One more test to pass

For established Steelers, the preseason finale is an annual exercise to be endured on the way to counting down the days until the start of the regular season.

For those who would be Steelers, games such as Thursday night's preseason finale at Carolina can be defining.

"For a guy like me every game is important," tight end Xavier Grimble said. "Every game is my Super Bowl."

The Steelers prepare for the Week 4 preseason matchup against the Carolina Panthers.

For Grimble, a first-year pro who spent last season on the Steelers' practice squad, the final preseason tune-up presents a last chance to secure a spot on the 53-man roster.

Grimble made the most of last week's opportunity in New Orleans. He caught two passes for 26 yards in the Steelers' 27-14 victory and had a high-profile lead block on what turned out to be a 6-yard run by running back Le' Veon Bell.

Grimble led Bell around left end and drove linebacker James Laurinaitis back several yards in the process, and then pulled in a pass from quarterback Landry Jones for 22 yards on back-to-back snaps late in the second quarter.

Grimble also had a 10-yard catch for a first down wiped out by an ineligible man downfield penalty against offensive lineman B.J. Finney in the third quarter.

"I expect a lot of myself so those are plays I expect to make," Grimble said. "It's really just about honing in on the details and just being ready when opportunity presents itself."

Grimble was also penalized for holding in New Orleans.

"I had a better game than the last two weeks, still a lot of things to improve on," he said. "I think I was better technique-wise as far as blocking, made a few more catches. I was happy with the performance but still a lot to work on."

Grimble failed to stick in previous stints with the Giants, 49ers (twice) and Patriots.

"Gotta keep doing it," he said. "This is a what-have-you-done-lately type of business. Had a good game but the last game is a couple days away. It's time to produce the same or better results."

Head coach Mike Tomlin referenced Grimble and fellow tight end Jesse James on Tuesday as young players who have been maturing.
"We'll expect that maturation process to continue as we get into the regular season," Tomlin said.

Still, Grimble intends to take nothing for granted regarding the regular-season roster.

"I try not to even think about that stuff just because it can deter your emotions one way or the other," he said. "You never have control over that type of stuff. The only thing you can control is your effort, and how much you put your time in the playbook, the weight room, the practice field, just showing up every day.  

"I feel like if I just pay attention to that and make sure I'm on top of that part of my game, the rest will take care of itself."

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