This turkey watched the Hall of Fame Game last night between the Steelers and the Vikings just to get a glimpse of former Nittany Lions Jesse James and Miles Dieffenbach in action as new Steelers.
Dieffenbach is listed second on the depth chart at guard. He seemed to do a good job lined up at right guard, not getting beaten the times I could watch the line, which isn’t often because the cameras would rather focus on so-called skill positions (as if it doesn’t require skill to be an interior lineman).
Jesse, of course, was there front and center for the cameras. He is listed as #3 tight end behind Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth. That is a lofty position on the depth chart for a rookie. The Steelers hope to use him as a receiver like Miller, while using Spaeth as a premier blocking tight end. They also like to use three tight-end sets in goal-line situations.
Jesse James had an opportunity to solidify his role on Sunday night, but he blew it for all the cameras to see. The first big screw-up gave me flashbacks of ol’ #18 (now 81) when he played for Penn State. He was wide open on the three yard-line or so when backup QB Landry Jones sailed one right at his numbers, an easy TD. Alas, James looked over his shoulder at the wrong time and muffed the catch. Where have I seen that before?
Then, in the third quarter, after an interception gave the Steelers their best field position of the second half, Jones called James’ number again. He bobbled the ball right into the eager hands of Minnesota Linebacker Brian Peters.
In one other much replayed camera shot, place kicker Shaun Suisham incurred a season-ending injury to his ACL when he attempted to make a tackle on a kickoff returner. Our own Jesse James was out ahead of the play, and had he been able to put on a burst of speed, he might have helped prevent the catastrophe (the Steelers don’t have another place kicker, and Suisham was a damn good one).
And that was what Jesse James showed a gigantic TV audience on his first outing in the black and gold.
He needs to step it up in the next two pre-season games to avoid the terrible swift sword of the cut-down days soon to come.