Commentary

Live Coverage of Cardinals-Steelers

Updated: August 14, 2009, 11:48 AM ET
By ESPN.com staff

AFC North blogger James Walker and NFC West blogger Mike Sando discussed the Cardinals-Steelers preseason game.

The transcript follows.

ESPN.com's Live Coverage of Cardinals-Steelers(08/13/2009) 
7:45
Matthew Lee:  Welcome to ESPN.com's live Cardinals-Steelers discussion with NFC West blogger Mike Sando and AFC North blogger James Walker.
7:46
Twitterespn_nfcwest:  Talking Cards, Steelers and more with James Walker during the ESPN Thursday night game. http://bit.ly/kZ6jF
7:46
ESPN's James Walker:  

James Walker here reporting live from Heinz Field. Mike Sando also will be on board soon. It should be a fun night.

7:47
Which starting quarterback will get more snaps tonight?
Ben Roethlisberger
 ( 56% )
Kurt Warner
 ( 44% )

7:47
john banks:  

ESPN.com NFL John Banks here. Looking forward to the game.

7:47
john banks:  

The player I am most interested in seeing tonight on the Steelers is weakside linebacker Lawrence Timmons. In talking with Matt Williamson and Jeremy Green of Scouts Inc. Wednesday, both said Timmons will give the Steelers' creative defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau, even more blitz packages to work with for a defense that ranked No. 1 in the league in 2008. Timmons replaces Larry Foote, who was cut in the offseason. Foote didn't blitz much last season. Here's what John Clayton and Chris Mortensen wrote about Timmons after their visits to Steelers camp recently:

Clayton: "It was hard for the Steelers to cut Larry Foote. He was the perfect Steelers inside linebacker -- smart, accountable and a good tackler. But this season expect Lawrence Timmons to emerge as a star at weakside inside linebacker. & The Steelers drafted Timmons when he was 20. Head coach Mike Tomlin loves developing 20-year-old athletes and will always encourage the scouting department to bring young players to him. With a 20-year-old, you need patience because it often takes three years for them to develop their body for NFL success. Tomlin said Timmons has added 10 pounds of muscle this offseason. He looks sensational."

Mortensen: "There are no concerns about replacing ILB Larry Foote because Lawrence Timmons, the third-year man from Florida State, should be a pretty dynamic three-down linebacker for defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. Timmons still has to learn more about being a consistent first- and second-down player, but the Steelers believe he has the same sudden acceleration as All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu."

7:48 [Comment From Matt ]
Hey James, who do you think will have the best first impression of 2009 for the Steelers?
7:50
ESPN's James Walker:  
  • If offense is on the field: Santonio Holmes. If defense, tough to guess but Lawrence Timmons.
7:51 [Comment From Mike ]
Very excited to see the Steelers play again many young players are out there to watch. Sweed, Timmons, Mendenhall, Mike Wallace, Ziggy Hood. Which Players you looking out for James?
7:51
ESPN's James Walker:  

Mike Wallace has really caught my eye. He's been a stud in practice. I want to see if he can translate it to the game.

7:52
john banks:  I'm also interested in seeing Rashard Mendenhall, the Steelers' running back who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury courtesy of Baltimore Ray Lewis. It was one vicious but legal hit from Lewis in Week 4 in 2008.
7:52
Matthew Lee:  James wrote about some things to watch for in tonight's game.
7:53
ESPN's James Walker:  Thanks for the plug, Matt. By the way, you would be amazed the amount of players that can translate practice to the games. I could probably make an all-practice teams of guys people never heard of.
7:54
Mike Sando:  How have the Steelers' backup quarterbacks looked to this point?
7:54
john banks:  

Here's what John Clayton wrote about Mendenhall after his recent trip to Steelers camp:

"Willie Parker remains the starter, but he doesn't have the body to hold up for 300 carries in a season. Mendenhall is 225 pounds and gives the Steelers the type of workhorse back who works well in the cold weather in November, December and January. He has good speed and seems able to make quick reads. "

7:54
john banks:  Hey, Mike: What can we expect from Leinart tonight?
7:54
ESPN's James Walker:  It's been a role reversal. Charlie Batch couldn't find a target in the spring but looks pretty good in training camp. Dennis Dixon was good in minicamp and is struggling now. I would say Batch has the edge at this moment.
7:55
Matthew Lee:  Not to be outdone, Mike Sando has some keys to the game for the Cardinals.
7:55
Mike Sando:  I'm expecting Matt Leinart to be the second QB in the game for Arizona. He seems relaxed this summer now that he isn't tyring to fight off Kurt Warner. It's important from a perception standpoint that he play pretty well.
7:55 [Comment From Paul ]
how many series do you think the starters will play tonight?
7:56
ESPN's James Walker:  

Probably two, Paul. More next week.

