Steelers starters look to clean up mistakes in third exhibition
By Alan Robinson
Published: Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, 8:42 p.m.
Mike Tomlin is talking about the necessity of winning. Ryan Clark is gearing up to play far longer than usual. Ben Roethlisberger is studying a game plan.
Obviously, this isn't the usual Steelers preseason game.
As Clark said, this is one time when the clichéd “all-important third preseason game” is truly that for a team that is 0-2 and hasn't looked good. The Steelers starters expect to play into the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday night at Heinz Field, and there will be much to work on during the most extended playing time they will get in August.
Tomlin hasn't been happy with his starting offense's inability to get into the end zone, to convert on third down — 1 of 13 against the Redskins — to pass protect or to finish drives.
The running game remains unstable amid an ever-changing succession of faces in the backfield — Felix Jones is next up — and tight end remains a question mark with Heath Miller still out indefinitely.
“Obviously, you step in the stadiums with the intent of winning, and we haven't done that yet,” Tomlin said. “There's a little edge to our preparation.”
To Clark, there should be.
“I don't think you can read much into the wins and losses of preseason games,” said Clark, who was unhappy with the 95 yards in penalties Monday against the Redskins.
“But I think the thing you can focus on is too many penalties. Too much Steelers beating ourselves. ... I think for us and the way we played, not capitalizing on the other team's mistakes, continuing to make mistakes ourselves, it's important that we clean it up.”
That's why the limited two-day preparation for this game was more like that for a regular-season game, including film study and a game plan, something that was lacking for the Giants and Redskins games. In some situations, Roethlisberger said, the Steelers simply didn't have the proper play call for the type of defense they were seeing.
“It's a good week for us, especially offensively,” he said. “They have a real good defense and are going to present some looks that we haven't seen in a while.”
The key, he said, is to balance preparing for the regular season without showing off any new looks or altered schemes that will be employed in the games that count.
The greatest improvement probably needs to be shown by an offensive line that was oft-penalized against the Redskins while failing repeatedly to protect Roethlisberger, who scrambled far more than is wanted for a preseason game.
Since the starters might play only a series or two against Carolina on Thursday night, there is a sense of urgency to get the problems fixed now.
“We just have to keep improving, and that's what the preseason is for. We have the right mindset around here, and we have to continue to build on that,” backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski said.
“We're far from where we want to be. ... But the preseason is to work out these kinks, to learn different things. This is the time to learn those things, and as we do that, we'll continue to do better.”
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Keisel might be at end of Steelers career
- Steelers create cap space by re-signing Polamalu, Miller
- 6 players the Steelers will be watching at NFL Combine
- Steelers’ Worilds signs transition tag
- Robinson: NFL getting younger at RB
- Steelers use transition tag on LB Worilds