Pittsburgh was in charge from the opening whistle, and while they had several standout performers, there were also a select few guys who didn’t have the outing they would have liked. Here are the biggest winners and losers from the Steelers’ win over the Buccaneers.
Herbig’s first step off the edge is incredible, and it resulted in him being in on two sacks, one of which he shared with DeMarvin Leal. The rookie out of Wisconsin finished his night with 1.5 sacks, two hits on the quarterback, and millions of fans looking forward to seeing what he does next week against the Buffalo Bills. What a find he could end up being for the Steelers, and my goodness, are they stacked in terms of depth in the front seven.
Calvin Austin III
Good things come to those who wait, and holy crap baskets, Austin looks like he was worth waiting for.
The second-year receiver’s first touch in an NFL game was on a jet sweep from Mitch Trubisky that he took for a gain of 17 yards. Later on, Mason Rudolph uncorked a cannonball while probably saying “That looks like Calvin Austin” and the pass ended 67 yards later in the end zone. It was everything we wanted to see from the Memphis product- unbelievable speed and versatility. He will be a headache for defensive coordinators this season.
McFarland had a nice game in his brief appearance. He totaled 18 yards on three carries, 14 of those yards coming on his touchdown run form inside the red zone.
The Maryland product has been impressive all camp, and it was good to see him celebrating in the end zone. He is going to the the Steelers’ third running back, and he is showing he can be depended on if his number is called.
A lot of teams are going to be wondering how they let Benton slip to Pittsburgh. The rookie out of Wisconsin was a nuisance for Tampa Bay’s offensive line all evening, constantly winning at the snap and wreaking havoc at the line of scrimmage. He did, however go down with an ankle injury, so let’s hope it’s nothing serious.
He, and former college teammate Nick Herbig, made for a very fun duo to watch in the preseason opener. The future is bright in Pittsburgh, especially in the front seven.
Picture this: You’re lonely. You haven’t had someone in your life since your ex girlfriend dumped you years ago. Then, you find someone on Hinge. You go on a few dates, and you begin thinking they could be the one and you won’t end up dying alone after all- that’s the Steelers with Kwon Alexander.
For years, the Steelers have been looking for a guy who has the closing speed and nose for the football near the line of scrimmage like the former Pro Bowler. Alexander had a big tackle for loss in the run game on the Buccaneers’ second drive on a 1st-and-15. He also laid a tremendous hit on Chase Edmonds on a reception in the flat. Yes, it was called unnecessary roughness, but that wasn’t what fans were concerned with.
Pittsburgh has their best off-ball linebacker in a long time, and a good group around him. It was a great way for Alexander to introduce himself to Pittsburgh, and certainly has fans excited to see what he can do next week.
Green should never see another snap at center again- he is not a capable NFL offensive lineman. He was bullied all night by opposing defensive tackles, being shoved back several yards and giving up multiple pressures up the middle.
What really pickles my egg about this is that the Steelers spent the last week utilizing Green in an H-back role, and we didn’t see a single play of that. It’s fun cult hero fullback or a pink slip at this point for Green. The Steelers led the horse to water, he just won’t drink, and he never will.
It was a quiet night for the former XFL standout. He caught one pass for 17 yards, but also dropped the only other ball thrown his way.
Fellow receiver Gunner Olszewski also only had one reception on two targets, but Olszewski has had a better camp than Butler, and brings a versatility as both a receiver and returner that Butler doesn’t. All hope isn’t lost, but the light is dimming on Butler’s chances of earning a roster spot.