Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports
My game recap of Steelers/Eagles was, shall we say, less than enthusiastic. It’s pretty hard to get excited about a game in which the Steelers did not score a single point, and which featured four interceptions in the first half. But even as I watched, and even as I wrote it, I knew in my heart of hearts that impressing Steeler Nation was not the purpose of this, or any, preseason game. The coaching staff is looking for separation as they have to get serious about who to cut, and they are looking to avoid injuries, especially for the guys they can’t afford to lose.
This was brought home very clearly by a comment to the article by George Siegal, who said:
…the preseason is about individual performance, not team performance… [Craig] Wolfley said that if you watch a preseason game as a game, you’ll be disappointed, but if you watch it with a scouting eye, watching certain players to see how they play, it will be interesting. I’m paraphrasing, not direct quotes.
Both of those apply to this game in a big way. It seems to me that Coach T uses these games to evaluate players even more than most other teams. Other teams seem to get excited about the game, Tomlin gets excited (as excited as he gets anyway) about a player making a good play. He will get his backups in against the opponents first team as much as he can. Some coaches are concerned about winning because their teams need to learn how to win, that’s not the case in Pittsburgh. I’ve seen Coach T put second or third team players into bad situations to see how they do.
David Todd said in the post game show that in the last 15 preseason games the Steelers are 2-13. I have to approve of Tomlins methods, because it seems to work. He could keep the stars out for the entire preseason and they wouldn’t miss a beat and the players who need the reps are getting them. But it sure makes these games tough to watch..
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.
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.
It was a big day in Going Deep land. Homer J., Ivan, and his brother Andy drove up from DC and we met up at Saint Vincent. Ivan has met me for practices before, but not Homer or Andy. I asked Andy when the last time he had been to training camp was, and he told me this was the first. Homer said he hadn’t been to camp for a very long time. He didn’t say how long that time was, but the bleachers upon which we were sitting and the fields in front of us were not part of the experience the last time he went. He also said that Loren Toews was showing everybody up his last time at camp. A bit of Googling reveals that his last time at Steelers camp must have been in about 1973.
It was a gorgeous day, and we had great seats, or as great as narrow aluminum bleacher seats which you are sharing with many, many people can be. But we were in the shade, the breeze was blowing a good bit of the time, and the humidity was low enough that not only could you see the surrounding hills, you could see the trees on them. That’s a good day in August in western PA.
In fact, it was so great altogether that at one point Homer called over to Ivan and me as we were intently watching the action on the field and said, sweeping his arm in a careful arc to avoid taking out the people behind him, “Just look around for a minute and appreciate how remarkable this is!” So we did, because when Homer speaks we all listen.
Adam Hunger, USA Today Sports
I began this series with general musings about how the coaching staff makes decisions in close races. I used the Robert Golden/Sean Davis (and really, to be fair, Shamarko Thomas) competition for starting strong safety as a vehicle. But today I’m going to go into more specifics on some of the contests, since many of them involve guys one has heard little or nothing about.
The difficulty with a series such as this is it may already be out of date by the time it’s published, as two offensive players have been cut and another one signed in the past few days.
Unlike many series, which can go on for months, I’m feeling the pressure to get this one finished, because all too soon these articles may have to be titled “Meet the Former Steeler.”
But if some of these free agent signings make the practice squad, or even manage to make the roster, then there is the issue of who they replaced. Of course, in the end, the question is, which 53 guys are going to produce the best team, and that has to be the focus of the coaching staff. I can focus on more personal sorts of things.
I first heard Vaughan’s name back in May, when Mark Kaboly of the Tribune-Review tweeted the following: