Coughlin Report: Mixed review for RBs

Tom Coughlin was still agitated with Andre Brown's fumble a day later.

And the head coach didn't like that New York Giants were unable to run the ball with a ton of success. But he did see some positives in pass protection from his backs.

First, let's get to Coughlin's feelings on the fumble, when Brown mishandled a pitch to the right during the second quarter of the Giants' 18-13 win over the Steelers.

"It concerns me," Coughlin said. "It concerns Andre, too. I don't care how much and how long you play the game -- there are certain things that have to happen before you run the ball. You have to look the ball in if it is going to be a toss or pitch or pass.

"First, you got to catch the darn thing and cover it up before you can go on to the next objective. I am sure he will learn a lot. To his credit he went right back in and did some good things."

Brown and starter David Wilson combined for a total of 39 yards on nine carries. The Giants are going to need better production, although they did play without right guard Chris Snee on Saturday night.

"[One of the] areas of concern was our inability to rush the ball with any kind of consistency," Coughlin said.

Coughlin did see good signs with the running backs' pass protection. This is an area of emphasis for Wilson, who on one passing play went to block an oncoming defender low only to see the linebacker hurdle his block.

"He had one very, very good cut block when he stepped up and took on the blitzing linebacker," Coughlin said. "And he tried to carry on that same route of execution out, and the 'backer stepped over him one time. He has got to learn that you really don't cut people at the feet of the quarterback. That is not going to accomplish anything.

"If you step up and take up the slack and you are far enough away from the quarterback, you can use it as a changeup. But basically you have to stand in there. But he will learn that. They did a good job [pass protecting]. Andre did a real good job of chipping and helping where it was obvious that the help was needed."

Grading run defense: Coughlin said the first-team run defense had "two wins and seven losses against Pittsburgh's running game."

"We got to shore that up and be able to stop the opponents' run," the coach said. "Right off the bat, we were reached. Didn't get to a point where we could reject the front and the ball carriers were able to flash and make yardage and a couple of times cut the ball back. I think we will do a better job once we get a look at this tape and understand our gap responsibilities. ... This is going to continue to be an objective for us."

The Steelers racked up 81 yards on 17 carries in the first half, including 36 yards on a 13-play drive in the first quarter.

Linebackers' grade: Coughlin said middle linebacker Mark Herzlich does an "outstanding job" of getting the signals and making calls in the game. But he added that no one particular linebacker stood out individually.

"We are analyzing the linebacker play the entire preseason," Coughlin said, "so we can get the right people on the field in the right spots. It is ongoing."

"There were flashes," he added by certain individuals. "I don't know if there was any one particular individual that made enough or a whole lot of plays for me to say [someone stood out]. We didn't give up a touchdown so somebody was doing a good job of that."