7:57
Mike Sando:  Cannot see Kurt Warner playing long tonight.
7:57 [Comment From Kyle G. ]
How long before Matt Leinart steps into the starting role or is traded?
7:57
Mike Sando:  Not going to start as long as Kurt Warner is playing well. He can sit on the bench this season and next without big cap problems.
7:58
john banks:  Ditka just said he wouldn't be surprised if Cardinals win the NFC West again.
7:58
Mike Sando:  I wouldn't be surprised either. Not like people are picking the Rams.
7:58
ESPN's James Walker:  Seeing Bryant McFadden at Heinz Field in a Cards uniform=odd.
7:58
john banks:  Ahh, so true
7:59 [Comment From Ryan ]
James, most reports have said Limas Swee has looked good so far, will he get chances with the starters tonight?
8:00
ESPN's James Walker:  

The starters are set Ryan. But Sweed should play in the trips package Pittsburgh likes to run.

8:01
Mike Sando:  How are the field conditions tonight?
8:01
ESPN's James Walker:  Quick lineup change just announced: Travis Kirschke starting at DE for Brett Keisel.
8:01
ESPN's James Walker:  

Heinz Field's natural grass looks great tonight, Mike. But give it a couple months.

8:01
Mike Sando:  That field tends to be horrible during the regular season with all the high school teams playing on it. Figured it should be better in August.
8:02
john banks:  

That field is very, very ugly in November. Can't think of one worse in the NFL.

8:02
ESPN's James Walker:  Pittsburgh and Heinz Field could host a great Super Bowl...in August.
8:02 [Comment From Zach ]
With new coaches calling the plays on both sides of the ball for Arizona, how will they differ in appearance in terms of approach from last season?
8:03
john banks:  James: But how has Sweed looked in camp?
8:03
Mike Sando:  Zach: In theory, Ken Whisenhunt would want to run the ball a little more. Bill Davis might go back to basics a little bit in some areas. But he has added some blitz packages.
8:04
ESPN's James Walker:  

He hasn't had much problems with drops, which is a good sign. He's looks much better now than he did a year ago. But I want to see him catch when the lights are on.

8:05
ESPN's James Walker:  Troy Polamalu got the biggest ovation from the crowd in pregame introductions, by the way.
8:06
ESPN's James Walker:  Mike Wallace gets the first chance to return kicks tonight. The coaches are seeing what I'm seeing. Interesting.
8:07
Mike Sando:  That field does look terrific. Very un-Heinzlike.
8:07
john banks:  

Last season, the Cardinals accomplished many firsts. They won a division title for the first time since 1975, played a home playoff game for the first time since 1947 and advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

8:08
Will the Steelers score on the opening series?
Yes -- Touchdown
 ( 35% )
Yes -- Field Goal
 ( 23% )
No
 ( 42% )

8:08
Mike Sando:  That's big Calais Campbell in there right away on the tackle, good sign for Arizona. He's replacing Antonio Smith.
8:08
john banks:  How's Medenhall looked in camp, James?
8:09 [Comment From Mark ]
Hey Sando, Don't forget Pitt plays on this field also!
8:09
Mike Sando:  Check out Chike Okeafor going low on Ben Roethlisberger.
8:09
ESPN's James Walker:  Hard to read. Sometimes he wows me with his feet and moves, sometimes he still looks like a rookie, even if it's his second season. He's been a mystery, which is why the preseason is huge.
8:11 [Comment From Jonathan Pippin ]
How much playing time do you see Chris Wells getting throughout this year?
8:12
Mike Sando:  Lots of PT for Wells if he can ever get healthy.
8:13
ESPN's James Walker:  Steelers have been working a ton on short yardage in camp and made their first attempt.
8:13
john banks:  

With Heath Miller locked up now James, what will the Steelers do with their other vets, such as Parker, etc?

8:15
ESPN's James Walker:  No cap space to do anything this season. Pittsburgh wants Ryan Clark. The rest of the group (Willie Parker, Brett Keisel, etc.) is wait and see.
8:16
ESPN's James Walker:  Wow. Huge cheer for Daniel Sepulveda's first punt, which was booming. I've never seen a crowd so happy to see their punter back. He missed the 2008 season with a torn ACL.
8:17
john banks:  

Yes, haven't seen a punt like that from the Steelers in awhile. Sepulveda could be the secret weapon this season as James wrote recently.

http://myespn.go.com/blogs/afcnorth/0-3-295/Pittsburgh-s-secret-weapon.html

8:17
Will the Cardinals score on their first drive?
Yes -- Touchdown
 ( 23% )
Yes -- Field goal
 ( 19% )
No
 ( 57% )

8:18
Matthew Lee:  Some NFL news: Michael Vick says he accepts blame for not stopping an illegal dogfighting ring that he bankrolled. He spoke in an interview with "60 Minutes" set to air Sunday.
8:19
ESPN's James Walker:  Cardinals testing Pittsburgh CB William Gay early. That's predictable. Teams want to see if he's the weak link on defense.
8:20 [Comment From Charles ]
Who has the early lead in the Cards RB competition?
8:20
Mike Sando:  Tim Hightower and no one else is close. Beanie wells is hurt.
8:22 [Comment From Brian ]
Who do you predict has a better shot of making it back to the super bowl?
8:22
Mike Sando:  Steelers have a better chance. They've proven they can win consistently.
8:23
ESPN's James Walker:  

That was the topic of our Double Coverage debate this week, Brian. Mike Sando and I both agree it is Pittsburgh. The Steelers are the more proven team.

