Dobbs shines as Steelers cruise past Carolina

PITTSBURGH — Josh Dobbs put together a compelling case to be on someone’s NFL roster next week, throwing for a touchdown and running for another to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 39-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers in the preseason finale Thursday night.

Dobbs, fighting for one of the backup quarterback jobs behind Ben Roethlisberger, vaulted into the end zone for a 3-yard scoring run to cap Pittsburgh’s first drive. He added a 27-yard strike to Tevin Jones later in the opening quarter and finished 8 of 12 for 151 yards to cap an impressive training camp.

It just might not be enough for the 2017 fourth-round pick to stick around.

Dobbs, veteran Landry Jones and rookie Mason Rudolph are all vying for a spot behind Roethlisberger. Jones, who has played well while filling in for Roethlisberger over the last three seasons, is likely safe. So too is Rudolph, a third-round pick this spring.

Rudolph came on for Dobbs late in the first half and was 5 of 9 for 102 yards and two touchdowns. The former Oklahoma State star also showcased his mobility, leapfrogging Tevin Jones after the receiver hauled in a 24-yard score. Rudolph later added a 2-point conversion run and earned a flag for taunting in the process after he took exception to a questionable hit by Carolina linebacker Andre Smith shortly after crossing the goal line.

The Steelers (3-1) could keep all four quarterbacks when rosters are trimmed to 53 on Saturday, then perhaps deal one of the backups to add depth elsewhere.

Carolina’s Taylor Heincke played well in his bid to be the top backup behind Cam Newton. Heincke started and was 7 of 12 for 68 yards and a 6-yard touchdown to Mose Frazier. Garrett Gilbert came on in the second quarter and was 4 of 7 for 23 yards.

Rookie Kyle Allen played the entire second half, completing 25 of 35 passes for 250 yards and a score for Carolina (3-1).

SWITZER DEBUTS

Pittsburgh wide receiver Ryan Switzer capped a frantic 72-hour stretch by returning one punt for 9 yards and averaging 21.5 yards on two kickoff returns. Switzer — acquired from Oakland on Monday to bolster the Steelers’ return game — also saw a handful of snaps at receiver but was not targeted.

GOING LONG DISTANCE

Carolina’s Graham Gano drilled a 54-yard field goal in the third quarter, the longest in an NFL game at always tricky Heinz Field.

INJURIES

Panthers: RB Elijah Hood (lower body) was hurt on the opening kickoff and did not return.

Steelers: S Malik Golden (knee) was carted off the field in the fourth quarter. Golden was also hurt in the 2017 preseason finale against Carolina. WR Damoun Patterson (turf toe), LB Keith Kelsey (pectoral) and LB Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (hamstring) also left with injuries.

ANTHEM

There were no protests by players on either team during the national anthem.

UP NEXT

Panthers: Welcome Dallas to Bank of America Stadium for the season opener on Sept. 9.

Steelers: Open at Cleveland for the second straight season when they visit the Browns on Sept. 9.

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