Six members of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 NFL Draft class were on the field Saturday night for the preseason opener against the New York Giants and three sat on the sidelines. Below is a recap of all nine players.
Jarvis Jones – Jones followed starter Jason Worilds into the game at right outside linebacker and ended up playing 41 total snaps in total. He did not, however, play on any special teams units, so I don\’t know if there is anything to be read into that. Outside of recovering a gift fumble, it was a relatively uneventful debut for Jones, who also added one solo tackle and one assist. The Georgia product is quick off the line, but needs to get stronger. In addition, Jones allowed a few runs to his direction get outside for good positive yardage.
Le\’Veon Bell – I t was announced just prior to the game that Bell would not play as head coach Mike Tomlin held him out for precautionary reasons because of a banged up knee. Tomlin said he didn\’t see enough of the second-round pick last week and that it wasn\’t fair to allow him to make his professional debut if he was not fully 100 percent. Following the game, Tomlin indicated that Bell should practice this week and play next Monday against the Washington Redskins.
Markus Wheaton – Wheaton had an uneven debut that included him playing 24 snaps on offense, but he did show signs that he is an all-around receiver. His blocking needs to improve for starters and he doesn\’t look like he is comfortable playing special teams just yet. On the night, Wheaton had one reception for 8 yards and one run for another 10 yards. He did, however, fail to hold onto a ball from Bruce Gradkowski on the right sideline and was flagged once for a false start. On special teams, the Oregon State product knocked linebacker Stevenson Sylvester out of the game with an ankle injury as he flew into his legs after the tackle was made. I expect him to really shine next week against the Redskins as the talent is definitely there.
Shamarko Thomas – Thomas played in the slot mostly as a nickel cornerback during his 26 snaps of playing time and recorded one tackle and one assist on defense to go along with one assisted tackle on special teams. The Steelers want Thomas to learn not only both safety roles, but the nickel position as well, so it is not surprising he received so much work there against the Giants, especially being as the team is short on healthy cornerbacks.
Landry Jones – Jones\’ first snap as a professional ended in a safety after he collided with Baron Batch on an attempted handoff. He entered the game as the third quarterback and finished the night going 5-of-9 passing for 48 yards in 15 snaps played.
Terry Hawthorne – Hawthorne remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Justin Brown – Brown was targeted a team-high six times in the passing game and caught four balls for 32 yards with a long of 10. On one play, however, Brown appeared to run the wrong route as he and Gradkowski had a little talk afterwards. On special teams, Brown was on the field for seven different instances but did not record a tackle or any return yardage.
Vince Williams – Williams saw a little action as a second team inside linebacker after Sylvester exited the game and he wound up playing 28 snaps in total. The Florida State product registered three solo tackles and a sack and played well moving downhill. I don\’t think, however, he has answered the questions about his ability to cover just yet, but it does appear as though he\’s ahead of both Kion Wilson and Brian Rolle on the depth chart. He should receive a lot of playing time against the Redskins.
Nick Williams – Like Bell, Williams was forced to sit the Saturday night game out with a knee problem of sorts. It is unclear if he will return to practice this week.