8:23
Mike Sando:  RT Levi Brown all kinds of problems with Lamar Woodley there. I thought LT Mike Gandy had problems blocking for the draw play earlier.
8:24
john banks:  

One more series for Roethlisberger and then we see Dennis Dixon or Charlie Batch?

8:24
ESPN's James Walker:  You're right, Mike. LaMarr Woodley loves Kurt Warner. He has three sacks on Warner in five quarters. (Two in the Super Bowl).
8:25
Mike Sando:  A few more plays like that and I'll spell his name right.
8:25
Matthew Lee:  Did somebody say Double Coverage debate over the Cardinals or Steelers getting back to the Super Bowl?
8:25
john banks:  Thanks, Mr. Lee.
8:25
ESPN's James Walker:  

Mike Tomlin has been wishy washy on that this week, but Charlie Batch has done better in training camp and is listed No. 2 on the latest depth chart.

8:26
Mike Sando:  I'm seeing defensive players around the legs of these quarterbacks. Let's face it, the health of these QBs is the most important thing at stake tonight.
8:27
Mike Sando:  Great stuff from LDE Calais Campbell in this game so far for Arizona. Big, big stuff for the Cardinals if he plays well.
8:27
Mike Sando:  Make that RDE Calais Campbell.
8:27
ESPN's James Walker:  

Max Starks got beat pretty bad on that play.

8:27
Which team has the best chance at getting back to the Super Bowl?
Pittsburgh Steelers
 ( 80% )
Arizona Cardinals
 ( 20% )

8:29
ESPN's James Walker:  I have been one of the biggest detractors of Pittsburgh's offensive line. And so far I'm not impressed. Rashard Mendenhall is getting hit at or behind the line more often than not.
8:30 [Comment From kevin buswell ]
Is it too early to say the Steeler O-Line is going to be "suspect" again this year?
8:30
john banks:  

Sweed displayed great hands there. Who has the edge there, James? Wallace has looked good in camp, according to all reports.

8:30
Mike Sando:  That seems like a safe assumption, Kevin, but I wouldn't base it only on this game.
8:32
ESPN's James Walker:  Limas Sweed knows the offense better, and Pittsburgh needs a big receiver in the slot for plays like the one Sweed just made. He's the favorite and I think he holds onto the job. Mike Wallace will return kicks and contribute more in sub packages.
8:34
Mike Sando:  Torrential rains here in the Northwest -- big shock -- and for the first time since I got DirecTV a couple years ago, my picture has actually been compromised. Cannot see the game!
8:36
ESPN's James Walker:  Daniel Sepulveda is my sleeper Steelers MVP pick for this season. Just kidding...I think.
8:38
Mike Sando:  Rollicking thunder and lightning here, but I now have my picture back with 30 seconds left in the first quarter.
8:38
Mike Sando:  Look at those Steelers defenders bouncing off Larry Fitzgerald. Is there a better receiver in the league right now?
8:39 [Comment From saleem ]
who is the Best DB that the Steelers have that can stick Larry Fitzgerald
8:39
Mike Sando:  The Cardinals like that Steve Breaston go route up the middle. They came very close to completing it at Washington last season, but the timing was off a little bit. It was just a little bit off right there as well. Breaston's speed is outstanding.
8:40
Mike Sando:  The Steelers aren't going to man up on Fitzgerald.
8:40
ESPN's James Walker:  Kurt Warner has thrown in William Gay's direction four times in the first quarter and nearly beat him deep. I think we're seeing the beginning of a trend this season. Saleem, Ike Taylor is the best Pittsburgh has but as Sando pointed out, you're not going to see a lot of one-on-one man with Fitz.
8:42
ESPN's James Walker:  Word just passed through that Brett Keisel was held out at the last minute tonight to rest his calf.
8:43
Mike Sando:  Check out that 3WR, 1TE formation with Hightower running for the first down on third-and-2. By my count Cards ran it only three times on third-and-2 last season and did not convert one time.
8:43
Matthew Lee:  Michael Vick has signed a two-year deal with the Eagles, his agent Joel Segal confirmed to ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen.
8:45 [Comment From Daniel ]
Who do you think will be Roethlisberger's favorite target this season: his longtime favorite Hines Ward or up and coming star Santonio Holmes?
8:46
ESPN's James Walker:  

Ben Roethlisberger isn't that type of quarterback to pick a favorite. It's really who's open and who he trusts. I think Santonio Holmes this year will have the bigger stats, but on third downs, when a big catch needs to be made, the trust is there with Hines Ward.

8:47 [Comment From Raymond ]
Santonio by far. Santoni is the deep threat and after his clutch perormance in the Super Bowl Roethlisberger can depend on him when it counts.
8:47
ESPN's James Walker:  Speaking of Ben Roethlisberger, his night may be done. Charlie Batch is taking snaps under center. Dennis Dixon also is warning up.
8:49
Is Michael Vick a good fit in Philadelphia?
Absolutely
 ( 36% )
No way
 ( 27% )
Not sure
 ( 36% )

8:50 [Comment From Alex ]
Are the Steelers thinking of possibly using Dennis Dixon in a Wildcat type set? He's pretty quick.
8:51
Mike Sando:  Do not blame Leinart for that failed third-down conversion. Mike Gandy could not stop James Harrison's inside rush. Leinart did miss Boldin on first down, a bad start for him.
8:51 [Comment From Danny ]
Yeah they should use Dennis Dixon a bit more often to mix up the offense.
8:52
ESPN's James Walker:  

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians says he's not a fan of the Wildcat. I haven't seen them work on it at all in practice.

8:52 [Comment From Mack ]
Finally Vick gets a chance. Do you think it is a good fit?
8:52
ESPN's James Walker:  Unless they're hiding it until the regular season...
8:53
Mike Sando:  I don't know why the Eagles would need Michael Vick unless they planned to work him into a few packages. Not like he's going to play QB for them.
8:53
ESPN's James Walker:  I'm not sure how I feel about Philly. Tough crowd, so he better still be able to play or he's going to hear it.
8:54
Mike Sando:  But if the Eagles put him out there in the preseason and he plays well, maybe he has some value?
8:54
ESPN's James Walker:  

Remember what I said earlier about players carrying over their play from practice? Limas Sweed is doing that right now. Plus 45 yards on the catch.

8:55 [Comment From Diesel ]
Do you think the Vick signing could a motivator for McNabb? They've come close but haven't been able to get over the hump. Maybe adding Vick gives McNabb a little extra something to prove to the organization?
8:55
Mike Sando:  Michael Adams is not tall enough to defend that play.
8:56
ESPN's James Walker:  Ben Roethlisberger's final line on the day is 4 of 6 for 33 yards.
8:56
Mike Sando:  I do not think Donovan McNabb should feel threatened. When has Vick shown he can run an offense like the Eagles' offense? Never. The Falcons structured their offense around Vick. I don't see Vick fitting somewhere as a QB without having the offense changed for him.
8:58
ESPN's James Walker:  Pittsburgh special teams looks good in this debut. Kicker Jeff Reed and punter Daniel Sepulveda are standouts so far. I'm waiting to see a couple returns.
9:00 [Comment From Ted ]
What can you really tell from a preseason game? Do you guys watch preseason games differently from a real game? What specifically do you look for?
9:00 [Comment From mark ]
50 yard FG at Heinz ... it must be August!
9:01
Mike Sando:  I watch individuals during the preseason. I think it's possible to look at offensive tackles to see how they hold up one-on-one. Same with defensive linemen. And I watch to see if anyone stands out on special teams.
9:01
Mike Sando:  Calais Campbell of the Cardinals is showing me something tonight. Good game for him. They need him to play well after losing Antonio Smith.
9:02
Twitterespn_nfceast:  Vick signs 2-year deal with Eagles - http://tinyurl.com/qzr2tt
9:02 [Comment From Pete ]
Whisenhunt cannot be happy with these penalties.
9:02
ESPN's James Walker:  

I agree, individual performances are key. For instance, Limas Sweed is showing me he's ready to bounce back from a tough rookie season. Overall scheme is tough, because coaches don't show much.

9:03
ESPN's James Walker:  The entire first-team defense is out for Pittsburgh. It gave up some yards to Arizona but no points.
9:06
Mike Sando:  Massive Herman Johnson playing right tackle for the Cardinals. . Jason Wright just ran behind him. Cards would like Johnson to show he has the quickness to play tackle, not just guard.
9:08
ESPN's James Walker:  Rookie first-round pick Evenader "Ziggy" Hood is in at LDE. He's shown a good motor in practice. First game action for him.
9:09
Will the Cardinals finish this drive with a score?
Yes -- Field Goal
 ( 31% )
Yes -- Touchdown
 ( 24% )
No
 ( 45% )

9:09
ESPN's James Walker:  Steelers are playing a lot of zone on this drive. Very little blitzing.
9:10
Twitterespn_nfcwest:  RT @MatthewHass008 Welcome Univ Texas Alumn DT Corey Redding to Twittah @CRedd94
9:11
Mike Sando:  Matt Leinart has gotten into a little more of a rhythm against the Steelers' backups. Herman Johnson showing good things at right tackle for Arizona. Pushed his man 10 yards downfield on one running play.
9:12 [Comment From Patrick ]
I like Stephens-Howlings quickness. he could have a role in the Cards offense.
9:14
Mike Sando:  I don't see him having a role in the Arizona offense this year.
9:14
ESPN's James Walker:  

Steelers work on the goal-line drill often in training camp with their starters and backups. It paid off on that play as they weren't fooled by play-action.

