The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their first preseason game 13-17 of the year last night to the Washington Redskins. The game gave us a good opportunity to see the first team for the first couple of series. However more importantly it gave the youngsters an opportunity to showcase their skills in hopes of making the 53 man roster.
On a side note, starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not play due to an injury to his achillies heel from starting left tackle, Max Starks (6-8, 340 pounds) stepping on it. Initial tests confirmed that the injury does not appear to be serious. I really worry about the health of Big Ben this year. He may get sacked 50+ times this year if Max Starks & Co. continue to perform at this level. This offensive line looks to be just as bad as last year if not worse. They’re pass protection was subpar and they have not gotten any push in the run game.
The preseason record does not really matter. It’s the analysis of the players, and the “sharpness” of the game. It was good to see of the rookies such as Ziggy Hood do well. As a team though, the Steelers looked flat. They didn’t seem to have a sense of urgency outside of a few players, and they certainly weren’t “sharp” (13 penalties). Below are some quick notes from what I’ve observed from the game:
Lawrence Timmons – Excels in “search and destroy” mode but I still don’t think he’s strong in the run game. Once these guards get their hands on him, he really struggles to fight through blocks. Everytime the Redskins ran to his side, they gained positive yardage, somtimes in huge chunks too. I do not think I have ever seen Timmons read a run play, fight through a block inside, and stop a running back at or behind the line of scrimmage. It’s obvious to me that 3-4 ILB is not his ideal position during run plays at this point in his career. To be honest, if this becomes a consistent problem, I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Keyaron Fox on 1st down.
Shop Steelers Apparel Here
Limas Sweed – Similar to last game, Sweed dropped a very easy first down catch. However, he made a very nice sliding catch for 17 yards.
Mike Wallace – The “speedster” continues to impress. He has good hands and isn’t afraid to go across the middle.
Rashard Mendenhall – Did not play with the first team offense at all. When given the opportunity, he did well averaging 5.2 yards a carry (5 carries for 26 yards). He looks a little hesitant out there though.
Offensive Line – In defense of the OL, they were down 2 starters if you consider Darnell Stapleton a starter. Overall, they played poorly. On the first play of the game, Max Starks almost got Charlie Batch killed. The DE ran right around Starks like he wasn’t even there. I swear, a lawn chair would have done a better job blocking than Starks did on that particular play. They hardly gave Batch any time to throw and Batch being very immobile doesn’t help matters. Wow, we are very lucky to have Big Ben as our quarterback especially behind this OL. The OL also got very little push in the run game.
Daniel Sepulveda – It’s great to have a solid punter again. He is really going to help out our defense (not like they need much help). Sepulveda had 5 punts averagine 47.8 yards.
Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes – Both had 2 very nice catches for 1st downs. Hines’ was spectacular in a leaping grab on a post pattern with LaRon Landry on the coverage.
Dennis Dixon – 8/16 for 68 yards. He also had a few nice runs. He definitely has his hot and cold streaks. At this moment, I would not feel comfortable with him as our #2 QB.
Joe Burnett – Allowed the ball to be stripped on a punt return. He may have a hard time making the 53 man roster if he doesn’t progress with special teams. He needs to protect the ball better.
Ziggy Hood – Another strong performance for the first rounder with 4 tackles and 2 sacks. I see him getting immediately involved in the rotation to keep our starters fresh. On a side note, he is very quick for a big man.
Ra’Shon Harris – Another rookie with a strong performance. Seems to hold his ground well and gets a little push into the backfield. If Harris can make the 53 man roster, this would be a great injection of youth to the Steelers defensive line. Could he possibly progress to our future NT?
Troy Polamalu – In typical Troy fashion, he looks like he’s in mid season form
William Gay – Looks solid both in coverage and run support. I don’t think we’ll miss McFadden much as a starter. I just hope one of the young guys such as Burnett or Wallace step up to provide added depth to our secondary.
Keyaron Fox – Overall, solid ILB. Last night, he was particularly strong in run defense and led the team with 5 tackles. Very good to have a quality backup at ILB.
Other Backup LB’s – Arnold Harrison and Donovan Woods looked solid. Some of our backups could probably start on other teams which is a good problem to have. I’m also seeing Bruce Davis progress as well.
Stefan Logan – Did very well in both kick and punt returns. Averaged 40 yards a kick return (60 yarder in the 3rd quarter).