Watching from the sideline Thursday night, coach Hue Jackson saw what everyone else saw: Cameron Erving, starting at left tackle in place of Joe Thomas, struggling significantly.
After watching the 20-14 preseason win over the Saints on film, Jackson softened his stance.
“There were a couple of plays that Cam wished he had back,” Jackson said Friday on a conference call. “But when I watch the tape, I was expecting the same thing that you guys saw. But it wasn’t as bad as we all thought.
“I thought he did some really good things. There were a couple of times where he’s got to replace his hand and put his hand in a better spot, but he battled. Early in the game there were some plays that he missed but he did some good things as well.”
Erving, the No. 19 pick in 2015, is battling Shon Coleman for the starting right tackle spot but shifted to the more difficult left side when Thomas was given the night off. Erving was called for a false start and a hold, which was declined, and whiffed on a block on a run play.
Coleman, a third-round pick last year, has the edge in the competition. He played sparingly as a rookie without a start.
“He battled,” Jackson said. “He did some things, but there’s some things to improve on, some things to work through. We’ve got to make sure that we have a little bit better anchor from time to time. But that’s as much football as he’s played here last night, so he’s got to continue to get better.
“I watch players normally from preseason game one to preseason game two make a huge jump. So hopefully that’ll be the same for him.”
Nate Orchard has been a forgotten man in training camp but got Jackson’s attention with his play against the Saints.
Orchard, a second-round pick in 2015, was credited with two tackles, a half-sack and was in on a number of other plays.
“Nate Orchard showed up,” Jackson said. “Obviously he made two plays in a row, had a sack and then another tackle for a loss. That was outstanding, to watch him go in there and compete like he did.”
Orchard is playing defensive end after spending his first two years at outside linebacker. He had three sacks as a rookie and none last year in three games before being placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
He isn’t guaranteed a roster spot and worked with the second- and third-team defenses against the Saints.
JOE NOT ORDINARY
Middle linebacker Joe Schobert closed the gap on Tank Carder in the competition for the starting job. Schobert had a sack, a tackle for loss and a pass defensed.
“Joe Schobert I thought played extremely well last night,” Jackson said. “He handled the middle of our defense extremely well.
“There’s so many guys (on defense) I could continue to talk about, from Jamie Collins to Danny Shelton, that’s what we expect from those guys. But Nate Orchard and Joe Schobert, to me, really stood out, because they’re guys who have been fighting for opportunities and they got them last night.”
No. 1 pick Myles Garrett didn’t disappoint in his debut, getting a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit, a tackle at the line and praise from Jackson.
“He did some really good things,” Jackson said of the defensive end. “He rushed, the initial quickness of Myles off the ball was outstanding. He played the run extremely well. He came very close to having a sack one time, where he got inside of an offensive tackle and hit the quarterback, brought him down.
“I loved the hustle plays that he made. I thought he had a good game. He’s got to continue to build on that as we move forward.”