Steelers Versus Giants – Winners And Losers

There was some good, bad, ugly and average on display Saturday night as the Pittsburgh Steelers lost their preseason opener at home to the New York Giants. After now going through the game a few times, here is my list of winners and losers in the game.

Make sure to add yours below in the comments.


Al Woods – I think you would be hard pressed to find a player on the defensive side of the ball that had a better game than Woods. Defensive line coach John Mitchell has to be happy with one of his guys leading the team in total tackles. It wasn\’t a perfect night for him, but for a player that only played 30 snaps last year, you wouldn\’t have known it.

LaRod Stephens-Howling – The University of Pittsburgh product really looked comfortable in his first game with the Steelers. He set up his blocks well and used his vision and cutting ability to turn a few runs that looked like they might go for losses into positive gains.

David DeCastro – DeCastro looked every part of a first round draft pick during his 31 snaps. His run blocking showed that he is no longer bothered by the knee injury that he suffered nearly a year ago.

Will Johnson – Johnson looked like he picked up where he left off last season and he figures to play a big part in the offense this year. He had two catches for 18 yards and a nice route adjustment out of the backfield on one of those. Is 30 catches out of the question in 2013?

Young Backup Linebackers – After both Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons left the game, their backups came in and played well above the line. Marshall McFadden played exactly like I thought he would as he registered five total tackles, a quarterback hit and a special teams tackle. Brian Rolle played well, but especially in coverage. He moves a lot better than I remembered. Kion Wilson, Vince Williams and Terence Garvin all also represented themselves well.

Alameda Ta\’amu – He has a lot to work on still, but boy can you see the progress. He used his hands much better than he did last preseason and on one play it is easy to notice him locking his arms out. You wouldn\’t know that he ever hurt his hamstring as he looked quick and powerful off the ball. There are still three more games to go, but what we saw last night was encouraging.

J.D. Woods – Sure, he shouldn\’t have brought out that kickoff, but the two catches that he made were perhaps the best two of the night by a Steelers wide receiver.


David Paulson – Paulson might very well be bigger and stronger, but he has yet to master the art of run blocking. Several times he was handled at the point of attack.

David Gilreath – Gilreath returned quite a few kicks and punts during his college career, but you wouldn\’t have known it Saturday night. Not only did he fumble one punt away, but he also made a poor decision to field another one at around the 3-yard-line. In order for him to make the roster as a fifth wide receiver, Gilreath needed to have a good showing on offense as well as special teams and neither of those two things happened Saturday night.

DaMon Cromartie-Smith – When you figure that a player like Cromartie-Smith will really need to excel on special teams in order to make the roster, he certainly didn\’t help his cause Saturday night as not only did he not register any special teams tackles, he also allowed a blocked punt after falling for an easy fake on the outside.

Markus Wheaton – Yes, Wheaton is going to be just fine and  he will make plenty of big plays for Steelers over the course of his career, but his first preseason game really wasn\’t all that. He couldn\’t hold onto a ball on the sidelines, was penalized for a false start and somehow managed to be reckless enough to take out the legs of Stevenson Sylvester after he made a tackle while covering a punt. That being all said, I highly suggest you go out and buy his jersey.

Jason Worilds – If not for the two bonehead penalties in a matter of three plays, Worilds might have shown up on in the winners column. I understand that he is trying to compete, but he has to be smarter than that. Penalties like that can kill a team and both of his resulted in three points.

Landry Jones – It\’s too early to run him out of town after just one preseason game, but Jones looked more like an undrafted rookie than he did a fourth-round selection. Nowhere to go but up, right?

D\’Anthony Batiste – Surely the Steelers can do better than Batiste. Guy Whimper wasn\’t much better, but Batiste was bad.

  • CW

    It might have been a mistake, but Woods did show a decent ability as a kick returner. He got almost thirty yards on a kick return that was too deep in the end zone and had too much hang time to be run out. I’d say he wants that roster spot bad and wanted to put yet another aspect of his game on tape.

  • John Hinton

    Ramon Foster was certainly a candidate for the Losers category giving up the inside sack to C Jenkins…that was bad. Luckily Ben didn’t get hurt on that play.

  • Bruce Mastorovich

    I’d agree about everything but Paulson. He looked pretty good, not like Heath Miller or anything, but he’s starting to look like a complete tight end. There were a couple plays where he picked up a block and was a big part of opening a hole.

  • Bell Cow

    Hey Dave. For the most part I agree with your analysis. William Gay should be included on the losers list. He got toasted by Victor Cruz and he’s clearly going to be a liability against teams with a good slot receiver. I’m not sure I’d consider Markus Wheaton a loser. Sure he made some errors, but I was actually impressed by him and can definitely see his potential. Also, Ramon Foster was a loser in my opinion. He looked bad in pass coverage and I question if he’s the right fit for this new zone blocking scheme.

  • cencalsteeler

    I agree with everything, but I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt to both Wheaton and Landry. Wheaton came into camp late, and Landry got thrown to the wolves by coming into the game backed into his endzone. I think he outplayed Nassib, who was the Giants 4th round pick.