9:16
ESPN's James Walker:  Charlie Batch done already? Dennis Dixon gets to run last drive of the first half.
9:16
ESPN's James Walker:  

Charlie Batch's final line was 1 of 2 for 45 yards. It was his first action since breaking his collarbone last year in the preseason.

9:17 [Comment From Jay ]
Not a good start for Dixon.
9:19
ESPN's James Walker:  It's early, but safe to say Charlie Batch has the early lead for the No. 2 QB position.
9:20
Mike Sando:  Strange to see Sean Morey getting so many reps at receivers. He's a special-teams guy and a very good one. Not a factor in the WR rotation for Arizona.
9:21
Mike Sando:  I guess Herman Johnson moves well enough to play tackle -- and to make tackles.
9:22
ESPN's James Walker:  

Crowd booing the refs as though it's the regular season.

9:23
ESPN's James Walker:  Relax, Steeler Nation has the next four or five months to boo the refs.
9:23 [Comment From charles ]
what do you think of the acf north this year willl the steelers dominate again ?
9:24
ESPN's James Walker:  Steelers are the favorite. I like what I see from Cincinnati, but I'm not sure the Bengals are physical enough to challenge Baltimore or the Steelers. The Browns are the least impressive team I've seen thus far.
9:25
ESPN's James Walker:  In terms of the first half, I really like what I saw from Pittsburgh's special teams. The punting was very strong, Jeff Reed made a 50-yard field goal and the coverage team did its job in its only attempt.
9:25 [Comment From Alex ]
how well do you think carson palmer and chad ochocinco will do this year
9:27
ESPN's James Walker:  

Health permitting, they will both have great seasons. Cincinnati's offensive line is shaky so it's questionable whether Palmer can last 16 games.

9:27
Matthew Lee:  Michael Vick signed with the Eagles. ESPN's Merril Hoge breaks down what it means for the organization.
9:28 [Comment From Roman ]
Have any of the Cards rookies impressed you this first half?
9:29
Mike Sando:  Herman Johnson has impressed me playing right tackle. He has dominated at times in the run game and held up better than expected in protection. He is huge. A good start for him.
9:29 [Comment From jim ]
overall, do you believe the pittsburgh offensive line will be improved from last year?
9:30
ESPN's James Walker:  

Part of me says it can't play any worse. Part of me says the ceiling isn't very high for this group. If you're asking me in August, I'd say the offensive line takes small steps forward this year.

9:31
Twitterespn_nfcwest:  Seahawks tackle Jones says he's ready to go - http://tinyurl.com/oxnmka
9:32
ESPN's James Walker:  If I were to pick two standouts from the first half, I would say WR Limas Sweed and P Daniel Sepulveda. Both showed me something in limited time tonight.
9:34
ESPN's James Walker:  No major injuries from either side in the first half. And the starters are out for both teams. Good sign for the two reigning conference champions.
9:34
Mike Sando:  I would single out Calais Campbell and Herman Johnson as two Cardinals players looking good to this point.
9:35
ESPN's James Walker:  Dennis Dixon warming up before the third quarter. He's going to get a lot of work tonight.
9:38
ESPN's James Walker:  The no-wedge rule doesn't look that different on the surface. What do you think, Mike?
9:39
Mike Sando:  Ken Whisenhunt promised Brian St. Pierre a chance to compete for the No. 2 job because he didn't want to lose St. Pierre to Kansas City.
9:39
Mike Sando:  I don't think it was a slap at Leinart.
9:40
Expand
9:40
Matthew Lee:  Jason Bridge/US Presswire
9:41
ESPN's James Walker:  

Rookie Joe Burnett fumbles punt attempt. Not a good sign. That's a quick way not to win the job.

9:41
Twitterespn_nfceast:  Vick to the Eagles: Good move or bad? - http://tinyurl.com/obf539
9:42 [Comment From Rob (Allentown) ]
I also thought Hightower looked strong tonight. He ran hard, and the line was certainly opening some holes for him.
9:43
Mike Sando:  Yes, add Tim Hightower to that list with Calais Campbell and Herman Johnson. Good call.
9:43 [Comment From alvaden ]
Whats your overall review of the Cards defensive line in the first half, Mike? I think getting pressure will be an issue so far.
9:43
Mike Sando:  Hightower certainly looked better than Beanie Wells. Wells needs to get on the field.
9:44
Mike Sando:  The DL isn't asked to get pressure in the 3-4 scheme, traditionally. But Calais Campbell got push. You know Dockett can get push. I think the OLB situation is where they need more pressure.
9:44
ESPN's James Walker:  

I live in Ohio, Mike. I seen that problem with Wells all-too-often.

9:44
Mike Sando:  But he missed only three games in college, right? That's what they say.
9:45
ESPN's James Walker:  

I don't know the exact number over the years. But every other week it seemed to be questions of whether he would suit up. He missed a lot of practice time for sure.

