around as a deep reserve and developmental prospect on the interior.

That's a stark contrast from where he was against the Giants. Hubbard looked like an early cut, but it's possible, with another strong showing, he could stick around to continue his competition.

Another strong step forward for Bryant

Rookie receiver Martavis Bryant couldn't have scripted a worse preseason-opening performance. The biggest positive he could draw from it is it was, indeed, only the preseason. He bounced back nicely against the Bills, and drew another penalty. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Steelers try to get him the ball deep once or twice, just to see if he can come down with the catch. Previous attempts have been thwarted with the aforementioned penalties.

Speaking of penalties

On one hand, you hope officials are making the point crystal clear to defensive players they intend to throw flags for illegal contact. On the other, doing it in a manner that's above and beyond what it will be in the regular season seems excessive and it is without a doubt hacking NFL fans off the point of not even watching games. The Steelers have an advantage in this area, because their receivers - with the exception of Bryant - don't look to draw contact anyway. Does that mean they're never being touched? Or perhaps is the size of a receiver drawing more of the focus of emphasis in this flag-happy preseason? Stay tuned.

Defensive line

The acquisition of Brett Keisel shifts something of the emphasis of the Steelers defensive line in terms of groupings. It's like you'll have to include the shadow of Keisel in any package the team runs up front. Watch how much Cam Thomas plays inside vs. on the end, and where his technique is, exactly. When he's inside, where's Steve McLendon? These kinds of scenarios are on their respective ways to getting hammered out within the Steelers' defense, but with what looks to be a half of action tonight, they'll face more situations and more packages on offense.