PITTSBURGH — The Packers’ cornerback depth will be tested by Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and his stable of speedy receivers on Sunday at Heinz Field.
It’s uncertain how much the starters will play, but this is the third preseason game for the Steelers, who played in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio two weeks ago, so their starters could get extensive action. Pittsburgh’s receiving corps includes Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Markus Wheaton and rookie Sammie Coates, among others.
Last week, Packers rookie CB Quinten Rollins had an impressive debut in New England, as did undrafted rookie LaDarius Gunter, but the Patriots top three receivers did not play. This week, first-round draft pick Damarious Randall makes his preseason debut after sitting out last week’s game with a groin injury.
So far, Rollins, Randall and Gunter represent the Packers’ rebuild of their cornerback depth behind Sam Shields and Casey Hayward following the offseason departures of Tramon Williams and Davon House. This matchup will provide a much tougher test than last week’s did.
Starting lineup change: The most significant change in the Packers’ starting lineup is on offense, at left tackle. David Bakhtiari has been out all week with a bum knee, so fourth-year pro Don Barclay is taking his place with the first-team offensive line.
A left tackle in college at nearby West Virginia, Barclay has never played the position in an NFL game before. He talked about that late this week, and the full story is right here.
In addition to Bakhtiari, defensive starters Clay Matthews and Mike Daniels did not travel to Pittsburgh. At linebacker, that potentially means extra snaps with the starters for players like Nate Palmer or Jake Ryan inside, and Andy Mulumba or Jayrone Elliott outside. On the defensive line, Josh Boyd and Mike Pennel could be among those getting more extensive looks with the first unit.
For the full list of players who did not travel, click here.
Special teams void: The one situation the Packers did not get to practice in last week’s game was kickoff return, because the Patriots booted two touchbacks. Rookie WR Ty Montgomery is Green Bay’s new No. 1 kickoff returner, and the Packers are eager to see him perform in a game. He did return two punts last week and acquitted himself well, returning one for 14 yards.
Last time: It’s not hard to remember the Packers’ last visit to Pittsburgh. It was in 2009, and the game came down to the final play, which turned out to be a game-winning TD pass from Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace to beat the Packers in a shootout, 37-36. The last time Green Bay came here in the preseason was 2007.
In case you missed it: This week’s “Final Thoughts” video discusses some of the issues above and more. Check it out right here.
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