The Steelers won their first preseason game 20-12. What did we learn?
The scores do not matter in a preseason game. The plays that are made do matter. Roster spots and jobs are on the line. Who took advantage, and what are instant, gut reactions worth looking into for the week ahead?
Joshua Dobbs looked very rough early on. His pocket presence was erratic and frantic, and he started off 1-4 with two interceptions. He was also sacked three times. However, from his second interception on, Dobbs went 7-11 for 96 yards and a touchdown. He organized a short touchdown drive in the two-minute drill with a long touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton. Overall there could be more positives to take away than negatives, and the key to this game will be seeing what he learned, and how he can progress in week two.
Fitzgerald Toussaint got exclusive work ahead of Knile Davis and looked like the better back of the two. Davis offered some special teams value, but this now looks like a real battle that will head into the deep heat of summer. Terrell Watson had 10 rushes for 44 yards and a touchdown. He is definitely a name to watch that could be a practice squad candidate.
Cobi Hamilton is hanging on by a thread, but he is not giving up his 53-man roster spot that easily. Hamilton caught two passes from Dobbs and put up 72 yards and a touchdown. Hamilton has practice squad experience, but with Justin Hunter and Sammie Coates dealing with injuries, he is back in the fold for a roster spot. JuJu Smith-Schuster left the game early with concussion like symptoms.
Gerald Hawkins played most of the game and rotated between left and right tackle. Unfortunately, he does look like he is going to need some work. He got beat multiple times, especially from the right side. B.J. Finney was not terrific, and really none of the depth names showed well tonight.
Tyson Alualu was the name to highlight on the defensive line. He put up three tackles and showed well with leverage, proving that he can be a strong depth piece on the line.
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T.J. Watt was the MVP of the game. The first round pick opened the game with two sacks. He also played in coverage, swatted passes at the line and caused disruption. Not to be outdone, Arthur Moats made a strong push to show that he deserves to stick around on the roster. Moats put up three sacks and had an interception. With seventh round pick Keion Adams on the sideline, Moats is starting to pull away in this camp battle. Farrington Huguenin is also a name to watch for practice squad consideration as the third rusher to come in, collecting a sack in the process.
While L.J. Fort, Steven Johnson, and Tyler Matakevich fight for defensive playing time, Matt Galambos, an undrafted free agent from Pitt is on the first team of multiple special teams units. All three of the known linebackers showed well on defense, though, and this should be a battle that will be fought out for the rest of the summer.
The Mike Hilton hype should start to build. The team set him up with chances to prove himself and succeed and he took advantage. Hilton made multiple plays on special teams and forced a sack blitzing off of the edge from the slot. Hilton is stepping into the shoes that we thought Senquez Golson would be wearing.
The safety unit is set, but it was nice to see Jordan Dangerfield flying around and continuing to make plays. Jacob Hagen remains a player who wins with discipline and smarts and could find a special teams job due to this.