PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 19: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a touchdown on Antoine Bethea #41 of the Indianapolis Colts in the first quarter during the game on August 19, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Going into the second preseason game, a few Steelers players had the chance, whether due to injuries or a lack of depth at a position, to improve their stock and increase their chances of making the 53-man roster.
Some of them rose to that challenge, some pretty much stayed in place. With a round of cuts coming after each of the Steelers next two preseason games (from 90 to 80 on Aug. 28 after their Aug. 25 game at Buffalo, and from 80 to 53 on Aug. 31, after their Aug. 30 game vs. Carolina), the successes and failures in the Steelers second preseason game can be seen as one of the final opportunities for a few players.
WR David Gilreath - 4 catches for 78 yards, two of them being third down catches in the fourth quarter, Gilreath made his presence known after being seen as an also-ran in the battle for the team's 5WR spot behind Toney Clemons and Tyler Beiler. The rookie out of Wisconsin found soft spots in zone defense and looked great after the catch, showing speed and athleticism far more frequently than any other fringe-roster receiver has to this point.
RB Baron Batch - While Batch did not impress statistically (8 carries, 19 yards), he looked far more aggressive hitting the hole, and he was kept on the field when the Steelers went into their hurry-up offense early in the game. He showed a tenacity in pass protection that can't be ignored, and caught a pass as well. His effort down the field on WR Antonio Brown's touchdown run knocked one Colts defender into the likely last possible tackler, giving Brown the opportunity to flip into the end zone.
K Danny Hrapmann - "Gangsta" Hrapmann continued his impressive preseason by hitting on four field goals in the second half, including the game-winner that was partially blocked. It didn't seem the Steelers put much effort into preventing a wall of Colts players from getting in a position to re-direct the kick, but it made it over the crossbar all the same. The Steelers are getting a good look at Hrapmann, and while he still seems destined for a visit from The Turk, it's more due to veteran incumbent Shaun Suisham's contract than Hrapmann's ability. He's 5-for-5 this preseason on field goals.
QB Jerrod Johnson - He took command of the Steelers offense in the 4-minute drill, leading them down the field (with help from Gilreath) for the game-winning field goal with less than a minute on the clock. Johnson showed some good arm strength on throws to Gilreath and TE Justin Peelle, and decent speed and mobility getting outside. More than anything, he looked comfortable leading the team in its offense, including an audible to a run that led to a 9-yard gain by RB Chris Rainey.
OLB Adrian Robinson - He showed great leverage in run support, and explosion in his pass rush. His continued success within this preseason comes at a great time. After news broke Sunday LB Stevenson Sylvester will miss three to four weeks with a torn MCL, depth at both inside and outside linebacker has become an issue for the Steelers. Robinson has done everything he's been asked to do and is making the decision to release him extremely difficult.
WR Antonio Brown and CB Ike Taylor
They stopped beating each other to a pulp long enough to score the Steelers' two touchdowns - Taylor's came on a 49-yard interception return.
OT Mike Adams and OL Kelvin Beachum
The Steelers' 2s and 3s generally did not play well, but the performances of Adams and Beachum were particularly troubling. Nevermind potential, Johnson as well as QB Charlie Batch were afforded little opportunity to get the ball down the field and dealt with far more pressure than did their Colts contemporaries. Beachum, who lined up both at guard and tackle, was flagged for holding twice, and Adams allowed 2.5 sacks from his left tackle position and was nearly driven back into Johnson due to a bullrush from a Colts defender.
WR Tyler Beiler
Zero catches on zero targets. Not a great follow up to his one catch performance in the Steelers' first preseason game. He needed to come out and show something, and he did the exact opposite.
I understand it's the preseason, but there is less than three weeks left until the regular season. Even the most dismissive football fan has to be concerned after what we've seen so far. RB Chris Rainey's chop block couldn't have been more within the rules, and the complete lack of review on Luck's touchdown run were simply inexcusable. Both rules are clearly written. The defender wasn't ever engaged with another player when Rainey hit him and the ball is down where the player began his slide. You could even have still made the argument his knee was down. Either way, for as long as they looked at the first touchdown call on the field, the fact it took them less than five seconds to misinterpret the slide rule is disconcerting.