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Inside the Pittsburgh Steelers

Entering Training Camp this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were looking to revamp their defense and work on opening up the offense under Ben Roethlisberger.

So far so good.

1st Round pick Ryan Shazier has been a beast, and looks as if he is going to settle in nicely next to Lawrence Timmons as one of the Steelers starting Inside Linebackers. Shazier was able to showcase his talents in the 2nd exhibition game against the Buffalo Bills by recording 11 tackles and an interception in just over one quarter.

Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau is impressed with Shazier’s instincts, as well as the speed of the entire linebacking corps, which includes the incredible return of Sean Spence, who basically had his knee destroyed in a 2012 preseason game against Carolina. So far in 2 games, Spence has recorded 8 tackles.

Rookie defensive linemen Daniel McCullers and Stephon Tuitt have looked good so far, especially Tuitt who has 4 tackles so far. He should see plenty of action on the field rotating with free agent acquisition Cam Thomas at right DE.

Free Safety Mike Mitchell, signed to replace Ryan Clark, looks as if he will be a great addition to the defense.

The speed of the defense overall should create more turnovers this season, something the Steeler’s D has been lacking in the past few seasons.

Offensively, Ben Roethlisberger and the first team thrived in the no-huddle. Still, through two games, the running game hasn’t yet been established as much as they would like it to be. Look for this to be focused on in Pittsburgh’s third preseason game vs the Eagles, as the starters should see significant time into the 3rd quarter. The Steelers are deep at wide receiver, and the battle for the five spot is going to be intense in the final two games between Justin Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Derek Moye.

Preseason Games 1 & 2 Rewind:

In the first exhibition game vs the New York Giants, the starters didn’t see much action on either side of the ball. Ben Roethlisberger and the first team played one series before heading to the sidelines for the rest of the game.

The defense, which was playing without Ryan Shazier and Troy Polamalu, allowed a 73 yard touchdown run to Rashad Jennings. Back-up QB’s Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones weren’t particularly impressive, going a combined 19-31 for only 140 yards.

Rookie Dri Archer was able to show his breathtaking speed as he scampered 46 yards on a Rothlisberger toss. The Steelers lost 20-16.

In week two of the preseason, the starters came out firing under Ben Roethlisberger, as Big Ben hooked up with Antonio Brown on a slant that went the distance for 76 yards. Roethlisberger then fired a strike to Markus Wheaton in the back of the end zone late in the 1st quarter and the Steelers were out to a 13-3 lead. Big Ben finished up 8-11 for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns in just over a quarter’s work. The Steelers didn’t really attempt to set up a running game behind Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, as they only rushed 7 times for 11 yards.

As noted, Ryan Shazier was all over the field for the Steeler’s defense, as was Troy Polamalu, who looked in mid-season form as he recorded 5 tackles, one of which he leaped on a Bills running back as if he were a lion attacking a wildebeest. The Steelers ended up winning their first preseason game since 2012 as they edged the Bills 19-16 on a last second field goal by Shaun Suisham.

Preseason Game 3 vs the Philadelphia Eagles Preview:

Gametime: Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field, 7:30pm.

The third preseason game should see the Steeler’s starters well into the 3rd quarter, as they look to round into form before their opening week match-up against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on September 7, at 1pm. The first team offense and defense will be lucky to see more than a few series in the last preseason game, so it’s go-time against the Eagles.

Ben Roethlisberger and the offense look to fine tune the no-huddle, and continue it’s impressive performance last Saturday vs the Bills. Unfortunately, RB’s Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were busted for marijuana possession on Wednesday while driving to the airport to fly to Philadelphia for the game. Both will play in the game despite the run in with the law. I guess you can say the Steelers will be looking to weed out their problems in establishing the running game against Philly.

LB Jarvis Jones should return after missing the game vs the Bills. If he does indeed play, the Steelers will finally get to trot out their entire 1st team defense for the first time this preseason.

Notes:

* The Steelers signed Offensive Lineman Marcus Gilbert to a 6 year, $30 million dollar contract. All of the Steeler’s starting offensive lineman are now signed through the 2015 season.

* The Beard, aka Brett Keisel, was resigned for 2 years on Wednesday. This will be Keisel’s 13th year in the NFL.

The Steelers must cut their roster to 75 players by Tuesday and 53 after the final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on August 28th.

 

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Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!

From Midland, “The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania”, located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.


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