The Steelers wrapped up their preseason on Thursday night with a 17-16 win over the Carolina Panthers, but at what cost? Injury after injury took place this preseason which is not an encouraging sign of things to come.
First lets take a look at the game. Charlie Batch looked solid going 11-14 for 102 yards but he only converted 1-8 third down conversions and put 10 points on the board. Did he earn a spot on the 53 man roster? I'm not convinced he did and feel like at this point in his life he would be better suited to a position on the Steelers sideline. His value is in his leadership and where better to coach than his hometown team surrounded by guys that already respect him?
Another bright spot in the preseason finale was Chris Rainey who returned not one but two punts for touchdowns in the first quarter of the game. Sadly his efforts were thwarted by the one glaring weakness of the entire preseason, the rest of the Steelers special teams. Both of those touchdowns were called back because of holding penalties. Imagine the momentum the Steelers would have in a regular season game that opened up with two punts returned for touchdowns? Then imagine the shift to the opponents direction that momentum would take when they are both called back. Something has to be done with the special teams, and quickly.
The final bright spot I am going to cover is Jonathan Dwyer. With an ankle injury to Isaac Redman, Dwyer earned the start in the game verse Carolina and was able to put up a pretty solid argument to keep himself on the field. He had accumulated 63 yards in the first half on 13 carries including more than one run of more than 10 yards. Look for Dwyer in the backfield more frequently this season, especially early on while the Steelers nurse injuries to Redman and Rashard Mendenhall.
One of the downsides to the Steelers preseason has been the significant injuries the team has suffered. After losing first round pick David DeCastro to multiple knee injuries, they are now looking at how long third round pick Sean Spence will be out. During the second half of the final preseason game Spence went down with multiple knee injuries believed to include a torn ACL, LCL, and even a dislocated knee cap.
These two major injuries sit on top of other injuries to Brett Keisel, Jason Worilds, Stevenson Sylvester, Isaac Redman and of course who can forget James Harrison and Rashard Mendenhall.
The Steelers have their work cut out for them to recover from the list of injuries they are carrying around. The season opener sits just around the corner and Pittsburgh is looking to avenge its playoff loss to the Denver Bronco's. It's to early for Steelers fans to panic, but that's not going to keep us from sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to see how this is all going to play out.