Steelers Beat Panther Back-ups 19-16

In a slightly surprising move Panther Coach John Fox left his 1st team players on the bench and went exclusively with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th teamers. Though the game lacked previous weeks’ game big plays it wasn’t without some drama. Several players on the co-called ‘bubble’ played well and improved their chances going forward, if not with the Panthers than maybe another team.

The only bummer on the night was a pretty nasty looking injury to Matt Moore that so far appears better than it looked. Moore took a hit to his left hip that looked like he may have dislocated it but as it turns out it’s his shin that hurts. No official word is expected until later today.

 

Here’s some players I thought played well in their extended action:

 

RB Decori Birmingham showed good vision and burst to the hole and he ran with power. He finished with 9 carries for 38 yards and in my view looked much better than LaBrandon Toefield, though Toe was running against the Steelers first team D. Much to my surprise Birmingham may have just earned a roster spot.

WR Dominique Thompson had 5 catches for 74 yards, a dazzling 14 yards per catch. This guy has size, great hands and runs his routes well. With the lack of depth at WR I think he just made the roster too. This kid looked real good.

DE Stanley McClover had two tackles for a loss and was basically all over the field. I don’t think his spot was in jeopardy but if it was he probably changed that.

S Nate Salley played inspired ball, making a nice tackle for loss and leading the team with 7 tackles overall. I think he earned his roster spot.

LB James Anderson also produced 7 tackles and given his exception special teams play I’m thinking you can count him in.

DT Gary Gibson had four tackles and a forced fumble. He should be on the roster in my view as I like the way he plays as long as the injury ding he got isn’t serious.

CB CJ Wilson played well but he may get caught up in the numbers game. With Colclough and Dante Wesley playing well and having key special team roles Wilson may be the odd man out.

QB Brett Basanez started slow but finished strong with several nice throws including the TD to WR Hannon. It was a nice rebound given the sudden despair the team felft after watching Matt Moore go down. Basanez will most likely make the team if Moore cannot practice next week.

WR Sammie Parker handled the kick returns adequately. He had a couple good returns and didn’t make an bad mistakes. He should make the roster at least until Ryne Robinson or Steve Smith returns.

Overall I’m a little surprised the defense failed to record a sack and the offense didn’t exactly run the ball very well until the 4th quarter. You can’t really draw too much else from this game other than the individual performances. I don’t even try to grade linemen so I’m curious to see who gets cut and who stays.

Other Game Notes:

Did you see former Panther C Justin Hartwig fumble the snap on their first series? I’m not missing him.

WR Dwayne Jarrett continued his fine play and I expect him to start against the Chargers.

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