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Should the Steelers get in on the Stephon Gilmore sweepstakes?

Behind the Steel Curtain - 3 hours 18 min ago
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The veteran corners time in New England looks to be drawing to a close

Any time a big name NFL player places themselves on the trade market I think to myself whether or not they would be a fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers, both schematically and financially. This time we find former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore on the block. In this article I will look at reasons why the Steelers should be, and shouldn't be, interested in the All-Pro cornerback.

#Patriots star CB Stephon Gilmore, who wants a new contract and is rehabbing from a partially torn quad, is not present at the team’s mandatory minicamp today, source said.

*(Spelling fixed, no thanks to autocorrect)

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 14, 2021

Let’s start with the positives, firstly Stephon Gilmore is the ultimate shutdown corner. You can put Gilmore on any defense in the league, telling him to shadow any receiver in the game, and Gilmore will blanket them for four straight quarters. Playing opposite of Joe Haden, that duo would represent two of the smartest corners in the game and a steady veteran presence. Contractually, the acquiring team would only be on the hook for $7,735,294 on the final year of Gilmore’s deal, however he is looking for an extension on top of that. But let’s not forget we are just two years removed from his Defensive Player of the Year season and would be stepping into one of the best defenses in football.

Trading for Gilmore would also take the Steelers defense to another level. The secondary would be the best unit in the league to go along with the best pass rushers in football. Basically, the other team won't be throwing on this team at all. Also, a big move like this would give the Steelers its best shot at hoisting a Lombardi in the twilight years of the Ben Roethlisberger era.

However, the Steelers are facing a pseudo rebuild of sorts. The Steelers only have three players over the age of 30 under contract past 2022, and one of them is a kicker. There is no doubt about this Steelers team transitioning to a brand new leadership group, and all of those guys are in their mid-20’s. Would they really want to spend a ton of cash on a guy way older than their primary core? I think the fair answer is no, that is unless they believed they are cursed when it comes to drafting corners...

The Steelers have been more bold with their team building moves lately, but I can’t see them dealing a second or first round pick for a guy on the wrong side of thirty for perhaps only one season. Perhaps if the salary cap didn't drop but this doesn't feel like the right time to be making a trade like this.

But what do you think? Should the Steelers chase Stephon Gilmore and try to take one more shot at a Super Bowl? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Steelers await word from the NFL whether they can return to Saint Vincent for training camp

Behind the Steel Curtain - 4 hours 48 min ago
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping to return to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, but the waiting game continues.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were forced to have their 2020 training camp at Heinz Field, not their usual location of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. The NFL told teams they were not allowed to leave their home facilities for camp, this during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here we are, wrapping up mandatory minicamp, and many want to know if the Steelers will be back on campus, and practicing on Chuck Noll field this summer. The answer? They still don’t know.

Mike Tomlin was asked about this very topic after the final day of minicamp, and although he had hoped to know, he stated the Steelers have yet to receive final word on the return to Latrobe.

This per Brooke Pryor of ESPN:

Mike Tomlin says they haven't received final word or details about training camp (Heinz Field vs. returning to St. Vincent):

"I thought I would know by now. We don't always get what we want, as we know. I had hoped to get some clarity prior to know, but I haven't."

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) June 17, 2021

It is important to understand the circumstances the Steelers face heading into training camp. For instance, the date which they report is up in the air. This from Dave Schofield’s recent countdown article:

Although the Steelers have not officially announced the start date of training camp, the date they are permitted to begin has been set by the NFL. With the Steelers set to play in the Hall of Fame Game, the fist day of training camp will be earlier than the rest of the NFL who are set to begin on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. The Steelers, as well as the Dallas Cowboys, can start as early as July 21, 2021 while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will face the Cowboys on the opening night of the NFL season, can start July 24, 2021.

Other teams have notified their fans of them being able to travel away from their home facilities, so it might just be a formality the Steelers haven’t heard yet. It also could involve the local/state government and restrictions whether or not they are permitted to have fans in attendance at practices. Team President Art Rooney II has stated if the team can’t have fans at camp practices, they would probably stay in Pittsburgh.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for training camp and the 2021 regular season.

Steelers Minicamp Tracker: Compiling various reports from Day 3

Behind the Steel Curtain - 5 hours 13 min ago
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are at Heinz Field for the final phase of the 2021 offseason.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are at Heinz Field for the third and final day of 2021 minicamp. This week was the first time the Steelers entire offseason roster was together, as well as the last time until training camp begins at the end of July.

When it comes to reports from mandatory minicamp, there may not be much information for Steelers fans as the week progresses. Luckily there are some player interviews before practice and Coach Tomlin has spoken after every session so far this week.

As for any other details coming from minicamp, we will do our best to post them in here once available. Reports should run from earliest to most recent as you scroll down the page.

Diontae Johnson talking via zoom this morning said the addition of @ohthatsNajee22 takes pressure off the wide receivers and that he sees Najee is hungry out there.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) June 17, 2021

Dwayne Haskins said via zoom today coming to the Steelers he wanted to show the coaching staff, teammates and everyone that his mind is in the right place and that he loves football.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) June 17, 2021

QB Dwayne Haskins said Coach Mike Tomlin has been great getting to know him, talking to him about on the field and off the field stuff. He said he has been a great motivator for him already.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) June 17, 2021

Mike Tomlin is having another long talk with Dwayne Haskins after today's final mini-camp practice. Art Rooney II and Kevin Colbert also standing with the pair.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) June 17, 2021

Coach Mike Tomlin said while the offseason program went well, the work really begins now. Told the players before they left minicamp today to come back well-conditioned for camp.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) June 17, 2021

Coach Tomlin said he doesn't have the answer on training camp location yet. He said rest assured wherever they are and when that is, they will be ready.

He thought he would know by now where camp would be.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) June 17, 2021

In the zone for the final day of minicamp

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 17, 2021

Tight end Eric Ebron thinks his position will take on a greater emphasis in Matt Canada's offense.

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) June 17, 2021

on the prize

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 17, 2021

Taking you behind the scenes of the Steelers punting competition at minicamp, with some absolutely horrendous camerawork. But later in practice they had a more spirited battle, one Mike Tomlin called “created adversity so guys have an opportunity to shine.”

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) June 17, 2021

It’s another beautiful day in Pittsburgh!

— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) June 17, 2021


— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 17, 2021

It’s been fun minicamp.

