Shazier shows off his talent in LB debut
PITTSBURGH – There were a number of good things to take away from the Pittsburgh Steelers 19-16 preseason win over the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night at Heinz Field.
Forget the score. It really doesn’t matter as second, third and fourth-teamers played the second half.
The things that mattered:
Ben Roethlisberger was happy with the no-huddle offense.
With Roethlisberger on the field, the first unit tallied two touchdowns and came up just short of converting on a third-down play at midfield on their other possession.
Antonio Brown’s 76-yard touchdown run on a rub route on the Steelers’ second play from scrimmage was impressive. Le’Veon Bell and Brown basically ran their defenders into each other on crossing routes, leaving Brown wide open for the left sideline scamper.
“The communication was what I wanted to work on and we didn’t have any mental errors from what I saw so far,” Roethlisberger said. “It was a good start to the no-huddle.”
Roethlisberger completed 8-of-11 passes for 128 yards and two TD’s.
Ryan Shazier, after missing 10 days of training camp with a bruised knee, displayed his abilities.
The Bills opted to test the Steelers’ No. 1 draft pick early and often. Shazier answered the challenge. In less than two quarters of work, he recorded nine tackles from scrimmage, two more on kickoff coverage, broke up a pass and then intercepted a pass. The pass interception showcased the former Ohio State’s athleticism as he jumped in front of Bills receiver Scott Chandler for the theft. The inside linebacker then raced 29 yards to the Buffalo 35. He runs like a safety.
The offensive line finished their blocks.
A concern going into the preseason had been the offensive line. They kept Buffalo’s defense off of Roethlisberger. By finishing their blocks, they gave Pittsburgh running backs options as to which hole to hit.
Roethlisberger praised the offensive line.
“I think they did a heck of a job,” he said. “They kept me clean. I don’t have any stains on my pants, so that’s good.”
With long snapper Greg Warren expected to be sidelined for four weeks, the Steelers signed Luke Ingram on Thursday. Ingram was cut by the Steelers during 2013 training camp and later waived by Jacksonville. Ingram was perfect on all of his snaps Saturday.
His older brother Jake played in 24 games with the New England Patriots in 2009-10 and one game with New Orleans in 2010.
The first mandatory cutdown date is Tuesday,. By 4 p.m. Eastern Time, all NFL teams must trim their rosters to 75 players. Four days later, rosters must be cut to 53 players.
The Steelers only have one punter in camp, Brad Wing.
Rookie free agent defensive end Josh Mauro (Stanford), one of the big surprises at training camp, continued to make his case for a spot on the roster.
Rookie free agent Chris Elkins (Youngstown State) saw action with the second-team field goal unit
Second-year safety Shamarko Thomas, who is Troy Polamalu’s backup, was punishing ballcarriers and receivers with his hits. Polamalu has devoted extensive offseason time to helping his backup and it showed.
Bills general manager Doug Whaley was a four-year letterwinner at Pitt (1990-93) as a safety and linebacker. Whaley worked as a pro personnel assistant for the Steelers (1995) and as the pro scouting coordinator (1999-2009).
The Steelers are back in action at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia.