Not Ready For Prime Time

Taylor injured on 1st series in uninspired game


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LANDOVER, Md. -- It is a good thing the NFL owners did not get their way and reduce the preseason to just two games. The Steelers appear nowhere near ready to play for keeps in two weeks.

And one of their newest bonus babies, cornerback Ike Taylor, might have to open with something to protect his broken left thumb. Taylor, who signed a four-year, $28 million contract last week, left during his first series Friday night with the injury. Coach Mike Tomlin said Taylor will miss a "couple weeks or so" and might require surgery.

Defensive backs have been known to play with broken bones in their hands protected by a soft cast, and Taylor has a month to heal before the Steelers open Sept. 11 in Baltimore.

"It's on the coaches and doctor," Taylor said of the timetable for his return.

Other than that, the first preseason game between the AFC champions and the Washington Redskins was typical and not as sloppy as many suspected these early games would be, based on the lack of spring practices and workout sessions during the NFL lockout. The first penalty did not occur until late in the second quarter, and the Steelers had just two for 10 yards in the game. Neither team had a turnover.

By the time the first, second, third and fourth teams cleared, the Redskins won, 16-7, at FedEx Field on three second-half field goals by Graham Gano that snapped a 7-7 halftime tie.

Tomlin, though, was not happy with his team's play.

"It's not the kind of performance we were looking for, hoping for [Friday night]. Quite frankly, we got outplayed in just about all areas -- blocking, tackling, running, throwing, kicking. That team was better prepared than us. They showed it."

Two players who seem more than ready to start the season are backups. One is halfback Isaac Redman, who has grown bigger physically and in the offense in his third training camp. Redman, who weighs a sculpted 240 pounds, ran 22 yards for a touchdown and the Steelers' only score. He finished the half with 42 yards on five carries and called it a day, a good one.

"I think I played pretty well," Redman said.

Rookie defensive end Cameron Heyward made his pro debut a memorable one, making his presence known often. On one play, he pushed starting guard Kory Lichtensteiger back into quarterback Rex Grossman, who threw incomplete because of it. On another, he held off a tackle's block and tackled a runner in the backfield.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (2 of 3, 22 yards) played only five plays in one series before bowing out along with halfback Rashard Mendenhall (one carry, 4 yards). The rest of the offense played a second series and another seven plays with quarterback Byron Leftwich without scoring.

The Steelers first-team defense, though, did not have such an easy game. Tomlin had promised to keep them on the field for only about 10 plays. Instead, they stuck around for 20, two long series worth into the second quarter.

The Redskins pounded them on the first drive, moving 88 yards, starting from their 1. They got it in big chunks, too, behind Grossman and halfback Tim Hightower.

The usually stout Steelers run defense was gouged for runs of 6, 16, 11, 8 and 5 yards around two pass completions of 16 and 11 on the first seven plays.

The Redskins, though, failed to score because Shayne Graham yanked a 29-yard field-goal attempt badly to the left.

"I think we allowed them to drive the ball down the field a little bit too long, maybe 90 yards," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "But we just need to get back on the field and correct that. That's why it's called the preseason, so we can go back and correct mistakes like that."

Washington had 104 yards in the first quarter -- but nothing to show for it -- to the Steelers' 32. The Redskins crushed the Steelers in total yards gained, 452 to 186, and held the ball almost twice as long.

Playing the entire first half, Grossman completed 19 of 26 for 207 yards and one touchdown of 8 yards to Santana Moss on a third down in which the Steelers blitzed seven players.

Leftwich completed 6 of 10 for 70 yards before he gave way to Charlie Batch to start the second half. Batch was 2 of 4 for 16 yards. Dennis Dixon played in the final 9:53 and completed just 1of 10 passes for 29 yards. He also ran twice for 17 yards.

Another highlight for the Steelers was the punting of Daniel Sepulveda, whose ACL was torn in December for the second time with the Steelers and the third since his senior year at Baylor.

Sepulveda launched his first punt 62 yards, and it was downed at the 1. His next traveled 51, and his third 54.

The Redskins, with Kellen Clemens at quarterback in the third quarter, moved 82 yards on 14 plays and -- after Graham missed his second attempt from 49 yards to end the first half -- Gano replaced him and kicked a 32-yard field goal to put Washington on top, 10-7, late in the third quarter.


For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @EdBouchette. First Published August 13, 2011 4:00 AM


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