Several Pittsburgh Steelers players have been quite impressive this year, having big preseasons and taking steps in their developments that were, in some cases, unprecedented. Unfortunately, there have been some players that have not lived up to expectations and have sorely disappointed the team and the fans.
Not all of these disappointments are strictly performance-based. Some are due to injury as well. Here's a look at five players who have let the team down so far in the preseason.
Scott has been struggling to stay healthy and on the field during the preseason. When he's been on the field, he's been only somewhat effective. For a guy who's basically being handed an opportunity to be the starting left tackle, that's not good enough.
Scott is a borderline player, but the Steelers were unable to put up the money to land a better tackle in free agency. They've been considering rookie Marcus Gilbert as well, but he isn't ready either and has been a tad disappointing himself so far this year.
Scott is currently the leader of a very thin competition. He also raised the bar for himself by performing very well in the playoffs and Super Bowl after Max Starks was lost to injury. If he can't replicate that success, it's going to be a very long season for Ben Roethlisberger and the offense.
Batch came into camp as the likely number three quarterback, but he's been a major disappointment in practice. He hasn't even really seen the field much as the team has been more interested in seeing what Dennis Dixon can do now that he's healthy again and seems to have his head on straight.
In his limited chances, Batch has looked out of sync and weaker than ever. His arm strength and accuracy numbers are way below his career norms (not to mention his stellar work last year in emergency duty). He's already facing tough competition now that Dixon and Byron Leftwich have really put together strong games in the preseason.
Batch's key asset is his leadership ability and game knowledge. He's been more than just a backup. He's been more like a coach for guys like Ben Roethlisberger. Perhaps it's time for him to hang up the cleats and take a true coaching position. He likely will be one of the hardest cuts at the end of camp, but it seems to be that time for him and for the Steelers.
Gay was brought back against the wishes of many fans and against the predictions of almost every prognosticator that is affiliated with the Steelers. His numbers as a starter in 2009 were so awful the team had to re-acquire Bryant McFadden. His numbers in the nickel in 2010 were better, but not by much.
So far this preseason, he's been outplayed by former doghouse resident Keenan Lewis, who looks more and more like a starter in the making as he fills in for Ike Taylor. Opposite him, Gay has started and struggled mightily to replace Bryant McFadden. It's likely that, should Lewis' development continue, he would replace Gay in the nickel.
With other young players like Cortez Allen, Curtis Brown and Crezdon Butler making contributions when called upon, the pressure is on Gay to finally prove he is worth a roster spot. It's likely the Steelers wouldn't hesitate to release him if he can't show he's up to the task.
Moore is another veteran that was brought back into a crowded situation and has not really impressed. He hasn't received a ton of opportunities and his spot on the team is likely already in the bag, but he's been mediocre so far either way.
Moore is the team's projected third down back thanks to some good receiving skills and an ability to get tough yards when needed. So far in the preseason, he's been limited in his effectiveness. This isn't a major concern given the small role he'll be playing, but he's paled in comparison to Isaac Redman, who seems poised to be the primary backup to Rashard Mendenhall and also to take some carries away from Moore.
Moore still has two games of the preseason to get on track and start contributing. He may have to hold off a late charge from Jonathan Dwyer, however. Dwyer has been effective after showing up to camp out of shape and behind in his conditioning program. If he can continue to step up his game, the upside might be enough to threaten Moore's job security.
It's hard to blame the players for being disappointing. More than anything, it was their injuries that have been a disappointment. Taylor was brought back amid a lot of fanfare on a four year deal that ensures that the Steelers will have their top corner for the forseeable future. McFadden was having a stellar camp and seemed poised to finally fulfill the promise the Steelers saw in him when they drafted him.
But now, both players have been shelved by ailments. This is disappointing mostly because it puts them behind on being ready for the season. That's essential as both players will be starting for a secondary that was badly exposed in the Super Bowl by Aaron Rodgers. Getting these two guys back on track is a big piece of the puzzle for 2011.
It's unclear if either will play again before the regular season, so hopefully both will be ready to roll as soon as possible and will be ready if they have to start the regular season with no more reps than they've already had.