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Pre-season game one grades: The good, the bad, and the ugly

QUARTERBACKS – B-

We all wanted to see how rookie Mason Rudolph would do in his debut as a Steeler. He performed pretty much as you’d expect a first year quarterback would. There was some good, some bad, but overall not a bad showing. There’s some reason for optimism there. Josh Dobbs had the touchdown pass of the night to Damoun Patterson. Both Dobbs and Landry Jones did well in the pre-season opener. It’s going to be an interesting fight for that last quarterback spot on this roster.

RUNNINGBACKS – A

The only thing holding this group back from an A+ was Jaylen Samuels performance. He looked slow and unimpressive on the night. His roster spot is in doubt, especially the way the other backs played ahead of him. Fitz Toussaint will cement his place on the team if he continues to run like this. He’s already the best special teams player of the group. Stevan Ridley showed good burst on several of his runs, he’s an intriguing player.

TIGHT ENDS – INC

Pretty much nothing to say about this group either way, maybe that’s a bad thing. None of them did anything of note against the Eagles. There was an opportunity with starter Vance McDonald down with an injury. We pretty much know who the three that are making this team regardless.

WIDE RECEIVERS – A

Damoun Patterson was easily the star of the night. His twisting touchdown catch was the highlight of the game. James Washington also looked good in his debut. Ju Ju had the longest touchdown of the night in his short time out there. Then there’s the all too predictable disappearing act by Justin Hunter. As usual he looks good in camp, but as soon as the games start he is a non-factor. Hopefully Patterson continues playing well enough to bump Hunter off this team.

OFFENSIVE LINE – C

Steelers quarterbacks spent a good bit of time running for their lives. There were plenty of holes in the running game however. I’m sure David Decastro will be happy if he never sees Fletcher Cox again a day I his life. Cox just owns him every time they meet. Rookie Chucks Okorafor played pretty well all things considered. He’s suddenly a very important man being thrust into the number one backup tackle.

DEFENSIVE LINE – C

Stephon Tuitt looked rusty out there, and that’s being kind. Javon Hargrave had the best night of anyone on this unit. The highlight of the night was “Big” Dan McCulllers chasing the quarterback all the way down to the sidelines on one play. Like it or not, he will once again be a part of this team in 2018.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS – F

“Send help please” should be the motto of this group. Jon Bostic fit in nicely missing a few tackles early in the game. He actually played better as the game went on. Any question of whether not he will be the starter along side Vince Williams should be put to rest after watching the performance of Tyler Matakevich. His limitations as an athlete were on full display Thursday night. This group as a whole is below average and it showed. It’s so bad in fact, we are all rooting hard for rookie free agent Matthew Thomas to make an impact.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS – B

This is graded on a scale considering all the injuries at this position. Anthony Chickillo was his usual solid, but unspectacular. Keion Adams did little to excite, but then there’s ……..OLA EDENIYI!!! You’d swear you were watching James Harrison on his strip sack. I am trying hard to hold back my enthusiasm, but Adeniyi was clearly the best linebacker in a Steelers uniform on this night. There may be some depth at this position after all.

SECONDARY – B

Overall this group performed pretty well. The safeties were largely quiet, no one really stood out. Dashaun Phillips got torched for a long touchdown, he may be headed back to the practice squad when all is said and done. A pair of interceptions by Coty Sensabaugh and Cam Sutton were the highlights for the secondary. I thought Sensabaugh was a real long-shot to make this roster, but he’s followed up a good camp with a big play in the opener. It’s going to be quite a battle at the cornerback spot.

SPECIAL TEAMS – C

Boz and Jordan Berry are as solid as they come in the kicking game. The return game however, continues to be a giant black hole. One thing we learned, Justin Thomas is NOT the answer. He did more dancing around than gaining any yardage at all. Here’s to hoping we see some Quadree Henderson in the next game.

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