Lot of winners tonight, not as many losers. Refreshing change of pace.
1. Ben Roethlisberger: Roethlisberger was magnificent, going 12/17 for 148 yards and two touchdowns in just two series of work. He was carefully aggressive with a pinpoint 58 yard touchdown to Antonio Brown and some smart, efficient work underneath.
His first touchdown, juking Cam Jordan and finding Jesse James in the end zone, hearkened back to something you’d have seen early in his career. He makes the offense hum like no one else can. On top of all that, they operated in their muddle huddle for most of the game, no small task in New Orleans’ dome.
2. Antonio Brown: For being his good ‘ol unstoppable self. Four grabs, 87 yards, and a sick 58 yard touchdown. He isn’t the biggest guy and doesn’t even have that great of a vertical but he’s wins with deception vertically, flashing his hands at the last second and giving the corner no chance to react. Lovely performance all around.
3. Landry Jones: After a difficult performance last week, Jones got work with the first team offense and went bonkers. 19/22 for 206 yards and a touchdown and one of his incompletions was a Darrius Heyward-Bey drop. He moved the offense with relative easy and showed how tough he was, taking a killshot on a long ball to Sammie Coates in the second half.
4. Markus Wheaton: Two receptions today matched the number of grabs he had all of training camp. His second one, a contested grab down the right sideline, was gorgeous and served as a reminder that the Steelers still have as many weapons as anyone in the league.
5. Javon Hargrave: Dude balled out tonight. He consistently got penetration up the A gap, dominating one-on-one battles. He registered his first sack tonight on a clean win. Also loved his chase to the football, running downfield with more fanatical effort than I’ve seen before. That’s as promising as anything. He’s buying into the system.
6. Jarvis Jones: Gotta give Jones some love on here. Jones didn’t have a sack but recorded multiple pressures working against the top-tier Terron Armstead, drawing at least one hold that negated a big gain by the Saints. It’s a good first step and hopefully a sign of things to come this season.
7. Stephon Tuitt: Last but certainly not least on this list. Tuitt was his usual dominate self. Which is a good thing if Cam Heyward is going to be out any time. Tuitt was officially credited with two quarterback hits.
1. Ross Cockrell: His coverage was just ok, nothing special, and he came up empty trying to come downhill against C.J. Spiller in the flat. To be a base corner, he’s going to have to show more physicality and reliability.
2. Doran Grant: He continued to be a reliable tackler but seemed to be part of the screw up that created a Saints’ touchdown. Second time it’s happened in camp. Hard to trust a guy with numerous communication breakdowns. Just ask Shamarko Thomas last season.
3. Injuries: Cam Heyward, Marcus Gilbert, and Shamarko Thomas all go down. Please pray to the appropriate Football Gods.