Steelers Win The Game Against Panthers, But Lose Spence, Brown And Golden

The preseason is over except for the final roster cutdown. Pittsburgh thwarted a two-point conversion by the Panthers in the final minutes, then watched as a last-second Panthers field goal missed wide right in Pittsburgh’s 17-16 win.

Personally, I wish that the proposed two-game preseason had been enacted this year. We’d possibly still have a healthy David DeCastro, lost to a knee injury last week against the Bills, and maybe we’d still have a healthy Sean Spence, lost to a knee injury tonight against the Panthers.

We don’t have a final prognosis on Spence yet, but with the way he was flailing in pain before he was carted off the field, it sure looks like Spence won’t be stepping on the field again until after the season.

After the preseason, the two rookie draft picks most likely to have contributed this season are both going to be wearing knee braces. DeCastro was going to be a starter. Spence was going to be a special teams’ demon.

DeCastro’s loss for the foreseeable future will obviously be the bigger loss (although the new IR rule passed today makes it easier to postpone a decision on whether DeCastro will be able to help out later this season). But in the short term, Spence’s injury is more difficult to fill. Ramon Foster is ready to step in for DeCastro. With injuries to Jason Worlids, Stevenson Sylvester and James Harrison, there simply aren’t enough healthy linebackers to cover kicks and punts in Week One.

If Monty Ivy hadn’t gotten hurt last week, he’d likely be on the roster next week simply because he can cover kicks. Now Pittsburgh has to decide on whether they are willing to go with third-stringers Marshall McFadden or Brandon Hicks or troll the waiver wire for a linebacker who can play special teams.

Cornerback Curtis Brown and safety Robert Golden were both injured as well, although the severity of their injuries are not yet known.

Enough with the bad news, here are some other thoughts on the final preseason game.

As far as players on the roster bubble, cornerback Terrence Frederick hurt his chances as he was burned for a long bomb in the final minutes. But then if Brown’s knee injury is serious, he may make the team because there are no other options.

The decision of whether to keep Corbin Bryant or Al Woods looks to be the toughest decision. Either one looks capable of being a development defensive end. I’d probably choose Woods, but either one would be a tough cut.

At tight end, Weslye Sanders keeps playing in garbage time, but he again looked like Pittsburgh’s second-best tight end.

Fullback Will Johnson looks like a willing but raw blocker, more impressively, he showed how he can cause some problems for defenses by leaking out on pass routes, where he has enough speed to beat a linebacker and the power to run over defensive backs.

Tailback Jonathan Dwyer looks like a beast. Whether Rashard Mendenhall is healthy or not, Dwyer needs to play. To me, he’s easily the best choice to be the Steelers’ third-down back. Last week he showed he’s a better pass catcher than his scouting report would indicate and unlike the other candidates he has the size to stop a blitzing linebacker.


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  • paul

    wesley saunders or emmanual sanders? saunders is the TE

  • Cols714

    Good christ. Spence now too?
    The whole team should hold out next year. No more preseason games.

  • Jennifer

    Do you think that Josh Victorian has any chance of making either the practice squad or the team? He seemed to do pretty well in some of the preseason games, including the interception. We met him at training camp and are rooting for him because of how kind he was to my son. My 9 year old really want him to make the team.

    • JJ Cooper

      He has a chance because he’s a better special teams player than Frederick. Considering that the Steelers are so thin on special teams coverage right now, it’s still a long shot, but he could end up as the pick ahead of Frederick.

  • Cols714

    I think the ST coverage is going to be hurting with Spence, Worilds, and Sylvestor all injured.

    • Eric

      Yup. And an already lean roster is getting thinner by the second. This team will be very good if the starters stay healthy but there isn’t much behind them anymore. With the injury luck the last few years, I am hoping that the Steelers are due for a healthy year…

    • Steve

      Anyone got Chidi’s number?

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    The list of players who may not be 100% to start the season (due to injury, holdout, suspension or altitude) includes: Wallace, DeCastro, Adams, Mendenhall, Redman, Hampton, Harrison, Worilds, Sylvester, Spence, Curtis Brown, and Clark.  Terrence Frederick is currently our dime CB.  Along with installing an entirely new offense, this team might be markedly better in the middle and later in the season than at the start.

  • Randy Steele

    I won’t be surprised if Dwyer gets the nod over Redman to start the Denver game.

    • Cols714

      Dwyer has looked very good not just running the ball, but his blocking has improved and he actually caught a pass.

    • Eric

      Dwyer has looked good but the coaching staff seems to show deference/loyalty to the incumbent. That’s why I am expecting Mendenhall to take over for Redman in a couple of weeks – even though to my eye Redman has been more effective. I expect the same to be true with Redman and Dwyer.

  • Bill Pintsak

    Yes and no on a shortened pre-season. It’s the NFL, guys are going to get hurt…either it happens in the pre-season and teams have the time to adjust or it happens during the season and they scramble. I’m interested in seeing how much the ‘lack of contact’ in practice this year due to the CBA contributes to injuries….