With multiple viewings of the Pittsburgh Steelers first preseason game now out of the way, here are my grades of the offensive linemen for the game against the Philadelphia Eagles with a little breakdown note on each player.
Overall it was not a good showing by several starters or those fighting for roster spots, but there were a few positives to take away nonetheless.
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Maurkice Pouncey – Pouncey looked healthy on the first drive and that is the biggest takeaway from his 15 play performance. Against the Eagles four man front, Pouncey was relegated to mostly helping in pass protection and working double teams in the run game. On the sack that both Mike Adams and Ramon Foster were split on, Pouncey tried to help, but it was to no real avail. Overall he looked solid with his ability to get out into space on the plays that required it.
David DeCastro – Although reports suggested he had not been great thus far in training camp, he looked perfectly fine once the game lights were on Thursday night. DeCastro looked fine from both an assignment and execution standpoint with only a few minor negative plays. Even a few of those were close calls not knowing the exact play call and or assignment. His play out in space is what we expected it to be and he is an excellent move guard. The big run by Jonathan Dwyer was helped by the ability of DeCastro to turn his man inside and out of the hole. Thursday night the first round pick was the second best Steelers offensive lineman on the field.
Ryan Lee – The only way you knew who Lee was heading into this game was if you watched his performance last year against Florida. Outside of that it has only been write ups on the Furman product. Lee played left guard late in the game and looked solid in his 28 snaps with only a handful of minor blemishes. He is country strong and it showed. He also looked to fully understand his assignments and finished plays. In the passing game he missed a screen block and allowed just one pressure. It would be interesting moving forward to see him get work as the second team left guard and see his ability to run the power to the right side. Really a good performance even though it was against the Eagles scrubs.
Doug Legursky – Legursky relieved Pouncey at center first and then saw time at right guard later. He was adequate in pass protection and his run game blocking is were most of the negatives came from. Overall, not a bad showing.
Ramon Foster – This was not one of the best games for Foster, who was forced to play left guard with Willie Colon out with his ankle injury. While he only had 3 negatives in the pass protection column, 1 was a sack that he split early with Adams and the other 2 were pressures allowed. Foster was not overly dominant in the run blocking department, but keep in mind that he reportedly has seen most of his work in training camp at the right guard spot. Foster will never be accused of being a great pulling guard and is usually a tad late getting to his target when asked to do so.
Marcus Gilbert – Like all of the tackles that played Thursday night, Gilbert struggled as well, especially with the wide pass rush of the Eagles. His 4 pass protection demerits all resulted in pressures. This was clearly not his best game and we have seen much better from him last year as a rookie, especially in the run blocking department. He missed outside bad on a cut block that I noted. On the long run by Dwyer, Gilbert, like the other interior guys, was spot on and the hole was huge. No reason to panic in regard to Gilbert in my opinion.
John Malecki – If you were ranking on run blocking alone, Malecki would be at the bottom. Luckily there were enough passing plays against a front four that didn\’t stunt much inside that he was able to raise his overall score a bit. Malecki is not even worth keeping on the practice squad at this point.
Chris Scott – Scott played both right tackle and right guard Thursday night and once again was the master of neither position. He allowed 2 pressures and 1 sack on the night. Time is running out on the Steelers 2010 5th round pick.
Kelvin Beachum – Beachum had a rough first NFL game. He entered at left tackle after Trai Essex flipped sides and moved to left guard when Essex flipped back. He finished the night back at left tackle. Beachum was flagged 3 times in total and it should have been 4. On the long touchdown by Chris Rainey the officials clearly missed his block in the back. While Beachum only allowed 1 pressure by my count, he couldn\’t hold his blocks long in both the passing and run blocking departments. He has no business outside unless flipped to right tackle.
Kyle Jolly – Yikes. 2.5 sacks and 1 pressure allowed on 7 pass plays at right tackle.
Trai Essex – I expected a little more out the trimmed down Essex, especially at the right tackle spot. He initially replaced Mike Adams at left tackle and then flipped over to the right and then back to the left again over the course of his 21 snaps. He allowed 1 sack, 2 pressures and 1 quarterback hit in 7 pass plays. Now you see why Foster is getting reps at right tackle this week in practice and Essex.
Mike Adams – Despite the pass protection issues, I thought Adams represented himself well in the run blocking department on the 6 plays he was asked to do so. He showed the ability to get out and work in the second level, so that is a plus. His pass protection on the edges against the up field rush of the Eagles certainly needs some work. It is as if he was so worried about be taken up field too far and his man coming back across his face. A few times Adams refused to his long arms and was mostly reactionary. He failed to even hold well on one of the sacks. 2.5 sacks allowed, 2 fumble recoveries and 4 pressures allowed on 13 passing plays, 3 of which were screen plays, tells the story.