It was another minimally inspiring preseason game. The backup quarterback for Carolina, Joe Webb, played the whole game.
The Steelers sent out an assortment of back-ups as well. DeAngelo Williams made it on the field only once, for the coin toss, as the Steelers made him the sole captain for this game. He spent most of the time hugging his former teammates.
Landry Jones played three series, resulting in a three and out, a six and out (if there is such a thing) and a three and out.
Just about the only many busier than Jordan Berry last night was the Panther’s kicker Graham Gano, who was six for seven on the night.
Jared Wickerham/AP photo
After yesterday’s speculation about a 53-man roster, the next obvious step is to look at the “x OR y” guys. So I’m going to do that, using what I can glean from the preseason games, particularly Game 3. Those guys would be:
- RB: Fitzgerald Toussaint OR Daryl Richardson
- C/G: Chris Hubbard OR B.J. Finney
- DL: L.T. Walton OR Caushaud Lyons
- LB: Steven Johnson OR Tyler Matakevic
Happily, none of these guys have been cut yet, so there is still room for speculation. Let’s start with the running backs.
The RB situation is an interesting one. Last year, despite Le’Veon Bell’s suspension to begin the season, they only carried three running backs, and Bell didn’t count against the roster, meaning they played the first two games of the season with only two running backs. However, both of the “flex” players on the roster could function as an H-back—Dri Archer and Will Johnson. There was no fulllback on the 2015 roster at the beginning of the season, but Will Johnson filled that role, sort of. In 2016 we have Roosevelt Nix, which takes some of the pressure off, and Demarcus Ayres, while listed as a wide receiver, can be used as a runner, as we saw in the game on Friday night.
Eli Rogers: via USA Today Sports
Another week, another depressing report. I will look hard for bright spots, because the score of 17-0, Eagles, tells you the bright spots are not terribly obvious.
I took careful notes, and I could go through them for you, but actually the game can be condensed thusly:
- The Good News: No three-and-outs
- The Bad News: They weren’t necessary for the Eagles’ defense, as they intercepted Jones four times.
- The Good News: No interceptions from Dustin Vaughan
- The Bad News: No points from Dustin Vaughan either.
Friday night as I wrote my post I didn’t really even use the quite detailed game notes I made, thus leading to attributing DHB’s touchdown catch to Xavier Grimble. I decided that despite my reluctance to relive that game, I should really go through and see if there is more to glean from the game. So here goes.
The two guys who lined up in the endzone to take kickoffs were Sammie Coates and Fitzgerald Toussaint for the first half and Levi Norwood and Daryl Richardson for the second half. Many of the kickoffs were not returnable, although a couple in the second half were rather short. Whether that was by design or because the rookie kicker was nervous, I don’t know.
But in no instance did any returner for the Steelers get the ball past the 22 yard line. Since a touchback is placed at the 25 yard line, it will be surprising if many teams opt for returns when the ball enters the end zone. UNLESS, that is, you have a guy like Detroit rookie seventh-round pick Dwayne Washington, who took it to the house last night. I feel fairly confident in stating at this juncture that the Steelers haven’t found someone like that yet.
Gene J. Puskar/AP photo
Steelers/Lions is in the books, and the usual stuff happened.
Bruce Gradkowski got injured (hamstring) after a three-and-out and a drive featuring two first downs. He played a total of ten snaps. Hopefully it’s not a big deal, but I wrote “out for the season” in my notes. We’ll see.
An offensive lineman got injured, and although he walked off the field by himself it didn’t look great. It was Brian Mihalik, AKA Alejandro Villanueva 2. He is another defensive lineman cut by the Eagles, signed by Pittsburgh, and converted to an offensive lineman. As it happens, he’s also 6’9″. Weird.
Ross Ventrone left with a hamstring injury, the same thing that got him cut last season.
It was that kind of night.
USA Today Sports
Some of the position battles are fairly clear. Appropriately, there is just a scrum in the halfbacks room. The almost-certain-to-be-suspended Le’Veon Bell is the clear No. 1, DeAngelo Williams is the clear No. 2, and Fitzgerald Toussaint would seem to be the the heir apparent to the No. 3 spot. Behind him you have a couple of guys who weren’t even UDFAs, rookie mini-camp invitee Brandon Brown-Dukes and last week’s signing, Christian Powell. They are competing with Cameron Stingily and Daryl Richardson, both veterans of a sort.
Stingily hails from Romeoville, Illinois, which seems promising, and was signed as a UDFA after the 2015 draft. He impressed the coaching staff last year enough to get a contract, and then was yet another victim of the Hall of Fame turf. He blew out his knee and was waived/injured. After spending the last year working out as much as he could while working at a warehouse and in a landscaping business to support himself and his daughter, the Steelers invited him to rookie minicamp again this year.
He feels he came in with a much better understanding of what was expected, and in better shape. He lost about 20 pounds and is now about 6-1, 230. He also felt he has been able to react more quickly, as he understands more of the playbook and has a feel for what the pace is like. He’s a guy you want to root for.
As is Brandon Brown-Dukes, the minuscule back from Mercyhurst. Tomlin likes what he’s seen enough to stop calling him “Mercyhurst” and use his name. BD, as the linked article suggests he should be called (that just too much of a mouthful) has been impressing at camp, and tomorrow night gives us the first chance to see whether this can, in any way, carry over into live game action.