After scoring a touchdown on their only possession last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting offense will suit up and play more Saturday against the Buffalo Bills. Similarly to last week in Tampa, all healthy players will see the field for Pittsburgh in its second preseason game, coach Mike Tomlin told reporters on Thursday.
Tomlin did not specifically say how long his starting units would play.
"We'll play it by ear," Tomlin said. "I acknowledge that those guys are going to play. I'll also acknowledge that they're going to play more. But what that is as I stand here right now, I'd be lying if I gave you a direct answer."
Tomlin said he wants to see improvements in all areas from his players as compared to last week. That includes Kenny Pickett, who by all accounts has had a successful first training camp as the starting quarterback.
"I just like the way he's communicating with people," Tomlin said of Pickett, who went 6 of 7 for 70 yards in his one drive last week that included a 33-yard touchdown pass to George Pickens. "I like the way he comes in every day ready to compete. He's not over analyzing the big picture too much. He's just trying to play his role in the creation of a great day. ... His ability to remain singularly focused and hyper competitive, I think, is an asset to a unit and to our team."
Several Steelers, including defensive tackle Cameron Heyward, linebacker T.J. Watt, free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Joey Porter Jr., strong Keanu Neal and defensive back Damontae Kazee will make their season debuts on Saturday. Saturday will be the first game as Steelers for Peterson, Neal and Porter Jr., who are each expected to play significant roles in the secondary this season.
Conversely, defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi, guard Nate Herbig and defensive back Tre Norwood are dealing with injuries that will keep them out of Saturday's game. Tomlin said that none of the injuries are considered serious.
Tomlin said that he wants to see Anthony McFarland return kicks and Calvin Austin III fielding punts on Saturday. Both players have enjoyed solid camps that include touchdowns in last week's 27-17 win in Tampa.