Steelers vs Giants Film Review: Brice McCain

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed a number of free agents this season to help replenish their roster, adding some significant pieces such as Mike Mitchell, Cam Thomas, and LeGarrette Blount. Among the more unheralded signings was former Houston Texans nickel back Brice McCain, whom many believed would struggle to make the roster.

I include myself among those who initially left the veteran off the initial projected roster until recently, and he did nothing to suggest that he doesn’t belong with his play, both on defense and special teams, against the New York Giants on Saturday.

And what better way to make that point than to be in on the tackle during the opening kickoff of the game? In fact, he was the man to bring the returner to the ground, even if Howard Jones seemed to have gotten most of the credit for the play. The two defenders nearly simultaneously got to Quintin Demps, but it was McCain who should be credited with the primary tackle.

Sticking with special teams, McCain was working with Shamarko Thomas as vice jammers toward the near side of the field just a minute later. McCain was able to shadow the gunner out of bounds, but Thomas failed to stay with him and allowed the gunner to get past him inbounds and force Dri Archer into calling for a fair catch.

Early in the second quarter, on another Giants punt, McCain was operating as a lone jammer on the near sideline. Thomas cut up from center field to slow the progress of the gunner, and McCain was able to race downfield and get in front of him, blocking him out of the play.

He would have been the first man down the field otherwise, and likely would have forced Archer into another fair catch. This one he at least had an opportunity to return, thanks in large part to McCain, even if it only went for four yards.

Of course, McCain wasn’t brought in just to be a contributor on special teams, even if that is where he will spend the bulk of his time with the Steelers this year, assuming the defense is able to stay healthy.

He was brought in to compete for, at a minimum, the fourth cornerback spot, with Antwon Blake and rookie Shaquille Richardson, as well as Isaiah Green and Devin Smith, the other notable contenders in that battle.

While he did spend a reasonable amount of time on defense, playing as the nickel corner with Blake and Green on the outside with the second-team defense, he was only targeted twice, with McCain able to get in front of this third-down pass without drawing a flag, which was a rarity on the night.

While he may have been a bit fortunate on an underthrown ball that forced the receiver to come back for it, replays show that he clearly didn’t interfere on the play. In all, it was a fine showing for the free agent pickup, particularly on special teams.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • steeltown

    I like the potential of McCain and the speed and experience that he brings. But, I don’t like the numbers game at DB position, just too many guys to keep them all.

  • Steelers12328882

    Looks like a good pickup and will suite the 5th CB spot just fine. He should easily beat out Shaq and I don’t think Green and Smith are even in contention.

  • AndyR34

    Average to below average DB’s are a dime a dozen…just like WR’s. It is unlikely that any of these guys, vets or rooks, are going to the Pro Bowl at any time in their career.

  • steeltown

    Are you speaking for the entire DB room? Because I could certainly see someone like Mitchell, C.Allen or Shamarko Thomas making the pro bowl at some point in their careers

    By the way, the pro bowl is overrated. Look no further than someone like Timmons never getting a nod, while Pouncey makes on name value alone.

  • AndyR34

    No…just speaking to the back end of the roster…McCain, Green, Dangerfield, etc.

  • dgh57

    Until I see more plays on defense over the course of the next 3 preseason games I’ll say we may have another Curtis Brown in the making who was a guy who was solid on STs and not so much on defense.

  • steeltown

    Oh yea im not holding my breath with any of them, though Dangerfield is intriguing with Troy and W.Allen getting up there in age.

  • steeltown

    I think we already have one of those (Golden)

  • Steel PAul

    Would like to see more at the CB position when there’s enough tape to show him there. Hopefully after pre-season week 2 game.

  • dgh57

    Yeah, but we may end up with two DBs with Golden (S) and McCain at CB not playing much on defense. As thin as we are at CB we really need McCain and/or Richardson to step up on defense.