9:45
Mike Sando:  I was at Cards practice when he signed and reported. But he lasted only one practice. I thought he would be back sooner.
9:46
Expand
9:46
Matthew Lee:  Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell brings down Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall in the first half. (Jason Bridge/US Presswire)
9:46
ESPN's James Walker:  First NFL catch for Mike Wallace. He told me last week he's really working on his routes and looked good there.
9:47 [Comment From Dustin ]
What record do you think it will take to win the NFC west this year,?(I think 11+)
9:47
Mike Sando:  Ten wins should win the NFC West this year, in my opinion.
9:48 [Comment From Jacksor ]
Wow, Dixon made that throw look easy. If he can just relax a little ... think he wants to win the job so bad, he is trying for a "splash" play every time he throws.
9:48 [Comment From Cole ]
Do you think SF is gonna be a significant force in the division
9:48
Mike Sando:  He underthrew the deep ball.
9:49
Mike Sando:  I think the 49ers will be in the mix, but I question whether they have the QB to win the division.
9:49
ESPN's James Walker:  Dennis Dixon will show flashes, but at quarterback you need to be consistent. Doing things right 50 percent of the time won't cut it. Whenever he ups his consistency Dixon will have a chance to contribute.
9:50
How many wins will it take to win the NFC West this season?
10-6
 ( 42% )
9-7
 ( 22% )
11-5
 ( 19% )
12-4
 ( 7% )
8-8
 ( 10% )

9:50
Mike Sando:  Nice play by Kenny Iwebema of the Caridnals. He had a big tumor removed from his chest this offseason.
9:50 [Comment From Jay ]
James, do you think the Steelers will continue the streak of SB winners opening at home with a victory?
9:51
Twitterespn_afceast:  Before we hit Vick overload, here's Brady's night - http://tinyurl.com/qdpkjs
9:51
ESPN's James Walker:  The Titans are a tough matchup for Pittsburgh, as everyone saw last season. Playing at home helps so the Steelers will be expected to win that game.
9:52 [Comment From Robert Sowers ]
Preseason or not, the Steelers do not look good at all.
9:52
ESPN's James Walker:  I would just monitor individual performances at this point, Robert. There are several Steelers who have stood out.
9:53
Mike Sando:  Kenny Iwebema just took the Steelers' right tackle and shot-put him across the field. WOW.
9:54
ESPN's James Walker:  Piotr Czech hooked a 36-yard field goal for Pittsburgh. This kicker couldn't miss when I visited to training camp. Maybe it was nerves.
9:55 [Comment From Mike ]
Limas had a good offseason but do you think Wallace has a chance of getting time as the 3rd man?
9:56
ESPN's James Walker:  Both are going to push each other for the position, but Sweed has the edge because he knows the system better. Both are going to contribute, though, if they keep playing at this clip.
9:57 [Comment From Marissa ]
If Sweed wants to be the 3rd man he needs to work on not missing the easy plays.
9:58
ESPN's James Walker:  

Sometimes the routine are the hardest plays to make for young receivers, Marissa. Good observation. Even Santonio Holmes still leaves some routine plays on the field.

9:59 [Comment From Strader ]
Are the steelers going to use a fullback more this year or mostly two tight end sets?
10:00
ESPN's James Walker:  A lot of people are interested in backup tackle Tony Hills. He's No. 66 and viewed more as a project as this point.
10:00 [Comment From milldrew ]
why dont the cards use more play action passes if they are so succesful at them?
10:00
ESPN's James Walker:  Bruce Arias likes his two tight-end sets more Strader.
10:01
Mike Sando:  You have to run the ball to use play-action. They did that in the playoffs. All they have to do is show they're willing to run it more.
10:02
ESPN's James Walker:  Dennis Dixon needs to work on his deep ball. Two very underthrown so far.
10:02 [Comment From CBell ]
Is there really a competition for Arizona's 2nd QB? St. Pierre who?
10:03
Mike Sando:  Brian St. Pierre had a 100-plus rating in the preseason last year and he has looked good in camp. But Matt Leinart is going to be the No. 2 quarterback in Arizona, I think. Mostly Whisenhunt wanted to keep St. Pierre in Arizona, so he promised him a chance to compete.
10:04
ESPN's James Walker:  Lawrence Timmons and Rashard Mendenhall are both having a playful chat on the sidelines. So is James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.
10:05
Mike Sando:  Too bad Todd Haley isn't on the Cardinals' sideline tonight. He could be going jaw-to-jaw with someone right about now, challenging them to do better.
10:05 [Comment From trmasonic ]
Sepulveda will be a big difference for the Steelers this year in terms of field position and will help their defense get even better.
10:06
ESPN's James Walker:  Does Pittsburgh defense really need field-position help?
10:06
Mike Sando:  St. Pierre finds tight end Dominique Byrd over the middle for Arizona as right tackle Herman Johnson does it again, holding up in pass-pro against a linebacker.
10:08
Mike Sando:  Jerheme Urban is going to be the fourth receiver in Arizona this year no matter what he does tonight. But did you see him light up #97 with that de-cleater block? They love Urban in Arizona.
10:08
ESPN's James Walker:  Ken Whisenhunt on the defense: "We got off the field. That's something we didn't do last year." Pretty telling, Mike?
10:09
Mike Sando:  I wonder what Clancy Pendergast would think hearing that. It's one preseason game, coach!
10:10
ESPN's James Walker:  Steelers LT Max Starks: "We still have some things to work on. We need to sure up some protection things." It's early, but I'm guessing that's not what Steeler Nation wants to hear again this season.
10:10
Mike Sando:  I'm thinking the Cardinals do not want 5-foot-7, 180-pound LaRod Stephens-Howling as the last line of defense in blitz pickup. Look out, Brian St. Pierre.
10:11 [Comment From jay ]
Would Brian St. Pierre be a good back up somewhere in the NFL?
10:11
Twitterespn_afceast:  Bills QB Edwards on Vick: 'We need him back' - http://tinyurl.com/p9hchj
10:12
Mike Sando:  I think St. Pierre is a good fit in Arizona because he knows the system, Warner will not play forever and Leinart figures to be the guy eventually. But St. Pierre will likely leave as a free agent after this season if he doesn't have a chance to move up.
10:14
Will the Steelers capitalize on this turnover?
Yes -- With a TD
 ( 63% )
Yes -- With a FG
 ( 17% )
No
 ( 20% )

