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.