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8 Things to Take from the Steelers 16-3 Win in Canton

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8 Things to Take from the Steelers 16-3 Win in Canton

When you lose to the Cleveland Browns in the playoffs, you just know it’s going to be the longest offseason of your life. It was. But we finally made it to August and there’s been plenty of change from last season for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Some of it we were able to see last night in Canton, Ohio, but there’s still a lot of unknowns left to tackle. Hopefully some of those will be on full display by next Thursday night in Philadelphia. Here are 8 things to take from the Steelers 16-3 win in Canton:

 

1. The offensive line appears to be making some progress

It was a makeshift line made up of mostly back-ups, but we saw the concept. We’ve heard all offseason how the line was going to be more physical, more dominant, and it was. Granted the Cowboys defense featured mostly back-ups to a rather awful 2020 group, but it was there. Then again, the Steelers only managed 46 total rushing yards against the Cowboys last season in Dallas. James Conner only 2.4 yards per carry that game. So anything last night had to be an improvement. Kalen Ballage was able to punch it into the endzone from a goal line situation, and the Steelers converted on a forth and one all in one game. Both situations got a positive result because of holes opened up in the interior of the offensive line.

 

2. Kevin Rader made the most of his opportunity with Eric Ebron and Pat Freiermuth out with injuries

Rader pancaked his man on the Ballage touchdown run, again something we didn’t see much of if any last season. He also hauled in a 15-yard reception. His path to the roster will be difficult, but his blocking will make the coaching staff think long and hard.

 

 

3. The Steelers quarterback situation mostly remained the same

Mason Rudolph was his normal self. He made some good throws, but they seemed to fizzle out each time they had the ball. Let’s just say we didn’t really learn anything about Rudolph last night. He needs to go down the field more, and he did connect on a 45-yard pass to Chase Claypool, but there were many more chances to do the same on other plays.

 

4. Dwayne Haskins was strong in his decision making

You know what he used to be horrible at? His decision making. That has to be a win for the Steelers coaches. The talent is there. The arm is there. His mind just has to catch up and mature. It seems like that is happening. Now Haskins didn’t have any big plays, but he looked comfortable out there. He did a lot of check downs, but he didn’t force anything. Going through his progressions is something he lacked during his time in Washington. That seemed to be a big focus for him last night.

 

5. Alex Highsmith

Has anyone been able to block this man this year? The Cowboys weren’t able to. The Steelers offensive tackles during training camp haven’t been able to. He’s poised for a big year. TJ Watt, Melvin Ingram, and Highsmith may be the best set of linebackers in the entire NFL.

 

6. Pressley Harvin III won the punting job last night

He did things that Jordan Berry hasn’t done in seven years with the Steelers. The leg strength, the pinpoint direction, all of it. Harvin was perfect on the night, especially when he laid one on the Cowboys’ one-yard line and it died there. I just don’t see any path for Berry to win the job.

 

 

7. Wow, I can’t believe it took me this long to mention Najee Harris

He was as advertised. He didn’t bust one off, or hurdle anyone, but he fell forward every time. He picked up a couple blitzes and he made himself available in the passing game. He lost 4 yards on his final run, but prior to that he had 6 rushes for 26 yards. That’s more yards than Conner was able to get on 16 rushes at times last year. It will be exciting to see him with the entire starting line, and Ben Roethlisberger in front of him.

 

8. Special teams were solid

We’re going to pretend like Sam Sloman didn’t miss any field goals because let’s face it, he isn’t going to be here in a couple weeks so that doesn’t matter. Sloman was awful besides a 48-yard field goal, but Chris Boswell didn’t get hurt last night — so that’s a win. The coverage teams were excellent with Shakur Brown making three tackles on the kickoff team. That could be the rookies way onto the team. The punt coverage unit recovered a muffed punt deep inside Cowboys territory that eventually set up a touchdown, and Mathew Sexton‘s 38-yard punt return earlier in the half sparked the Steelers offense to finally get moving in the third quarter.

 

There were lots of things to build off of for this team. Most years an extra preseason game would be bad. Not this year. Not for this team.

 

Thoughts on last night’s win? Sound off in the comment section below!

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The Steelers have always been a central part of my life. I grew up listening to WDVE tapes recorded off of the radio of Steelers fight songs, and wearing Steelers jerseys as a fashion statement. I joined the SteelerNation.com message board when I was 12, and this site has been a big part of my life ever since. I’ve found life long friends and met some of the best people on earth through this site. In 2015, I was able to help revive the site and develop a news website and all of our social media platforms. I can’t wait to continue to grow with all of you. Go Steelers!

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