It should be a little disconcerting to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that the Steelers scored only 56 points in four preseason games, fewest in the AFC and second fewest in the NFL.
But, after the offense put up its lowest total in a 25-10 loss Thursday night to the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, Roethlisberger said he likes the offense and is ready to break out more of the attack when the regular season begins in eight days.
"I think we have a lot of weapons in all phases," Roethlisberger said. "I know people look at me funny sometimes but I really think the offensive line is going to be good. They'll drive us in both the run game and passing game."
Roethlisberger and his top wide receivers, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, were held out of the game against the Panthers, even though they were healthy enough to play. Between them, Brown and Sanders managed 12 catches for 186 yards and no touchdowns in the preseason.
But, Roethlisberger said those players will have to be productive to help make up for the loss of tight end Heath Miller, who is recovering from offseason surgery to repair multiple ligament tears, including his ACL.
Miller could be taken off the physically unable to perform list today, a move that would allow him to begin practicing with the team, though not necessarily play right away. If Miller is not taken off the PUP list, the Steelers will have to wait six weeks before they can add him to the active roster.
A year ago, the Steelers took running back Rashard Mendenhall off the PUP list Aug. 17 after offseason ACL surgery, but Mendenhall didn't play until the fourth game of the season.
"The receiving corps is going to have to step up," Roethlisberger said. "We got guys -- I think [David] Paulson has done a good job -- they have to make plays. I think we'll be OK. You always want [Miller] out there, he's the best tight end in the game, but we have to execute and do the best we can until he's back."
Should the Steelers be concerned about their lack of offense? Well, maybe not.
The only other team to score fewer preseason points was the Green Bay Packers, who scored 37 in four games. All the Packers did in 2012 was score more points (433) than all but four other teams in the regular season.
"We haven't done any no-huddle, we didn't do any hurry-up stuff, there are a lot of things still out there that we've done in the past," Roethlisberger said. "It's not like we got any crazy, special surprises, but I think we can be a team that can really be up-tempo and moving."
Carter looks like a lock
Chris Carter went from being a starter in the 2012 season opener and a three-game replacement for James Harrison at right outside linebacker to a player who had to battle for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Sure, Carter survived a training-camp battle with Adrian Robinson, who was eventually shipped to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Felix Jones trade. But he could not feel secure about being the fourth outside linebacker because he could feel the heat being applied by two rookie free agents, Alan Baxter and Terence Garvin.
The Steelers have until 6 p.m. today to trim their roster to the mandatory 53 players, and Carter, a fifth-round pick in 2011, isn't taking anything for granted. But after his two-sack performance Thursday, he likely can count on being one of the backup linebackers.
"You can never be comfortable," Carter said. "They got new guys coming in every day. They want your job. I want to keep my job. There's no room to feel comfortable or be safe."
Baxter (6 feet, 238 pounds) is an undersized converted defensive end from Northern Illinois, was more than the surprise of training camp; a case could be made he was the most impressive young linebacker in camp.
Baxter uses his hands well, gets rid of blocks quickly and displays a variety of pass-rush moves, including an inside spin he used against the Panthers to pressure quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Despite that, he is probably targeted for the practice squad.
Moye makes case
The Steelers began 2012 with only four wide receivers on their 53-man roster, and they might do the same again when they cut 22 more players today. But, if they keep five wideouts, Derek Moye deserves to be one of them.
Moye, who played at Rochester High School and Penn State, had two catches for 55 yards against the Panthers and easily outplayed his former PSU teammate, Justin Brown. Moye also impressed the coaches with his determination by running down cornerback Josh Norman after a 70-yard interception return.
But Moye has something else the Steelers desperately need -- size. It's one of the reasons they re-signed Plaxico Burress in the offseason -- they wanted a tall target for Roethlisberger. At 6-5, 210 pounds, Moye would fill that role.
0-4 means nothing?
It is easy to dismiss the Steelers' winless record in the preseason (0-4) and say it has no bearing on the regular season. After all, they played their reserves most of the time and none of their key starters were used against the Panthers.
But remember this: So did the other team.
A skeptic would suggest that the 0-4 preseason record points out that the Steelers' second- and third-tier players aren't as good as the second- and third-tier players from the teams that beat them.
And, if that's the case, it means the Steelers are a team that cannot afford injuries to their front-line players in 2013.
The Steelers have gone winless in the preseason only three other times in the past 48 years -- 1965, 1987 and 2006. In each of those years, they finished 2-12, 8-7 and 8-8, respectively. This is the first time they've lost more than one preseason game since Mike Tomlin became coach.
"Hopefully, it's reflecting of guys who don't belong and we'll correct that over the next 48 hours," Tomlin said.
Gerry Dulac: email@example.com and Twitter @gerrydulac.