Below are my offensive notes from the first run through of the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-23 loss Thursday night to the Philadelphia Eagles. My defensive notes will be along next.
I liked the use of fullback David Johnson out of the backfield on the first 3rd down of the game. Johnson also had a few good blocks on the first drive before getting injured.
The opening drive the Steelers used Johnson at fullback 6 times out of 15 plays.
Mike Adams really had a tough night facing the wide defensive ends as he gave up 2.5 sacks on the night. He has to use those long arms of his better and get more fluid with his slide. The rookie even held on the first sack and failed at that. On a positive note, Adams did offer a few nice run blocks. One was on the edge, while the other was down-field. He seems to do OK when asked to get out in space, but it was a very small sample size.
On the opening drive 4th down, Isaac Redman made a nice move left. The Steelers used three tight ends on the play to the right.
On the second sack allowed of the opening drive Adams and Ramon Foster did not work together good and were split.
Adams was not the only tackle with problems as Marcus Gilbert and Trai Essex both did not have nights to write home about in pass protection.
Kelvin Beachum worked at both left tackle and left guard and had ups and downs at both spots. I did see one nice knock down, but no way will he be a left tackle in this league. He needs to be moved inside permanently. Right tackle maybe in case of an emergency, but he played on the left side at SMU.
Foster looked OK at left guard, but had a few issues in pass protection. You have to wonder how much work he has had there in training camp so far. The position is not new to him though as he started there last year against the Seattle Seahawks and played well. Tonight he was average.
Maurkice Pouncey seemed to be helping David DeCastro when he could in pass protection. Pouncey did look healthy and agile during his limited playing time.
On the long run by Jonathan Dwyer, the blocking was great and that includes DeCastro, Doug Legursky and Gilbert up the middle. There was plenty of running room after DeCastro turned his man inside.
DeCastro was pushed back a few times both in protection and on running plays, but overall I thought it was a good game for him. His specialty, pulling left, produced some good blocks.
I am not sure what Nnamdi Asomugha was thinking on the touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders, but Sanders sure got a gift. Asomugha wasn\'t even in the zip code.
John Clay visibly missed an assignment on a third down play which caught the ire of Byron Leftwich after he was forced to throw the ball away. Speaking of Leftwich, he took an illegal hit from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and kept all of his body parts in place.
Baron Batch seemed to trust his knee more and more as the game went on. A nice second half jump cut shows he is healed now. Although the blocking for him was not great on the line, he ran hard on that final drive.
Chris Rainey is what we thought he would be. The draw play run and the touchdown run on the dump off are enough evidence to see what he can really do. The Steelers need to continue to find creative ways to get him the ball in space.
There really was not much positive that jumped out about the reserve offensive linemen. We will see how they grade out later in the week. Beachum and backup center John Malecki both were guilty of holding and Beachum also was also flagged for a false start.
Will Johnson had a few nice blocks from the fullback spot. It seems like it is his job to lose now with DJ likely lost for the season.
Jerrod Johnson was not asked to do too much and his line also didn\'t help him much either. His best throw was a back shoulder one to Tyler Beiler for 30 yards on the second to last drive. His 3-of-6 stat line for 93 yards is a bit deceiving as all but 19 of the yards came after the catch. In reality, he ran for more yards than what he completed through the air.
Sanders and Antonio Brown both had good reps with the first team.
The Ben Roethlisberger pass to Sanders on the opening drive was classic Roethlisberger. It helped that the Eagles only had 10 men on the field on the play though.
Backup tight end Jamie McCoy caught my eye only because he was flagged twice for illegal blocks in the back on special teams.