  • steeltown

    I agree with all of this.. the young ILB’s really impressed me, M.Mcfadden, Vince, Kion and Rolle were flying around the field. Also LSH, JD Woods and Justin Brown were all very impressive in their first action with the Team.. Ta’amu looked very
    strong in this game I keep remembering him in the 2nd or 3rd Qtr pushing
    /walking an OLineman back like 10-12yds right into the QB

    Gilreath blew it and DCSmith got beat on that punt, but all around not too many “Loser’s” in my book. Paulson still needs work in the blocking dept. I’ll give Worilds a pass on this one game, its preseason, but I like the aggressiveness. Like Bryan said if not for the dumb penalties he’d be in the winners column with a sack, a tackle for loss and a QB hit.

  • Showboogie

    Punch tackle ^

  • Busforever

    I didn’t find Landry Jones that bad. Ok, he ”sancherized” on the missed handoff with Byron Batch. But other than that, he showed some rythm, had some good little passes to J.Brown. Considering the bad reports he had during training camps, I was positively surprised. I excpected to see a guy in panick, I didn’t see that at all.

  • mlc43

    I agreed with everything but Wheaton. He made a couple of nice catches and had a really good run on an end around. Seriously, his dropping that catch on the sidelines was nothing….sometimes the ground just does that when you land on a ball. Happens to Calvin Johnson sometimes, too. I was really impressed with him.

  • steeltown

    Agreed. He looks explosive and appears to have really nice hands.

  • Spencer Krick

    I’d say Justin Brown looked pretty good, I’d like to see Reggie Dunn get more kick return attempts and though the film might prove me wrong, I did not see anyone shine on O-Line after the first teamers left.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    agreed…these kids maybe get only a few chances in fielding kicks to show what they have so it is not a big deal he took it out. Just as long as he knows that that isnt what we do in games that count

  • reg38

    Add Justin Brown to that list of winners

  • Jack Gardner

    I’d like to see Baron Batch get some carries with the first team, his 5 carries last night weren’t because of lack of ability, it seems that the O-line simply weren’t opening any holes! Yes I get that’s it the 3rd team O-line! But in order to get a roster spot Batch is gonna need a better opportunity!

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I agree. I thought Jones did better then I expected. I do not feel he went through his progressions well but he delivered decent passes and didnt hold onto the ball long.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I wouldnt put Wheaton with the losers either. His dropped pass would have been a great catch, taking out Sly was him being a lil over aggressive which is better then under aggressive.

  • cencalsteeler

    I know this is out of context, but I can’t help but give credit where credit is due. Tom Coughlin deserves to be in the winner category. For him to be penalty free in his first preseason game is just impressive and speaks volumes of his coaching discipline. I know this is a non Steelers post, but I thought it should be recognized.

  • Marcus

    I was fairly impressed with the Back up D as a whole. I was really hoping they would draft an inside backer this year, but after watching the game I can see why they didn’t. They are going to have to cut some good football players this year.

  • Kolie Oak

    To put Markus in the loser category is absolutely ridiculous.
    Your assessment on all the others is spot on, but Markus clearly showed he will be a starter day 1…

  • Marcus

    LSH played great, and and what an under rated signing that was. I have heard that Hailey is a big Will Johnson fan, and thinks he can be a pro-bowl caliber FB/HB.

    I thought Dwyer and Batch both looked bad. I don’t think Dwyer has it between the ears, but that’s just my opinion. I think we should carry 4 RB’s and 6 WR’s.

  • Ahmad

    OK it really sounds like you are nitpicking with Wheaton. I will give you the false start. The inc pass on the sideline, hey that was a tough catch and he showed great effort on it. Besides, Gradkowski was late getting him the ball anyway so I give him a pass on that. As far as taking out Sylvester’s legs, really? I mean stuff like that happens all the time. Wheaton had a great night IMO. He had a great run off an end around, showed great route running and made a nice tough catch for a first down.

  • GNG

    They did draft one, Vince Williams 6th round pick.

  • GNG

    That taking out Sly’s injury was unavoidable. Wheaton was moving too fast and accidentally hit Sly’s ankle.

  • panthrowe

    Three really under the radars that I seen do some things were Kashif Moore (I was inpressed with all young recievers but dont hear his name much), Brian Arnfeldt, Alvester Alexander on special teams

  • steeltown

    That first down catch was impressive

  • Mike.H

    Ramon Foster was beat to a SACK by the signature “Reggie White” move via C Jenkins.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    agreed! I thought Arnfelt really played well…sad for him that there are no spots for the kid…hope he makes the PS till next year when Keisel quits/retires/unsigned. Moore played well too and I now want to see more of Alexander

  • Marcus

    Yea, I know I meant like top 3 pick. Not 6th rd that isn’t guaranteed to make team.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Yeah, maybe he did look good on a couple of plays, but he played 58% of the teams offensive snaps, and most of the time he was blocking he wasn’t doing a very good job of it. Far from a complete TE in my opinion.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    I don’t agree with that. Wheaton dove at the guy on the ground way late, missed him, and hit Sly instead. Totally avoidable, but I also thought Wheaton showed excellent promise on his way to becoming the 3rd receiver.

