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Who stood out and who disappointed in Hall of Fame Game

Ray Fittipaldo 2 years ago

The Steelers and Vikings opened the NFL preseason Sunday night and it was mostly a stage for young players to show the coaches what they could do. The Steelers did not play their best players, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell or receiver Antonio Brown. The Vikings sat their best players, too, including running back Adrian Peterson.

*The Steelers took a long look at third-year quarterback Landry Jones, and his performance was underwhelming. Some of that had to do with the mixing and matching of skill players and playing behind mostly second- and third-string offensive linemen who won’t be on the 53-man roster in a month. But some of it had to do with Jones, too.

He missed a wide open Sammie Coates in the end zone in the first half. And even though Jesse James dropped a sure touchdown later in the half, it was Jones who missed another wide open receiver in the end zone on the same play. He chose to throw to James, who was awkwardly turning to catch the pass on the 2 while C.J. Goodwin was waving his hands in the end zone after a blown coverage by the Vikings.

The bottom line is Jones led the Steelers to three points in four quarters. 

*James had the roughest night of the rookies. He dropped another pass that turned into an interception. He also was flagged for holding. James has had a good camp, but he’d probably like to forget his first NFL game.

*First-round pick Bud Dupree didn’t fare much better. He entered the game with most of the other second-teamers and did not stand out. He had a hard time getting off blocks. He went to the ground too easily. He didn’t rush the passer well, and he lacked football instincts. In short, he looked completely lost. Dupree has all the measurable qualities you’d like in an outside linebacker – the size, the speed, the quickness. However, he needs to be coached up. It’s going to take some time, but the one thing that is a little concerning for me was how he did not look like a natural football player out there. I’ll cut him some slack because it was his first NFL game and bank on Joey Porter doing his job for the remainder of camp. But it certainly looks like it’s going to take him some time to adjust to the NFL.

*As for good performances, Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons showed up early and often. Shazier missed a tackle early in pass coverage, bouncing off tight end Kyle Rudolph, but he was a force in the run game and showed off his elite speed.

*On offense, there wasn’t much to like, but reserve tackle Alejandro Villanueva was very solid. He got an opportunity to play left tackle for most of the game after starter Kelvin Beachum exited in the first quarter, and he was the only offensive player to earn a positive grade by Pro Football Focus. Villanueva sat back and did a good job in pass protection. He’s definitely taken advantage of the extra reps with Mike Adams out nursing his back injury.