Thoughts From The Pressbox

Dale Lolley with notes, quotes and anecdotes following the Steelers' preseason finale.

As Ben Roethlisberger walked into the locker room following the Pittsburgh Steelers' 23-6 preseason demolition - and it really wasn't that close - at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, he was shaking his head.

The Steelers' star QB could have been shaking his head at a number of things. Was it:

A. Disgust over the Tom Brady decision?

B. Disgust over his team's performance in the final two preseason games?

C. Disgust that the team lost three backup offensive linemen on the final series, including two on the same play?

D. All of the above.

My vote goes for D, as the Steelers finished off a long and arduous preseason that couldn't have ended soon enough, and didn't for Kelvin Palmer, Mitchell Van Dyk and B.J. Finney, the young linemen who all went off with what appeared to be serious injuries in this one.

Some wonder why the starters didn't see the light of day in this game. That final series said it all.

* Oh, and I forgot to mention that Landry Jones had to leave on that series as well after taking a big shot to the ribs.

That forced Mike Vick back into the game. The Steelers sensibly took a knee at that point - starting center Cody Wallace had to go back in as well - rather than get another player injured for the most meaningless of meaningless games.

* Jones had probably his best game of the preseason, completing 9-of-11 passes for 147 yards, including long strikes to Sammie Coates and Jarrod West.

He's been up and down throughout the preseason, but at least he finished on a semi-high note.

* When asked about players who had helped themselves in this game, Mike Tomlin specifically mentioned fullback Roosevelt Nix, who blocked a punt to set up the Steelers' first score, a Josh Scobee field goal.

Could the Steelers actually keep two fullbacks on the roster when some teams don't even have one?

Why not? Nix and Will Johnson have been used a lot on the field together in short-yardage situations and Nix would certainly see more playing time than, say, Ross Ventrone, another player who will make this roster strictly as a special teams ace.

Nix, like Ventrone, is a football player, first and foremost.

* Tomlin said the punting job is neck and neck between Brad Wing and Jordan Berry with no clear-cut winner. He added that's not a bad thing because both guys have kicked well.

Unfortunately for Wing, he got just one chance to kick Thursday because the offense finally started moving the ball a little in the second half.

Berry got five opportunities in the first half and averaged a healthy 50.6 yards with a 52.0 net because two of his kicks were muffed.

Berry has an ability to kick a knuckleball that is difficult to catch, and we saw that Thursday. I would keep him over Wing, but it is, as Tomlin said, very, very close.

* Reading faces in the locker room, you could tell the guys who were confident they had done OK and those who felt they had blown a big opportunity.

Count Alden Darby, B.W. Webb, L.J. Fort and Jordan Dangerfield among those who had smiles on their faces. L.T. Walton, Gerod Holliman and Cam Thomas did not.

* After signing DeAngelo Williams to pair with Le'Veon Bell, it had to be difficult for the Steelers to find running backs to want to come to Pittsburgh as camp fodder. that explains the lack of depth behind those two.

But the lack of offensive and defensive line depth is perplexing. I realize the starters are set at both positions, but doesn't anyone want to fight for a roster spot anymore?

Actually, the Steelers did made some interior linemen priority pickups as undrafted rookies. They just didn't necessarily work out. Finney was probably the best of the bunch, and he got hurt.

* If I'm Steelers' GM Kevin Colbert, I'm shopping my inside linebacker depth to some teams in an effort to get the fifth- or sixth-round draft picks I traded for Brandon Boykin and Scobee back.

Vince Williams could be a valuable chip and I just don't know that he fits into what the Steelers are morphing into with their inside linebackers. But he's a tackling machine.

* Three kickoffs, three balls that were not only touchbacks, but were kicked through the end zone by Scobee. Maybe the Steelers don't need to keep as many special teams aces around after all.


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