August 30, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Terrence Frederick (37) breaks up a two point conversion pass attempt to Carolina Panthers wide receiver Lamont Bryant (18) during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Fredrick was called for pass interference on the play. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Steelers Hold off Panthers 17-16

The final score isn’t the important thing in this game since the starters didn’t play on either side in a traditional last preseason game. Coaches are looking for difference-makers and for rookies and otherwise new players one last look before final cuts come up.

Lamont Bryant went up to catch a pass at the high point with the defender right in his pocket. He not only snagged the pass but stumbled, keeping his balance and raced into the end zone…all this late in the 4th quarter down 17-10.

The Panthers try for 2 failed, leaving the game as a loss over that one failed 2 pt conversion.

Statheads would tell you that the conversion rate is actually quite low, and they’d be right, but the end result is that the Panthers won’t have a winning preseason.

Rivera’s concerns probably still lie with the special teams coverage. The Steelers had a long return for a TD called back with a penalty and had several good returns in the game otherwise. The Panthers’ special teams coverage unit just has not been up to the task this preseason. It needs fixing. Now.

Joe Adams muffed a punt and lost it. He’s human after all. Work on that, kiddo…

Both Frank Alexander and Thomas Keiser each had a sack, again. Keiser’s a holdover from last season who looks to develop into a pass-rushing end and after a tough start, Alexander has come along to quickly show why the Panthers traded up into the 4th round to grab him out of Oklahoma.

Darrell Green’s son, Jared, caught a 3-yard TD on a 4 yard out pattern and demonstrated his athletic ability earlier on a tipped pass intended for him. He made a second effort to catch it but couldn’t. The fact he made it even a little bit close told me he was a guy to watch – pedigree aside.

The running backs looked good as well. It will be hard to crack into a group that has DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Tolbert but Tauren Poole and Armond Smith both played well in fighting for a possible last roster spot.

CB Josh Norman had moments of good coverage and showing good awareness but gave up some receptions as well. I like this kid and think he’s still got a lot of learning to do, but I think he “gets it.” It’ll be a matter of time before he takes the starting job from the Captain, and might be inserted in nickel/dime packages immediately.

Safety D.J. Campbell made a number of tackles and could find a roster spot, who knows? The Panthers’ reserves there are fair but unspectacular.

DT Terrell McClain showed me an impressive motor and hustle when he chased down a sweep from behind and forced the RB out of bounds 20 yards downfield. He ran a LONG way to get there, and that shows he’s got heart. I love players like that. I hope fellow tackle and veteran Ron Edwards can help coach the 2nd-year player up.

Young kicker Justin Medlock missed a 57 and a 50-yard FG attempt in the 4th quarter. Either kick would have wound up being the difference. The insane thing is he had plenty of leg left…just missed the first one to the left and the second to the right. If he can work on his long-range accuracy, the Panthers would have an actual weapon at the position.

I have a feeling this Panthers’ defense will be both a lot deeper and a lot tougher to run on than last year’s injury-depleted squad was.

Now…just cover the schtooopid kicks, willya please!?

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Tags: 2012 Carolina Panthers Preseason Carolina Panthers

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