Pittsburgh Steelers: Positives to take away from preseason opener

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There wasn’t much to get excited about following the Pittsburgh Steelers preseason opening loss to the New York Giants.

Overall the Steelers were very sloppy, often beating themselves, en route to an 18-13 loss Saturday night at Heinz Field.

However not everything was completely awful, as there were a few bright spots worth focusing on.

Aug 10, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (34) runs the ball against New York Giants cornerback Corey Webster (23) during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

With that being said, let’s offer a hat tip to a few guys who stood out.

1. LaRod Stephens-Howling

Much has been made about how awful the Steelers were on the ground a season ago and if the black-and-gold are to have any success on the ground this season, they must be better than the 26th best team in the NFL on the ground.

Rookie Le’Veon Bell is supposed to be the answer for most of those problems, but with Bell sitting this one out, several players got the opportunity to impress the coaching staff and none did so more than former Pitt Panther LaRod Stephens-Howling.

Stephens-Howling looked very comfortable in the new zone blocking scheme and showed the patience necessary to pick his holes and cut back. He led all rushers with 40 yards on seven carries and reminded people that this isn’t a three horse race for carries in 2013. It’s a four-horse race.

2. Jarvis Jones

The rookie linebacker outplayed his competition in Jason Worilds. Even though it was a gift of a fumble recovery, the Steelers had a problem getting the football back a season ago and it was encouraging to see Jones come up with a fumble recovery. In addition he made a very nice play on a third-down screen pass in the third quarter.

Worilds on the other hand committed a pair of personal foul penalties on the same drive. In both cases the ball was clearly out of the quarterbacks hands.

3. Al Woods

Woods was impressive in both min-camp and the early parts of training camp so far.

His play Saturday night was a big step towards earning regular snaps on the defensive line in 2013. Woods saw a lot of snaps and made his presence known. That’s more than can be said for most of his competition.

Woods led all players with nine tackles and recorded a sack.

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