By Jimmie Kaylor @jimmiekaylor on August 18, 2014
For the loyal backers of the Pittsburgh Steelers, there was a lot to be excited about following their preseason win against the Buffalo Bills. The starting offense scored on both of their possessions and the defense showed signs of rejuvenation. Here is a look at five players who stood out in the Steelers’ Week 2 preseason game.
Markus Wheaton continues to impress and play like he’s ready to fill the role of the departed Emmanuel Sanders. We all remember that he showed well in training camp and preseason games last year, and went on to only catch six passes in the regular season. We should also remember that Hines Ward, Antonio Brown and Sanders all struggled as rookies as well. Wheaton is on track to push Lance Moore for the No. 2 wide receiver job.
Antonio Brown took a simple crossing pattern and literally blew by the entire Buffalo Bills secondary for a 76-yard touchdown reception on the Steelers’ opening drive on Saturday night. He is looking to build on his stellar 2013 campaign that saw him breakout as an elite NFL wide receiver. If Saturday night was any indication, look for another massively productive season out of Brown.
Big Ben got to run the offense out of the no-huddle for both of his possessions Saturday night and the carry-over from the second half of the 2013 season, when the Steelers emphasized the no-huddle, was clear. Roethlisberger led touchdown drives on both of his possessions. He connected with Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaten on touchdown passes and looks poised for a big year.
Landry Jones stood out for the wrong reasons. He had two turnovers (an interception on his first pass attempt of the game and a fumble), and has shown a real lack of progression. His play has him firmly entrenched on the Steelers’ roster bubble and has also likely made him unattractive to other teams should the Steelers choose to release him. The team’s final preseason game will be his last real shot at locking down his spot on the team for 2014.
Ryan Shazier was nothing short of spectacular in his debut. He showed off his freakish athleticism on his interception and displayed his all-around linebacking prowess all game. Shazier finished with nine tackles (four on the Bills' opening drive alone) to go along with his highlight-reel worthy interception. He may be the player who helps rejuvenate a Steelers defense that showed serious signs of age in 2013.
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