Next up…training camp.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) June 17, 2021

Next up ➡️ #SteelersCamp

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 17, 2021

Podcast: Why there is more to the Steelers’ “Q” than his time at “The U”?

Behind the Steel Curtain - 6 hours 48 min ago

BTSC broke down what the Steelers’ draft needs from specific universities before the NFL Draft and now they talk to the correspondents from the universities that boasted all nine of their draft selections.

When looking back at the 2021 Draft, most Steelers fans note Quincy Roche’ as a major steal. After a stellar career at Temple, what were the factors for Q’s drop to the sixth round as a Miami Hurricane? This week, join Michael Beck and Geoffrey Benedict to talk about the addition of the the EDGE that spent a year with the Hurricanes with Jake Marcus from State of the U.

  • News and Notes
  • Special Guest: Jake Marcus from State of the U
  • and MUCH MORE!

Michael and Geoffrey walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-Gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

The Three C’s of the Steelers 2021 offseason: Contracts, Competition and Canada

Behind the Steel Curtain - 7 hours 48 min ago
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A brief rundown of what the Steelers have done to prepare for the 2021 season.

As the Steelers hold their mandatory minicamp this week, I thought it was a good time to reflect on their offseason so far. Among the various storylines that have been debated ad nauseam the past few months, three themes have dominated the conversation. They are the three C’s of the 2021 offseason: contracts, competition and Canada.


The biggest and most interesting question of the offseason was asked before the dust had settled on the demoralizing playoff defeat to Cleveland in January: Would Ben Roethlisberger return as the Steelers’ quarterback? The answer to that question was yes, with Roethlisberger restructuring his deal to cut $5 million off of his salary and $15 million off his cap hit while adding voidable years down the road.

Even at age 39, Roethlisberger is clearly the best quarterback on the Steelers roster. Still, many argued the Steelers should have parted ways with him and allowed backup Mason Rudolph to run new coordinator Matt Canada’s offense for a season before deciding on a long-term replacement (I, for one, was not opposed to such a move).

The decision to bring back Roethlisberger sets up an interesting marriage between him and Canada, with the veteran quarterback preferring one style of play and the innovative coordinator seeming to prefer another. The degree to which the two can find common ground will go a long way towards determining the success of Pittsburgh’s 2021 campaign.

Roethlisberger’s contract restructure was not the only interesting move of the offseason at the quarterback position. Pittsburgh brought in Dwayne Haskins to compete with Rudolph to be Roethlisberger’s backup. While Haskins flamed out after being selecting in the 1st Round by Washington, his deal, which amounts to almost nothing (1 year, $850,000), makes him a low-risk, high-reward acquisition. Few expect Haskins to win the job as Roethlisberger’s successor, but early reviews suggest he is adapting well to his new environment. He will be an intriguing player to keep tabs on as the season evolves.

Finally, the contract situation that proved the most surprising this offseason involved the return of JuJu Smith-Schuster. As the 2020 season closed, Smith-Schuster seemed destined for a big pay-day on the free agent market. The Steelers, tight to the cap as usual, did not anticipate they could afford him. And yet, JuJu remains. How in the name of Omar Khan did that happen?

Khan, the Steelers’ cap management specialist, is a wizard at turning fifty cents into a dollar. But in this instance, it wasn’t really Khan’s doing. With the Covid pandemic sapping the resources of many franchises, the free agent market wasn’t quite the orgy of money it typically has become. Some teams chose to invest frugally (by modern NFL standards), with the premium dollars going to offensive linemen and edge rushers. In short, JuJu didn’t like the money. So, he signed a one-year deal to return to Pittsburgh with his eye on free agency next offseason, when the league will be flush with cash.

It was a smart move by both parties. The Steelers retained Smith-Schuster, alleviating their need to spend a high draft pick on a receiver, and JuJu returned to Pittsburgh under the guise of not wanting to leave while positioning himself for a better payday in 2022. No matter the motivation, if he plays lights-out this season, fans will love him for it.


There’s nothing a football player values more than playing time. Coaches, on the other hand, love few things more than genuine competition to earn it. Competition brings out the best in players by creating a sense of urgency. Or, to use another term, fear. The fear of being benched, or being cut, or losing out on a lifetime dream or a big payday. Fear is a great motivator. Competition breeds it.

The Steelers have done a really good job this offseason creating competition at various position groups throughout their roster. Where depth was necessary, or where a starting job was in question, they brought in veterans and draft picks capable of challenging each other.

Take the center position. With the retirement of long-time starter Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers had a huge hole to fill in the middle of the line. With only journeyman J.C. Hassenauer returning, they signed old friend B.J. Finney to a one-year deal before selecting Kendrick Green from the University of Illinois in Round 3 of the draft. Green is expected to earn the starting job at some point during his rookie season. The key word, though, is earn. By having to compete with the veteran Finney for the position, he won’t be handed anything. This ensures the Steelers will get the best possible version of Green right from the jump.

The same is true elsewhere on the line. Chuks Okorafor is moving from right to left tackle, where he is expected to be the starter. But the selection of Dan Moore Jr. in the draft creates a viable alternative if Okorafor falters. Moore is a pure left tackle who was a three-year starter from a Power 5 school. Okorafor was part of a weak offensive line in Pittsburgh in 2020, and while he seems better suited to play left tackle, Moore’s selection is bound to have put him on notice that his play must improve in 2021.

Then there’s wide receiver, where four veterans (Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and James Washington) will compete for three starting spots in Pittsburgh’s base 11 personnel grouping. That battle could be even more intense given the selection of Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth in Round 2 of the draft. Canada loves tight ends, and with Freiermuth and Eric Ebron in the fold, the Steelers will likely increase their use of 12 personnel, which puts just two receivers on the field.

Elsewhere, the Rudolph/Haskins competition at backup quarterback will be intriguing. Rudolph is the clear favorite but Haskins has tremendous ability and should push Rudolph. The backup running back spot will be interesting, too. Someone among Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland, Jaylen Samuels and Kalen Ballage is getting cut. All will need to bring their ‘A’ game to survive.

On the defensive side of the ball, competition for the slot corner, dime backer, backup edge rusher and rotational line spots should be great. The Steelers may still add a veteran at one or more of those positions, which will add further intrigue to the mix.

It hasn’t been a sexy offseason from a personnel standpoint but the additions the team has made should ensure great competition at some of the weakest spots on the roster.


Do aliens exist? Who killed JFK? And what will Matt Canada’s 2021 Steelers’ offense look like? These are three of the great mysteries of modern times.

