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Steelers report card: Week 4

QB  – (A)    Not much to complain about when your QB goes 22/27, 300 yards, and 5 touchdowns.  Ben Roethlisberger was nearly perfect on the night, completing passes to 9 different receivers.  Let’s hope the Eagles game was a just a bump in the road for Ben and this high powered offense.

RB – (A)    Le’veon Bell made his return to the Steelers line up in fine fashion.  The star back went for 144 yards on 18 carries.  This offense is so much more dangerous with Bell in the lineup.  His capabilities as runner and a receiver make it impossible for opposing defenses to keep him under control.  As well as DeAngello Williams played the first three weeks,  replacing him with Bell takes the offense to a new level.

TE – (B+)   Jesse James had another solid day blocking to go along with his touchdown reception.  Xavier Grimble had a nice catch  for 19 yards down the seem.  He could become an important weapon in the middle of the field, drawing safeties away from the Steelers outside receivers.

WR – (A)   Even without Martavis Bryant, this has to be the most talented group of receivers in the NFL.  We know Sammie Coates can catch the deep ball, he showed he could make some catches underneath as well.  That’s what he needs to do to prove he’s not just a one trick pony.  Now we just need to see him break one of those wide receiver screens for a big gain.  AB makes 64 yards receiving and two touchdowns look ho-hum.  He’s set his standard that high.

OL – (A)  The saying “next man up” is being put to the test with all the injuries Pittsburgh has right now.  B. J. Finney did a terrific job filling in for Ramon Foster.  We can now start to see why the Steelers kept him around on the practice squad all of last year.  Unfortunately, the Steelers may be tested again at right tackle with both Marcus Gilbert and his backup Ryan Harris questionable to play Sunday.  The Steelers will hope Chris Hubbard can match the success that Finney had when they meet the tough Jets d-line this weekend.

DL – (A+)    The defensive line redeemed itself from the poor performance a week ago.  It was by far this units best game of the year led by Cameron Heyward’s 3 sacks.  It didn’t show up in the stat sheet, but Stephon Tuitt wreaked havoc on the Chiefs offensive line all night.  With the trouble this team has getting pressure on the quarterback, they will need more of this in the weeks to come.

OLB – (C+)   This group played better and provided some pressure, but once again failed to register a sack.  At 38, it’s clear James Harrison is the only hope of a pass rusher.  Jarvis Jones is becoming overlooked for his contributions outside of rushing the passer.  He was very active all night and came away with a big interception early in the game.  He’s not the dominant edge rusher we hoped for after being drafted in the first round, but he has become a solid outside linebacker this season.

ILB – (A)   Vince Williams was a beast filling in for Ryan Shazier Sunday night.  He lead the team with 13 tackles to go along with one sack.  That earned him high praise from coach Tomlin in his Tuesday press conference.  Lawrence Timmons also had a solid night for the Steelers.

C/S – (A)   Another “next man up” was safety Jordan Dangerfield.  Making his first NFL start, Dangerfield was impressive in coverage and against the run.  Rookie Artie Burns continues to get better every week as he catches up from missing so much preseason action.  Corners Gay and Cockrell were solid, especially against the many wide receiver screens the Chiefs used on the night.  Important to note that Justin Gilbert saw his first action in the Steelers secondary.  He could end up being an important player in the weeks to come.  What was once a position of weakness for the Steelers, is now looking like a strength for the team.

ST – (INC)    Almost nothing to go on here seeing Pittsburgh did not kick a field goal, and rarely punted.  Nothing of note in the return game either.

Coach – (A+)   This grade is largely due to Mike Tomlin being able to get this team to bounce back after one of their worst performances in a long time.  He did a fantastic job getting an injury depleted team ready to play in a big way Sunday night.  I’m not the biggest Keith Butler fan, but he deserves a lot of credit for his part in the defense’s return to form.  They seemed ready for everything Kansas City threw at them, and dominated the entire game.

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