Steelers notebook: Jones replaces banged-up Redman
CINCINNATI — It's already been a long, hard season for Steelers running back Isaac Redman. He was slowed by injuries throughout the preseason then averaged 1.1 yards on seven carries in the season opener.
Things went from bad to worse Monday night at Paul Brown Stadium. A snake-bitten Redman was diagnosed with a possible concussion on the opening kickoff, but returned to the game late in the first quarter.
Redman's injury forced coach Mike Tomlin to go with Felix Jones, who is still digesting offensive coordinator Todd Haley's playbook.
Jones got the nod over Jonathan Dwyer, who is far more familiar with the offense having led the Steelers in rushing last season.
Jones carried the ball 10 times for 37 yards in the first half. Dwyer had just one carry.
Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward did more than step up his game against the Bengals. He constantly harassed quarterback Andy Dalton. The former No. 1 draft pick outmuscled center Kyle Cook and guard Kevin Zeitler to tag Dalton three times and swat a pass.
And he sealed the gaps in the second quarter in helping hold Cincinnati to 15 rushing yards.
The Steelers' special teams hadn't done much this season until Jones returned the opening kickoff 34 yards. Antonio Brown followed with a 40-yard punt return to set up a 44-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham to give the Steelers a 3-0 lead in the first quarter.
Change of pace
The Steelers' spread offense forced the Bengals to pull former Steelers linebacker James Harrison off the field. The Bengals used their nickel package almost exclusively in the first half trying to negate the Steelers' controlled passing game.
Good and bad
David Paulson had the longest pass reception of his career in the first quarter: a 34-yarder to the Cincinnati 16. But it was a bittersweet moment as the second-year tight end was stripped of the ball by cornerback Adam Jones to thwart an impressive drive.
To make matters worse, the Bengals capitalized on his mistake, marching 87 yards to take a 7-3 lead on a 7-yard run by Giovani Bernard.
Cornerback Ike Taylor gave up three first-down receptions against Tennessee that led to scores. Taylor had the coverage on Marvin Jones early in the second quarter, but he whiffed on a tackle to give up a first down that positioned Mike Nugent for a 41-yard field goal.
In what might be considered a curious call, the Steelers ran a reverse with 10-year veteran Jerricho Cotchery even with rookie speedster Markus Wheaton and second-year receiver Derek Moye in the game. The Bengals weren't fooled; Cotchery was dropped for a 3-yard loss.
Not in sync
The Steelers' secondary caused problems for quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green.
The two hooked up 10 times in the teams' last meeting. Green had only two catches for 8 yards in the first half.
Rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones quickly has developed a reputation as a heavy hitter. For the second game in a row, he laid a big hit late in the second quarter. ... The Bengals rushed for only 32 yards in the teams' rematch last season. BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 34 in the first half. ... Inactive for the game were kicker Shayne Graham, running back Le'Veon Bell, cornerbacks Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown, center/guard Cody Wallace, tight end Heath Miller and quarterback Landry Jones.
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.
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