Market report

PITTSBURGH – The preseason score -- a 17-10 home team loss -- means little, but the status of the roster changes from week to week. Here's the Steelers' stock-market report following their first half of play last night against the Minnesota Vikings:

STOCK UP: Ben Roethlisberger looks better in this accident-weakened state than at any point last preseason. For the second consecutive preseason game, Roethlisberger completed three of four passes, this time for 30 yards and a touchdown. Roethlisberger commanded a no-huddle attack for four consecutive plays before a Minnesota challenge stopped the momentum. After huddling, Roethlisberger threw a 16-yard strike to Cedrick Wilson for a touchdown. The only misconnection for Roethlisberger occurred as he was hit by Napoleon Harris, but he took the hit and responded with a touchdown pass.

STOCK DOWN: Duce Staley ran like he was looking for a place to lie down and retire. He slipped once, showed slow feet and no wiggle. Staley ran behind the first-team offensive line, but looked like the Steelers' short-yardage runner – on first down. He carried five times for 11 yards in the first half. It's time for the front office to hunt for some depth in the backfield.

STOCK UP: Aaron Smith was the star of the Steelers' defense. He blew up a screen play on the Vikings' first possession, ran down the line to stop a run for a two-yard gain on the second possession, and on the third possession drove his man back into the quarterback, who bounced a pass off that man's helmet. Smith pressured the Vikings into a third-and-three incompletion later in the drive.

STOCK DOWN: Brett Keisel couldn't live up to last week's terrific play, particularly when he slid inside a bit to match up with guard Steve Hutchinson. But when lined up on the outside, over tackle Bryant McKinnie, Keisel was able to pressure the quarterback.

STOCK UP: Willie Reid was the first punt returner and he nearly broke loose for a score. He turned the corner but was run out of bounds after an 11-yard return. He later fair-caught a short punt at the Steelers' 21. It wasn't a highlight move, but for a rookie to make the veteran move is a plus. Reid almost made the highlight reel with a leaping, twisting attempt at a high and wide pass from Charlie Batch, but he couldn't hang onto the ball. Reid fits this level of play.

STOCK DOWN: Chris Gardocki's only punt traveled 42 yards, but 10 of it came on a bounce and roll. It's no way to win a competition with a younger and stronger punter.

STOCK UP: Nate Washington moved right back into the lead in the race for the No. 3 receiver role. Washington ran another fluid reverse, this time for 20 yards on the first play. He also caught three passes for 53 yards in the first half. He beat Antoine Winfield for 13 yards on one reception, before coming back to help his scrambling quarterback with a 20-yard catch over Fred Smoot. Washington also threw a couple of key blocks: one for Staley only resulted in a yard gain for Staley, who slipped, and another Washington block knocked a Vikings helmet off.

STOCK DOWN: Jonathan Dekker, the undrafted free agent from Princeton, entered as the second tight end instead of fifth-round pick Charles Davis. Dekker lined up at fullback and was run over by a linebacker, who hurried Batch into an incompletion. On the next series, Dekker lined up at tight end and was flung to the ground by a linebacker.

STOCK UP: Ike Taylor didn't make all of those tackles last season just by pushing receivers out of bounds. Taylor can play the run as well, if not better, than any cornerback in the league and he was at it again last night. He hit Chester Taylor so hard on one run that someone quipped: "A Taylor hasn't hit another Taylor that hard since Ike was married to Tina." Ba-dump bump.

STOCK DOWN: Ricardo Colclough didn't blow any coverages, but he returned the first Vikings kickoff only 16 yards and was drilled in the head to boot. No one is returning kickoffs as well as Quincy Morgan, which could force the Steelers to keep seven wide receivers.

STOCK UP: James Farrior still has his hops. The Steelers' buck backer was in Brad Johnson's face several times and once batted the ball into the air. Unfortunately, the ball bounced into the arms of Jermaine Wiggins for a touchdown.

STOCK DOWN: Santonio Holmes may have been robbed by officials of a fine catch along the sideline, but his poor option read caused a Batch interception to end a first-half scoring threat.

STOCK UP: Verron Haynes is easily this team's No. 2 running back. He showed on one play why the position is for the young when he took a short pass, made a sharp cut, and gained 14 yards.

STOCK UP: Rian Wallace, active again; Arnold Harrison, first one down on kick coverage again; Morgan came back to make a diving catch to bail out Roethlisberger; Ryan Clark, coming close to a comfort zone as new free safety; Chris Kemoeatu sent a gunner flying five yards back – in the air – as the second-team wedge; Mike Logan, active as second-team strong safety; Travis Kirschke, when healthy saves what once was thought to be a deep defensive line.


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