To the first, I say yes. To the second, Oswald — don’t overthink it. As for the third, who knows? But a small clue was offered last week when Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeted the following clip from Steelers’ OTA activities. It is a video of Pittsburgh’s running backs and quarterbacks walking through some of the concepts Canada is installing. The video has a Zepruder-like graininess to it and forecasts a similar (albeit far less consequential) disaster: The shovel pass. Canada is bringing back the shovel pass!

To quote Captain Kurtz from Apocalypse Now: “The horror. The horror…”

But look closer, astute football junkies. This is not merely a shovel pass. This is a read-option. Specifically, it’s a concept the Baltimore Ravens have run time and again the past few years with Lamar Jackson. That’s right, the Steelers are installing a Lamar Jackson-style offense with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback!

Ok ok, simmer down. I’m joking. Kind of. Before you flip your lid at the thought of Roethlisberger attempting Jackson-style run plays, let me explain.

It’s not the exact same play. The concept is similar — it’s a play called Power Read — but the design is different. On both plays, the front-side linemen block their inside gaps while the backside guard wraps around for the play-side linebacker. And on both plays, the play-side edge player is left unblocked as a read-key. In Baltimore, the Ravens have Jackson ride the running back, who is on an outside run track, and read the edge. If the edge sits inside, Jackson gives the ball to the back. If the edge widens, Jackson pulls it and runs behind the guard.

Here’s Baltimore running the play against the Steelers last season. Jackson will read T.J. Watt, who is walked off the line just outside the right hash. When Watt widens at the snap, Jackson pulls the ball and attacks up the field:

Clearly, the Steelers don’t want Roethlisberger attempting anything like this. However, because read-option concepts are excellent ways to conflict a defense (the quarterback can make the read-key wrong no matter how he reacts), Canada wants to include them in the offense. How, then, can the Steelers gain the benefit of a read-option without asking Roethlisberger to carry the football?

Let’s look at the GIF from OTAs again and explain:

We see Roethlisberger ride the back (Najee Harris) just like Jackson did. You can see a Steelers’ assistant coach acting as the read-key. When the coach comes up the field to attack Harris, Roethlisberger pulls the ball and flips it inside to fullback T.J. Watt, who is following the guard from his pre-snap alignment on the backside of the play. Watt simply replaces the quarterback as the second runner.

This is a nice wrinkle on the traditional Power Read. It’s a versatile play, too. A variety of players can execute Watt’s role — Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Juju Smith-Schuster, Jaylen Samuels — so the Steelers can run it out of different formations and personnel groups. It will require reps between Roethlisberger and the running backs for the feel of when to give the ball and when to pull it. That’s why Canada is introducing the concept now, so the backfield can get plenty of practice throughout the summer.

Traditionalists may find these concepts gimmicky. Others may recall how Roethlisberger struggled with read-options under Randy Fichtner. Fair enough. Just remember that Canada specializes in these types of plays and that Roethlisberger, while not an outspoken advocate of their use, has said all the right things about the new offense so far. If Canada can teach them and Roethlisberger is willing to learn, these types of concepts could make the Steelers much trickier to defend than they were in 2020.

That last sentence underscores the bottom line. The Steelers’ offense had grown bland and stale. They needed to put defenses in greater conflict. Thus, Matt Canada. While the schemes aren’t likely to be radically different, the formations, personnel groups and smoke-and-mirrors used to protect those schemes will be.

Whether the offense is indeed better than it was in 2020 remains to be seen. The roll-out, though, will be fun to watch.

Steelers Vertex: Loss vs. gain at offensive guard

Behind the Steel Curtain - 9 hours 18 min ago
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In year two, Kevin Dotson is set to bring back the nasty to the Steelers offensive line.

With changes in the Steelers roster from 2020 to 2021, we’re going to highlight players lost at a position and the production of the assumed replacement. This week we looking at the loss of Matt Feiler and the retention of the player expected to start in Kevin Dotson.

Let’s get a quick reminder of where this nerdiness is coming from.

Vertex- a single point where two or more lines cross.

Sometimes to make a great point, it takes two different systems of analysis to come together and build off each other in order to drawl a proper conclusion. In this case, the two methods are statistical analysis and film breakdown. Enter Dave Schofield (the stat geek) and Geoffrey Benedict (the film guru) to come together to prove a single point based on our two lines of thinking.

Here comes the breakdown from two different lines of analysis.

The Stats Line:

As I’ve said many times before, the statistics for offensive linemen are basically nonexistent. When it comes to comparing Matt Feiler and Kevin Dotson, I can tell you both players appeared in 13 regular-season games in 2020. While Feiler started all 13 games in which he appeared, Dotson had four starts on the season filling in at both guard positions. Feiler played 850 offensive snaps during the regular season while Dotson played 360.

Other metrics attributed to offensive linemen are penalties and sacks allowed. Kevin Dotson was credited with three penalties against him on the season while Matt Feiler’s total is up for debate. According to Pro Football Focus, Feiler had two penalties called against him while Pro Football Reference has him credited for four. As for sacks allowed, Dodson did not give up any on the season where Feiler was credited with two sacks surrendered.

If caring at all about PFF scores from 2020, Dotson came in slightly higher with an overall score of 66.2. His pass blocking score of 87.2 placed him as the highest guard in the NFL. It was Dotson’s run blocking, which he was known for coming out of college, which brought down his overall score as it was merely 55.1 on the season. As for Matt Feiler, his overall PFF grade was 65.0 with a 69.6 pass blocking score and a 59.6 run blocking score.

One last number I like to look at with players comes down to their salary cap amount. Being on his rookie contract, Kevin Dotson only counts $944,703 towards the Steelers salary cap in 2021. Matt Feiler signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Chargers this offseason for $21 million. Even with the first year cap hit being lower, Feiler’s $5 million is more than five times that of Dotson, so the financial benefit is obvious.

Now that we know Kevin Dotson is a much better financial deal for the Steelers, the next question is if he’s a better product on the field. You know what’s coming. Geoffrey, you’re up.

The Film Line:

Matt Feiler is a good offensive lineman. He was a good right tackle in 2019, and he was a good left guard in 2020. Feiler brought good mobility and great strength to the position. That was on frequent display in 2020.

Week 8, second quarter, 6:36. Matt Feiler (#71) is fourth from the right side of the screen

This is when Feiler is at his best, getting upfield, finding the middle linebacker, and driving them out of the play.

Feiler’s weaknesses aren’t in his physical ability, but in his inconsistent technique.

