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First Stringers to Sit Out Hall of Fame Game, Landry Jones to Start


The soft opening for the NFL’s 2015 season is just around the corner, and with it comes a whole host of big names set to watch from the sidelines. It may have been a long time coming, but expectant fans’ first taste of professional football since February will come with a sour tinge.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin rattled off a laundry list of famous faces that will be without helmet and pads for the first of their five preseason games – an exhibitional encounter with the Minnesota Vikings in Canton.

The three members of the “Killer Bs” offense – quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell will all have the night off, as will other such veterans as center Maurkice Pouncey, tight end Heath Miller and ageless linebacker James Harrison.

The annual affair at suburban Fawcett Stadium is a game for rookies and developing players, with third-year quarterback Landry Jones getting the start. Tomlin called this game “significant” for Jones, declaring that he will “play a lot.”

Jones was a mid-round pick by the Steelers in the 2013 draft. A prosperous college career in Oklahoma had many optimists expecting the youngster would learn under Big Ben and prove his worth in the years after Roethlisberger’s retirement.

Instead, Jones has yet to play a meaningful snap in the regular season, and has looked flustered at best – and downright awful at worst – during his first two preseasons.

With the backup quarterback role still yet to be decided in Pittsburgh, this is Jones’ chance to show just how much he has improved entering his third season in the same offense.

Diminutive 2014 draftee Dri Archer will get the start on punt and kickoff returns, and may see time at running back and wide receiver as the game unfolds.

Meanwhile, 33-year-old safety Will Allen will have no choice but to start, with niggling injuries still troubling younger members of the deep secondary.

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