10:15
ESPN's James Walker:  

Rookie Joe Burnett makes up for his fumble return. Pittsburgh really has good depth in the secondary this year. Starting cornerbacks Ike Taylor and William Gay were the first to celebrate with the rookie.

10:16
ESPN's James Walker:  

Dennis Dixon is still playing in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh really wants to find out what this young QB can do this summer.

10:16
Mike Sando:  I do not know if Brian St. Piere was fully to blame for that interception, but no one will be writing about how he put the pressure on Matt Leinart tonight. Wondering if the Cards' offensive linemen are getting tired, too.
10:17
ESPN's James Walker:  I'm not sure if Steelers rookie free agent Isaac Redman will make the team. But he is pretty good in goal-line situations in practices that I've seen and now in the game.
10:18 [Comment From Brad ]
Is Redman going to make the team over Summers?
10:19
ESPN's James Walker:  I doubt it. When you spend a draft pick on Frank Summer it makes it hard for a rookie free agent to take that roster spot.
10:20
Matthew Lee:  Chris Mortensen discusses why the Eagles signed Michael Vick.
10:22
ESPN's James Walker:  Ziggy getting jiggy? Evander Hood gets first NFL sack with an impressive move.
10:22 [Comment From Jay ]
ZIGGY!
10:24
ESPN's James Walker:  It's been a good night for Pittsburgh's rookies. Ziggy Hood gets a sack. Joe Burnett gets a pick and returns punts. Mike Wallace makes some nice catches. Not a bad debut for an under-the-radar draft class.
10:24 [Comment From Mike ]
Will Hightower and O-line be able to string together a decent rushing season for the Cards?
10:25
Mike Sando:  Nice stat about Arizona being 13-0 under Whisenhunt when they have fewer turnovers than their opponents, and 1-13 when they have more turnovers than their opponents. No wonder coaches have stressed ball security so strongly, particularly to the formerly freewheeling Warner.
10:26 [Comment From Fred ]
I saw a lot of good things from the young guys. I'm mostly happy to see Limas make a few tough grabs.
10:26
Mike Sando:  The running game for Arizona is a matter of this: Does this team have the patience and will to run the ball enough? I think they've got a better chance with Ken Whisenhunt calling plays.
10:27
ESPN's James Walker:  

Correct, Fred. This is a big preseason for Limas Sweed. He has the ability and he's been showing it all offseason. But doing it in games should give him the confidence he needs.

10:30
Which team will win the AFC North this season?
Cleveland Browns
 ( 2% )
Pittsburgh Steelers
 ( 83% )
Cincinnati Bengals
 ( 5% )
Baltimore Ravens
 ( 10% )

10:31
ESPN's James Walker:  WR Shaun McDonald is making a lot of plays on this drive, but it's a little unfair. He is a seven-year vet playing against mostly inexperienced players who may not make the Cardinals' roster.
10:31 [Comment From Jay ]
As much as the fans complain about preseason games, it's cool to see the starters having a fun time on the sidelines in the second half.
10:32 [Comment From charles ]
How strong do you think the Ravens will be without Rex Ryan coaching the defense?
10:33
ESPN's James Walker:  The Ravens won't finish in the top 2 like last year, but they will still be up there. Players matter and Baltimore has a lot of them.
10:34 [Comment From tom ]
Can the Niners be a playoff team?
10:34
Mike Sando:  I've questioned the 49ers' playoff-readiness based on their QB situation. As long as Warner and Hasselbeck are healthy, I think it's tougher for SF.
10:35
ESPN's James Walker:  

Isaac Redman with two preseason scores. It has to be the biggest highlight of his career. Could he be a surprise?