Week 9, first quarter, 11:26. Matt Feiler is the second lineman from the right side of the screen.

Feiler gets off the ball and into the defensive lineman, but despite the run going inside of him, he doesn’t secure the defenders inside arm, and that is enough for his block to be shed.

Notice Maurkice Pouncey (one spot left of Feiler) taking on two defenders and bringing the nastiness the Steelers are looking for in 2021. That choke-block is just Pouncey doing whatever it takes to secure a block. It stands out in contrast with Matt Feiler, who in spite of his physical ability, too often gets caught playing with the opposition instead of looking to finish them.

Week 13, first quarter, 15:00. Matt Feilier (#71) is the left guard.

Like this play. Matt Feiler is hand fighting the defensive lineman and lets him get through to hit Ben Roethlisberger. He swings at the defender and even tries to get a leg in his path, but he fails to get a lock on his man. Compare Feiler to David DeCastro (#66, right guard) on this play and you can see the difference. DeCastro gets his hand on the outside of his defender’s arm and while he gives ground, he keeps control of the block. Feiler is playing guard, but his blocking technique is better suited to tackle, where hand fighting is a bigger deal. Which is why I think he’s a much better right tackle than left guard, and it frustrated me a lot in 2020 that they didn’t move Kevin Dotson to left guard and Matt Feiler to right tackle, or even let him backup everyone.

From that last sentence you should expect I’m going to argue that Kevin Dotson is a better guard than Matt Feiler. Matt Feiler ended up missing three games in 2020, the Week 15 nightmare in Cincinnati when J.C. Hassenauer was forced to start at left guard, and the last two games of the regular season.

With Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Kevin Dotson all starting, the Steelers had their best interior three together, even if David DeCastro wasn’t his usual self at that point.

Week 16, third quarter, 8:53. Kevin Dotson (#69) is the second lineman from the right.

First off, Kevin Dotson is pulling. The Steelers pull their left guard a lot, and while Kevin Dotson isn’t as athletic as Matt Feiler, he’s still really effective on pulls.

Week 16, fourth quarter, 9:45. Kevin Dotson (#69) is the left guard.

Kevin Dotson is at his best inside, clearing lanes and moving defenders. On this play Dotson gets a hold of his defensive tackle, driving him completely out of the play and into the other tackle.

On both of the last two plays you can see David DeCastro having some difficulty with his man. 2020 wasn’t DeCastro’s best year, and for the end of the season, Kevin Dotson was the Steelers most effective interior lineman, especially in the run game. I honestly don’t know how PFF graded him that low in run blocking. It makes as much sense as the Steelers putting Kevin Dotson on the bench in the playoffs.

But that’s run blocking, how about pass protection?

Week 17, first quarter, Kevin Dotson (#69) is the left guard.

I love this block. Kevin Dotson transitions from the linebacker threatening a blitz to the defensive tackle in his wide alignment. His step outside gives the tackle an angle to attack, but it doesn’t matter. Dotson anchors and gets control of the rush, cancelling the inside rush and throwing the defensive lineman outside to add a little insult to the end of his domination of that snap. #94’s body language says it all at the end. He had an angle and a head of steam and got whooped. Dotson jogging upfield like it was nothing is just fantastic.

That personality is exactly what the Steelers need on their offensive line, Kevin Dotson isn’t trying to win, he’s putting in work to dominate his opponent and make them feel bad about their career choice.

Week 17, first quarter, 0:49. Kevin Dotson (#69) is the left guard.

In the previous snap the Browns show blitz and drop, this time they bring the blitz, and if you count out the defender who makes Chukwuma Okorafor (#76, left tackle) stay out to account for him, the Browns have 5 rushers on 4 blockers. #33 comes free, but Mason Rudolph has room and time to get a clean throw off to Chase Claypool for the first down.

Look at David DeCastro and Kevin Dotson on this play, and how they collapse the rush into the middle, and in doing so actually take the rusher that J.C. Hassenauer is responsible for out of the play. Hassenauer helps, but the guards do the work. Dotson taking his friend from earlier (#94) and driving him into his linebacker is a great sight.

Week 16 involved a great second half performance from Ben Roethlisberger to comeback and beat the Colts. On film the biggest difference is Roethlisberger realized he didn’t have to get rid of the ball so fast, held on a bit longer and found receivers downfield. In Week 17 Mason Rudolph looked like a competent NFL quarterback, and plays like that 9 yard pass to Chase Claypool on 3rd and 8 against a blitz were a big part of it. The biggest part of that play’s success was the offensive line stopping the blitz and giving their quarterback a clean throw.

David DeCastro wasn’t playing well at the end of the season, but even then he and Kevin Dotson were able to give their quarterback time to make good throws and open holes in the run game. They also showed that they could cover for a young center who was struggling. There is a good amount of optimism for the Steelers offensive line in 2021, and there should be, based on what Kevin Dotson was able to bring to the offense in 2020.

The Point:

Offensive guard is one of the positions on the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers where a good argument could be made they have improved from the previous year. Kevin Dotson appears to be a younger, cheaper, and better version of what the Steelers lost at the position. What would be interesting is if the Steelers had chosen to re-sign Matt Feiler if he made the position switch yet again and moved back to tackle.

Kevin Dodson is the answer at guard for the Steelers for 2021 and beyond. The bigger question mark for this upcoming season at the position comes with David DeCastro and if he can return to his previous form or not. But the choice to move on from Matt Feiler, especially for $21 million over the next three seasons, was a no-brainer with Dotson waiting in the wings.

Podcast: How the new blood stacks up against Steelers legends

Behind the Steel Curtain - 9 hours 23 min ago

Matt Peverell breaks down the Steelers salary cap and player personnel situation every week in The War Room.

The Steelers have a plan at both tackle spots. But there may need to be a contingency should things not play out just right. Plus, how do the current stats stack up against black-and-gold legends? Join BTSC’s Matt Peverell for his solo show as he examines the ins-and-outs of the Steelers dollars and “sense” situation when it comes to personnel.

Check out the newest addition to the BTSC family of podcasts and stay a while with Matty in The War Room.

