Sunday Thoughts

Re-watching the Pittsburgh Steelers' demolition of the Buffalo Bills, I came away very impressed with what I saw from one player in particular ...

... right guard Trai Essex.

Working against former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, not only did Essex hold his own, he blew Stroud off the line of scrimmage on several occasions.

Now perhaps this isn't the same Marcus Stroud that was tearing offenses up a few years ago in Jacksonville, but he's still a big, strong guy. And Essex handled him.

That could bode well for this team this year.

You also have to like the fact that Essex has more than risen to the task of winning the right guard spot rather than taking it by default from an injured Darnell Stapleton.

© The sprint draws and stretch plays the Steelers ran for Rashard Mendenhall were the plays on which he had most of his success.

There may be a good reason for that.

If you remember, Mendenhall came out of a spread offense in college at Illinois. Those type of plays are what he's used to running, rather than a straight power-type running play.

Then again, I could have run through a couple of the holes the Steelers opened up on the right side - where Essex and right tackle Willie Colon were dominating their guys.

© I wrote before this game that I didn't think the Steelers would go to Limas Sweed as a starter if Santonio Holmes or Hines Ward were injured.

I just didn't think he was starter capable at this point.

Limas, you proved me wrong.

That was a big-time catch Sweed made in the first half going up high to catch the ball with the linebacker waiting to smack him. That's the third such catch Sweed has made this preseason.

He's also done some of the little things as well – though his downfield blocking still needs some work.

© The two rookie cornerbacks – Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett – came up big on Buffalo's final possession to save the shutout.

Burnett made a nice play on third down to force a field goal attempt and Burnett then blocked Ryan Lindell's kick.

Those are the kind of things you want to see out of a rookie.

© I didn't realize David Johnson had those kind of feet. His little dance down the sidelines in the fourth quarter converted a third down and allowed the Steelers to run out the clock.

I had to look twice, thinking that was a wideout who made that move.

© Speaking of feet, Sweed revealed after the game that he wears a size 15 1/2 shoe.

That makes it very difficult for him to drag his feet along the sideline. Just an FYI.

© Late in the third quarter, rookie running back Issac Redman made a catch on a dumpoff and scrambled all the way back across the field before being tackled for a 19-yard gain. He then tapped his helmet, asking to come out.

Not only did the Steelers not replace him, Mike Tomlin made sure he got the ball again on the next play, the last of the third quarter.

After Redman staggered to the sideline, he got a little talk from Mike Tomlin that I'm sure had something to do with having better conditioning if he wants to make this roster.

© Mendenhall's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield will be a big plus for this team this season. He's got very good hands.

© Even in the preseason, Hines Ward, who has no reason to sell out in a meaningless game at this point in his career, puts his body on line.

You've got to love that.

I'm also still not sure how he came up with – and nearly did with one in the end zone as well – a couple of the balls he caught, twisting and knowing the safety is there to smack him.

© There's been a lot of talk about Carey Davis not making this team, but who's he going to lose his job to? Frank Summers hasn't played the past two preseason games and Isaac Redman doesn't play teams and has a lot to learn.

Johnson could do some of the blocking, but they'll probably focus more on teaching the rookie to be a tight end first.

No, Davis has this roster made.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


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