10:35
Are the 49ers a playoff team this season?
Absolutely
 ( 17% )
No way
 ( 83% )

10:36 [Comment From danny g. ]
I think he could be a suprise and find his way onto the roster.
10:37
ESPN's James Walker:  By the way Frank "The Tank" Summers is playing a lot of fullback in the second half. He didn't play fullback much in training camp.
10:39
ESPN's James Walker:  St. Pierre's final line was 4 of 10, 42 yards and one interception.
10:39
Mike Sando:  That wasn't what he needed.
10:39
ESPN's James Walker:  Tyler Palko gets a nice cheer from the crowd. Palko was a star QB at Pitt.
10:40
Mike Sando:  Naming Leinart the No. 2 guy is easier for everyone. Leinart has the experience and the pedigree. St. Pierre could not afford to give the Cardinals any reason to name Leinart the second guy.
10:40
Mike Sando:  Easier for everyone but St. Pierre, that is.
10:40
ESPN's James Walker:  The University of Pitt, by the way. He was there at the same time Joe Flacco was and kept Flacco off the field. So Flacco eventually transferred to Delaware and had a good college career.
10:41
Twitterespn_nfcwest:  Observations from Cardinals' exhibition opener - http://tinyurl.com/oqovm4
10:41
Mike Sando:  I went ahead and filed some observations. Figured I could add to it if anything jumped out in the last five minutes.
10:43 [Comment From JohnnyWonder ]
Well, maybe Palko should be in the No. 2 QB competition.
10:43
Mike Sando:  Very cool to see Larry Fitzgerald so excited for his teammates, especially Onrea Jones. Fitzgerald's leadership and the example he has set this offseason have really impressed me.
10:45
ESPN's James Walker:  Looking ahead Pittsburgh's first four games: Tennessee, @Chicago, @Cincinnati, San Diego. No cakewalk in the first month for a team with the No. 29-rated schedule.
10:45 [Comment From Carlos ]
James, what are the Steelers going to do at RG?
10:46
ESPN's James Walker:  Trai Essex is who's working there right now. Pittsburgh is still holding out hope that Darnell Stapleton can come back from knee surgery. Essex is a converted tackle who can play both positions.
10:48
Matthew Lee:  ESPN's Sal Paolantonio discusses how fans in Philadelphia are reacting to the Eagles' signing of Michael Vick.
10:50
ESPN's James Walker:  Bruce Davis makes a play. The Steelers need help and depth at linebacker this season so someone like Davis may have to step up.
10:50
Mike Sando:  Both coaches and all players hoping that interception means we avert overtime. Biggest priority now is staying healthy.
10:51
ESPN's James Walker:  

You are correct, Mike. No serious injuries thus far.

10:51
Twitterespn_nfceast:  Scouts Inc. weighs in on Vick signing - http://tinyurl.com/pmqalr
10:52 [Comment From EricW ]
Redman looks great, very impressive running.
10:53
ESPN's James Walker:  Steelers QB Dennis Dixon earned a ton of playing time tonight. The Steelers will have a lot of film to evaluate him and what he can do for the team moving forward.
10:54
Mike Sando:  Wait, Ken Whisenhunt wants overtime? Calling timeouts late? Better hope no one gets hurt.
10:55 [Comment From Fred ]
that timeout is a mistake
10:55
Mike Sando:  Hey, James, did you hear the Eagles signed Michael Vick?
10:56
Twitterespn_nfcnblog:  Where did he say that? RT @BVluke41 @espn_nfcnblog Did you see that Mike Sando said your looking smart for choosing Harvin over Wells?
10:57
Matthew Lee:  The Eagles signed Michael Vick?
10:57
Mike Sando:  I think the Eagles did sign Michael Vick.
10:58
Mike Sando:  And, in a related move, Michael Vick signed with the Eagles.
10:58
Mike Sando:  I did see Beanie Wells on the sideline in uniform, pretty sure.
10:59
ESPN's James Walker:  

Did you know the Eagles play the Falcons this season in Atlanta Dec. 6? Interesting.

11:01
ESPN's James Walker:  

Steelers reserves are getting some pressure late.

11:01
Mike Sando:  I'm thinking we might staff that Dec. 6 game.
11:01
ESPN's James Walker:  Maybe.
11:01
Mike Sando:  49ers are the only NFC West team on the Eagles' schedule this season.
11:02
ESPN's James Walker:  The NFC East played the AFC North last year. So no-go this season.
11:02
Mike Sando:  Good thing we can review this play with 18 seconds left in a preseason game featuring a 10-point differential.
11:02 [Comment From Jay ]
And here we have a review. In a preseason game. Great times.
11:03
Mike Sando:  I am with you all the way, Jay.
11:03
ESPN's James Walker:  One ref had a huge smile on his face at the booth. He's not taking it all that serious.
11:04
Mike Sando:  Thirteen men on the field. Arizona should have tried that on the Steelers' last drive in the Super Bowl.
11:06
ESPN's James Walker:  Thanks everyone for participating. Check back to the AFC North blog later tonight for analysis and reaction from the Steelers locker room.
11:06
Mike Sando:  But go to the NFC West blog first. Thanks!
11:07
Matthew Lee:  Thanks everybody.
11:07