The Steelers got pretty much what anyone wants out of a first preseason game last night: encouraging signs from some new players who will need to make contributions this season and, best of all, no significant injuries. Even Heath Miller got a catch when he was supposed to have been held out of this game.
Here are a few disconnected thoughts I had on the game, in unprepossessing list form.
Limas Sweed - By far the most encouraging development from last night, Sweed made a tough catch on third down in traffic on the first drive and later connecting with Charlie Batch deep on a 45-yard reception (could've used that in the AFC Title Game - just sayin'). He had a drop in the second half but that wasn't enough to negate the flashes of competence shown early on.
Daniel Sepulveda -Didja see?! The Steelers had a punter who didn't shank it 35 yards out of bounds. That's a beautiful thing.
Shaun McDonald - Surprised he didn't get in on more plays with the first team offense, though with the success Sweed had, it's justified that they wanted the second-year guy to get more of a chance to prove himself.
The O-line - Granted, they were missing two starters, but it still looks horrid. If Rashard Mendenhall didn't look particularly great, it's because you was frequently being hit in the backfield. And, naturally, Willie Colon only needed the first possession to get flagged for an illegal proceedure penalty.
Defense - Starting unit had some trouble with 3rd downs, but I'm willing to attribute that to LeBeau using vanilla packages for the preseason. I'm not overly concerned, nor should anyone be.
Dennis Dixon - He seemed to develop a good connection with McDonald, but otherwise didn't look all that comfortable under center. At this point, unless he makes a lot of stride in the later preseason games, I don't know how much he can push Batch for the backup role this year.
Joe Burnett - Picked off Steelers defecter Brian St. Pierre but also flubbed a punt that was fortunate to be recovered by the Steelers.
Mike Wallace - Considering how high Steelers fans seem to be on this guy, anything less than three touchdowns (two receiving, one on a return) was probably a disappointment. Still amanged two catches, one a nice catch-and-run on a slant for 22 yards.