By Art Beitchman, DOCBLOG
The Pittsburgh Steelers are at the Linc tonight for the Eagles’ third preseason game, which is traditionally the closest to a regular season match-up.
The Birds should have most of their starters on both sides of the ball for three quarters. The Steelers will be a good test, especially for the defense, to show Eagles fans they can get off the field against a proven NFL offense. Ben Roethlisberger and company should provide that test, about two weeks before the Sept. 7 season opener at home against the Jaguars.
Both Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin (photo above) are expected to take the field, joining rookie Jordan Matthews for the first time in a preseason game. Matthews had a stellar game at New England last week, being targeted nine times, and making nine receptions for 104 yards. QB Nick Foles will have his No. 1 targets for the first time this preseason. CB Nolan Carroll is also going to see the field for the first time, giving the Eagles much needed help in the secondary.
Steelers rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier from Ohio State looked as polished as a five-year vet in his last outing, collecting 11 tackles and an interception against Buffalo. Foles would be wise to keep his head on a swivel looking for Shazier.
With respect to the regular season opener against Jacksonville, Jags coach Gus Bradley isn’t being coy about who gets the nod to start at QB, Chad Henne, although rookie Blake Bortles is outplaying seven year veteran Henne as signal caller.
Perhaps Bradley would rather not throw Bortles into an opening day cauldron that would be Lincoln Financial Field, maybe saving his prized rookie for a nice sunny Jacksonville day. A wise move in my book.