Bullet points from 1 to 15

From the notebook of a sportswriter who was asked by a reader before the game to provide one key bullet point to watch. I gave him fifteen:

1 -- Rashard Mendenhall's weight loss has helped his quickness, and he hit the hole beautifully on his best run, which, unfortunately, ended with a drive-killing fumble.

2 -- The first-team run defense gave up three goal-line touchdowns a week ago at camp, but Aaron Smith stuffed the first carry by Jahvid Best, James Farrior stuffed Best on third-and-one, and Lawrence Timmons stuffed Best to start the Lions' second possession. My concerns have abated.

2b -- Timmons in particular seems dialed into the run game, but it was his blitz two plays later that forced Ryan Clark's interception.

3 -- Concerned about the way they would come off the ball in the run game, I came away from the first quarter more concerned about the first-team O-line's pass blocking. Flozell Adams and Chris Kemoeatu were beaten by Lions not named Suh.

4 -- Bryant McFadden wasn't challenged by the run-oriented Lions' first team, but was clearly one of the defense's leaders in pre-game warm-ups. Not sure what it means, other than McFadden is comfortable back in Pittsburgh and his teammates are comfortable with him taking a leadership role.

5 -- The backup corners had their ups and downs. Both Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett broke up touchdown passes to Calvin Johnson – Lewis's in particular showed signs of him developing into the big, physical corner the Steelers covet – but both players gave up big plays on the drive. Burnett appears destined for only nickel duty after being out-sized on a third-down conversion pass inside the 5. Lewis was schooled by Johnson with a deke and a bump in giving up the 2-yard touchdown pass.

6 -- There's the Byron Leftwich bomb to Mike Wallace I've been waiting to see. It was a bit underthrown, with a lot of pass interference that wasn't called, and it added up to an incompletion. A few plays later, Leftwich missed Arnaz Battle over the middle for what should've been a touchdown.

6b -- No. 4 is so close, but he produced only two field goals. His linescore of 10-6-0 for 43 reads like something out of last preseason's Tampa Bay game books.

7 -- Isaac Redman appears headed for another strong preseason after running for 45 yards in the second quarter. He showed great second effort on his 31-yard run up the middle, not to mention a spin move that must've made Mendenhall envious. But Redman still needs to hit the hole quicker instead of cutting everything back.

8 -- Dennis Dixon can neutralize poor play from backup tackles Tony Hills and Jonathan Scott, neither of whom I trust yet. But let me point out that Hills blew his man off the ball on Redman's touchdown run. Hills has to be ahead of Scott on the team's big board.

8b -- During the review of Dixon's touchdown run, another official walked over to the referee, whose microphone was on. This official complained about the replay official calling for a review (under two minutes) during a preseason downpour. He cussed him out and sarcastically added, "He's trying to get to the Super Bowl already." It was a classic press box moment.

9 -- At fullback, Frank Summers reeled in a sideways pass for a first down, and Doug Legursky kicked out a man at the goal line during his fullback gig. There was minimal, if any, first-half use of the tight ends at fullback, so it's all good at that position so far this preseason.

9b – The only problem with Legursky playing fullback is the obvious: What if he's playing offensive line at the time? It happened tonight. Legursky was replaced at RG by Kraig Urbik in order to move to fullback.

10 -- Maurkice Pouncey entered the game to play center early in the second quarter. He was the only second-teamer playing with the first team at the time. He also played center with the second team, so it appears the organization has him on a fast track to the position.

10b – Pouncey played solid ball, but does seem a bit timid. He's not playing fast and loose, and that's understandable. It'll come. He did get out in front of a screen to make a block that sprang Redman for a few extra yards.

11 -- Ziggy Hood stuffed a third-down draw play during his limited time. His second-year bookend, Sunny Harris, whose development is almost as important to the Steelers' planned DL rotation, showed a bit of a pass rush and little else through the second half.

12 -- Rookie receivers Manny Sanders and Antonio Brown didn't wow anyone with their play in the third quarter, but did make key 3rd-down plays on the field-goal drive that put the Steelers ahead by 16-7. Brown couldn't get open on 3rd-and-9 but drew a pass interference penalty. On 3rd-and-3, Sanders ran a slant, went up for the ball and held on after taking a terrific blow. Sanders was also blocking downfield while Dixon scrambled to convert a 3rd-and-6.

12b – You could see the confidence build in both rookies as the game wore on. And then, bam, Brown hit the Lions with a 68-yard catch and run to bury them.

13 -- In the short-lived first-half gunner action, Lewis and Anthony Madison were the first-teamers and Lewis was closest on the fair catches. Nothing to see there, as with …

14 -- Dan Sepulveda on kickoffs. Jeff Reed was used for all of them, and his kickoffs went, in order, to the 9, EZ, 2, 16, 1, and 6. Guess after all these years Mike Tomlin still needed to see more from Reed.

15 -- And finally, even though Jason Worilds was held out of action, the rookie linebackers played well. Thaddeus Gibson was stout against the run, drew a hold, and was someone to be dealt with off the edge. Sly Sylvester ranged from sideline to sideline while playing like a vet in pass coverage. Now, when I find out whether they executed their assignments, I'll let you know.

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