Training camp is in the rearview mirror but there are still more than two weeks -– and three preseason games — before the Steelers set their 53-man roster. That said, here are five players to watch Thursday night when the Steelers play the Eagles at Heinz Field.
— Jonathan Dwyer: Second-year running back put himself in an early hole by showing up to camp overweight. Baron Batch’s knee injury threw Dwyer a lifeline, and the latter finally appears to have his weight under control.
Now it’s time to produce on the field, and Dwyer leads an underwhelming group of players vying for the No. 4 spot at running back.
— Curtis Brown: The rookie cornerback has been impressive when he has practiced, something he didn’t do a whole lot of at St Vincent College because of a hamstring injury.
The third-round pick looks like he has the physical skills to help the Steelers this season, and the team badly needs one of its young cornerbacks to emerge.
— Tony Hills: The fourth-year man is part of the right guard carousel, and his work at the position in the preseason opener earned him a start against the Eagles.
Hills is in the best shape of his career, having added 15 pounds of muscle during the offseason while lowering his body fat.
He is not lacking for confidence either as he makes a push for a starting job.
— Jerricho Cotchery: Cotchery looked every bit the seasoned veteran during his first week of practice with the Steelers. The former Jets wide receiver seemed to pick things up quickly, and it will be interesting to see what role Cotchery carves out for himself.
The Steelers are expecting a significant contribution from Cotchery even though Hines Ward and Mike Wallace are entrenched as the starters and Antonio Brown has been putting a stranglehold on the No. 3 job.
Ward said that Cotchery “will win a game” for the Steelers this season.
— Jason Worilds: Worilds, starting for James Harrison at right outside linebacker last Friday, struggled in the Steelers’ preseason opener.
The coaches badly want the Steelers’ 2010 second-round pick to assume a more prominent role this season. But Worilds is going to have to show more before the Steelers are confident he can spell Harrison and left outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley or play for either in case of an injury.