The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday night in a close 30-28 preseason matchup. There was plenty of exciting moments along the way so here are a few takeaways from the Pittsburgh Steelers first preseason game.
Pittsburgh Steelers First Preseason Game: Top Takeaways
Devin Bush Looks Ready
Devin Bush lived up to the hype against the Bucs. The defense was taken for a bit of a ride on the first drive but soon after Bush was locked in till halftime. The rookie finished his short day of work with 10 total tackles, seven of those being solo tackles. Other notable plays included flying behind the line on fourth and inches to make a stop with the help of Ola Adeniyi and deflecting a pass he could have intercepted. It is early but it seems the Pittsburgh Steelers have found the anchor they needed in the middle.
James Washington Has Taken the Next Step
It was easy to see that shedding a few unwanted pounds, and gaining a few extra steps is making all the difference in his second year. This was immediately on display from his first catch when the Steelers were pinned deep with a 43-yard completion thrown by Joshua Dobbs. Washington finished with four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown on a perfect eight-yard back-shoulder throw by Mason Rudolph. It only took four catches for fans to see all they needed to forget his rookie struggles. The sky’s the limit for the youngster in an offense that threw the ball 689 times last year.
Justin Layne Is Rusty
As some people know, Justin Layne was a wide receiver entering Michigan State, then switched to cornerback midway through his first season. Layne’s stock skyrocketed due to his size and ability to make plays on the ball because of his time as a wideout. Friday night, Layne struggled to make necessary tackles, loosen his hips, and mirror the receivers in order to stick to his man. It is easy to tack his five tackles up to Tampa Bay targeting him seemingly every available opportunity. Now don’t get me wrong, I am still confident Layne will get better as the season progresses. However, for now, he will need to loosen up those hinges and stick to working on his technique.
Mason Rudolph Has Improved
Rudolph has been on the losing end of a battle for the number two quarterback job since he arrived in Pittsburgh. Dobbs has had the upper hand on the Oklahoma State product possibly until last night. Rudolph looked much more confident and poised on the field Friday night. He wasn’t letting pressure take him off his reads, kept his feet moving, and trusted his receivers. He scored one touchdown on a back-shoulder throw to Washington. Then he fired a strike to tight end Zach Gentry that only a 6’8″ player could reach. If Rudolph continues to play this way Mike Tomlin should have an easy choice as to who is the number two gunslinger in town.
Steelers Kickers Came to Play
This will be short because there is only so much evaluation we can do on kickers. Chris Boswell needed to be perfect tonight coming off a highly scrutinized 2018 season. Thankfully, he came out firing, nailing all of his kicks, the longest being 47 yards. Matthew Wright was brought in to challenge Boswell, which he did successfully. The Steelers paid Boswell enough to say “Hey we trust you” and to bounce back when he struggles. Therefore, it is easy to see Wright as nothing more than a motivational tool.
These were just a few guys that stood out after watching the game a few times. Fans will sleep knowing there were not many negative takeaways from the Steelers first preseason game.