Sweed, rookies impressive

Jim Wexell has a full notebook on the Steelers' win in the preseason opener.

From the notebook of a sportswriter who never wants to hear the name Michael Vick again:

* Had Dan Rooney been around training camp, this circus surrounding He-who-shall-remain-nameless would've never been foisted upon us by the national media.

* As it was, several front office types tried to tell us. Maybe they didn't say "it won't happen" as clearly to some as the chairman emeritus would have. Or maybe they did and the "big-time" reporters chose to ignore it.

* Moving on to football, Limas Sweed was the star and Rashard Mendenhall was not in last night's 20-10 Steelers win.

* Sweed made two terrific catches and looked comfortable doing it. He looks like he belongs in heavy rotation.

* Mendenhall, on the other hand, looked no different than Justin Vincent, the back on last year's practice squad.

* At one point, I thought Mendenhall was finally moving with some urgency, but as the pile unfolded it was No. 28, Vincent, instead.

* On the next carry, the back was slowed easily for a yard gain. I assumed that Vincent was showing his true colors, but when the pile unfolded it was Mendenhall.

* Mendenhall had some decent runs, some good second effort, but nothing that's distinguishing himself, or "providing clarity" as Mike Tomlin likes to say.

* Trai Essex was similar to Mendenhall in that he didn't stand out. But since Darnell Dockett didn't have a sack, let alone three, as he had in the Super Bowl, that's a good thing.

* Kurt Warner's picking the secondary apart, Ben Roethlisberger's under pressure in the end zone, LaMarr Woodley's stopping drives with sacks, and Willie Colon's setting up off the line of scrimmage. Some things never change.

* The only pop heard up in the press box was the lick Lawrence Timmons put on Anquan Boldin. Someone should start making a CD mix of Timmons' tackles.

* The Keenan Lewis/Tank Summers hit on the Cardinals' punt returner won the silver medal.

* Donovan Woods showed why he's a roster lock at linebacker with his range in the second quarter. The former college QB can play inside, outside and special teams, all with a bad attitude. He nearly blocked a punt, too.

* Ryan Mundy let a deflected pass clang off his hands in the end zone. A free safety prospect has to make that catch if he's going to make that team.

* Do we really need to see Carey Davis run the ball as a tailback? I mean, sure, he's a great special-teamer, but give The Tank a carry there.

* Anthony Madison is also said to be a roster lock. His question mark is playing cornerback when he's not covering kicks. Well, that pass interference call should be forgotten as a bad call, but that one-handed catch, which was negated by the call, should be remembered

* No one has played more preseason third quarters at Heinz Field than Brian St. Pierre. And he's still as bad as ever.

* Piotr Czech, say hello to the family back home in Poland for me.

* Mike Wallace has been the offensive star of the third quarter for the Steelers, although Dennis Dixon waited too long to throw to the wide-open speedster in the end zone. He had two steps, but Dixon underthrew him, as have all of the QBs this camp.

* Tony Hills and the rest of the second team line are holding their own as well. Keep in mind, though, that Clark Haggans is a first-team pass-rusher for the Cardinals. They must have very little on that second team.

* Defensively, I'm not seeing Bruce Davis take that next step yet. He's in the fight for his life, and is showing more athleticism than Patrick Bailey, but he's not beating 2nd team tackles cleanly.

* Justin Vincent isn't showing much in the third quarter. Really rather see The Tank or Isaac Redman instead.

* Burnett just made the play of the game. He read the Saint, broke quickly on the pass, and even had the good taste not to take it all the way to the house so that the offense could score.

* There are my boys, and The Tank lays a solid block to spring Redman for the score.

* I almost forgot to predict that Redman would lead the team in preseason rushing. The reasons were evident in the fourth quarter last night. Keen vision, strong leg drive, and a real nose for the end zone. He's a leaner, meaner Gary Russell.


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