As sad as this is to admit, it appears the biggest winner in the Steelers' 38-7 preseason victory over Buffalo Saturday is OL Trai Essex.
When RG David DeCastro went down with what looks like at least a half-season-ending injury, Essex's odds of making the 53-man roster went from long to not-so-long.
Depending on the severity of DeCastro's injury, it appears Ramon Foster will gain the starting right guard position. Doug Legursky likely had a roster spot anyway, but Essex's versatility - read: ability to play multiple positions - is a bigger benefit to the team now.
Essex hasn't looked outstanding this preseason, and he's not a lock for the roster, but it looked like he was on his way out before DeCastro went down.
Another winner was S Robert Golden, who very well may have earned a roster spot with his second preseason interception Saturday. He picked off Bills QB Vince Young in the fourth quarter, setting up a Derrick Williams touchdown reception from QB Byron Leftwich.
Add Leftwich to this list, who threw a second touchdown pass, a perfectly led dart to a streaking Antonio Brown in stride in the end zone. He proved again, if he has the time to load up that cannon of his, he'll fire it impressively.
Let's not forget K Danny Hrapmann, who hit another 40-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. He's 6-for-6 now, and has to be on Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's radar now. The pressure is on K Shaun Suisham, who, to his credit, has also been perfect this preseason. While it's still highly unlikely the Steelers release Suisham in favor of Hrapmann, there's little doubt Suisham's leash is going to be a lot shorter early in the season.
Oh, and P Drew Butler has a 48.2 yard average so far in the preseason. Unless the ball is somehow diluted for preseason games, punting and kicking are clearly the two actions in a football game that are not watered down due to where the game is on the schedule.
Oft-savaged rookie OT Mike Adams finally looked like the level of player the Steelers expected to get in the second round of this past April's draft. Adams played well top to bottom, and looked vastly more comfortable than he had in his previous two games. He was without question the most improved player from Preseason Games 2 to 3.
Losing out Saturday was third-round rookie Sean Spence, who had Bills RB Fred Jackson dead-to-rights in the hole on Buffalo's lone touchdown, only to stand flat-footed as Jackson cut back inside for the score. It appeared Spence was anticipating Jackson to run outside, and Spence hugged some air as Jackson scooted past him.
Certainly not a death sentence, but that play has to be made.
Some will want to blame RT Marcus Gilbert for it looking like he fell backward on DeCastro, causing his injury. Gilbert also fell on TE David Johnson, who also tore his ACL and is lost for the year. Again, bad luck, let's just hope Gilbert can remain on his feet for the rest of the season.