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Morning Java: Lay it on the line tonight

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> No Thursday column this week because it was pushed up a day to cover the Pirates’ trade. The rest of the week’s schedule is intact, including a Friday column coming from the the finale with the Brewers at PNC Park.

Bill-Reilly_Cam-Newton_IMG_4695-1024x682>> It’s come to be known simply as ‘the Carolina game,’ and not exactly in the best possible connotation.

Tonight will mark the 11th consecutive year the Steelers and Panthers will have concluded their preseason against each other, this one in Charlotte. And it’s safe to say that the overall worth of all 11 combined wouldn’t fill a thimble. That’s because they mean almost nothing. Ben Roethlisberger won’t play. I’d be stunned if Cam Newton is out there for more than a series if that, based on the reporting of the Charlotte Observer. Same goes for most of the first-teamers on both sides.

So, what’s to watch?

Ask me, and it’s the offensive line. Again.

Regardless of who’s in the backfield, at quarterback or running back, the line has a good bit to gain from playing at least a few snaps, if not a full quarter. And what they do will mean something in the sense that they’re still protecting a quarterback, still opening holes for a running back, still ramping up the zone-blocking.

And this goes double for the tackles, Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert, whose performance in the preseason has been ominously shaky.

That topic and others were addressed in this spirited talk I had yesterday with our football guru Mark Kaboly

Here’s our full Steelers coverage from Alan Robinson, who will be on site in Charlotte.

>> And here’s something else …


The Pirates and Marlon Byrd had their way with the Brewers last night at PNC. Rob Biertempfel reports. Just a handful of Ws shy of history now.

Here’s our full baseball coverage, including more on Byrd’s arrival.

Here’s Brewers news from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Here are official game highlights from

>> Tom Savage, Pitt’s rust-coated QB, talks wistfully about the opener. Jerry DiPaola reports. And for more on Savage and his progress since the spring, here’s tight end J.P. Holtz

Also on the Pitt front, Joe Starkey’s column revisits a far bigger matchup with Florida State.

>> All 240 pounds of big back Zach Zwinak should boost Penn State. Chris Adamski reports.

>> I’ll say hello to the TribLIVE Radio crew at 11:30 a.m.

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Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

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