Looking on from the sidelines

Craig Wolfley is the sideline reporter for the Steelers Radio Network. His written report can be found every Tuesday here at SteelCityInsider.com. This is Wolf's report after working Saturday's preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

Man o' man, I'm getting old. I'm hanging out on the field at Cardinals Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona and I'm watching pre-game warm-ups that resemble "Dance Fever" with that irritating Danny guy with the disco shirt and Mr. T starter kit hanging around his neck as the only missing pieces.

Where have up-downs, the ol' hurdle stretch, and "roll out your necks" gone? These aren't your daddy's warm-ups anymore.

Giant booming loudspeakers on the sidelines drown out conversations and the dancing has begun.

Verron Haynes is the John Travolta of the pre-game stretch period and I got a chuckle watching Penn State rookie NT Scott Paxson's reaction to all the gyrating going on around him. The look on his face said "Joe would never approve of this!"

Ben got done what Ben needed. Handoffs, drop back to a screen, a scramble-licious chicken salad out of chicken do-do toss to Heath Miller, and he got whacked on a sack. Job one, well done.

Brett Keisel shot out of the starting blocks with a vengeance. He rammed inside the Yeti like LT of the Cardinals (Leonard Davis) on his first play as a starter to tackle the back, and then ran down Kurt Warner from behind on his second.

Keisel brings more range to the DE position than Kimo had when he left; it's apparent when teams try to block down on the Deisel from the TE position on off-tackle and outside runs. He has the ability and agility to play across the face of the TE trying to put the hammer on him and giddy-up to the outside. And on the pass rush, even when he gets driven up field or around the corner, he has the acceleration to back door the QB like a big game hunter ambushing his prey. When you're on the pass pro against Keisel, it ain't over till it's over.

Rian Wallace showed up and banged well in his stints at both the inside and outside linebacker positions. I really like this young man, and his attitude. Thus far in camp he hadn't really grabbed my attention, but he made himself noticeable on game day.

Marvin Philip did a pretty good job in his first live-go opportunity. Overall he hustled, set the huddle and seemed to be in charge of the calls on the line, which, by the by, were somewhat problematic when the second unit took over.

Marvin even showed nice killer instinct on a pass play when he knocked down, then gored a free roaming Cardinal pass rusher. From the sideline, it was hard to see Marvin at the snap on the goal line plays because when he goes "hunker down dawg" in his stance, he's so short you can't see him because big Chris is blocking the view.

Willie Colon did some good, then not-so-good stuff, which is what most coaches expect on the first go. It wasn't surprising late in the game when some tempers flared on the field that Colon was in the mix. He takes up well for teammates.

Willie served up one pancake in the second half that would have made the menu at the local IHOP. Another week of hitting the playbook and tweaking a few things will upgrade this guy.

Anthony Smith played big-time football. His range and playmaking abilities showed up quickly. That second interception highlighted his ability to read his visual cues, make decisions, and go for it. What I didn't know about this guy before the game is he's a pretty good tackler. But then again, he is from Syracuse.

Lee Vickers learned a lesson. Watching him tee it up on the kickoff team, I'm thinking he's the second coming of Brett Keisel. Covering a kickoff is all about commitment. One can liken it to free-falling in a parachute jump. The last 2-3 steps before the wedge, Lee popped his chute (slowed down) and got doinked for it. The next time I'm sure it'll be full steam ahead.

The young china dolls, as we used to call the WRs, Santonio Holmes and Willie Reid, did a nice job of catching the ball. Speed, speed, and more speed; I love the game breaking potential of the receiving corps.

From the sidelines, there was a lot of educating going on out there. Let's see which of the Pittsburgh Steelers takes the lessons learned from this game to the next.


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