  • Gautama Om

    Foster was lazy on that play by putting up both hands in the air in a defensive posture waiting for Jenkins to make a move when he should have went after Jenkins initially.

  • Ryan Barton

    Besides Landry Jones’ first play, I thought he did rather well. Especially since he was behind an awful O-Line. His passes were decent, and you can tell he wants to run the no huddle just like he did in OU. He’s a very smart kid and I can’t wait to see what he does next weekend.

  • joed32

    I thought it was more like a Deacon Jones head slap.

  • Intropy

    Baron Batch didn’t show anything good. But yeah, I guess I have to feel bad for the kid. Almost every NFL carry he’s gotten has either been with with pressure in the backfield at the handoff or a solid wall of people in front of him.

  • Intropy

    They had a false start.

  • Intropy

    Not a big stretch on Will Johnson being pro bowl caliber. Let’s be honest the quality of fullback play in the NFL has been taking a nosedive, so that mountain isn’t too big a climb. If you play as well as Will Johnson did yesterday you stand out. Come to think of it the only FB in the whole league I’d say stands out for his play at all in Vonta Leach.

  • Intropy

    The backup CB Green looked pretty good as did OLB Baxter. I don’t remember seeing Shamarko at all. I guess that means the cameras weren’t on him, which is a good thing for a safety I suppose.

    Baron Batch had really poor opportunities, but he looked pretty poor in them. Jonathan Dwyer had a pretty unimpressive night I thought.

    Ziggy Hood appeared to have a poor showing. The one play where I noticed him do something positive he pushed into the backfield to hit the RB for a big loss. Except that the RB bull rushed through him until a linebacker ran into the both of them to get them to the ground at around the los.

    Biggest loser, anything that has to do with any special teams play other than the FG/XP unit.

  • alex

    cromartie blinked and faked himself out!

  • lefnor

    My best (backup) defensive player was Golden. He showed surprising speed, good positioning and sound tackling. He was very impressive. Shamarko was good too. He proved he can play nCB.
    The OLB situation is interesting. Worilds is the same as the previous years. He can’t beat any OT in this league consistently. He can tackle, blitz, cover, knows the system but he can’t go over the OTs in one on one situations. And that’s his main job. He is a backup caliber OLB at best.
    Chris Carter the same. Mr invisible. He is fast, can cover, but that’s it. The added muscle didn’t help.
    The 5th and 6th OLBs are better than both of them. Robinson is a terror, and was surprisingly very good in coverage. This guy is the new Harrison. I like his play very much. His place on the depth chart is ridiculous. And Baxter was very good too. He has good speed, body control, hand usage and surprisingly phisical style for his size. He needs to bulk up a little but he has very good upside.
    Robinson and Baxter should beat out Carter. Unfortunately Worilds seems to be protected but he shouldn’t start. He is not that caliber. Even Jones is much more better although he is not a finished product at all.
    My OLB DC:
    LOLB: Woodley, Baxter, Carter
    ROLB: Jones/Robinson, Worilds

    Rolle was fast but he can’t play against the run at all. Vince Williams looked slow on space but was good against inside runs. Kion Wilson was the best all around backup ILB IMO.

    Offensively my man was Mike Adams. What an improvement! We have a LT!
    I think Pouncey played with some sort of injury because he was terrible (he was substituted early by Malecki). Beaten like a drum. Or he just can’t play against Rogers/Jenkins/Joseph sized beasts… Btw the depth at the Giants DL is scary. Okam and Marvin Austin played DT at the end of the 4th quarter. Brutal.
    There was not a pulling play called for DeCastro :). The 1st quarter running game was very good but imo it will be better.
    Wheaton will be a fantastic playmaker for this O very soon.

  • sgtrobo

    agreed. That play Wheaton made for a 1st was great, and if he would’ve caught that sideline play, that would’ve been just nuts. Definitely not belonging in the loser’s category

  • sgtrobo

    Batch is painfully slow, that’s the problem.

  • sgtrobo

    well, if we cut Williams, we’re nuts. dude is a beast.

  • sgtrobo

    great call about Arnfeldt.

  • cencalsteeler


  • Paul Barracliffe

    What about Jarvis Jones. Is he free from being analyzefd by you? I saw him over pursue and break contanement a good few times. he def didn’t look like a starter to me

  • GoSteelerz

    How about Ryan Steed? Ryan steed made a couple nice tackles and was good in coverage, in one instance the QB looked his way but had to throw it away due to good coverage. He is really under the radar. I hope he gets a chance to play more in the next game and see if he can keep it going. I was not impressed with William Gay or Josh Victorian. Not that they were terrible (Gay was burnt badly on the pass to Cruz, but Cruz is one of the premier receivers in the league and he does that to good CB’s too), but they didn’t make any notable good plays.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Looked like Wheaton got hit late and blocked into Sly

  • steeltown

    That play was mostly Ryan Clarks fault.. you could also throw in Polamalu as well, they have to give Safety help over the top on 3rd down especially when we’re talking about a premier pass catcher in Cruz