Rookies ready for Eagles preseason opener

August 8, 2008 11:30:39 AM PDT
The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Philadelphia Eagles in tonight's NFL preseason game. Rookie wide receiver Limas Sweed makes his pro debut with the Steelers. A second-round pick, Sweed is one of only a handful of first-year players on either side that is all but guaranteed a job once the games that count start next month.

Sweed and first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall, a running back, figure to get the most attention and playing time, along with quarterback Dennis Dixon, a fifth-round choice out of Oregon who is fighting for a spot as the third-string quarterback.

The Eagles' top rookies are defensive linemen Trevor Laws and Bryan Smith and wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

Philadelphia coach Andy Reid says Jackson might start if Reggie Brown is not healthy enough to play due to an Achilles injury.

The Eagles have seven other rookie draft picks who will be making their pro debuts and several other rookie free agents.

Cornerback Asante Samuel has a hamstring injury and won't play tonight. Another Eagles starter who will not play is guard Shawn Andrews, who has been absent from training camp for personal reasons. Andrews told reporters he is battling depression.

Tomlin says he expects all the Steelers starters to play, except for safety Troy Polamalu and nose tackle Casey Hampton. Both players have been on the physically unable to perform list. Polamalu has a hamstring injury and Hampton reported to camp overweight.