By Jeremy Hritz
The Steelers preseason has concluded, and after 3 consecutive wins, they finally encountered their first loss at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, 34-9. While the majority of their starters were rested, many fringe players who were in roster battles played significant time, providing more tape for coaches to evaluate and to make the decisions regarding who will make the 53-man roster this coming Tuesday. Not a good showing at all for the team as a whole, below are those Steelers who played well enough to make the Honor Roll, and those who struggled and faltered onto the Needs Improvement list. Let’s get this roster wrapped up and move on to the regular season!
Another sack for Jamir Jones, 8 total tackles, including a nice stop on special teams, and 2 quarterback hits, and the Notre Dame OLB has made a convincing case to be on the 53-man roster. Jones has done it all throughout training camp and in the first three preseason games, and tonight was no different. Great camp and great preseason for Jones, and in my evaluation, he has made the team.
Man, Bennie, we missed you! Bennie Snell football was back in action tonight, racking up 28 yards on 8 carries, including a long run of 17 yards, showing that he is recovered from the mystery injury that plagued him for most of camp, and making the case that he deserves to be on the 53. What won’t show up on the stat sheet is his quality pass protection, and his performance, coupled with what he has done the last two seasons, and it is hard not to think long and hard about Snell sticking to the roster. Good to see Bennie back at it.
James Pierre was great in coverage tonight, in addition to being strong in run support. He finished the night with 3 tackles and 1 for loss, and showed he is a viable option as a perimeter corner for the team. Pierre has been solid since the start of OTAs, and there is no reason to believe he will not contribute to the Steelers defense in some way this season. What a find for the team last year.
I think the Steelers have found themselves a hidden gem in Isaiahh Loudermilk. Loudermilk has had a productive camp and preseason, and has shown a good attitude, endearing himself to his teammates, and tonight, he totaled 5 tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss, showing that he can serve as productive depth on this defensive line in 2021. It will be interesting to see how he developed over his first few seasons, and I am highly encouraged the team has scored a big win in their selection of Loudermilk.
Go ahead, Boz. Great 52-yard field goal. In midseason form in August. Primed for a big season.
As I discussed earlier in the week, there were some Steelers beat writers who believed that Dwayne Haskins had an opportunity to wrestle the QB2 spot from Mason Rudolph, and while maybe that was a possibility, Haskins performance was subpar and underwhelming. His stat line was 9/16 for 108 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and a quarterback rating of 71.9, boosted by a late-game drive against bottom of the barrel defenders. Haskins was not good. While every player is entitled to a dud, unfortunately for Haskins, his came on a night when much was being expected of him and when he was under pressure to perform. While this shouldn’t push him off the roster, more than likely the discussion will be a bit more robust in deciding between Haskins and Joshua Dobbs. If Haskins sticks to the roster, which he should, he will get the opportunity to learn and develop during the year as the #3, and if he is to be a viable competitor for any upward mobility, he will need to show much growth from this preseason to the next.
Fumbled while trying to catch a punt, and unfortunately, may have fumbled away his opportunity to make the 53. While he did have 2 catches for 10 yards, his place is most likely on the practice squad. Cheddar Bob was a fun story while it lasted.
Robert Spillane’s performance tonight was disappointing and discouraging. For a player who showed so much promise last season, Spillane has been below average all preseason, capped off by an unfortunate performance tonight. Spillane simply cannot cover the pass and gets carried by ball carriers when trying to make a tackle. If there were better depth at ILB, Spillane would be in jeopardy of making the 53.
No explanation needed. Just damn bad. 34-3. Glad preseason is over.
See above explanation for the defensive depth.