Your winners and losers from the Pittsburgh Steelers 39-24 win over the Carolina Panthers in tonight’s preseason finale.
Josh Dobbs/Mason Rudolph – I’ve been hard on him throughout most of the preseason but no debating this one. Dobbs was excellent on a night where I’m sure several scouts were keeping a close eye on him. Best thing about him was his poise in the pocket and willingness to drive the football downfield. Sounds hacky and cliche but a dude that truly left it all on the table in what could still be his final snaps in a Steelers’ uniform. Certainly upped his trade value.
Rudolph seemed to follow Dobbs’ lead. Nice two minute drive and again, willing to drive the football downfield. Something he hadn’t been doing the last two weeks. Both guys played loose. And I love his competitiveness and toughness. Unsportsmanlike conduct on a QB? Love. It.
Brian Allen – That’s the type of game he needed and one we’ve been waiting for. Allen was a solid tackler and made plays in coverage. Yes, it’s the finale so it’s against some of the worst competition he’ll see but still, after a quiet, somewhat disappointing camp, it’s a good note to go out on. The second half was a little rougher, a missed tackle and missed INT, but still thought he was impressive overall.
Ola Adeniyi – Another game, another sack. Give him three this season, including his second forced fumble that the Steelers recovered. He’s proven to be a difficult guy to cut and if he makes the 53, he’s more than earned it with a stellar, well-rounded performance. Downside is that hamstring injury he suffered, making it a little tough to figure out where his status is heading into Saturday’s cutdowns.
Stevan Ridley – Probably too little, too late, but a nice performance nonetheless. Again, need to put it in context. A veteran going against plenty of rookies and guys without much experience so you’d expect him to run well. But he did and hopefully that earns him a shot on someone else’s roster. Or a call-back if the Steelers ever needed him.
Justin Hunter – Even if you don’t like it, Hunter is making the team. Again showed the big play potential vertically, the calling card that has the team wanting to keep him around. He finished the day with three receptions for 72 yards.
Tevin Jones – Even with a drop, can’t leave off a man who had 90 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns. Still going to be tough for him to make the practice squad but he took advantage of Damoun Patterson leaving early (turf toe) and Marcus Tucker (ankle) unavailable.
Matthew Thomas – Not a perfect night with a missed tackle but hard to ignore the impact play that he made. Forced fumble, recovery, giant return all in one swoop. It’s not a question of making the 53. It’s a question of how many snaps he’s going to see.
R.J. Prince – Hard to find many of them tonight, to be honest with you. Jake Rodgers got the nod at RG over Prince, who seemed to get shifted back to right tackle. After a poor performance last week, his odds of a practice squad spot aren’t gone but definitely diminished.
Malik Golden – Obviously, not his fault. But man you feel for him. Tore his groin late in the first half in last season’s finale against Carolina, getting cut because of it. Tonight, he appeared to have suffered a serious knee injury in the 4th quarter. Had a good preseason, definitely in the mix for the practice squad, and now it looks like his season is done. Awful.
James Summers – Without many players to choose from, looking at guys who dressed but didn’t really play. Summers was the odd man out as Jarvion Franklin mopped up the rest of the game. Couldn’t even get in there for the final drive with under a minute to go.