NFL preseason 2013: Steelers vs. Redskins game preview

Larry French

The Steelers will visit the Redskins for the first Monday night game of 2013. Both teams will be hoping to leave the field in good health, particularly on defense where injuries have begun to mount.

The first Monday night game of 2013 will pit the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Though preseason football bears only a faint resemblance to the regular season version, from time to time exhibition games can be interesting to watch. Monday's bout may not have the tangible impact of a regular season game, but it should serve as a fine display for young players aching to make an immediate impact.

For the Steelers, Le'Veon Bell and Jarvis Jones are jockeying to become the team's first two rookies to start right away since Maurkice Pouncey laid claim to the team's starting center position. For the Redskins, Bacarri Rambo will be looking to prove that his strong rookie training camp hasn't been a fluke. Unfortunately, fellow rookie safety Phillip Thomas won't be joining him this season.

Meet the Redskins

Of course Robert Griffin III made headlines this week. RGIII is amping up his participation in training camp, and lobbying head coach Mike Shanahan to let him play during the preseason. Reactions are mixed towards the quarterback's overtures, especially given how well his backup has performed. Kirk Cousins went 6-for-7 passing for 52 yards and a touchdown during the Redskins' win over the Tennessee Titans in their preseason opener, and will start once again against the Steelers.

Defensively, the Redskins had a strong showing against the Titans despite being depleted. In addition to Thomas, the Redskins have also lost defensive end Adam Carriker to injury, potentially for the season, and defensive end Rob Jackson and lineman Jarvis Jenkins to four-game PED suspensions. The team's defensive depth will be tested yet again when the Redskins begin substituting in the second- and third-team units Monday.

Meet the Steelers

The Steelers' injury problems seem to run even deeper. On offense, the team is currently down two tight ends and a wide receiver. Heath Miller is making his way back from a torn ACL, and Matt Spaeth is a candidate for the PUP list due to a foot injury. Plaxico Burress, meanwhile, may be done for the season after landing on injured reserve with a torn rotator cuff. At least Bell is expected to finally make his much-anticipated debut.

On defense, injuries are stacked up once again. Only six cornerbacks dressed for the Steelers' preseason opener, with four players out nursing lower leg injuries. The Steelers should be strong in the front seven, at least. At outside linebacker, Jones will be exciting to watch, as well as Jason Worilds and LaMarr Woodley (if healthy).

Local Takes: Steelers

Neal Coolong of Steelers blog Behind The Steel Curtain highlights how Antonio Brown is earning his hefty contract extension in more ways than just on the playing field:

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was quick to point to Brown's intangible qualities when speaking to the reasons why the Steelers signed him to a long-term extension last season. He noted his work ethic above all else. Working hard on one's game is one thing, and a requisite to sustained success in the NFL. Teaching what you've learned to others who are trying to maximize the chance they have - however long of a chance it is - is another. And it's indicative of leadership status within an organization.

Local Takes: Redskins

UkRedskin of Redskins blog Hogs Haven took an in-depth look at tight end Niles Paul and his difficulty catching the ball last season:

When it comes down to it, I'm not buying Paul's excuse. On the play's I showed, he located the ball with plenty of time to adjust. Neither throw just suddenly appeared on him. I am, however, hopeful that this is a fixable issue that could have a significant impact relatively quickly. If that is the case, Paul could become a very useful part of the offense. It will be interesting to see if he has improved as we move through the preseason.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Hogs Haven and Behind The Steel Curtain, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@HogsHaven

@btsteelcurtain

@Rich_Campbell - Redskins beat writer

@EdBouchette - Steelers beat writer

Prediction

Both teams are hurting for depth defensively, but the Steelers' issues are more concentrated in the secondary, creating a potentially big Achilles heel once both teams start playing third and fourth units. That's as good a reason as any to give the home team the victory.

Prediction: Redskins 28, Steelers 24

Odds

The Redskins opened the week as 2.5-point favorites, but the line has moved down to approximately one point, with some books calling the game a pick 'em, according to OddsShark.com.

Next Week

The Redskins will be home once again to host the Buffalo Bills on Saturday, Aug. 24, in Week 3 of the preseason. The Steelers will be back in Pittsburgh hosting the Kansas City Chiefs, also on Saturday.

More from SB Nation NFL:

Dustin Keller suffers complete knee tear

Joe Buck, Randy Moss bury hatchet over mooning

Aaron Hernandez writes another letter from jail

Complete coverage of NFL preseason week 2

Longform: Olympian Marquise Goodwin seeks success on the gridiron

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