The Steelers' first round draft pick will have to handle the Pro Bowl tight end Cameron in situations Sunday. It's a big test for him, handling the athletic and strong Cameron around the middle of the field.
A collective roar of excitement came from the 412 area code during the Steelers' preseason home opener against Buffalo. Rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier, who missed the team's first preseason game with a knee injury, turned and ran with Buffalo tight end Scott Chandler, mirrored him and climbed the ladder to intercept the E.J. Manuel thrown pass. He ran for a bunch of yards too, although most people were too excited to notice.
Shazier made 11 tackles in that game (two on special teams as well), and while it was certainly a high point, it was as high as it would get. Shazier struggled in coverage for the remainder of the preseason, often giving up too much space to the tight end on middle seam throws.
Considering the lack of receiving options for the Browns, TE Jordan Cameron looks to be the main target of whatever passing game they'll present. There's little doubt Cleveland will try to exploit the rookie with their athletic seam target, and quarterback Brian Hoyer has strong enough of an arm to get it to him.
It's a question of technique, much like his interception. Shazier was exactly where he was supposed to be on the play; cutting off the underneath while allowing the safety (Troy Polamalu in this case) to handle coverage over the top. It forced Manuel to make a perfect throw, and he did not. In fact, the pass probably shouldn't have been made at all. If he decides not to force the throw, he risks taking a sack, which obviously would be beneficial for the Steelers as well.
What Shazier cannot do is let the tight end gain separation across the middle. It seemed, in limited preseason work, his route anticipation was solid enough if the tight end climbs up the seam but when he broke across the middle, he slowed down and gave up more of a cushion.
Expect Cleveland to work those intermediate middle throws to Cameron while trying to establish a rushing presence. They'll have to throw at some point and Shazier is likely to draw coverage on Cameron if they move him around the middle.
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