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Steelers-Panthers Quick Recap

The final preseason game is over for the Steelers, hard to believe the 2010 NFL season starts in a week! Here are some quick observations from the Panthers 19-3 win..

– Big Ben continues to look very sharp out there. He had one poorly thrown pass on an out to Ward, who happened to be open. I think Ben may be going into this season with something to prove (seems to be a consistent theme so far in Ben’s NFL career) after all the negative press and attention he’s received in the offseason. If so, watch out NFL!

– With Leftwich injured, the great Steelers backup QB debate of 2010 continues even with the season only a week away. It made me a little nervous  to hear the sideline reporter during the game continually mention Dixon as a strong contender to be the starter in Week 1. Based on what exactly? He was borderline horrible against the Broncos 1st stringers last week. Leftwich may have tore his MCL, if so he’ll be done for the season (or most of it). Tomlin will be making a colossal mistake if he starts Dixon in Week 1. If Leftwich can’t go then get someone in FA, ASAP! Maybe Matt Leinart will be available…In the meantime, Batch will need to be the starter.

– The O-line looked pretty bad in pass protection on a few plays on the first couple of drives. Pouncey had a shaky start with a bad snap and a couple miscues. He also had some nice blocks on some runs plays. Essex continues to make me wonder why he’s even out there. Starks has usual gaffes in pass protection. Kemo had a holding penalty on a nice run by Mewelde Moore. All in all, the O-line doesn’t look like it’s improved since last year. We’ll find out in a week when the games really matter.

– Rookie WR Emmanuel Sanders had his best game so far and looked real nice on a couple catches.

– I keep forgetting Antwaan Randel El is even on the team. Hopefully that isn’t the case when the real games start.

– Stefan Logan looked really good on a couple of returns. It’ll be too bad if he doesn’t make the team, but there’s only so many spots available. I guess it’ll depend on how much the Steelers value the return game vs. depth at other positions. Antonio Brown has not impressed at all as a returner so far.

– Rookie LB Stevenson Sylvester has made a strong case for making the team. He’s been the most impressive rookie defensive player out there in preseason. He’s already one of the fastest LB’s on the roster and has shown the ability to make some hits. I really like what I see out of this kid.

– Ziggy Hood continues to be a complete enigma. Is he a bust? Has he just not been given enough chances to prove himself? He’s been fairly invisible during this preseason and concern may be rising in regards to him. To be fair, he did make a couple nice plays last year during the regular season. With an aging D-line, and the potential for injury there, he needs to step it up.

– Youngster CB Joseph Burnett did not get very much playing time against Carolina which could be a bad sign concerning his status with the team. With rookie CB Crezdon Butler playing well in these last two preseason games, it may be enough to push Burnett off the team. Personally, I think that would be a mistake but there’s a lot of young depth in the secondary right now, someone has to go. I’m still trying to figure out how Burnett has played worse than Keenan Lewis or William Gay or any other CB on the team not named Ike Taylor. Burnett does have an INT. this preseason as well.

– ST’er LB Patrick Bailey has been given some ample playing time this preseason at the LB and has actually impressed. He had a few really nice plays in run support against Carolina, combine that with his special teams play and I think it’s a safe bet that he’ll be making the team.

– Mendenhall and Redman could be a great one, two punch in the running game this year. And with Mewelde Moore showing that he still has some moves (and hands in the receiving department) against Carolina, things are looking better now in the RB department than they potentially have in years for the Steelers. Let’s just hope the O-line does it’s job otherwise it won’t matter who’s in the backfield.

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