Rundown of the show:

  • The Approximation Value (from Pro Football Reference) of current Steelers players and a few notable legends
  • LT and RTs available in next year’s offseason based on current players with 1-year on their deals, as something to think about if Chuks and Banner don’t progress like expected.
  • Two wild dark-horse suggestions, and stat analysis, for OLBs to fill backup spots that would be an upgrade on Cassius Marsh and have shown promise at 26 & 27 years of age.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE


Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Minicamp Recap, Day 2: James Pierre turning heads, ready to step up in 2021

Behind the Steel Curtain - 10 hours 33 min ago
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the gridiron for mandatory minicamp, and plenty of news came from their last on-field work before training camp.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Wednesday for the second of three mandatory minicamp practices, and while things weren’t as new and fresh as Day 1, there was plenty of news to talk about after the practice, and media sessions, came to a close.

Tuesday the Steelers’ new offense, and offensive coordinator Matt Canada, took center stage. It was the first time the newly hired coordinator spoke in front of the media since he was promoted from quarterbacks coach.

But while everyone was infatuated with asking questions about how Ben Roethlisberger will be utilized in Canada’s offense, Day 2 saw a rather unknown defender take the spotlight. That defender would be none other than James Pierre.

Towards the end of the 2020 season, it was Pierre, not Justin Layne, who saw significant playing time down the stretch. After Mike Hilton left via free agency, and Steven Nelson was a cap casualty, fans are wondering who will fill the voids left by those aforementioned players.

When you listen to the Steelers coaches, mainly special teams coordinator Danny Smith and secondary coach Teryl Austin, Pierre is set up to see significant starting repetitions this season.

Followed up with Steelers secondary coach Teryl Austin on 2nd-year UDFA James Pierre, who's competing to replace Steve Nelson as a starter. Austin: "I think there will be a big jump with him. I’m hoping we have all of a sudden found ourselves a nice, big corner for the future."

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) June 16, 2021

Pierre spoke to the media following practice Wednesday, and he outlined some plays which happened during minicamp. He started by talking about a play on Tuesday he missed, and his receiver caught the ball. Pierre said it made him sick, but motivated him for Wednesday.

And what a Wednesday he had.

Pierre got his hands on the football multiple times, many of those being interceptions, and it caught the attention of everyone in attendance, especially Ben Roethlisberger. Pierre looks to be a huge piece of the Steelers’ puzzle moving forward, but how they utilize him will be something to watch as training camp approaches at the end of July.

Now for some other nuggets of information coming from Day 2 of minicamp:

Avoiding the Drops

One aspect of the receiving corps which certainly has been beaten to death this offseason has been the drops. Whether it was Diontae Johnson or Eric Ebron, everyone has been talking about the drops, and receiver coach Ike Hilliard has also been talking to the receivers about dropping the football. It might not be enough for the fans, but know Hilliard acknowledges the issues and is working to eliminate those mistakes.

Steelers WRs coach Ike Hilliard: "Drops are part of the game. Obviously we had too many balls on the ground. It's been discussed. Our group understands and they know we have to do a better job of not putting the ball on the ground. We work at it every day."

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) June 16, 2021 Plug-and-Play Offense

Speaking of Hilliard, he was asked what type of receiver he wanted in this new offense the Steelers are rolling out under Matt Canada. The best way he could describe it was the more versatility you bring, the better. JuJu Smith-Schuster is a perfect example of someone who can play every receiver position on the field, this attribute makes him an easy weapon to have on the field.

WR Coach Ike Hilliard said they are working on an offense where they can plug and play guys. In relation to JuJu Smith-Schuster wanting to move outside, he said they will work on putting guys where they can be the most productive and make plays.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) June 16, 2021 A Business Decision

Joe Haden spoke to the media and was asked about his former running mate Steven Nelson being released. Haden said it was a surprise, and difficult, but he knew it was a business decision. He spoke highly of Nelson, but Haden has to be appreciative of the fact it was Nelson, and not himself, who was released due to salary cap constraints.

Joe Haden on the release of Steve Nelson: "I was a little surprised but it's a business thing. I think it had a lot to do with cap numbers. We're older players and had one year left on our deals. ...

"it was a business decision. Steve is a baller."

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) June 16, 2021 Punter Sneak?!

When Danny Smith talks, he is good for some funny one-liners. Smith was peppered with questions surrounding his newest punter, Pressley Harvin III, and he spoke about a play he is hoping to install in 2021. Ever heard for a punt-sneak? No? Get ready! Smith was obviously joking, or was he?

Steelers ST coordinator Danny Smith, who never disappoints, says of 250-pound rookie punter Pressley Harvin: "The first thing we're doing with him is, you're gonna see a punt-sneak play with this big dude! Maybe we can get a yard."

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) June 16, 2021 Golf Match Set

Tuesday T.J. Watt complimented Joe Haden’s golf game, and there seems to be a big time match brewing within the Steelers locker room. The match would have Haden and Watt as partners vs. Ben Roethlisberger and his brother. Haden is hopeful to get some strokes, and he should considering Roethlisberger was quite the accomplished golfer prior to his elbow injury in 2019. Hopefully the betting line will be announced soon...

Joe Haden's golf advice to TJ Watt: "I told him you got to swing the club a lot. I’ve been doing a whole lot of golfing out in LA after training."

Haden and Watt are supposed to play a match vs. Ben Roethlisberger and his brother. Haden hopes he and Watt get a lot of strokes.

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) June 16, 2021 Press Conferences

Mike Tomlin and James Pierre (If you can’t see the video below, click HERE)

Joe Haden (If you can’t see the video below, click HERE)

Day 2 Live Look-In

There was no live look-in for Wednesday’s practice.


7 with goal line throws to his receivers.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) June 16, 2021

Another episode of Running Back Drills with Eddie Faulkner with almost a causality.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) June 16, 2021

Love watching @coachfaulk’s drills at practice. Another fun one here with @DerekWatt34 taking his turn.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) June 16, 2021

This is in real speed. Those are some quick feet @ohthatsNajee22 has.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) June 17, 2021

So much for the “injury” Tuesday. This guy was back on the practice field today. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) June 17, 2021

.@joehaden23 on Cam Sutton & anticipating the younger guys to step up:

Full :

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 16, 2021 PHOTOS

The Steelers’ second minicamp practice has concluded. Ben Roethlisberger was back out at Heinz Field today, while JuJu Smith-Schuster was in sweats.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) June 16, 2021

Minicamp Day 2️⃣@_TJWatt's excited

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 16, 2021

It wouldn’t be Wednesday without a #BensDay post

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 16, 2021

Steelers work out on day 2 of minicamp Wednesday at Heinz Field.

— Matt Freed (@mattfreedpghpg) June 16, 2021

.@VinnyVidiVici98 gettin' after it

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 16, 2021

7 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin following Day 2 of minicamp

Behind the Steel Curtain - 11 hours 48 min ago
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking to the media for the second straight day, the Steelers head coach was asked about Day 2 of Steelers minicamp.

