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Dennis Dixon - The Lion Tamer... E-mail
Written by Cotter   
August 14, 2010 22:32

I can think of few bigger wastes of time than doing a full recap of the first 60 minutes of football in the PRESEASON.

I love Steelers football as much as you all do.

But, come on, that sounds like way more work than necessary.

So here are five thoughts about the game, that you probably observed yourself, but that if you didn't, at least you'll know what to keep in mind as the preseason continues...or something.

#1 - Crank up the QB controversy talk.

Starter Byron Leftwich went 6/10 for 43 yards and generally looked about as mobile as goalpost. Conversely, Dennis Dixon went 6/7 for 128 yards, including a TD, while also scrambling 6 times for 31 yards (including a nullified TD).

Of course, you have to account for the fact that Dixon rang up 119 of his 128 yards on just two throws - one to Antonio Brown (we'll get to him) for 68 yards (and the TD) and another to Arnaz Battle for 51 yards that set up Isaac Redman's one yard TD run (see below) - but there's a reason why Dixon's rating (which is still a BS stat, but whatever) was more than twice what Leftwich's was.

While the natural suggestion is that Dixon may be a better option, to be fair, Leftwich played against the Lions defensive starters including Kyle Vandenbosch; Dixon did not.

I'm not saying Dixon wouldn't have had similar success against the Lions starters, but you can't ignore the fact that half of his passing yards and his TD came half way through the 4th quarter, against maybe the Lions 8th team defense?

Obviously it'd be nice to see how Dixon does against some starters, but the Steelers do have to get Big Ben some snaps at some point, so I'm not sure exactly when that could be.

Regardless, there's probably about a 7.5% chance that Tomlin reconsiders Leftwich as the team's starter while Ben is out. It's not impossible, but it's improbable.

The sooner we admit that, the better.

#2 - Rashard Mendenhall does not respect the football.

Or at least he didn't again last night.

I don't want to dwell on this, because I love Mendenhall and he's gonna have a monster year one way or another, but the fumbling thing was old like, the second time it happened.

This is his third year in the NFL.

It's no longer "cute."

Enough said.

#3 - Antonio Brown smokes DBs like SANtonio Holmes smokes blunts.

Watching Antonio Brown take off for 68 yards after Dennis Dixon hit him on a short crossing route was probably the most exciting thing that happened last night outside of Ryan Clark's INT (see below) and Brett Keisel's beard.

He ended the night with 3 catches for 84 yards, but obviously the other two weren't nearly of the same consequence as the one he took 68 yards untouched for six.

Eveyone's been high on him and Emmanuel Sanders this preseason.

We didn't see a whole lot from Sanders last night, but Brown definitely demonstrated exactly why people are talking about him.

If you only see one play from this game, make sure Antonio Brown's TD is it (replay this morning at 10 AM on NFL Network).

#4 - Isaac Redman will not go to the practice squad quietly.

I make it no secret how I feel about Isaac Redman.

I'm not necessarily heralding him as the second coming of Barry Foster, like you may hear from some people. But I am sticking to the fact that I like his style. He's not afraid to run right into traffic or drag three guys with him, and last night he was breaking tackles like a machine.

All totaled, he netted 60 yards on 15 carries, including the 1 yard TD run pictured above, although 31 of those 60 yards came on one run.

Given the fact that the RB with the next closest volume of carries was the clean up crew, aka Jonathan Dwyer, who only played like the last 10 snaps of the game, it's pretty obvious that the Steelers are seriously considering Redman as the yang to Rashard Mendenhall's yin (Mewelde Moore's spot as 3rd down back and all around badass is not even remotely up for grabs).

If you remove the 31 yard run from his performance, he basically averaged a little more than two yards a carry, which, for a short yardage back is whatev. You're not looking for him to be a home run hitter, though you'll take it if it happens. You're just looking for him to go get a tough 1 or 2 yards for a new set of downs, or to punch it in for six when you're so close you can smell the guy in the 1st row behind the end zone's ball sweat.

And it seems like Redman could do that.

Realistically, no one in Redman's situation has made the team yet, but I was more than pleased with what I saw from Redman last night.



It's pretty obvious that we miserably lost in the turnover battle last season, and we were particularly lacking in picks.

One pick by the guy who had the most on the team last season in the first preseason game doesn't really mean a whole lot, but it's encouraging for a defense that definitely needs some extra production in that department.

Other than that, there were plenty of other solid performances.

Ziggy Hood looked like a house, Maurkice Pouncey played well at Center and Guard, the crowd showed its support in Big Ben (or maybe a lack of support in Leftwich) chanting "We Want Ben," and there were at least several other positives that I can't even remember right now.

Point being - Game. Set. Match.

Steelers - 23, Lions - 7.

Not a bad way to start off the preseason.

My apologies if this "recap" is dryer than usual.

It's 12:45 AM on Saturday night/Sunday morning and I'm writing on my blog.

I promise I'll get cute when I have some more time.

In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on anything covered herein or anything not covered herein, in the comments.

If you haven't already, become a fan of OFTOT on Facebook and follow Cotter and Steve on Twitter. Or don't. Your choice, really.

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