For the rest of the preseason, we’ll give a recap, position-by-position, player-by-player of what I saw during the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers training camp and preseason games. Let’s start with QBs.
Ben Roethlisberger: Obviously, not much that needs to be said about #7. Yes, he does look a little bit slimmer. It’s good that he isn’t carrying 50 pounds of ice around his joints after each practice. Mostly just gets his right knee wrapped up. Hopefully the injury he suffered the final day of practice is minor, it appears to be. On the field, he was excellent, as always.
What I like most about him was once the most controversial part of his game: leadership. Would he be a good teammate? Would he help Mason Rudolph? And of course it was all stupid, all overblown, and Roethlisberger seemed to be all of those things at Latrobe. Always giving feedback to his receivers during “on air” drills. Not afraid to dish out a little tough love when guys had bad days or weren’t playing to their potential. All the more important without a QB coach and the OC pulling double-duty.
Camp Grade: A
Landry Jones: Like Ben, nothing you really needed to see or find out about Jones. He is who he is. A trusted, competent backup. Nothing more, nothing less. He’ll win you a game or two, not a Super Bowl. Threw only two interceptions all of camp, everyone else had at least four, though Jones threw the fewest attempts by a slight margin over Josh Dobbs. Jones was fine and the fact he isn’t playing today is a sign his roster spot is locked up.
Camp Grade: B
Mason Rudolph: Hard not to be impressed by Rudolph, even understanding at times he looked like a rookie and he didn’t light the world on fire. Love his command and – I keep going back to this word – poise for a rookie. Not many ugly mistakes. Center/RB exchanges, getting the play in, clear communication, only a handful of terrible throws/decisions, he checked plenty of the baseline boxes. And this all began with probably what will be the worst play he’ll ever make, the ball simply falling out of his hand the first time he ever attempted a pass in camp. Internal clock was quick, unusual for a rookie. It took Jones until Year Three to start speeding up where it needed to be.
Of course, some things to work on. His arm isn’t the best. It might be the worst of any of the four QBs in camp, though I don’t think it’s something that will be a hindrance to his football career. Ball security needs work, the fumble against the Eagles was ugly, and I want to see him take better care of the football overall. Too many turnovers in camp (8 INTs, at least one fumble).
But I liked his start. Showed traits of a guy beyond his years. No guarantee he’ll be Big Ben’s heir, obviously, but the arrow is pointed up.
Camp Grade: B-
Josh Dobbs: I dunno how to frame it. Like I’ve said before, it wasn’t a terrible camp. Objectively, in a vacuum, if you looked at what he did and no one else, you’d think it was…ok. But given his situation, needing a great camp, a player you’d expect to make a noticeable jump in Year Two, it wasn’t good enough. And that’s the bottom line. His completion percentage was even worse than last year and he threw one more touchdown than INT in camp (7 to 6). The Eagles game was a mixed bag, a nice touchdown pass to Damoun Patterson on a two minute drive but two ugly throws, one that resulted in a pick.
His camp left a lot of meat on the bone. And that isn’t going to cut it.
Camp Grade: C