As the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers assembled together at Heinz Field again on Wednesday for, we were also graced with another media session from head coach Mike Tomlin. Since he was asked about a number of players following the team’s activities, another “players mentioned” article is able to make a brief appearance before the lull in football activities kicks in for several weeks. To qualify as one of the “players” I kept the names highlighted limited to members of the Steelers’ current roster. Remember these are players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.

James Pierre

One of the more intriguing reports from Day 2 of minicamp at Heinz Field was James Pierre had two interceptions. Coach Tomlin was asked about Pierre’s development.

“He’s one of those second-year guys that we all have high expectations for. I think it’s reasonable when you’ve been around a guy that’s been in the program and understands what to expect, what’s needed of him physically, what’s needed of him mentally, and so forth. I think we’re looking for all of those second-year players who gained experience and that guy gained a lot of experience last year. He didn’t play a lot of defense, but he had a helmet on every week, he was preparing every week, he was a critical component of our special teams unit, and that usually is an indication of the guys ready to proceed and advance. I think it’s reasonable to expect him to do so.”

Antoine Brooks Jr

The only rookie drafted in 2020 who did not make the Steelers 53-man roster to begin the season, Antoine Brooks still received playing time in his first year in the NFL. Coach Tomlin was asked about what makes him believe that Brooks could play in the slot position.

“He played the slot for us some last year in regular season football games when Mike Hilton missed a block of time. One, specifically, here at home, he probably played 25-plus snaps or so of defense. His college resume indicates that he has capabilities in that area. We’ve worked him there in the past. He’s had some success. He’ll be given an opportunity to continue to grow and develop and display those skills, and we’ll determine, when we get close to the action, how we divide the labor and who does what. But he’s done a good job of that thus far.

Dwayne Haskins

Pittsburgh Steelers added another former first-round draft pick to their roster in 2021 when they signed Dwayne Haskins after he was released by the Washington Football Team. Coach Tomlin was asked about what he has learned about Haskins in his short time in Pittsburgh.

“Really, I’ve been more concerned about Dwayne the person, kind of getting to know him and getting an understanding of what he’s been through and how that’s shaped him, affected him positively and negatively, how it’s affected the growth and development of his game. I think, more than anything, Dwayne and I are just trying to get to know one another. I think it starts there, and then we can focus on some things relative to the game itself. I leave some of the minutia and some of the detail about his football development between him and Sully (Mike Sullivan) and (Matt) Canada. I just want to get to know the young man and help him grow in that way.”

Joe Haden

When looking at the Steelers secondary, there is one player who stands out due to his extensive experience. Coach Tomlin was asked about Joe Haden’s veteran leadership and what the younger guys can learn from him.

“The PG County boys, it just uplifts their day when Joe’s here. Joe’s a leader of the secondary. He’s a leader of the guys from DC, but Joe is just a natural leader. He wears that in a very natural way, a very welcoming way. He calms the waters, if you will. He’s a guy that displays veteran presence and poise almost in all circumstances.”

David DeCastro & Zach Banner

After losing offensive captain Maurkice Pouncey to retirement following the 2020 season, the Steelers offensive line lost their long-time leader. Coach Tomlin was asked if the leadership on the offensive line would fall to David DeCastro because of his experience of to a big personality like Zach Banner

“I think that’s something that happens organically through the process. I think when guys like me try to create that, it’s not authentic. So there’ll be enough adversity and enough challenges and enough opportunities to let natural leadership ability show throughout this process. And that’s one of the interesting subplots that I’m interested in watching develop.”

Diontae Johnson

One of the biggest problems with the Steelers young wide receivers last year came in the category of drops. Leading the way was 2019 third-round draft pick Diontae Johnson. Coach Tomlin was asked if he was on top of the the issue Johnson had last year with drops.

“I haven’t given a lot of thought about it. Last year is last year. Everyone starts anew as far as I’m concerned. It hadn’t been a real topic of discussion to be quite honest with you.”

Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen here:

Podcast: The Steelers’ age is just a number, or is it?

Behind the Steel Curtain - 13 hours 18 min ago

The Oracle Dave Schofield shares his thoughts in the AM platform with the classic stats show with the Co-Editor of BTSC.

Over the years the Steelers have had more veteran-laden teams and then there were other seasons when the roster included a long list of younger players. So, does the average age of the Steelers affected success at all? Thank goodness for the Stat Geek to break it all “dahn”. This is just one of the topics that will be discussed on the Thursday episode of the AM slate of the BTSC family of podcasts. Join Co-Editor Dave Schofield as he pulls out the Steelers slide rule and geeks out only like he can.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The average age of the Steelers and how it affects success
  • and MUCH MORE!

Be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE


Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Keith Butler talks of the Steelers taking a wait-and-see approach at the OLB position

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 2:35pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers might be adding an OLB, but not anytime soon.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 offseason roster is set, but that doesn’t mean new players won’t be added, or removed, from the list. One position the Steelers could certainly see a player added would be outside linebacker (OLB).

Currently, the Steelers depth chart at the position looks like this:

OLB1: T.J. Watt
OLB2: Alex Highsmith
OLB3: Cassius Marsh
OLB4: Quincy Roche

You might be wondering where the other names are, but there aren’t any. That would consist of the entire Steelers’ OLB depth chart. But could the team add talent at the position? It is a possibility, and one defensive coordinator Keith Butler spoke about Tuesday during his media session.

“That’s going to be up to Mike [Tomlin] and Kevin [Colbert] to look elsewhere and stuff like that, to give us a little depth right there.” Butler said. “So we’ll see as we go along training camp and preseason. We’ve got the four preseason games, playing in the Hall of Fame and all of that stuff. The good thing about all of that is it gives us a chance to evaluate who we have and who we don’t have. Hopefully we can find somebody that we think is capable of being as good as we have been in the past. So we’ll see what happens there, and if we need somebody else I’m sure Kevin and Mike will look around.”

It was Butler who said after the 2021 NFL Draft he team might not be done adding talent, and while they did add a few more pieces to the puzzle, none were at the pass rushing position.

The Steelers are now in the midst of mandatory minicamp, and Butler was asked what, if anything, he can take away from these workouts? The answer? Not much.

