There are few things in life that make me as happy as Steelers football. The summer is the worst time of the year. I’m not going to lie; I danced a jig when I finally got the link to work for the Steelers first preseason game against the Eagles last night. While preseason isn’t usually something worth dancing a jig about, it is good to see the team in full uniform and pads and I was very anxious to get the first official look at the new Todd Haley offense at work. What were the highs and lows of the first outing of the season? Let’s take a look at the best and worst moments of last night’s loss to the Eagles.
The Steelers started two rookies on the offensive line with DeCastro starting at RG and Adams at LT. How did it work out? Well Adams was responsible for allowing two sacks in a span of 9 plays and left the game early with a knee injury. Fortunately for Adams, he also recovered two fumbles caused by the sacks he allowed. How soon can Max Starks get off that PUP list? As far as DeCastro, I honestly don’t remember hearing his name or seeing him a whole lot. There was a 33 yard run that Dwyer broke free for thanks to a hole created by DeCastro but other than that the combined efforts at offensive line last night allowed a total of 6 sacks. Ouch.
There is also unfortunately no more speculation necessary over whether or not David Johnson will play FB or TE primarily as he left the game with what is described as a serious knee injury. Johnson started at TE and caught 2 early passes for first downs from Roethlisberger, but left after being rolled up on by Marcus Gilbert. Most likely Johnson is headed to IR rather than the FB spot we were all hoping to see him at. That is the ugly side of preseason; aside from the horribly conservative play-calling and watching players you’ll never see again, the risk of injuries to starters.
It’s preseason and there’s a reason the stats and record doesn’t count for anything. We’re just evaluating players and trying to find the best combination of 53 to start the regular season with. Keep that in mind before you spend the day moping around wanting the entire team to be traded. It’s also important to remind Steeler Nation that we’re not going to see all the offense Haley has to offer in these games, particularly games where we will meet the same team in the regular season. Haley wasn’t about to show his hand to the Eagles, who the Steelers meet in Week 5. Roethlisberger himself called the offense last night “vanilla” and admitted they didn’t go very deep into the playbook.
What did impress me last night was the play from rookie RB Chris Rainey. Rainey collected a 53 yard touchdown on a short pass from Jerrod Johnson in the third quarter. Rainey’s speed in short passes as well as punt and kickoff returns remind me of a Darren Sproles. Also impressive was the play from Byron Leftwich (aka Dougie Fresh), aside from his first snap that resulted in a sack fumble, Dougie looked solid in his return. Clearly Tomlin has good feelings towards Dougie, or else there would be no reason to keep having him back year after year since he is so prone to injuries. I think he’s a solid back up and if he stays healthy, should provide some security at the quarterback position.
On the defensive side Steve McLendon had a sweet sack of Vick on a 3rd and 8 and also had another tackle for a loss in the first half. Half of the NFL went apeshit worrying when Mike Vick left the game early holding his wrist. Clearly the biggest question for the Eagles season is what week Vick will go down. Vick has yet to complete a full 16 game season in his career so it’s just a matter of time before he’s on the injury list as well. Fortunately for the Eagles, Vick’s x-rays were negative and he was gripping and tossing the ball on the sidelines by the end of the game. The Steelers managed to get a takeaway when DE Al Woods intercepted Eagles backup Mike Kafka. The highlight of that play being Woods protecting the ball while returning it.
All in all it was good to see the Black & Gold out on the field hitting people other than each other. It’s real football, but after 7 long months it will do for now. There is a lot more to learn and typically the second preseason game runs a lot smoother than the first. I’d say it was a successful outing for your 2012 Steelers. What are your thoughts on what you saw?
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