The Pittsburgh Steelers' preseason record moved to 1-4 after they dropped the preseason finale 23-6 to the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field. These games don't matter, but if style points were considered in the past two games, the Steelers would be failing miserably.
Despite the final score, there were several individuals who could be dubbed 'winners' while many could be labeled as 'losers'. Unfortunately for some of the players who made the list, they won't be on the team when the team starts their regular season next Thursday against the New England Patriots.
Time to take a look at the winners and losers...
Brad Wing & Jordan Berry - Only one of these punters will be the final choice to head into the regular season, but the reason both are listed as winners is whoever doesn't make the Steelers' final roster has a good chance of being picked up by another NFL team as both have had a tremendous preseason. The position battle which most considered the only true battle in the Steelers preseason has lived up to the billing.
Ross Ventrone - Ventrone did what he does best - make special teams plays. His play on kick coverage Thursday very well could have secured his spot on the team. There will certainly be a competition as special teams ace, but Ventrone brings an explosive ability to a coverage unit in desperate need of those type of players.
Sammie Coates - The Steelers didn't throw the ball often, but late in the second half, when they did, Coates was the big recipient of the those passes. Coates has 2 receptions for 55 yards, including a 42 yard catch which required great concentration. In a game where quality offensive plays were at a minimum, Coates provided one of the few, and gives the organization hope he is continuing to improve.
Josh Scobee - His two field goals were chip shots, but he made both. The biggest stat line? 3 kick offs, 3 touchbacks. Scobee will be a welcome addition to the Steelers kickoff unit as he forces the opposition to start every drive at the 20-yard line.
Shamarko Thomas - The only starter to play significant reps in the first half was abused on a 49-yard touchdown run on a third and 10 play. Thomas' play this preseason doesn't scream confidence, and the thought of Will Allen starting, or seeing significant reps, against the New England Patriots next Thursday doesn't seem as far fetched as once thought.
Mitchell Van Dyk - Despite being injured on the last play from scrimmage in the game, Van Dyk had a horrendous game. Constantly abused by opposing pass rushers, Van Dyk was responsible for a lot of issues along the offensive line including sacks on Michael Vick and Landry Jones throughout the game. His injury might have ended his time with Pittsburgh, but his play might have done that well before his ankle was hurt.
Steelers rush defense - In the early portions of the game, the Steelers were getting gashed in the run game. They ended the game giving up 226 yards rushing with a long run of 49-yards, which went for a touchdown. The Steelers defense is predicated on stopping the run, and it doesn't matter what coverage you are running in the back end if you can't make a team one-dimensional. Hopefully the starters being re-inserted into the lineup will help in the regular season, but confidence will be shaky until they prove they can consistently stifle the run.
Josh Harris - It was Harris' job to lose, as he was the only player not named Will Johnson or Dri Archer to carry the ball. Harris had 12 rushes for 29 yards. Harris continues to struggle in pass protection, and although thought to be a shoe-in to back up DeAngelo Williams in Le'Veon Bell's absence, his play has left plenty to be desired. The Steelers might be looking at the waiver wire for a running back who they feel might be more capable for the team heading into the 2015 regular season. Harris' seat is certainly heating up as cut down day looms.
The Steelers will have until September 5th at 4:00 p.m. EST to trim their roster from 75 to 53 players.