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Gradkowski solid in leading third team

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While the rest of the team struggled, Bruce Gradkowski ignited the Steelers third team late in Thursday's preseason loss to the Eagles.

Justin K. Aller

Who said nothing good came out of Thursday night's preseason loss to the Eagles?

Albeit, it came late in the game with the score already well decided. But, there were some positives that came out of the 31-21 setback in Philadelphia.

With the score 31-7 late, backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski engineered two scoring drives that included touchdown passes to newcomer Darrius Heyward-Bey and rookie Martavis Bryant.

A nine year veteran that once riddled the Steelers defense for over 300 yards as the Raiders quarterback back in 2009, Gradkowski led an up tempo offense similar to the one he mastered when he starred at the University of Toledo in the early 2000s. On his way to eight of 11 passing for 105 yards and a 142 quarterback rating, he connected with Heyward-Bey three times for 54 yards that included a nifty 33-yard catch and carry.

After leading the Steelers offense deep into Eagles territory again following Heyward-Bey's score, Gradkowski tried to play jump ball with Bryant in the near corner of the end zone. While they weren't able to connect on that first and goal pass, Gradkowski showed confidence in Bryant by hitting him on a slant pass that went for a score two plays later.

It looks like the addition of Gradkowski is already paying off for the Steelers. He's a pros pro that knows his role on the team that looks like he is making the most of his opportunity to play for his hometown team. If he continues to help in the development of the team's new receivers, it will only make the team that much more potent and ready for quick success once the regular season begins.