Dale Lolley's Notebook, PII

Dale Lolley with a fresh set of notes on Shazier, the O-line, the no-huddle and other topics following the Steelers' 19-16 win over the Bills.

I needed to go home and re-watch what I thought I saw from this game. Thank goodness for the invention of the DVR, because I wasn't sure I had seen what I did.

But there it was, exactly what I had seen live and in color.

The buzz from this game was all about rookie Ryan Shazier's debut, and rightfully so.

What I took away from it, however, was just how good the Steelers' first-team offensive line performed against a very good Buffalo front.

Ben Roethlisberger wasn't touched in the three possessions he was on the field, despite the fact the Steelers came out in a no-huddle and ran exclusively from the shotgun.

"They did a great job, especially since they didn't do (the no-huddle) a lot," said Roethlisberger. "But that's part of the no-huddle, when we're moving the ball fast, they don't have a chance to do a lot, or we call screens or things like that, so I think that they did a heck of a job. They kept me clean. I don't have any stains on my pants."

Last week in New York, the Steelers came out and ran the ball almost exclusively on their opening possession. This week was all about the no-huddle, and the running game suffered as a result.

But the one time Roethlisberger did line up under center, Le'Veon Bell had two carries for eight yards. So on five preseason carries with the quarterback under center, Bell has gained 26 yards. That'll work.

And the Steelers are putting an interesting mix on tape for future opponents. Are they a power running team as they showed against the Giants? Or a no-huddle team as they showed against the Bills?

"I don't know what the game plan will be next week," said wide receiver Markus Wheaton. "We ran the ball against the Giants, we wanted to work on the no-huddle this week. Next week, who knows?"

* Early in training camp, Mike Tomlin was talking with me and a couple of other reporters about Shazier when the subject of Shazier talking about himself in the third person came up.

I haven't heard Shazier do that yet, and Tomlin said he was watching for that.

I'm pretty sure, however, if Shazier keeps playing like that, he can refer to himself in the fourth person if he wants. After all, it looked like there were four of him on the field.

* Vic So'oto was asked following the game which was better, forcing the fumble or being the guy who recovers them.

"You can't recover the fumble if somebody doesn't force it," So'oto said.

That's certainly true. And So'oto has now set up Howard Jones in back-to-back weeks with forced fumbles. Jones has gotten all of the media and fan attention for his three fumble recoveries in two weeks.

He's getting the attention of his teammates, as well.

I didn't see who it was walking into the locker room after the game, but I did hear him shout, "It's like his name is on the ball."

The ball just finds some guys. Jones is looking like he might be one of those guys.

* Josh Mauro is another young guy who is flashing a lot of good things.

I'm not sure he makes the 53-man roster, but the kid is just a high-effort player. I think you find spots for those kind of guys.

Brian Arnfelt, by the way, who was on everyone's 53-man rosters going into training camp, hasn't been nearly as effective.

* I praised the first-team offensive line, and it was good - at least when Roethlisberger was in the game. The Steelers wanted to give Landry Jones a chance to do something with a solid line in front of him, so they kept the line in for the fourth series when Jones entered.

He promptly threw an interception.

* Watching this game, I was reminded of Forrest Whittaker's Jefferson character in Fast Times at Ridgmont High. I couldn't help but wonder who had gone and crashed Shazier's car?

* The Steelers rotated defensive linemen Steve McLendon, Cam Thomas and Stephon Tuitt a lot in this one. That seems to be the plan moving forward, at least until Tuitt makes himself so valuable that he can't be taken off the field.

And that day with come. When Shazier did show he was human by allowing a 24-yard catch by Chandler, did you see Tuitt get 25 yards downfield and run him down?

That's a 300-pound man. You don't expect to get hit by 300-pound men 25 yards downfield - unless it's Jefferson and you wrecked his car.

* If the NFL is going to insist on calling the illegal contact/holding penalty the way it has so far in the preseason, there's going to be a smart coach - if it hasn't happened already - who will tell his receivers to forget about trying to catch the ball, just run straight into the corners.

Cortez Allen struggled with the illegal contact calls in this game, getting rung up a few times.

All things considered, though, the Steelers have done a pretty good job of not being penalized in this preseason. While other teams have played flag-fests, the Steelers have 13 penalties in two games, including eight against the Bills.

That's low compared to the penalties other teams have been hit with.

* I gotta tell you, if there's one thing I don't like, it's Roethlisberger hurrying the team up to the line at midfield in fourth-and-short and wasting a timeout.

You have to show opponents that you're willing to actually run a play there for them to bite on that. The preseason would be a great time to do that.

Instead, Roethlisberger burned another timeout.

(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)


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