Mehno: August games don’t mean a thing

PITTSBURGH – NFL preseason games don’t mean a thing, good or bad.

This is good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have been ragged and inefficient while losing their first two games.

Special teams were awful in the opener. They changed things around in Monday night’s second game at Washington.

The offensive line was terrible, rookie running back Le’Veon Bell lasted just four plays before he was injured, and there were enough penalties for three games.

In other words, there’s still plenty to work on in the final two games.

But remember these aren’t really games. They’re just dressed-up scrimmages, with TV coverage. The only resemblance to a regular season game is the price of tickets.

Nobody game plans or scouts. The idea is to see personnel in a somewhat competitive environment.

A nice catch in the fourth quarter is a positive development, but it has to be tempered with the reality than the cornerback who covered might be taking orders at Starbucks in the few weeks.

The basics stay the same, though. Blocking and tackling would be big on that list, and the Steelers’ revamped line seemed to have trouble with blocking.

That has to be a concern, since the ability to protect Ben Roethlisberger will probably have a profound effect on what happens when the real games start.

The St. Vincent portion of training camp has ended. The Steelers packed everything up and moved back to the South Side headquarters.

From what we’ve seen in the two games, it looks like they should just be starting with the basics.

But remember: preseason games don’t mean a thing.

Another contribution

Kris Johnson came up to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday and promptly gave them six innings of relief they desperately needed.

Johnson wound up losing his major league debut, but he made a solid first impression. That’s been a theme with the team this year.

Pitching is so critical to success, yet the Pirates have had a number of obscure pitchers step in and help greatly.

Vin Mazzaro? Even the Pirates dropped him from the 40-man roster for a time during the off-season. Jeanmar Gomez has already given them more than they ever had a right to expect.

Brandon Cumpton, regarded as a non-prospect, has been up a couple of times and filled in capably.

Then there was Johnson, who will turn 29 in October. A former prime draft pick of the Boston Red Sox, his career had bottomed out to the point he was pitching in an independent league.

The Pirates spotted him, gave him a chance, and were rewarded.

If they could only find hitters so easily, they might have more breathing room in the standings.

SUBHEAD: Clear them out

There’s been some consternation about players leaving Pitt’s football program.

Highly-regarded running Rushel Shell was the most notable player to depart.

Coach Paul Chryst is trying to establish some structure in the program. That’s going to come with some bumps.

Short-term, it will take a toll. In the long run, it will be good for Pitt.

If you have someone who really doesn’t buy into what the staff is trying to establish, it’s better to show them the door than compromise on principles.

Mehno can be reached at