The Steelers wrapped up their preseason at 3-1 with another victory at Heinz Field last night, this time against the Carolina Panthers.
It was a series of ups and downs for the black and gold as another draft pick suffered a serious knee injury. Linebacker and third round pick Sean Spence, hyperextended his knee with just a couple of minutes left in the third quarter and was carried off the field. Spence endured multiple torn ligaments in his left knee and is expected to miss the entire season. Veteran free-agent Brandon Johnson, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals, will replace Spence while he recovers.
On the upside, Casey Hampton returned to the field after an ACL surgery in January. Hampton wasted no time, getting a block off Mike Pollak and making a tackle.
Rookie running back-receiver-returner and former Florida Gator Chris Rainey proved that he is in fact, a game changer, scoring two punt returns in one quarter, despite them being brought back due to penalties. Some say that Rainey could be a triple-threat for the Steelers. This summer Rainey impressed with two touchdowns, a 57-yard reception in the first game and a 41-yard run in the third.
Veteran QB Charlie Batch completed his final nine passes as a Pittsburgh Steeler, playing the entire first half. Batch completed an impressive 11 of 14 passes for a total of 102 yards. He also had one touchdown toss and led the Steelers to a 7-0 opening drive that resulted with Emmanuel Sanders in the end zone for a 37-yard TD.
So what’s next for the black and gold as the first regular season game approaches? Some say the odds are against the team as they kickoff the season facing the Broncos in Game 1. We can’t help but wonder if there are still some unfinished simmering emotions on Pittsburgh’s end, as they surely cannot deny the memory of their final encounter with Denver last season, when they were knocked out of the playoffs.
But perhaps that is just the right ammunition the Steelers need to return with a vengeance and overthrow the Broncos on their own turf on Sept. 9. Stay tuned!
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