If there’s anything to be taken out of the Steelers pre-season opener on Thursday night, it’s that their most recent draft is likely to turn out a heckuva lot better than the one of the year before.
While second-year players Dennis Dixon and Rashard Mendenhall struggled to find themselves in an otherwise uneventful 20-10 victory against the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field, rookies Joe Burnett, Ra’Shon Harris, Ziggy Hood, and Mike Wallace made good first impressions.
QB Ben Roethlisberger: C
Flashed old form to avoid safety, but took few shots downfield.
RB Rashard Mendenhall: D
Gained 24 yards in nine carries, but didn’t run over or around anyone.
WR Santonio Holmes: D
The guy had done enough to the Cardinals this year already.
WR Hines Ward: C
Caught two balls for 19 yards.
WR Linas Sweed: B
Make a pair of impressive catches to atone for a drop later in game.
TE Heath Miller: C
Had one ball thrown his way in conservative game plan.
C Doug Legursky: C
Held his own in place of Justin Hartwig in middle.
G Chris Kemoetu: B
Most effective run-blocker in a fairly average bunch on this night.
G Trai Essex: C
In place of Darnell Stapleton, did nothing to hurt bid for starter role.
T Willie Colon: D
Like old times—flagged for illegal formation penalty in first period.
T Max Starks: C
Good in pass protection, not so good in run game.
PK Jeff Reed: A
Booted 50-yard field goal in only try, spared towel dispensers.
KR Mike Wallace: B
Was his 35-yard return a shape of things to come?
DE Travis Kirschke: B
Replaced Brett Keisel; played strong at point of attack.
NT Casey Hampton: C
Easily moved out of position on draw play.
DE Aaron Smith: B
Anchored line that allowed 70 yards in 16 tries on ground.
LB James Farrior: C
Veteran failed to record a tackle, but there was no need to push it yet.
LB James Harrison: A
Three tackles, one vicious takedown—and it’s only preseason.
LB Lawrence Timmons: D
Out of position on one pass play, late to line up before another.
LB LaMarr Woodley: B
Turned in solid two-way effort with one tackle, one sack.
CB William Gay: D
Tested early and often, he struggled against short routes.
CB Ike Taylor: A
Barely broke a sweat while Cardinals went other way.
S Ryan Clark: B
Typical performance—no highlights, but few mistakes.
S Troy Polamalu: B
Showed some different looks, broke up a potential big play.
P Daniel Sepulveda: A
Averaged 49.6 yard on five tries. Look Pittsburgh, an NFL punter!
PR Joe Burnett: F
Was quick and decisive, but fumble negated positives.
CB Joe Burnett: A
Flashed ability as playmaker with interception, 43-yard return.
S Tyrone Carter: D
Slow to react on pass plays, but tackled well in space.
LB Bruce Davis: B
Made much-needed impression with one tackle, one interception.
QB Dennis Dixon: C
Lacked touch, accuracy early, but found rhythm in fourth period.
G Ramon Foster: B
Rookie provided consistent push at left side, earned closer look.
DE Ra’shon Harris: B
Sixth-rounder had one tackle and half a sack.
DE Ziggy Hood: B
First-rounder showed veteran poise, recorded first career sack.
CB Keiwan Ratliff: C
Shaky pass coverage overshadowed six tackles, one sack.
RB Isaac Redman: B
Undrafted free agent scored on five and three-yard runs.
RB Justin Vincent: D
Rookie did little to open eyes—nine carries, 26 yards.
WR Mike Wallace: B
Burner had impressive debut with pair of catches, 35 yards, no drops.
LB Donovan Woods: B
Provided physical presence with three tackles, two assists.