Preseason football has finally returned, along with the hopes of every draft pick and prospect. Fringe players like Terrell Watson are trying to make their dreams a reality, while veterans like Arthur Moats are looking to hold on to theirs. Competition has been fierce during training camp, making each practice repetition extremely coveted. The value of preseason football is applying the lessons of the practice field to game situations. Each preseason game is another step of a job interview. Friday night, several rookies stood out during the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-12 win over the New York Giants. Distinguishing themselves early will earn these players more opportunities during the NFL’s version of Survivor. For those who failed to impress, like Canaan Severin, their time on the island is short.
Terrell Watson Among Standouts in Pittsburgh Steelers Preseason Opener
Joshua Dobbs Maintains His Poise in First Start
Joshua Dobbs was named the starter against the Giants and got off to rocky start. Dobbs completed just one of his first five passes, two of which were interceptions. His fourth pass of the game was badly under thrown and picked off by former Steeler Antwon Blake. Dobbs fifth pass of the game was picked off at the line by Devin Taylor. How did Dobbs standout with early stats like these? Following his second interception, he settled down, completing seven of his next eight throws for 92 yards. That includes a touchdown pass right before the half that gave the Steelers a 10-9 lead. Dobbs had a second touchdown pass taken of the board in the third quarter because a Brian Mihalik holding call. As a whole, the Steelers have to be happy with what they got out of Dobbs.
T.J. Watt Brings the Hype to the Field
T.J. Watt didn’t take long to announce his presence on the field. Watt ended the Steelers first defensive series with a sack of Josh Johnson, after fighting through an Erik Flowers block. The first play of the Steelers second defensive series resulted in Watt’s second sack. Instead of getting sucked in by a fake hand off to the right, Watt held his position and took Johnson down for an eight yard loss. Watt was a chore for Giants blockers all night. He totaled two sacks for -15 yards, one quarterback knockdown, and five tackles, while living up to the hype.
Terrell Watson States His Case
Terrell Watson is the type of running back the Steelers have thrived with since 1970. Similar in size to a young Jerome Bettis and Bam Morris, Watson brings a nice blend of size and speed. Watson had the best night of any Steelers running back, picking up 44 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. He pounded the Giants defensive line before hitting them with some speed, on his 15 yard touchdown burst. Watson proved to be the most productive back during the game, deserving of increased opportunities in the coming weeks.
Mike Hilton Sparks Two Big Plays
Coming into the preseason, many were hoping to finally see a cornerback from Ole Miss on the field. The got their wish, it just wasn’t the one they were anticipating. Instead of Senquez Golson, it was Mike Hilton who made his preseason debut with the Steelers. Ironically, Hilton turned in two of the biggest plays of the game. His first play, a special teams fumble recovery, led to a touchdown that put the Steelers up 10-9. Hilton’s second big play, a sack on a blitz up the middle, helped end a Giants scoring threat. Although Hilton is a long shot to make the final roster, more plays like that will keep him around.
Next week these rookies need to maintain their momentum, while others need to step up. Although it’s still early, the margin for error is quickly decreasing, making it harder for those falling behind to catch up. Competition like this, that separates the best from the rest, is what makes preseason football so compelling and worth watching. Most important, preseason football is where Super Bowl champions are made.