Cross did not face Pittsburgh's star edge rusher, T.J. Watt, but the Seahawks have to be encouraged by what they saw Saturday night from their rookie left tackle. He was a wall in pass protection with active feet, athletic posture, strong hands and nice balance throughout each play. Cross pushed the defender he was blocking to the ground on one late second-quarter play, flashing the finishing ability he showed at Mississippi State. In the run game, he crashed the edge effectively and showed athleticism to find targets away from the line. Cross got some movement against Derrek Tuszka in the run game as the game went on, though the veteran got upfield on his pass rush a couple of times. The young lineman used his quick feet and length to stay with the block, however, preventing Tuszka from reaching the ball. Overall, it was a very nice performance.
The projected starter at right tackle, Neal showed off his outstanding athleticism at 6-foot-7, 350 pounds in the first quarter against New England, both on zone runs when he pushed around defensive linemen and when attacking a target downfield on a screen. Neal was solid in pass protection when he was able to maintain balance, often using his good length to keep rushers at bay or escort them outside the pocket. New England veterans Anfernee Jennings and Josh Uche gave the rookie a master class on hand usage in close quarters, however, pulling down the leaning tackle to explode into the backfield. Neal played tall on a couple of snaps, as well, losing his balance to allow pressures. He also failed to pick up a delayed blitz. Neal did fine for his first NFL action on the edge, though, and the technique issues are not surprising based on his Alabama film. I expect him to improve as the season goes on.