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'Stretched, loose and ready to produce'

PHILADELPHIA _ One of the primary objectives in the preseason opener, as always, was to get a look at young players performing in such an environment for the first time.

The twist in Philly was young players weren’t the only guys the Steelers wanted to eyeball.

Veteran running back Stevan Ridley and veteran inside linebacker Jon Bostic were noticeable, in part, because of how long they were deployed in Thursday night’s 31-14 victory over the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

“We’re just trying to get to know people,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “We have to get familiar with what they’re capable of doing.”

Ridley, who arrived last Dec. 19, entered in the second quarter and played into the fourth.

Bostic, a free-agent signee from Indianapolis this season, started next to Vince Williams and was still out there in the third quarter.

“I didn’t really know how much I was going to play, to be honest with you,” Ridley said. “I wasn’t expecting to be in there that late but it’s team first. I love this game, I love my job and whenever they call my number I have to go out there and play.

“I’m just trying to be stretched, loose, and ready to produce.”

Ridley’s production on the ground was unremarkable (10 carries for 14 yards). But he contributed in the passing game on protections and on the receiving end (three catches for 45 yards).

“That’s really been the focus this preseason,” Ridley said. “Our running backs coach, ‘Coach Sax’ (James Saxon) always says in stretches, ‘If we’re playing running back at the pro level we know how to run the ball, so let’s focus on the other areas that we can strengthen our game.’ That’s really been my focus, assignment sound on our blitz-pickups, catching the ball out of the backfield and then making something happen once the ball’s in our hands.

“I’m just trying to roll it over into the game.”

Bostic had finished last season on the reserve-injured list with the Colts and was happy to get the work against the Eagles.

“I kind of look at it more as a chance to go out and get my feet under me, because obviously that first game back is rusty,” he said. “That just gives me extra snaps to go out and play and have fun.”

FOOL THEM TWICE: The Steelers produced a couple of big plays on “free plays.”

Quarterback Landry Jones drew the Eagles offside with a hard count and then connected with wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on a 71-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

Quarterback Mason Rudolph was paying attention and hooked up with wide receiver James Washington for a 35-yard gain in the same scenario.

“Just throw it up and throw it as high and as far as you can,” Jones said. “You see them jump and you see the flag and you’re like, ‘let’s go.’

“Once something like that happens and they jump offside, we’re going.”

Jones finished 4-for-4 for 83 yards and a perfect passer rating of 158.3 and was sacked twice.

Rudolph (7-for-12 for 101 yards) was also sacked twice but didn’t mind.

“I enjoy contact,” he said. “I played defense a lot when I was younger so I’m never going to shy away from that. It was it actually good to feel a little contact out there for the first time and kind of get back in football mode.”

OFF AND RUNNING: No. 1 pick Terrell Edmunds was used on the first units on punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return, as well as at strong safety beginning with the Eagles’ third possession in the first quarter through the early stages of the fourth.

“It was definitely fun, going out there, playing your first NFL snap,” he said. “That was definitely different for me, being on kickoff return, but it was definitely fun.”

Edmunds was credited with three solo tackles, one of them memorable.

“My first tackle,” he said. “I had to fill the hole one time, just came down, filled the hole, I think it was in the A-gap. It was nice coming down and making my first NFL tackle.”

PERSPECTIVE ON PATTERSON: Rookie wide receiver Damoun Patterson had six catches for 77 yards, including a spectacular 29-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Josh Dobbs.

But when asked to comment on Patterson’s good game and the “good camp” he’s been having, Tomlin tapped the brakes.

“You said ‘good camp,’” Tomlin emphasized to a reporter. “He’s made some plays and he made some plays tonight.”

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