Sunday, August 15, 2010
Browns, Steelers preseason recap
By James Walker
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns made their preseason debuts Saturday night against a pair of NFC North teams.
Here are some observations:
Browns 27, Green Bay Packers 24
- The quarterback play was stellar. Browns starter Jake Delhomme might have calmed some early concerns with a near-perfect touchdown drive to start the game. Delhomme went 6-for-7 for 66 yards on the first drive before being taken out. Delhomme was decisive and accurate with his throws. Backup Seneca Wallace also threw for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
- Browns kicker Phil Dawson already looks in midseason form. Dawson accounted for nine points, including two field goals in the final two minutes that won the game. He made kicks of 58 yards and his 48-yard game-winner as time expired. Dawson, 35, is known for his accuracy, but not his range. He was able to show both in the final quarter.
Steelers 23, Detroit Lions 7
- Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy did not have a good NFL debut. He threw for 25 yards and was intercepted twice by Green Bay. McCoy also suffered a hand injury. His best plays were a pair of scrambles for 25 yards. But the rookie still has a lot to learn about the NFL game.
- Cleveland's running game, which is expected to be a strength, was not productive. The team averaged 3.9 yards per carry, and that average was boosted by McCoy's two carries of 12 and 13 yards. The longest gain for a running back came from James Davis, who ran for 12 yards. Starter Jerome Harrison recorded 25 rushing yards on seven carries and a touchdown on the opening drive.
- Backup quarterback Dennis Dixon is forcing his way into the quarterback competition. Although he played against Detroit's backups, he outperformed Byron Leftwich by throwing for 128 yards and a touchdown. Leftwich started the game and was 6-of-10 for 43 yards. Pittsburgh's coaching staff hasn't given Dixon much time with the first-team this offseason. But the team might have to reconsider if Dixon continues to perform at this rate in the preseason.
- Isaac Redman continues to take advantage of his opportunities. He led the Steelers in rushing with 60 yards on 15 carries. Redman also showed his nose for the endzone with a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He earned the nickname "Redzone" last season for his ability to score against Pittsburgh's first-team defense in practice.
- Pittsburgh decided not to play star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He will not be around the team for at least a month during his conditional six-game suspension, which can be reduced to four games. Preseason is the only time Roethlisberger will get game reps before October, which makes this a debatable move. Pittsburgh's priority is to get Leftwich, Dixon and Charlie Batch ready to play. But the team also has a delicate balance to keep its franchise quarterback sharp, as well.
- Steelers starting running back Rashard Mendenhall didn't gain much in limited playing time. He rushed for just two yards on five carries. But perhaps the biggest thing the coaches will warn Mendenhall about was his fumble, which was eventually recovered by Pittsburgh. Mendenhall has had ball security issues, so he must improve in that area.