Preseason game number four will be the last big tune-up for Buffalo's number one offense before the regular season as the starters are expected to see little to no action in the preseason finale this Thursday.
Trent Edwards and the starting unit is still looking for their first touchdown drive of the preseason as they face the number one defense in football from a season ago.
"The Steelers are a good football team," said Edwards. "They play well at home, they're very well-coached just like we are and we've got to be able to play at a high level. We haven't done that the past couple of games. We've got to put some points on the board, we've got to score some touchdowns and obviously this week there was more of an emphasis on that."
Buffalo's number one offense has had 10 possessions and has managed just one drive that resulted in points, a field goal drive against Chicago. The other nine resulted in five punts and four turnovers, and only twice has the number one offense crossed midfield.
Coming off of their turnover-filled performance against Green Bay in their first exposure to the 3-4 defensive front this season, Lee Evans sees a lot that has to be cleaned up in a hurry.
"We just have to correct a lot of mistakes that we had," said Evans. "I don't think we've got to light up the scoreboard, but I think we definitely have to play better than we did last week. We've got to start getting ready for the season especially against these 3-4 teams that we don't get to play in practice."
Bills head coach Dick Jauron is hopeful that his offense will demonstrate improvement when they see a 3-4 defensive front for a second straight week in Pittsburgh.
"It's another great opportunity because as we all know our whole division is 34 except for us," he said. "And we've got to get ready to play it. The pressures that we'll see this week they'll be some similarities because Dick (LeBeau) and Dom (Capers) have worked together. So they'll be some carry over, but they're hard to execute against because they're both talented football teams. Green Bay was and Pittsburgh is the number one defense in football and not by a little, by a lot. It should be good for us and big challenge for us."
Playing timeThe starters are expected to see their most extensive action of the preseason as is typically the case in the next to last game before the regular season.
"We anticipate they'll play a good deal," said Jauron. "A half and maybe a little more to start the second half."
The starters played almost the entire first half last week at Green Bay.
On special teams the team's top punt returner Roscoe Parrish is also expected to see more action after only having a fair catch in his first special teams preseason action last week.
"We've experimented obviously with returners and we'll try to look and give Roscoe a couple of more shots and maybe Leodis," said Jauron. "Hopefully you don't have a lot of kickoffs and then if we have more we'll go back and look at some more guys."
One rookie who could see his first return duty of the preseason is cornerback Ellis Lankster. The former Mountaineer returned kicks and punts for West Virginia his senior season and was a JUCO All-American as a returner.
Bills top draft pick Aaron Maybin will make his debut against the Steelers. How much he'll play however, remains to be seen.
"He'll play some," said Jauron. "Is he ready? It's hard. How hard it is. He's just probably starting to get that fatigue from that first week of practice. So everybody is a long way ahead of it football conditioning-wise. He keeps himself in shape, but football conditioning is different."
Maybin is just eager to get his first NFL test against the defending Super Bowl champions.
"Having a chance to play against the Super Bowl Champs, even though it is in the preseason, it's always something that you get a little bit excited about," he said. "They've got some great guys on their team. They're very talented and very well coached, so I'm excited to be able to get out there and get my first game experience against some good guys."
The opponentFor the Pittsburgh Steelers the big story is just how much starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will play after his heel was stepped on in practice by left tackle Max Starks during training camp. He missed the Steelers' preseason game last week against Washington. The two-time Super Bowl winning signal caller is expected to start.
Starters are scheduled to play a half, then things will be evaluated at halftime as to whether they continue or are pulled.
"I'm looking for 30 minutes of Steelers football," said head coach Mike Tomlin at his Thursday press conference.
Through their first two preseason games Pittsburgh's first-string offense has just one touchdown on five possessions of work, though they played without Roethlisberger against the Redskins. Their defense meanwhile has allowed just three points in the five series they have taken the field this preseason.
Not playing for Steelers Saturday night are QB Dennis Dixon (shoulder), FB Sean McHugh (knee) and DL Darnell Stapleton (knee).
Questionable for Pittsburgh are RB Willie Parker (hamstring), Santonio Holmes (back), Jeff Reed (ankle), Jason Capizzi (elbow), DT Steve McClendon (elbow) and Frank Summers (hamstring).
Bills lineup changesOut for the Bills are OT Demetrius Bell, TE Derek Fine, CB Drayton Florence, WR Felton Huggins, TE Travis McCall, WR Terrell Owens, CB Lydell Sargeant, DE Aaron Schobel and LB Pat Thomas. WR James Hardy remains on PUP.
Questionable for Saturday's game are RB Fred Jackson and LB Ashlee Palmer.
Expected to fill the void for Bell at offensive tackle with the second unit is veteran Kirk Chambers. Chambers had been seeing the majority of his reps at left guard, but this week shifted to tackle after Bell's injury.
With Fine and McCall out the Bills go into Saturday night's game with just three healthy tight ends.
Preseason leadersTight end Jonathan Stupar leads the NFL in receptions this preseason with 15 and his 155 receiving yards are tied for second in the NFL.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has the second-highest passer rating in the AFC thus far this preseason with a 90.8 mark.
K Rian Lindell's 22 points leads all NFL scorers this preseason.
CB Reggie Corner, CB Ellis Lankster and CB Leodis McKelvin each have two interceptions this preseason. The trio are tied for the league lead as the Bills seven total picks in the preseason leads the NFL.
Series historySaturday night's game will mark the eighth time the Bills and Steelers will meet in the preseason.
The Bills have played the Steelers on the road in the preseason three times, but have yet to come up with a victory in Pittsburgh.
The two teams met in last year's preseason with Buffalo taking a 24-21 decision over Pittsburgh at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.