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5 things to watch: Lions at Steelers

Head coach Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions hit the road for the first and only time this preseason with a matchup at Heinz Field tonight against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Here are five things to look out for tonight in Detroit's Preseason Week 2 contest.


Most notably the noise. It's yet to be determined how many of the first-team starters will play tonight. Campbell said this week that select veterans, including quarterback Jared Goff, could sit.

But for whoever is out there, especially the players on offense, how well can they function in a hostile environment where they have to deal with the noise? The next road game after tonight is Week 2 at Lambeau Field on the big stage of Monday Night Football.

This is an opportunity to test how good the communication and signals are, things a team needs to do well from an operations standpoint to win on the road in the NFL.

For the young players, it's an opportunity to get used to the road routine and play in a new environment.


There were a few standout performances in the preseason opener against Buffalo last week. Can running back Craig Reynolds build on a strong rushing performance that included a 24-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter? Outside linebacker Julian Okwara had an impressive eight quarterback hurries and one sack playing the most snaps (49) of any Lions player in the game last week. Can he give them something off the edge for a second straight game? The same goes for defensive linemen Kevin Strong and Bruce Hector, who both made the most of their opportunities against the Bills.

Campbell made the comment last week that this isn't a flash league. It's about stacking good performances on top of another and building consistency. That's how players make the 53-man roster.


Reports out of Pittsburgh say Steelers veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will play "a handful of drives" in what is Pittsburgh's third preseason contest. Pittsburgh, along with Dallas, are the only teams to get four preseason games this year because they played in the Hall of Fame weekend to open the preseason two weeks ago.

Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn didn't face Josh Allen or a number of the Bills' top offensive weapons last week. Tonight could be the first good test for the new defense against a veteran quarterback and potent offensive attack.


The preseason is so critical for the rookies to get acclimated to the speed and talent at this level. Rookie right tackle Penei Sewell got a little lax on his technique on the third play of the first offensive series last week and learned if that happens against a fellow first-round pick and NFL speed rusher like Greg Rousseau, it will lead to a sack. But Sewell settled down nicely and helped lead a second possession that went 18 plays and took up nearly 10 minutes of the clock.

Second-round pick Levi Onwuzurike returned to practice this week after missing time with a back injury, and the young defensive end made his presence known. Will he make his preseason debut tonight? If so, can he be the disruptor the Lions think he can be?

Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown did some good things against the Bills and showed the ability to separate and get open. Will that continue tonight?

Coaches want to see other rookies like nose tackle Alim McNeill, linebacker Derrick Barnes, cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu, running back Jermar Jefferson and the undrafted youngsters continue to take steps forward.

View photos from the Detroit Lions' trip to Pittsburgh for their Preseason Week 2 game against the Steelers.


This is the next-to-last opportunity for players on the roster bubble to impress coaches and general manager Brad Holmes in a live setting.

Who emerges as the fifth receiver? Quintez Cephus, Victor Bolden, Tom Kennedy and many others are in a good battle there. Who wins the backup quarterback job? Tim Boyle and David Blough are competing hard for the job, and Jordan Ta'amu was added to the roster at quarterback this week.

Nickel cornerback. Inside linebacker. Third running back. Once the starters leave the game in the preseason, there's still plenty to see and a lot on the line.

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