It might be ‘just’ the preseason opener for many people but for rookies, it’s the first step in what they hope are long NFL careers. Guys like Dri Archer, Daniel McCullers and Jordan Zumwalt saw their first action in an NFL game last night and while there’s a lot to work on, there was also some great stuff to build on.
Archer for example got his first chances to to return punts and he’d be the first to tell you that he has work to do but by and large represented himself well. His biggest contribution was his electrifying 46-yard reception from Ben Roethlisberger that saw him zig and zag before being run out of bounds.
I think this is where he will be the most effective. If Todd Haley falls in love with him as a running back then I have concerns because of his size.
Martavis Bryant may have had the most learning experiences among the rookies as he saw a roller coaster of a night. He collected one reception for 19 yards, dropped a pass, drew two pass interference penalties and fumbled away the team’s chances after catching a first down pass from Landry Jones deep in Giants’ territory.
Welcome to the NFL kid!
How about rookie free agent Howard Jones? He’s been impressing the Steelers with his athleticism throughout camp from his outside linebacker position and he was the right man in the right place last night. He picked up a backwards lateral and returned it 28 yards for the Steelers’ only touchdown.
“Big Dan” McCullers had a decent night in the trenches as did up and coming defensive end Josh Mauro who has done nothing but impress since the first day of camp. It will be very hard for the Steelers to keep him off the roster because he’ll get scooped up immediately by another team if he goes to the practice squad.
With Ryan Shazier sitting it out it was a good night to watch the other rookies and the guy drafted after Shazier was solid but not spectacular in his debut. Stephon Tuitt proved he can play in the league but he will have work to do as far as controlling gaps and making double teams less effective. His future is incredibly bright though.
While it’s just one game and a preseason one at that, the Steelers and the fans have a lot to be excited about with this class of rookies. That’s something we haven’t been able to say even at this early point in recent years.
Steelers vs Giants – Image by Trib Total Media
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteelDad and the website @SCBlitz. Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/steelcityblitz and on Fancred.com. You can hear him weekly during the season on Trib-Live Radio.