The Pittsburgh Steelers will close out their 2019 preseason Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers and as expected, most starters will not play in this contest.
Quarterback Joshua Dobbs is expected to start Thursday night and then be relived by Mason Rudolph.
Kam Canaday will not be playing tonight. Local product, Christian Kuntz will be handling the long snapper duties. Kicker and punters will go halves for the final preseason game.
— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 29, 2019
#Steelers OLBs tonight:
Hope they took their vitamins
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) August 29, 2019
The Steelers kicked off first, with wide receiver Brandon Reilly making the tackle around the 20-yard line, Matthew Wright kicking off. I didn’t spot Tuzar Skipper on the unit.
Devin Bush, as it tradition, made the first tackle of the game, showing his sideline speed to limit a run to just three yards. Tyler Matakevich could not get the receiver down on second down, but Marcus Allen forced him out of bounds just before he gained a first down. On third and short, it was an easy completion on a slant in front of Artie Burns.
Matakevich got a hit on the blitz, but the quarterback got the throw out, his receiver making a great one-handed catch, taking it to midfield. Isaiah Buggs, who left Sunday’s game, was in now making the tackle on the following play. Skipper could not complete a sack on the next play, stumbling and failing to wrap up the quarterback, who scrambled for 13 yards.
Burns was in coverage one-on-on on a deep shot to the end zone, but overthrown. Sutton Smith got an arm on the next throw on third down to force an incompletion. And then the field goal unit blocked the kick, Ulysees Gilbert III making the play up the middle. He just shored up any doubt about him not making the team with that.
As expected, Joshua Dobbs started for the Steelers, Benny Snell back out after missing the last game and getting the carry on first down for a short gain. On second and seven, he scrambled to his right and threw to James Washington, but behind him and high. He could only bat the ball up, and it was nearly intercepted. The third-down snap was bobbled from Patrick Morris, and Dobbs could only scramble back to the line of scrimmage. Ian Berryman’s punt was fielded at about the 10 and returned for a 10 yards.
Andrew White took a quick slant in front of Cameron Sutton and hit the jets for a long gain, Marcus Allen taking a bad initial angle, obviously not prepared for the wide receiver’s speed. Sutton missed a tackle on the following play for a rushing gain of a handful. Not the two-play sequence Sutton wanted to have at this point of the preseason. Daniel McCullers made the run stop on second down. Sutton did make the tackle on a third-down scramble to prevent a touchdown.
Now first and goal from the four, Casey Sayles was in on the tackle for no gain. Matakevich also there and Henry Mondeaux adding his presence. Jayrone Elliott came in and stripped the ball out of Will Grier’s grasp, scooping it up and taking it 88 yards for the touchdown. Elliott was in the AAF, and only signed last week.
In roster-relevant news, Skipper, who seems to be off of defense now, was on the kick coverage unit, in on the tackle. Elliott made the tackle on first down after the kick return. Matakevich was beat downfield for a nice gain. Christian Kuntz was able to get a hustle sack at the end of the first quarter. Kameron Kelly a few plays later made a great tackle behind the line of scrimmage on a backside pursuit.
That play was negated by an offensive hold anyway, but Sutton Smith and Buggs got the sack on the following play. A pair of sixth-round rookies. Pressure forced a hurried throw down the field, incomplete. Carolina did get on the board with w 59-yard field goal.
On first down, Dobbs looked deep for Washington, who made a leaping attempt to secure the ball in traffic, and perhaps he would have without it being contested at the catch point by a defender. Dobbs kept the ball on a read option for a first down. Snell got his second carry of the game for a short gain. Dobbs barely got the pass out on the following play as he got hit from behind, but got the ball out to Washington for a reception. It was Ryan Switzer on the catch and conversion on third and three.
Trey Edmunds was hit as soon as he got the ball on the handoff for a loss of six. Dobbs found Johnny Holton for about 10 yards, making it third and medium. He threw incomplete in Diontae Johnson’s direction on third down. Jordan Berry’s punt was fair caught inside the 15.
Bush was finally taken out of the game, Gilbert replacing him. Matakevich made the tackle on first down after four yards. Elliott lost on the edge for a run around the right side, but he drew a hold, so that makes sense. Eli Rogers was given the chance to return the punt, his first of the preseason.
Mason Rudolph checked in with under seven minutes to play in the second quarter, suggesting that Devlin Hodges’ playing time in the second half will have to be cut down. Snell got the handoff on first down, getting to the right edge, but for only three yards. He caught a pass on second down to convert.
Now past midfield, Rogers caught a pass and made a tackler miss, gaining a first down for 11. Rudolph had to throw quick on a vertical route down the left sideline to Washington, a bit long and incomplete. Now third and six from the 34, he threw a bit wide of Johnson, but he made a great catch to do his quarterback a bit of a favor.
Rudolph showed good awareness under pressure to get the ball out quickly, completing to Tevin Jones, but Jerald Hawkins was flagged for holding. Now back to the 32, Rudolph was under immediate pressure, getting the ball out to Snell, but yet another hold pushed the offense back further, this one on Zach Banner. Rudolph put the ball up for Eli Rogers down the field, but the two couldn’t connect. It’s not clear Rogers was expecting the ball, but it was a bit long.
It’s now first and 40, somehow, from the 42. On the play, he flushed out to his right and threw to open space ahead of Washington down the field, incomplete. Snell caught a short pass and made one tackler miss for a bit of extra yardage, but it’s still going to be third and a mile at the two-minute warning. Matthew Wright ultimately missed the field goal.
Following a pair of incompletions, Grier did complete on third down for a new set of downs. After a big play across midfield, Justin Layne was beaten for a 34-yard touchdown down the right sideline, though it was a nice throw and catch. The Panthers now hold the lead, I believe the latest the Steelers haven’t been leading in a preseason game this year.
Rudolph hit a deep ball to Holton on first down to to immediately put the Steelers in field goal range with about a minute left in the half. After a short gain, Rudolph was sacked on second down. Wright connected from 49 yards to tie the game at 10-10. Skipper made his second appearance on special teams with another tackle. Sutton intercepted the pass with 15 seconds to go. One play later, Rudolph connected with Holton for the score, giving the Steelers a 16-10 lead for a quick turnaround. Wright missed the extra point.