NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Things We Learned from First Preseason Game

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Five Things We Learned from First Preseason Game

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With the first week of the preseason in the books, the Pittsburgh Steelers now have a clearer idea of how much they need to improve leading up to the start of the regular season. In their 18-13 loss to the New York Giants, the Steelers witnessed some eye-catching performances that will excite their fans for 2013. On the other hand, there were some that could cause some worry throughout Steeler Nation.

There were solid performances in the offensive backfield and from the wide outs, but there was also some blown coverages in the defensive secondary, numerous mistakes on special teams, and still some uncertainty with the current starting right outside linebacker position.

Overall, not much can be said about the first stringers on both sides of the ball, since neither side saw significant playing time. However, something can be said about the limited time that they had on the field. The offensive line had its rough spots with a holding penalty and allowing a sack early in the game. Defensively, they stayed firm in the first quarter with the Giants knocking on the door and held them to just a field goal.

All but two of the rookies that were drafted by the Steelers this year played in this first preseason game, and overall, they fared pretty well.

As for the rest of the players that are fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster, the play by some of them this past weekend could be very crucial leading up to the first cuts.

A lot can be focused on for evaluation, but here are five significant things that myself and all Steelers fans learned in this first game of the preseason.

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Special teams has to get better

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh’s special teams struggled all game. After Marshall McFadden was penalized for being illegally down field on a punt, the Steelers allowed a blocked punt. Later in the game, returner David Gilreath botched a punt, which resulted in a turnover, and made a bonehead play of fielding a punt on Pittsburgh’s own three-yard line.

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So far, so good for Emmanuel Sanders

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Although he didn’t beat anyone deep in this game, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders came up big on the Steelers’ first scoring drive with three catches for 27 yards. Looks like Pittsburgh did the right thing by keeping him on board.

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LaRod Stephens-Howling will fit well in offense

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Many Steeler fans were disappointed not seeing rookie LeVeon Bell play, but that discontent was long gone when they saw running back LaRod Stephens-Howling run up and down the field. Stephens-Howling carried the ball seven times for a game-high 40 yards. It’s safe to say that he’ll be on the 53-man roster.

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Jason Worilds needs to play smarter to beat Jarvis Jones

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Even though Jason Worilds recorded a sack against the Giants, his two roughing-the-passer penalties within a three-play span didn’t help his chances of claiming the starting right outside linebacker spot. Rookie Jarvis Jones didn’t have a spectacular game, but he did show great hustle in recovering a fumble in the backfield and making a solid open-field tackle in the flat.

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William Gay won’t start over Cortez Allen

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s hope that cornerback Cortez Allen will be set to go real soon, because William Gay doesn’t seem to be the answer as the Steelers’ No. 2 cornerback. Though he could have used some help from the safety, Gay was beat in the first quarter for a 57-yard touchdown pass. That play only gives Allen a better chance to win that starting spot.

Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+