Pittsburgh Steelers: Bryant Browning

PITTSBURGH -- The first-team offense ran the no-huddle attack almost exclusively in a 19-16 win over the Buffalo Bills, and coach Mike Tomlin couldn’t have asked for much better results.

 The Steelers scored a pair of touchdowns in their first three possessions and averaged 9.6 per play with Ben Roethlisberger playing quarterback.

They also converted three out of four third down. The only time they punted with the starters in the game came was when tight end Heath Miller's 9-yard reception fell short by less than a yard short for a first down.

“It was a good start to the no-huddle,” said Roethlisberger, who completed 8 of 11 passes for 128 yards and a pair of touchdowns while playing a little more than a quarter. “The communication was what I wanted to work on, and we didn’t have mental errors of what I saw so far.”

Indeed, the Steelers did not commit any penalties with their offensive starters on the field, and the line kept Roethlisberger off the ground. It also allowed the veteran quartebrack time to wait on a perfectly executed double move by wide receiver Markus Wheaton and throw a 16-yard touchdown pass that gave the Steelers an early 13-3 lead.

“We wanted to get Ben some quality work, particularly in no-huddle in the comforts of Heinz Field,” Tomlin said.

Here are some leftovers from the second preseason game:
  • It could be a good omen. Or it could mean nothing with two games left on the preseason schedule. But the Steelers have stayed relatively clean from an injury standpoint. The most significant injury is a meniscus tear to long snapper Greg Warren. The only injury of note in their win over the Bills was a shoulder dislocation suffered by guard Bryant Browning. “Don’t anticipate anybody else having any type of injury that would prevent them from playing in Philadelphia,” Tomlin said. That doesn’t include cornerbacks Shaquille Richardson and Devin Smith, each of whom sustained undisclosed injuries last Friday and did not play against the Bills.
  • The Bills rushed for 150 yards, and their success on the ground allowed them to put together extended drives against the Steelers’ first-team defense and control the clock. “Too many missed tackles, particularly in the early stages,” Tomlin said. “We had them in the backfield and the line of scrimmage, and they were squirting through and able to stay on schedule. They weren’t necessarily big runs, but if you can get them in second and 12s, it changes the whole complexion of the series. Those missed tackles didn’t allow us to do that.”
  • Three of Shaun Suisham’s four kickoffs were returned, and that was by Tomlin’s design. “The only way you get to know some of these kick coverage guys is to put balls in play,” the eighth-year coach said. “Shaun could put the through the back of the end zone like some of these people we’re playing, but we want to see what our kickoff coverage teams are capable of because we’re going to get into the season, and I’d rather know now than then.”
This is the sixth in a series that takes a post-training camp look at every position. Next up is guard.

Players on the roster: Ramon Foster, David DeCastro, Cody Wallace, Chris Hubbard, Bryant Browning and Will Simmons.

Projected starters: Foster and DeCastro. Foster, the elder statesman of a relatively young offensive line, is solid at left guard. DeCastro has Pro Bowl written all over him after playing well in 2013 in his first full NFL season.

Projected number on 53-man roster: Three. I’m counting Wallace here even though he is also the Steelers’ primary center. Hubbard has a chance if the Steelers keep nine offensive linemen, but I only see them carrying eight.

Rookie watch: Simmons signed with the Steelers in May as an undrafted rookie, and his best hope is to land on the practice squad.

What we learned in camp: The Steelers are fine at guard as long as Foster and DeCastro stay relatively healthy. Foster missed a significant amount of practice time after reporting late to camp due to the death of his mother and then dealing with knee swelling. DeCastro had a Pro Bowl-caliber season in 2013 and the former first-round pick is poised to take another step under first-year offensive line coach Mike Munchak. Hubbard has improved after spending all of last season on the practice squad but probably not enough to overtake Wallace. He still has practice squad eligibility.

He said it: “I’ve watched him on tape and I thought he was a good pick for the Steelers when he came here so I’m glad that I get a chance to work with someone like him. He wants to get better and really all that for a player is up to him. The ability is there, he wants it, he is improving. There’s all kinds of opportunities for him to get better.” – Munchak on DeCastro.

Steelers sign seven to future contracts

December, 31, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers signed all seven players on their practice squad to reserve/future contracts. The team had a week following the end of the season to keep its practice squad players or they would have been free to sign elsewhere.

Linebacker Kion Wilson, wide receivers Justin Brown and Kashif Moore, running back Alvester Alexander, guards Chris Hubbard and Bryant Browning and safety Ross Ventrone are the players the Steelers signed on Tuesday.

Wilson spent the majority of the season on the Steelers’ 53-man roster, and he started two games after at inside linebacker after Larry Foote went down with a ruptured bicep. Wilson played in seven games and recorded 12 tackles.