Restructured first-team defense plays well

| Friday, Sept. 3, 2010

Four days after picking up two personal foul penalties that ultimately resulted in him being benched and then demoted to third string, cornerback Keenan Lewis responded during Thursday's preseason finale against Carolina in impressive fashion.

"I think I did well," Lewis said. "No catches against me. I made like two mistakes that I know I can fix. I just went out there confident."

With Bryant McFadden out, Lewis found himself backing up William Gay at left corner instead of getting the start and represented himself quite well.

Lewis had two tackles and two passes defensed.

"It showed that I can bounce back," Lewis said. "Last week they threw a pass, and I turned all around. This week I attacked it. Last week I had all this stress going into the game. I just settled down this week and played my game."

Adjustments made

The Steelers' first-team defense allowed only 40 yards during two possessions of Thursday's preseason finale against Carolina at Heinz Field.

That number was amazing knowing how out of position a number of starters were on that side of the ball.

With linebackers James Farrior (head laceration) and James Harrison (shoulder) out with injuries, there was plenty of shuffling.

Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons moved outside to replace Harrison; Keyaron Fox filled in for Timmons at inside; and Larry Foote replaced Farrior inside.

Protecting Leftwich

Byron Leftwich played last week's preseason game with a lot of second-string and some third-string players.

This week, Leftwich got the majority of his snaps with at least a big portion of the starting offensive line, but that still didn't prevent the quarterback from getting banged up.

Leftwich left early in the second quarter with a knee injury.

Ironically, Leftwich's first series was played without only one offensive line starter (right tackle Flozell Adams). For his second series, the series he was injured, Leftwich played without Adams and left guard Chris Kemoeatu.

Center Maurkice Pouncey, right guard Trai Essex and left tackle Max Starks were on the field.

My bad ... my good

Sylvester made a pretty big mental error when he lined up offsides when Carolina was in punt formation midway through the second quarter.

The penalty resulted in a first down for the Panthers.

But Sylvester made amends a few plays later when he sacked Hunter Cantwell for a 13-yard loss, forcing a punt.

Odds and ends

Wide receiver Mike Wallace was honored at halftime with the Joe Greene Great Performance Award as last year's top Steelers' rookie. Wallace caught 39 passes for 756 yards and six touchdowns last year as the third receiver in the Steelers' offense. ... A week after struggling trying to play the Z receiver position, rookie Emmanuel Sanders appears to have caught on. Sanders grabbed three passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. ... Safety Troy Polamalu and defensive end Aaron Smith played only one series while the rest of the starting defenders played two series. ... Pitt graduate Jeff Otah did not play because of a knee injury and may not be ready for Carolina's opener. ... Inactive for the Steelers were Harrison, Farrior and WR Antwaan Randle El. ... LB Renauld Williams left early in the third with a knee injury. ... Greg Warren and Matt Stewart shared snapping duties. ... Scores of local youth football players were on the field for players' introductions and the National Anthem last night as part of a celebration of USA Football Month. USA Football is the youth development partner of the Steelers, the NFL and the NFL Players' Association. Merrill Hoge, who played running back for the Steelers from 1987-93, is on USA Football's 17-member board of directors.

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