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NFL: Big Ben’s Tough Love for Washington, Ateman Rising in Oakland



As we near the end of the NFL preseason, and welcome the real games that actually count for something, there are several Pokes still in the thick of position battles.

Let’s catch up with the goings of several former Cowboys as they prepare for the final week of the preseason.

Big Ben has some tough love for James Washington

The Steelers’ second-round pick has received mostly rave reviews from coaches, teammates and media alike. He’s impressed with some Randy Moss-esque displays both on the practice field and during preseason games.

But the one person whose trust Washington has to earn if he wants to see not only the field, but the football, is Ben Roethlisberger. And he’s not quite ready to anoint Washington the president of Pittsburgh.

Roethlisberger spoke with last week about an exchange between the two which highlighted some of what the rookie receiver still has to learn.

“There was a play today where he made a rookie mistake again,” said Roethlisberger. “I told him to get out (of the huddle), I don’t want him back in for right now. Those are part of the learning curve. It’s nothing against him personally. (Tuesday) was one that I really feel like he shouldn’t have made. I don’t think he’ll make it again because we had a good talk about it after.

“The thing that made me the most frustrated is we literally just talked about this particular defense, what the Titans do and what we want that receiver position to do. ‘Cover 2,’ get outside, we’re going to try to hit you just past the corner before the safety gets there.”

Blowing by his cover man and waiting for the football in the end zone may have worked on a regular basis in the Big 12, but Roethlisberger says it won’t work on Sundays.

“Well, he beat the corner because the corner was sitting in ‘Cover 2.’,” said Roethlisberger. “He thought he beat him, so he’s just running as fast as he can down the field. I threw it into that little area between the corner and the safety and he wasn’t looking when I threw it. I said, ‘What’s disappointing to me is we just went over this on film.’ He’s like, ‘I thought I beat him so I was just trying to run deep.’ I said, ‘That’s fine, two things are going to happen. The ball’s either going to get intercepted or you’re going to die because the safety is going to kill you.’ Hopefully, he learned from it and won’t make the mistake again. If he doesn’t, then we know he learned. If he keeps making the same mistake, then we start to have issues.”

Fortunately, Washington has a couple of weeks to continue to build a chemistry with his new QB1. The two are even apparently been locker buddies now.

Vincent Taylor Back on the Block

During the Dolphins’ preseason game against Baltimore, the former OSU defensive tackle blocked a 50-yard field goal attempt by Justin Tucker. This is the second time Taylor has blocked Tucker after he swatted away a 46-yard attempt by the two-time Pro Bowler as a rookie.

“I had two last year,” Taylor said according to Dolphins Wire. “I had one against (Justin) Tucker last year and to go out there and get it again. That’s one of my goals, to block the kick. Every chance to get, I just go out there and make it happen. (Davon) Godchaux gave me a good push so shout-out to him.”

With the departure of Ndamukong Suh to the Rams, Taylor is making the most of his chances and has solidified himself in the two-deep along Miami’s young defensive line.

“I think I improved a lot,” Taylor said after the game. “I’m not thinking as much as I was last year. I’m just going out there and playing, not thinking as much.”

He showed as much with two total tackles and a 0.5 sack against theavens. Miami plays its final preseason game on Thursday at 6 p.m. Central time against the Atlanta Falcons R.

Marcell Ateman does Marcell Things

Ateman hasn’t gotten a ton of pub this preseason but the seventh-round pick has made plenty of plays for the Raiders both in practice and on the field. Making his way up a crowed receiver depth chart hasn’t been easy but his playmaking ability has shown through.

On Saturday, Ateman grabbed a team-high four catches for 34 yards against the Packers including this familiar sight from the strong-handed receiver.

Ateman has had a strong enough preseason in the minds of many to secure a spot on Oakland’s 53-man roster.

The 6-foot-4, 216-pound Ateman has been better than advertised, and as the rookie said about his slow 40 time, it’s not like you’re going against the cornerback in a foot race. The corner can only go as fast as Ateman, and then has to deal with the former basketball player boxing him out. [The Athletic]

But now that the Raiders have traded wide receiver Ryan Switzer to the Steelers and with Griff Whalen heading to the injured reserve list, it appears Ateman should be in a good position to make the team.

Blake Jarwin is TE2 in Dallas

It appears that the former walk-on at OSU has earned a spot in the Cowboys’ two-deep at tight end. Geoff Swaim is the starter with Jarwin right behind him, beating out the likes of Dalton Schultz, Rico Gathers and others.

Last week, the turnover-laden Cowboys fell 27-3 to the Arizona Cardinals and unfortunately Jarwin contributed to the mess, fumbling it for one of Dallas’ eight giveaways on the night.

Chris Lacy in the mix for final WR Spot in Detroit

The former OSU wideout is trying to stick on his first NFL team in two tries. After being released by the New England Patriots, Lacy has seen sparing usage with the Lions.

According to Lions Wire, he is one of a handful of guys vying for the fifth wide receiver spot before Saturday’s roster cuts. His size, speed and hands have apparently impressed but not enough to get him on the field for more than two catches and 13 total yards three weeks into the preseason.

He did haul in one catch last week for 9 yards and a third-down conversion that led to Detroit’s game-winning score.

Lundblade Grades well

Bengals’ third-string center Brad Lundblade saw time at left guard, spelling injured reserve Christian Westerman. And he graded out pretty well.

Lundblade may still be facing an uphill battle to stick in Cincy but he’s put enough tape out there that might earn him an opportunity elsewhere if the Bengals don’t keep three centers after Saturday.

More from PFB

Rudolph, Dobbs will share reps in preseason finale
James Washington left game with injury (no updates as of yet)
Chris Carson bounces back in Minnesota
Lenzy Pipkins traded to the Colts


E-Man showing out.

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