Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Few Stand out in Final Try Rookies, Roster Hopefuls Falter as Team Closes First Winless Preseason since '06 Panthers 25, Steelers 10

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Few Stand out in Final Try Rookies, Roster Hopefuls Falter as Team Closes First Winless Preseason since '06 Panthers 25, Steelers 10

Article excerpt

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The preliminaries mercifully finished, those Steelers who remain after the final cuts come down will embark on their 2013 season with their first practice Sunday.

Based on these four exhibition games, predicting how that season will turn out would be folly, but the Steelers did something rare for them in the preseason -- they did not win.

For only the third time in their past 48 preseasons, the Steelers went winless after their 25-10 loss Thursday night to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. They last went 0-4 in 2006, Bill Cowher's final season as coach when they followed with an 8-8 record in the regular season. They had lost only one preseason game in each of Mike Tomlin's previous six seasons as coach.

"Hopefully, it's reflecting of guys who don't belong and we'll correct that over the next 48 hours," Tomlin said.

Tomlin and his coaches now will get busy making 22 moves to reach their 53-man roster. Many could come today, but they have until 6 p.m. Saturday.

"Ready or not," Tomlin said. "That's the reality this time of year. I feel comfortable we'll walk into battle next week."

Ben Roethlisberger, who stepped onto the field for the coin toss Thursday and then never left the sideline, said there was some good and some bad for his team in the preseason.

"For me, the excitement is, now that it's over, we can focus in on the season and what we need to do," Roethlisberger said.

With many veterans watching from the bench, Thursday night was a chance for young players trying to win a job to make a final impression. For example, did Derek Moye do enough with his two catches for 55 yards in the first half to convince the team to keep five wide receivers?

One veteran trying to convince the coaches to keep him is halfback Felix Jones, and he made a decent case. Jones, acquired in a trade last week with the Philadelphia Eagles, ran 14 times for 56 yards, at times displaying the kinds of cuts that convinced the Dallas Cowboys to draft him in the first round in 2008.

"I thought Felix Jones helped himself," Tomlin said. "His pedigree showed, his natural run instinct showed."

Jones last week was thrown into the game one day after he came over from the Eagles and, in a short time, looks as if he has found a new home.

"You just have to go with it," Jones said. "You have to make the best of the opportunities you get."

Rookie quarterback Landry Jones already made his mark, as the team cut John Parker Wilson last week and will go with three at the position. Jones played a convincing part in the first half Thursday, showing savvy, some pinpoint passing and an ability to pull a Roethlisberger -- escape the rush and throw on the run.

But Jones, who played the entire game, threw two interceptions in the third quarter -- one returned 70 yards -- leading to two Carolina field goals. …

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