“Well, really, the only thing you can tell with guys with shorts on is how fast are they really and how do they react and how smart they are, stuff like that. And that’s fine. Our coaching staff and Mike [Tomlin] too, we want a physical team. We want to be a physical defense and we’re not gonna know where we are in terms of that until we put the pads on and we go through the preseason and let them play real games and tackle real people and the offensive line is out there trying to block them. So we’ll kind of wait and see on that with those guys and see if we’ve got some guys who are going to be physical.”

The biggest question surrounding the defense, and primarily the OLBs, would be T.J. Watt. Watt didn’t attend Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and will have a huge role within the defense in 2021. Did Watt not being present impact the team in any way? Did Watt miss out on any critical information?

“T.J. [Watt] is a big part of our defense, a big part of our team. He’s doing what he thinks is best for him and he’s gotta do that, I think. I support him as much as anybody because I was once a player too, who had to do the same thing going into free agency and stuff like that. There’s a reason that the Player’s Association got what they got in terms of better free agency stuff. He’s not a free agent right now—he’s still gotta go through the clause—but we’re hoping we can get him signed and get him in for training camp and stuff like that. He’s a big part of our defense.”

The Steelers very well might be waiting for training camp to assess their OLB situation, but they could also be waiting for other NFL teams to cut down their rosters prior to the regular season. Either way, it doesn’t look like the Steelers are going to settle for their current depth chart at OLB heading into 2021.

Putting Matt Canada’s “Do what Ben wants to do” comments in context

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 1:00pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Steelers new offensive coordinator drew criticism as fans feared they will see the same offense in 2021.

On Tuesday morning, Steelers new offensive coordinator Matt Canada spoke with the media in a zoom press conference. While Canada spoke about a number of things about the Steelers offense for 2021, one particular quote stands out more than others.

“We are going to do what Ben wants to do and how Ben wants to do it.”

When Steelers fans hear this, nightmares of the end of the 2020 season start to creep back into their minds. With former offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner having a reputation of being “Ben’s guy” and Roethlisberger actually being more of the offensive coordinator, there is a fear that Canada might just allow more of the same. But is this really what Matt Canada meant by his comment?

To dive into the quote further, it’s time to take a look at the exact question that was asked and Canada‘s full response. The question came courtesy of NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala. She asked about what parts of Ben Roethlisberger‘s game Canada wanted to keep and how has the adjustment been in getting Roethlisberger into some new things.

Canada began his response by emphasizing the importance of the quarterback position. “I think in football, it is 11 men doing their job, but the quarterback is the focal point,” Canada explained. “It’s the greatest position in all of sport, in my opinion, because of all the things you have to do.”

This is now the complete setup to the portion of the quote which has been passed around social media.

“We are going to do what Ben wants to do and how Ben wants to do it,” Canada stated. “Our job is putting every player in a position to make plays.”

Where Canada definitely gets it right is embracing the job of putting every player in a position to succeed. A common theme we have seen this offseason is the Steelers focusing on the message to their players of taking what they do well and getting even better at it. Playing to everyone’s strengths. It’s a great philosophy and one which should bring success.

Where Canada may have not phrased things in the best manner is his choice of the word “wants.” Is Canada simply wanting to do what Ben Roethlisberger is wanting to do, or was he actually referring to doing things which would build to Roethlisberger’s strengths? Perhaps as we read further into the quote we will get a better picture.

“There are changes with terminology and how we are calling things which has been a challenge for Ben, and he has been great and learning it. Doing really well with it. I think he has adapted easily just like we all know he would.”

Okay. Nothing so far to add to Canada’s true intention of the point of contention. Let’s keep going.

“But the answer to your question, that is our job,” Canada continued. “Matchups are how you win football games. It starts with the quarterback. What does he do well? What does he like? What does he see? What is good to his eye in the passing game and then you build off of that and that is what we are going to do.”

Interesting. If looking at this statement and compare it to the earlier one, perhaps “wants” is not the best choice of words. It seems as if Canada is talking about building to Ben Roethlisberger strengths. Some may assume that the things Ben Roethlisberger does best are the things he wants to do. While Steelers fans can’t say that for sure, perhaps the man who spent the last season as Roethlisberger‘s quarterbacks coach and is now his new offensive coordinator would know a little better.

Another interesting phrase from this response was Canada saying “What does he like?” Maybe the word “like” is it better choice than “wants,” although it may not be a better situation in the eyes of many fans.

This still was not the end of Canada‘s response. There is still one sentence left. I specifically held it back because I think it is a great conclusion to the entire answer.

“His voice and his vision, what he sees is will be what we do.”

Now the intention comes into focus a little more once seeing things as a whole. If Steelers fans are concerned about Roethlisberger simply “drawing up plays in the dirt” and figuring out what he thinks will work for every game in 2021, this does not appear to be the case. But an offensive coordinator coming in to work with a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback with 17 years of NFL experience would be foolish not to rely on what he sees on the field.

If you were still concerned about the exact choice of words Canada used in regards to doing what Ben wants, perhaps the answer to the very next question will ease your mind.

The following question came courtesy of Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He asked about the importance of the quarterback being under center and running play action and if Ben Roethlisberger can do those things well at this point of his career.

“Ben can do everything really well. I don’t have any concern about Ben doing anything we want to do to that part of your question. As far as, if you are going to run the football, I think play-action is very important. We have to be able to run the ball.”

If Steelers’ Nation is still concerned over Canada‘s remarks on Tuesday, I think looking at a greater sample of what he said can give a little more peace of mind. Canada has not done a lot of press conferences since coming to the NFL, so perhaps maybe he just phrased things in a way which didn’t accurately depict what he meant.

Then again, perhaps the exact wording he used is exactly what he meant.

Until the Steelers take the field in the regular season this fall, we probably still won’t know exactly how things are going to pan out with Ben Roethlisberger running Matt Canada’s offense and exactly how it will look. But for now, Steelers fans will likely take Canada‘s words and run with them in whichever way they wants to go.

Steelers Minicamp Tracker: Compiling various reports from Day 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 12:29pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are at Heinz Field for the final phase of the 2021 offseason.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are at Heinz Field for Day 2 of 2021 minicamp. This week will be the first time the Steelers entire offseason roster will be together, as well as the last time until training camp begins at the end of July.

When it comes to reports from mandatory minicamp, there may not be much information for Steelers fans. One thing we know for sure is Steelers Live will be presenting a show at 1 PM while minicamp is going on at Heinz Field. The link to that show will be in the tracker below as soon as it is available.

As for any other details coming from minicamp, we will do our best to post them in here once available. Reports should run from earliest to most recent as you scroll down the page.


