Steelers/Skins Preview, Preseason Week 2 Review









By Jim Hurley

Quick: What NFL player has had more written/said about him this summer than anyone else in Commissioner Roger Goodell’s kingdom?

Hey, if you didn’t answer Robert Griffin III, then we’ll simply assume you’ve been on vacation in Tahiti for the past two or three weeks!

The Washington Redskins’ magnetic quarterback likely isn’t gonna play one single down this preseason but he and his head coach Mike Shanahan sure have found plenty of ways to make news the past 15-to-20 days and tonight the good folks at ESPN will pick up the baton and run with Griffin/Shanahan for a good part of this broadcast as the Pittsburgh Steelers face the ‘Skins right near the nation’s capital.

And now hear this …

My veteran Handicappers and Bloggers and I will bring all the summertime winners with NFL Preseason Sides & Totals Winners now through the next couple of weeks including the Side & Totals Winner on Steelers vs. Redskins.

Remember there’s NFL Preseason Week 3 games all week and weekend long coming up including a pair of tilts on Thursday night (including the ESPN clash between Carolina at Baltimore), a double-dip on Friday (including the CBS game between Seattle at Green Bay) and then there’s 10 games on Saturday and another pair on Sunday – so make sure you’re part of all the winning ways!

Plus cash in with loads of Major-League Baseball Winners too as we’ve been banging out lots of “W’s” in recent weeks as we head to the home stretch of this 2013 MLB season.

Check with us right here online at or call toll-free telephone at 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. Eastern time for weeknight NFL and MLB action, after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Football/Baseball Winners.

Onto NFL Preseason Week 2 action tonight:

PITTSBURGH (0-1) at WASHINGTON (1-0) 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

If you had a few free moments in the past week and got an opportunity to check out some “rival” web sites, then no doubt you noticed who was hogging up all the print for the Washington Redskins.

Hey, aforementioned second-year signal-caller RGIII won’t be playing tonight in this nationally televised TV tilt, but he’s sure been the center of attention at ‘Skins camp this summer and now there’s sure to be more controversy discussed here by the men behind the mics as reports are circulating that team Dr. James Andrews allegedly is advising RG3 not to return to action till after the team’s Week 5 bye – in other words, the good doctor is saying Griffin should not play in an NFL game until Sunday, October 13th in Dallas … we’ll see about that!

Griffin III won’t be participating in this prime-time game, but there’s still plenty of key storylines on both sides including the fact the Redskins will be keeping a close eye on LB Brian Orakpo, who last week collected a sack of Tennessee starting QB Jake Locker. Remember that Orakpo missed most of the 2012 season with a torn pectoral muscle and he’s a key pass-rush figure here along with ever-active D-lineman Ryan Kerrigan.

On the other hand, the Steelers say rookie RB Le’Veon Bell (Michigan State) – who recently moved atop the team’s depth chart to the #1 running back – won’t play here because he aggravated a left knee injury in a Thursday practice session in Latrobe. Bell was clearly favoring the knee late in practice while he sat with a wrap on and so Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin – who got a bit snippy with the media following the Bell injury (though it did not happen in a “live” drill) -- will go to Plan B here and that means Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Baron Batch will share the carries for a team that last year ranked a putrid 26th in the NFL in rushing yards.

P.S., last year Bell led the Big 10 in rushing and piled up some 4,114 all-purpose yards in his three-year college stay in East Lansing and – believe it or not – he played in each of State’s 40 games the past three years and started the final 19 games for Sparty. Hmmm.

Now, here’s a quick-hitter look at some of the NFL Preseason Week 2 games played Friday/Saturday/Sunday …

Last Friday, it was …

NEW ORLEANS 27, OAKLAND 20 – No doubt that Saints slinger Drew Brees improved his comfort level with wide-out targets Nick Toon (one catch for 56 yards) and Kenny Stills (4 catches for 64 yards and one 16-yard scoring play), but can this here-and-now N’Orleans team win in 2013 if the ground game stays so shaky?

Note that the Saints rushed the ball 33 times for only 83 yards in this tilt against the sad-sack Raiders (that’s a 2.5 yards-per-carry average) and third-year RB Mark Ingram (9 carries for 30 yards) still doesn’t look like the right fit with this NFC South squad. Might the Saints be in the market for a “name” running back before too long?

Last Saturday, it was …

NEW YORK JETS 37, JACKSONVILLE 13 – You gotta hand it to Jets head coach Rex Ryan

Here’s the AFC East team fresh off a resounding win in which QB Mark Sanchez leads five scoring drives while playing three quarters of action (okay, Sanchez had more than a few hiccups here too, to be fair) – and where rookie QB Geno Smith does not play at all – and Ryan is busy telling the media that, “We’re not willing to name a starting quarterback right now,” after the game.

Really, Rex?

Okay, so maybe Sanchez (12-of-23 for 169 yards passing with one TD and one INT) was not picture perfect, as he did airmail one end-zone interception and his bonehead play at the end of the first half when he didn’t get a pass off before time expired was clearly inexcusable for a fifth-year player... but Smith has been gimpy the past week with a sprained right ankle suffered in last weekend’s 26-17 loss in Detroit and then – when he should have been resting the ankle for a couple of days – there was the West Virginia alum on the Cortland practice fields blowing up badly with a four-INT performance last Wednesday.

What, does Ryan actually think Smith has any chance to be the starter for the team’s Week One game against Tampa Bay? Get serious!

Hey, one key injury note here:

Jets’ LB/DE Quinton Coples suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter – there’s been all sorts of talk about a revived NYJ front seven on “D”, but if Coples is out for most or all of the year after surgery than it’s a big hit to this Jets’ defense.

GREEN BAY 19, ST. LOUIS 7 – The good news for the Rams is that per head coach Jeff Fisher’s “order”, the NFC West team got rookie WR Tavon Austin more involved in the action as the West Virginia kid caught four passes worth 28 yards after getting targeted only once in that Preseason Week 1 loss in Cleveland.

The bad news is the Rams didn’t get much from RB Isaiah Pead (see only 19 yards on 11 carries) – might it be time to just let Daryl Richardson get the lion’s share of the carries from this point forward? – and QB Sam Bradford blew a major red-zone opportunity with a fumbled snap from center on the Green Bay one-yard line on a fourth-down play and four decent possessions yielded zero points.

On Sunday night, it was …


The NY Giants are keeping fingers crossed that newly-minted WR Victor Cruz won’t miss any significant time following a heel injury suffered just a couple of plays into this prime-time tilt, and isn’t it interesting that just when injury-prone WR Hakeem Nicks gets back on the field, Cruz goes down, and it’s not as if these Jints are being productive in what head coach Tom Coughlin calls the “green zone” as four trips inside the Indy 13-yard line actually yielded a mere three field goals … no wonder Coughlin looked like he was gonna blow a fuse in the post-game presser at Met Life Stadium!

Meanwhile, the Colts piled up six quarterback sacks in this clash and chased QB Eli Manning all ‘round the yard for the better part of the first half. And how about first-round draftee DE Bjoern Werner (Florida State), who was quite active.

Note: Get all our NFL Preseason News/Notes plus NCAA Football in all of this month’s Jim Sez columns – football’s here and every day it’s must-read material right at this very web site!


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