When grading a team's overall effort in a preseason game (especially the first two), one could possibly cop out and give incompletes and call it a day. Sure a majority of the starters weren't in, and the evaluation is jaded, but that goes for the opposition too and mostly these are guys that are playing to win whether it counts or not.
The game against Atlanta was a step down compared to the game against the New York Football Giants. There were cases to be made for excitement, awe, concern and absolute fear.
The improved Bart Houston's TD pass to Justin Hunter proved to be the game winner. He looked better than Dobbs, but No. 5 was playing against better competition and is learning as he goes. He's probably right on track. Martavis Bryant is going to shake the rust off, but I thought he was fine in limited action. Sammie Coates and Hunter didn't really shine, they just showed up. Neither did Fitz Toussaint and Knile Davis. A vet is getting cut.
The first-team defense was not complete, but still seemed lackluster. Now coaches want to keep some schemes close to the vest and preparation and game planning isn't really what you're going to see in the regular season. The defensive line was fine. The linebackers were ok, but T.J. Watt wasn't lights out against restaurant-quality left tackles and Tyler Matakevich and Vince Williams are better run stoppers than they are in coverage. Although the secondary was facing the reigning MVP, I was having haunting flashbacks from last year. Now the biggest positive is, far and away, the fact that they only gave up one touchdown and two field goals. So the sun still shines in Pittsburgh.
Special Teams: A
Danny Smith's unit was impressive. A punt return for a score, good kick and punt coverage, quick downfield, hitting, Holba being anonymous, Boswell and Berry were all highlights. If this continues, the ST unit could give the team a boost.
The Steelers won the game, but looked sloppy. Preseason is for working out kinks.
Honor Roll: James Conner (the runner), Brian Mihalik, Anthony Chickillo, Trey Williams, Jordan Dangerfield,
Detention: James Conner (the receiver), Vince Williams (in coverage), Ross Cockrell, Artie Burns