One Last Chance

Sure, the Pirates finally have an offense, but the Steelers are playing their fourth preseason game tonight. These are the players Jim Wexell will be watching:

I've lost many followers on Twitter after beginning my campaign for the Pirates to add a right-handed clean-up hitter. Now that they have one, I wonder why I'm risking the loss of customers here at SCI by even bringing it up.

Risque is my middle name, I guess.

But my purpose with you this morning, gentle reader, is to point out how much more interesting the Pirates are these days with a real professional batting order, and to then point out how I will still watch the Steelers' fourth preseason game instead.

Yes, I realize Landry Jones will take a large majority of the snaps at quarterback. But, as Bill Cowher used to say, I will not be de-teared from my mission. There are plenty of players who still hold my interest, so let's just go through the list in numerical order:

11 Markus Wheaton -- I think I'll always enjoy watching this kid play this game.

13 Reggie Dunn -- I have no idea what Mike Tomlin thinks of the son of Louis Lipps' best childhood friend, but in my mind this little WR is a must-keep as a return man because of his rare speed. Dunn is my favorite player tonight.

14 Derek Moye -- The 6-5 receiver is a tall target with great hands, but when I watch him run routes I can't believe he's made it this far. Gotta love the perseverence, but, man, don't stand in Reggie's way.

15 Justin Brown -- Hasn't been as productive as Moye, and drops more easy passes, but has a great frame and even softer, sweeter hands than Moye. I do know that Tomlin likes him, but, man, don't stand in Reggie's way.

29 Shamarko Thomas -- Could he really play first-team nickel CB (in case William Gay is assassinated by a yinzer)? I would love to see him dig in against Steve Smith tonight.

30 Terry Hawthorne -- Hasn't done anything except stand on the CB island with that beautiful body of his. "I recovered a fumble," he countered in my second miserable interview with a guy who doesn't believe he's on the bubble. Hey, Hawthorne, fifth-round picks who miss the spring and most of training camp with an injury are on the bubble!

39 Isaiah Green -- Missed the last week of practice with a minor injury. He's practice-squad eligible and once ran a 4.2+. Also has made Wheaton disappear a lot in late-camp practices. So call me intrigued. Still.

41 Ross Ventrone -- This Polamalu lookalike is wearing the number Troy wore in high school and wanted in college. I just want to see Ventrone show me why he holds the NFL record for most transactions with one team (New England).

43 Troy Polamalu -- I want to see Troy serving cold drinks to Shamarko and Ventrone as they come off the field, because I like watching Troy do anything -- particularly on opening day.

44 Vince Williams -- I know he's smart, and the coaches -- in spite of their words to the contrary -- probably like him since he's a draft pick. But make a special-teams tackle so we can believe coach-speak about bubble players next year at this time.

45 Alan Baxter -- Make a sack against a first-team tackle and I'll buy into the hype. Otherwise, I think he's a perfectly fine practice-squad project.

47, 48 Brian Rolle and Kion Wilson -- These are two veteran ILBs who've made teams in the past and played in stadiums when it mattered. Wilson has the edge because of his special-teams ability and knowledge of the buck. But if Rolle blows up quarterbacks the way he did in the preseason opener, he re-states the case for keeping "a mean little sawed-off sucker," as Tomlin famously called Moody one day.

49 Terence Garvin -- Came from out of nowhere as a rookie camp invite. I watched him bring a Landry Jones pass back to the house that week, and last Saturday I watched him get reps at OLB. A converted safety on a WVU defense that no scout in his right mind wanted to watch on tape last season, this guy could be the find of the year. He did get pushed around easily off the edge on one running play, but otherwise has the length, ball skills and tenaciousness to become a player some day. But that day is probably three years on the practice squad in the making.

66 David DeCastro -- I've thoroughly enjoyed his preseason thus far, and if he's playing tonight it means the OL is getting much-needed work. It also means he'll have the opportunity to learn Star Lotulelei a lesson or two.

67 Mike Golic Jr. -- Because the first line was brand new and needed time, and because the second line was just so bad, the third line hasn't been on the field. Also, I stopped watching Golic early in camp when he showed he couldn't handle Baxter off the edge. But maybe that's because Baxter's pretty good, and maybe Golic has been doing better at guard.

69 Joe Madsen -- Because he's a really nice guy and, like Golic, hasn't been afforded the opportunity to put anything on tape this preseason.

69 Brian Arnfelt -- Not sure I'm buying the hype on him, because I believe he'll easily make it to the practice squad. But let me watch one more time in case I'm missing some 3-4 team's waiver claim.

74 Alameda Ta'amu and 92 Loni Fangupo -- They are playing so little that I wonder if Tomlin will even keep a backup NT. I guess he can cut them both and see which one can be brought back in Matt Spaeth's spot or on the practice squad. Fangupo's better, but four years older.

76 Mike Adams -- Needs all the work he can get at left tackle, and the more people watching the Pirates instead of this game, the better for Adams, who'll take enough fan and media abuse as he grows into the spot early this season.

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