Pittsburgh Steelers Early August Scouting Report
The Steelers opened up the preseason in the Meadowlands with a 20-12 victory over the Giants. Neither QB Ben Roethlisberger nor QB Eli Manning played a snap. WR Antonio Brown, WR Odell Beckham, DE Jason Pierre-Paul and obviously yet to sign franchised RB LeVeon Bell also did not participate. Not much different from most competitive teams without major question marks or a new head coach in the first preseason game. Happily there were no severe injuries for either side.
The big news for the Steelers had nothing to do with the game. WR Martavis Bryant was finally cleared for all preseason activities. He practiced for the first time on Sunday August 13th. Bryant missed the first two weeks of camp because despite having been conditional reinstated the league said he had yet to satisfy certain requirements. The Steelers had reportedly become upset with the league believing they were dragging their feet. Bryant still has to get a final confirmation of his official reinstatement before the regular season begins.
QB: Besides Roethlisberger not participating on Friday night, backup QB Landry Jones was also out due to a strained abdomen. Rookie fourth rounder QB Josh Dobbs started and stayed in the game through the end of the third quarter. Dobbs started slowly against a mostly first team defense as you might expect. He ended up completing 8 passes in 15 attempts for 100 yards with a touchdown and a pair of early interceptions. Camp arm QB Bart Houston completed 2 of 7 passes thanks to inaccuracy and drops.
RB: The hope was that rookie RB James Conner would get a lot of playing time with Bell not in camp. Unfortunately he missed the game with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. RB Felix Toussaint was pedestrian as usual grinding out 19 yards on 6 carries. RB Knile Davis added 8 attempts for a slightly better 34 yards and had a catch for 5 yards. RB Terrell Watson looked the best albeit late with 44 yards on 10 carries including a 15 yard touchdown. I would be perfectly happy with Watson making the team behind Bell, Conner and Davis over Toussaint.
WR: The receiver corps will obviously look much different with Brown and hopefully Bryant on the field. The return of Bryant moves WR Justin Hunter back to the bench. Hunter surprisingly did not have a target in the Meadowlands. Slot WR Eli Rogers has a catch for 2 yards in limited playing time. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster had a catch for 4 yards in his only target and added 9 yards on an end around. The breakout performer was WR Coby Hamilton fighting to keep his roster spot. He caught a 44 yarder and a 28 yard touchdown after a Giants muffed punt providing Dobbs with his only real success down field. WR Darius Heyward-Bey, WR Canaan Severin and WR Marcus Turner led the team with 4 targets each. Heyward-Bey's only way to make the roster is special teams. Neither Severin nor Turner showed much and they basically have no chance to make the roster.
TE: The tight ends were not heavily utilized. TE Jesse James had a single reception for 1 yard on his only target. TE Xavier Grimble had a touchdown on a nice throw by Dobbs called back due to penalty.
K: The Steelers did not bother bringing in extra legs for camp. PK Chris Boswell made all his kicks against the Giants for 8 points. Nothing changes for his outlook. Boswell is a borderline top 20 fantasy kicker that could see a rise in value if things break right and he gets more opportunities.
DEF/ST: The Giants started seeming fourth string QB Josh Johnson before turning to nominal backup QB Geno Smith and then in the final quarter rookie third round QB Davis Webb. Nobody should write too much into the defense's performance. The defense did stop the Giants twice inside the 5 yard line after Dobbs turnovers. Rookie first round. OLB TJ Watt was active most of the night standing out with a pair of sacks. Once he beat an over matched starting OT Erick Flowers and on the other he was unblocked. Watt looks like he will need to be blocked. The other star was veteran journeyman OLB Arthur Moates. Moates played deep into the second half in part due to OLB James Harrison getting the night off and an injury to seventh round rookie OLB Keion Adams. Moates collected 3 sacks and an interception on an especially poorly thrown ball by Smith.
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