All eyes were on Heinz Field on Sunday night as the Pittsburgh Steelers invited rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and his Indianapolis Colts to town for a little get together. I’ve had a chance to go over the game a couple of times and here are some things that stood out to me.
-Ben Roethlisberger is not adjusting to new offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s offense. I will expand on this in a full article later in the week, but 2 games in, I don’t see Ben operating this passing offense the way that Haley intends it. Does it mean it won’t work? Of course not, but in the long run, it will be interesting to see if Ben adapts more to the new offensive philosophy or not.
-The running game appears to be in good hands. They have a nice mix of backs right now with Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch, Chris Rainey, and even newcomer Jason Ford. Great mix of skills and talent, and they are making good use of the holes the offensive line is giving them. I am sure Isaac Redman and even maybe Rashard Mendenhall will be back, but this team is deep at running back.
-Speaking of the offensive line. I was very pleased with how the first unit played. They looked cohesive and while no individual players jumped out at me, the group was solid providing running lanes and nice pass protection. The one person I will mention individually is rookie Mike Adams. He struggled again. His set up is too slow, and he’s letting defensive players get way too far into his body. Much work to be done.
-The defensive line is also in good hands. Steve McClendon is playing well enough you almost have to wonder if the Steelers could have considered passing on defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu. The young ends Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward flanking McClendon is the future and this threesome is very promising.
-If you are talking about defensive player of the year, don’t leave out LaMarr Woodley. He looks like he’s in great shape this year and poised to have a huge season. And considering that other than Lawrence Timmons, this group is in some flux, the defense is going to need him to be huge.
-The cornerbacks on this team minus Ike Taylor do nothing for me. This is a passing league and watching guys trying to make the roster and get on the field making wide receiver Griff Whalen look like a pro bowler worries me.
-Speaking of wide receivers, David Gilreath is all the talk. This week I want to see if the undrafted rookie from Wisconsin on the field against first team defenders, because right now he looks to be bumping fellow rookies Tony Clemons and Marquis Maze off the roster altogether. If he can do it against better corners, I might be on board.
All in all I thought the team looked pretty good. There are obviously concerns, but much to be happy about. It looks like the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to have a new kicker and a new punter and both are very skilled. Antonio Brown is playing at a very high level and with the news of the return of Mike Wallace this week and the offense gets a much needed bump. Can’t wait for that third preseason game when jobs are really won and lost in the NFL.
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