5 things we learned about the Steelers this preseason

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

It may only be preseason but flashes of this team's true nature came out during the Steelers' winless preseason. While there's a long regular season ahead - starting Sept. 8 vs. Tennessee - there are some things we learned from watching this team the last four games.

1. Steelers defense will take the ball away

In four preseason games, the Steelers forced eight turnovers, and outside of quarterback Landry Jones' Pick Fest with the Panthers defense in the final game, committed just four turnovers (seven turnovers overall). A plus-1 in the turnover differential department over the course of a year wouldn't be anything to celebrate, but it'd be a huge improvement from the previous year.

2. Youth movement on defense may have arrived

The play all preseason of the Steelers' younger front seven players was encouraging. Rookie Jarvis Jones may have been the star of the preseason, and contributions from defensive linemen like Brian Arnfelt, Alameda Ta'amu and Al Woods showed legitimate reasons to get excited about the direction of that unit. All three of them have a reasonable chance to make this team. If they aren't contributing this year, next year looks pretty strong.

3. Lack of running game has to sharpen other areas

Playing without projected starter Le'Veon Bell hampered the Steelers' offense all around, and while it still did some good things, it didn't do anything positive consistently. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley showed multiple times in 2012 there will be games the team leans heavily on a running plan, and there are games in which the arm of Ben Roethlisberger will lead them. They need to show more consistency as a first-team unit.

4. Special teams needs to get it together

At least one major special teams gaffe was committed in each preseason game. The Steelers, in four preseason games, lost a fumble on a punt, allowed both a field goal and a punt to be blocked, gave up a kick return touchdown and allowed a safety - a rare play in the NFL that can only be attributed to a very poor decision (this one courtesy of rookie Reggie Dunn, who was desperately trying to make a play in order to make this or another team).

The unit was simply awful through the preseason.

5. Regardless of the finish, the journey only just started

The Steelers are in a tough division and no longer have the large core group of veteran leaders it used to have. They will have to fight their way up this season, and likely, will take a few bangs along the ascent of that ladder. However, talent rises to the top if it's led properly. There is still the tradition of this franchise, and a coaching staff that's gotten the job done several times in the past. Perhaps it's up to them this year to get that young talent to play above what they have been over the last season.

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