The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t really impressed so far as a team this preseason, going 0-2 and only mustering one offensive touchdown between the two games. That doesn’t mean that there is no optimism in Pittsburgh, and we have to keep in mind that it is only the preseason. The only real objective is to go into the regular season as healthy as you possibly can.
Though the team has dealt with a multitude of nagging injuries, the players who are healthy have been making the most of their opportunities.
Le’Veon Bell’s injury woes have been disappointing, but Jonathan Dwyer and LaRod Stephens-Howling have looked impressive. Stephens-Howling was one of the more under-the-radar signings by the Steelers, and versus the Giants in the first preseason game he showed his speed, quickness and ability to contribute as more than just a third-down back. In this game, Stephens-Howling was clearly the best back on the field and with the first-team offense rushed for 40 yards at 5.7 yards per clip.
Dwyer ran hard and finished the game with 68 rushing yards at 4.9 yards per carry as well as two receptions for 12 yards. Many will question how I could mention Dwyer as a positive, considering he did lose a fumble in the game as well. I would point out to those people that Dwyer only fumbled twice last season, and one of those fumbles came in that ridiculous ball-security game where the team lost to the Cleveland Browns. I’m more worried about Dwyer showing the aggression to get tough yards, and I am impressed with what I’ve seen so far in the Preseason.
The only other player that I would really consider a surprise is first-round pick Jarvis Jones.
Most of the time a first-round pick playing well wouldn’t be a surprise, but I don’t think many of us saw Jones as having a realistic shot to start this season. Jason Worilds was thought to be the unquestioned starter with Jones probably having to wait till his second year to make a huge impact.
Well, Worilds hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire this preseason and Jones has looked really good in almost every aspect of the game. Jones may have had a fumble recovery versus the Giants, but he blew up a play against the Redskins and Ike Taylor recovered that fumble.
About the only thing I haven’t really seen out of Jones so far this preseason has been any pressure on the quarterback.
I don’t think any of us were worried about his ability to rush the passer—and I’m not about to start worrying now. Jones will get to the quarterback, but it was impressive to see how far he is with the rest of his game. It seems like Jones has either pulled even or is even a little ahead of Worilds right now, which really is a surprise to me. The Steelers need Jones to carry over his play to the regular season and if he starts, they need him to create havoc and cause turnovers.
Hopefully the starting offense can surprise next week versus the Kansas City Chiefs in the third preseason game and actually score a touchdown.