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Insider Only Redman and Brown shine in preseason opener

Pittsburgh 23 – Detroit 17

How the Steelers No. 1 Units Fared

Ben Roethlisberger sat out the Steelers preseason opener and it didn’t take long for Steelers fans to be calling for Roethlisberger as the Steelers No. 1 offense struggled through most of the 1st half.
Leftwich who was expected to play 8 to 12 snaps, instead played until midway into the second quarter.
The Steelers No. 1 offense came out of the gates slow, gaining only 16 yards in 12 plays in the team’s first two series. Fans began yelling “We want Ben, we want Ben” after the Steelers No. 1 unit stalled on their second series.
Leftwich was 6 of 10 for 43 yards, leading the Steelers on two scoring drives that resulted with Jeff Reed field goals (37, 35).
The Steelers offensive line also struggled mightily in front of Leftwich which prompted Tomlin to give his No. 1 unit a much longer look than expected.
However, a decision on Roethlisberger not playing was made hours before the game.
“With the number of snaps we anticipated the first offense running, it just wasn’t appropriate to play him {Ben Roethlisberger},” coach Mike Tomlin said. “He wanted to play. He’s had an awesome training camp.”
The Lions got pressue to Leftwich for most of the night as Flozell Adams and Chris Kemoeatu were beat badly on plays. Leftwich was effective was quick short passes and was unable to stretch the field due to the consistent pressure from the Lions.
Leftwich went deep on one opportunity, underthrowing Mike Wallace down the right sideline near the end zone.
Rashard Mendenhall’s fumble issues continue to plague the Steelers. The explosive back broke free into the open field for what was going to be a 25+ yard gain but Mendenhall was holding the ball loosely and the ball was popped out. Mendenhall who had 2 yards on 5 carries, was benched by Mike Tomlin on the second series, than later returned for the next series.
The Steelers No. 1 unit on defense kept the Lions scoreless through two series. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was very good, going 8 of 11 for 61 yards and a touchdown but his touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson at 14:18 of the second quarter came against the majority of Steelers backups as Johnson beat 2nd year corner Keenan Lewis for the score.
The Lions though appear to be building a strong offensive core with rising star Matthew Stafford at the quarterback position, wide out Calvin Johnson and running back Jahvid Best.
As for the Steelers starters on the defensive side of ball, Lawrence Timmons stood out during his limited playing time, getting to Stafford on a 3rd and 10 incomplete pass and stuffing the run on a Jahvid Best run up the middle where Timmons got to the hole quickly and stopped Best in his tracks.

No Quarterback Controversy

Dennis Dixon was phenomenal going 6 of 7 for 128 yards and 1 touchdown along with a perfect 158.3 passer rating in the Steelers 23-7 win.
Dixon also ran six times for 31 yards. The 3rd year quarterback led the Steelers on scoring drives of 75, 79 and 68 yards with reserves playing. The talk shows will be buzzing over the next couple days about Dixon getting an opportunity to be the Steelers No 1 but there won’t be a quarterback controversy in Pittsburgh at this point.
The Steelers coaching staff remains fully committed to Byron Leftwich.
Dixon though did what he had to do after an inconsistent two weeks of camp.
Dixon’s 51-yard completion to Arnaz Battle with Eric King in coverage led to Isaac Redman’s 1-yard touchdown late in the second quarter then Dixon connected with rookie wide receiver Antonio Brown for a 68 yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter.
Brown who has shown to be dynamic in the open field, went 58+ yards after the catch on quick slant route for the score.
Brown was targeted three times and had three receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown in the game. Brown shined and continues to make a strong case for a roster spot.
Most figure Brown is battling veteran Arnaz Battle for the final wide receiver spot. Battle also had a strong game, turning a 12-15 yard out-route into a 51 yard gain and setting up a touchdown.
Keeping six receivers could still become a possibility if Brown is able to beat out Stefan Logan who had 30 kick return yards on two returns.
Brown nor Emmanuel Sanders returned kicks on Saturday. Sanders who has been a star of camp was limited, finishing with 1 reception for 5 yards.

Redman solidifying roster spot

2nd year running back Isaac Redman has had an extremely good training camp and Redman continues to solidify his roster spot after Saturday’s 60 yard performance in the Steelers preseason opener.
Redman played a featured role for the 2nd team, rushing for 60 yards and 1 touchdown on 15 carries. Redman was elusive and showed great vision finding open holes which was the most impressive part of his game.
While Redman was going up against the Detroit Lions backups, Redman has a lot of traits in his game where he appears to be a legitimate backup running back.
Redman also added 2 receptions for 17 yards in the game.
Meanwhile, It was a disappointing game for rookie running back Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer rushed for 8 yards on 6 carries going up against the Lions 3rd and 4th stringers
Although the Steelers are very high on Dwyer’s potential, he has looked like a practice squad player thus far.
Word is 2nd year running back Frank Summers still has a leg up on Dwyer, Justin Vincent and Dwayne Wright for the No. 4 running back spot.
Quick Hits
1st round pick Maurkice Pouncey saw extensive time at center early into the game. He replaced Justin Hartwig shortly into the game and spent at least two series with the rest of the Steelers 1st team offensive line.
Pouncey had some good seal blocks to open up holes for Isaac Redman in the 2nd quarter. He was blowing people off the ball but it was a solid opening game for the first rounder
5th round pick Stevenson Sylvester led the Steelers with 7 tackles.
Daniel Sepulveda did not kickoff. However, he’s likely to get an opportunity at somepoint in the preseason.
Some buzz after the game was about 3rd year left tackle Tony Hills playing well. Hills had had a nightmare training camp but held his own against the Lions.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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