Saturday’s preseason contest against the Detroit Lions will be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ dress rehearsal game. It’ll likely be the final action for many of the starters with the regulars sitting out the final exhibition game before the Sept. 12 season opener against the Buffalo Bills.
The Steelers (2-0) are the favorites for Saturday’s matchup against the Lions (0-1), according to Pennsylvania sportsbooks.
Here is what to watch for on Saturday.
Big Ben Will Play
Following Pittsburgh’s 24-16 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 12, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin announced that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would make his 2021 preseason debut against the Lions. Roethlisberger sat out each of the first two preseason games.
Tomlin remained coy with reporters about how much action Roethlisberger would see. In 2019, the last time the NFL had preseason games, Roethlisberger played three series against the Tennessee Titans before leaving the game in the first quarter.
"We'll play it by ear,” Tomlin said. “We have a plan, but we're willing to adjust that plan based on what it is we see in-stadium."
Roethlisberger will use his first preseason game to get accustomed to new offensive coordinator Matt Canada and his offensive scheme. Canada was hired as the team’s quarterbacks coach in 2019 and takes over for Randy Fichtner.
"There's a new coach, player communication in terms of a new guy, the offense is different,” Roethlisberger said about his desire to play. “He's up in the box as compared to on the field.
"There's a lot of newness. I think it's prudent to get as much time as I can in under those circumstances."
Backup QB Battle
Mason Rudolph entered the preseason as the favorite to be Roethlisberger's backup. But he was recently outplayed by former Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
In the win against the Eagles, Haskins completed 16 of 22 passes and had a 22-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Johnson. Haskins led the offense to four consecutive scoring drives after the Steelers fell behind 13-0.
Rudolph completed 8 of 9 passes for 84 yards but failed to lead the team to a score.
"I really thought (Haskins) was in command tonight," Tomlin told the media following the win over the Eagles. "He did a great job of communicating with people and going through progressions. He had a third-and-8 or something and I saw him go through three or four reads, throw the ball over the middle of the field and convert for us. That was just a snapshot of the type of night he had. I thought he was very much in command of his play."
Steelers 2-0 ATS This Preseason
The Steelers have been one of the best teams to back for sports betting in Pennsylvania this preseason. Pittsburgh easily covered the two-point spread in a 16-3 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game to open the season. Against the Eagles, the Steelers were a one-point underdog before winning 24-16.
Saturday’s matchup with the Lions is the biggest pre-game spread for the Steelers so far. It’s also currently the highest Preseason Week 3 spread on the board.