Steelers winners and losers from Week 1 of the preseason | Steel City Underground

Steel City Underground

Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington

The first weekend of preseason football is behind us and with that, we found out who the winners and losers were of the Steelers exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With several (actually, most) of the starters on both sides of the ball watching from the sidelines, many players received an opportunity to stand out.

Let's see which of them did.

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Devin Bush

Was there any bigger showing Friday night than the debut of Devin Bush?

Bush ended the first half with ten total tackles: a number only reached twice by a Steelers defender all of last season!

Bush had a particularly strong showing on a series where he stopped a third down play short of the marker, then sliced through Tampa's offensive line to stop Andre Ellington behind the line of scrimmage on the following fourth-and-1.

Needless to say Bush looks as advertised as the tenth overall pick in this year's NFL Draft.

James Washington

For those who haven't been in Latrobe to see Washington during training camp, Friday's game was a coming out party.

The wide receiver looks like he's ready to break out in 2019. Stacking games like this one will only help him accomplish that feat.

Mason Rudolph

Rudolph looked poised, patient and professional as a passer on Friday.

He completed the same amount of passes (on the same amount of attempts) as Josh Dobbs, but his two touchdown tosses really stood out over Dobbs' playing time, with Rudolph finishing the evening with a 141.1 QB rating.

Fred Johnson

Lost in the hype of seeing young players play was Johnson, an undrafted rookie, getting the start on Friday at  left guard. (Pay no attention to the NFL's game book which has a bunch of offensive linemen listed in the wrong positions!)

Johnson is a mammoth man, standing 6-7, weighing 326 lbs., he can move fluidly within the Steelers scheme and appears to be the next in a line of low-round or undrafted offensive line finds for the team.

Johnson has an inside path to try and make the team: keep an eye on his progress continuing through the preseason.

Zach Banner

Banner got a lot of looks on Friday: not only did he get the start at right tackle, he played every snap (as did the aforementioned Fred Johnson).

There were a lack of linemen available to play due to others sitting out, however, Banner and Johnson each playing the entire game, and doing quite well doing so, is definitely something worth typing up in the win column.

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Josh Dobbs

A tough one to list here as there were few bleak spots for the entire preseason game to talk about, Dobbs' start was a rocky one.

Dobbs' first drive was marred by spotty offensive line play which saw him holding the ball too long, or using his legs instead when the heat was bearing down on him.

He still finished the day with a solid 14-play, 73-yard drive which ended in a field goal, but that drive too had a bad pass picked off, only to see the interception overturned due to penalties on the same play.

Dobbs came out after two series for Mason Rudolph, and later Devlin Hodges, with the latter two quarterbacks combining for three touchdown drives. That didn't help Dobbs' stock on Friday night with those watching on national TV.

Benny Snell

Another rookie with a lot of hype in their debut is fourth round pick Snell, who didn't have the hottest evening.

Snell carried the ball 13 times, but could only eek out a 2.0 yards-per-carry average with a five-yard long run.

Dobbs actually led the team in rushing for the game (with 44) while Snell only compiled 26 total yards.

The hard-nosed runner is poised for bigger game, but Friday just wasn't in his favor.

Matt Feiler

Feiler wasn't a loser in the sense that he played poorly or anything like that. Rather, Feiler, who is competing to retain the starting right tackle position he took over in the middle of last season, found himself starting at right guard instead: which means the coaching staff could still be looking at others to fill that role, and move Feiler back to being a backup.

In that sense, his stock went down, but not by much...

Chuks Okorafor

The opportunity that came with Feiler's move to right guard opened the tackle position: however, Okorafor started at left tackle instead when the team rested Pro Bowl LT Alejandro Villanueva.

And Okorafor didn't have the best showing, despite looking like a monster in drills during camp (and at both the left and right tackle positions).

This could create a dilemma for the team: who stays on the bench as a swing tackle in case of injury and who becomes the starting right tackle?

For now, Okorafor's poor showing (albeit one preseason game) may indicate he's best suited to playing on the right side of the line, while Feiler could find himself being a backup guard and tackle this season.

This is a situation to continue to monitor as the team shuffles its deck with its deep offensive line roster.

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  1. Good stuff Joe. I have stated several times on various boards, that Snell should get a partial pass on his night. Of his 13 runs, I can only think of 2 (maybe 3) where he even reached the line of scrimmage before being smacked by a defender. The O-line just was not helpful at all for the large majority of the early going at least. It did get a little better over time though…

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