It appears Steelers Live will not be broadcasting from minicamp on Wednesday. If a later broadcast occurs, it will be posted here.

Other News:

Day 2 of Steelers minicamp set to begin. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) June 16, 2021

#Steelers Special Teams Coordinator Danny Smith on Pressley Harvin: He's a talented guy. He's got a lot to learn...he's a powerful young man and we're just perfecting his skill set...we're very excited about him and working with him.

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) June 16, 2021

Teryl Austin said it's great to have Joe Haden, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds playing their third year together so when anyone who comes in new to the secondary, that veteran leadership (including Cam Sutton) is really important when you have turnover.

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) June 16, 2021

.@joehaden23 on Cam Sutton & anticipating the younger guys to step up:

Full :

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 16, 2021

The Steelers’ second minicamp practice has concluded. Ben Roethlisberger was back out at Heinz Field today, while JuJu Smith-Schuster was in sweats.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) June 16, 2021

Podcast: Fatherhood and the Steelers with Sam Highsmith 

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 11:00am

In the spirit of brotherly love, siblings Dave and Rich Schofield break down all things surrounding the black-and-gold.

As we celebrate Fathers Day this weekend, we turn to a father to ask about his experience as an NFL dad. Sam Highsmith joins the Brothers Scho to talk about his football journey with his son Alex from Pop Warner to Pittsburgh. This will be just one of the subjects that will be discussed in the latest installment of the BTSC family of podcasts, The Scho Bro Show.

As always, it sure is a good time to get on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-Gold. On this show, Dave and Big Bro Scho break down all things Steelers, still talk stats, and also answer questions from fans!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Am interview with an NFL father Sam Highsmith
  • Steelers Q&A

Dave and Rich walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-Gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel.

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE


Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Training Camp Battles: Which TE will round out the depth chart?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 10:00am
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2021 NFL Draft a thing of the past, we look ahead to some training camp battles facing the Steelers this season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are still in the early stages of the 2021 offseason, but with the 2021 NFL Draft over the attention now turns to the regular season. There are steps along the way, mandatory minicamp, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and training camp, but the position battles which will take shape throughout the offseason are worth discussion.

Sure, things could change between now and the start of training camp. Injuries, acquisitions and players emerging can alter the outcome of these battles, but there will be several key battles taking place. In this series, myself and Dave Schofield will be giving our analysis and prediction for each training camp battle which will unfold at some point this offseason.

Today we take a look at a position/battle for the Steelers’ offense. This battle involves the tight ends, and hasn’t been discussed yet. This debate is which player will lock down the TE3 on the depth chart? For this exercise, we are making a pretty safe assumption, and that being Eric Ebron being TE1 and Pat Freiermuth being TE2.

With that being said, this debate will be structured just around the depth chart. Which tight end will round out the tight end depth chart? Kevin Rader? Zach Gentry? Dax Raymond?

Who wins the battle? Dave and I give our predictions below, but be sure to let us know what you think in the poll below, and be sure to explain your vote in the comment section!

Jeff Hartman

Analysis: The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who isn’t infatuated with the tight end position. Not that they don’t value it, but they certainly don’t consider it the focal point of the offense. There is no denying Ebron is the top tight end, and rookie Freiermuth is someone who is expected to contribute right away in some capacity. This makes you wonder if the Steelers will carry three tight ends on the roster, and if they do, will they even be active on game day?

Prediction: First, I do believe the Steelers will carry three tight ends, and the selection of that third tight end will come down to one facet of the game — special teams. Kevin Rader is a player who jumped off the screen when he was given an opportunity on special teams in 2020. That matters. Gentry and Raymond don’t provide anything which is so glaring it makes this a slam dunk decision. The only thing Gentry has which the others don’t is the fact he was a drafted player. That won’t be enough, and I think Rader is the TE3 when the dust settles and the team prepares for the 2021 regular season.

Dave Schofield

Analysis: As mentioned before, TE3 is not a guaranteed roster spot. Although the Steelers have carried three players at the position in general, there have been times where they have only had two active for game day. Whether this will be the case with new offensive coordinator Matt Canada remains to be seen. The only way the Steelers are going to use a third tight end on game day is if they actually use them. Otherwise, the active player spots are too coveted.

Prediction: It seems like I may have convinced Jeff to change his tune as he had Gentry as the other tight end on the roster when we did our 53-man prediction. I like the fact that Rader impressed so much on special teams in Week 17 last year that he was active for the Wild Card game. I don’t know if he brings much as a receiver, but if the Steelers are looking for someone to bring more to the team than just his offensive position then Rader is the guy. Also, I would not be shocked if the third tight end on the Steelers 53-man roster is not currently on the Steelers 90-man roster.

Other Training Camp Battle Breakdowns:

Minicamp Recap, Day 1: Matt Canada and the offense take center stage

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 8:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the gridiron for mandatory minicamp, and plenty of news came from their last on-field work before training camp.

The Pittsburgh Steelers started their first of three mandatory minicamp workouts Tuesday, and the offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, took center stage. No, he did nothing dramatic on the field, and wasn’t overly boisterous.

He just spoke.

Some might think this isn’t a huge ordeal, but this was the first time Canada spoke with the media since he was hired this past winter. It was the media’s first chance to ask him questions about his offense, where he sees it going and how Ben Roethlisberger fits into the scheme.

Before getting into some of the things Canada said, it should be noted he is a coach, and one under Mike Tomlin, who will toe the company line when asked questions.

When asked about the transition for Roethlisberger, Canada downplayed Roethlisberger having to learn an entirely new system. In fact, Canada suggested they will do what Roethlisberger can, and wants to do.

Matt Canada on transition to the system for QB Ben Roethlisberger:

"We'll do what Ben wants to do what and how he wants to do it."

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) June 15, 2021

On top of that, Canada even suggested his new offense doesn’t involve any sweeping or drastic changes to the offense. Some are suggesting Canada’s offense is going to be night and day from what the Steelers ran under Randy Fichtner, but Canada insists there are no major changes to the offense.

Just blowing smoke? Take it for what it’s worth.

Steelers OC Matt Canada said his offense doesn't involve "drastic changes." He likes what the players have picked up so far. "Guys have been great. I feel like we've had a great work environment from all sides -- coaches and players."

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) June 15, 2021

This isn’t to suggest there aren’t questions on the defensive side of the ball heading into the 2021 regular season, but how the offense will be the primary focus for the majority of the fan base and media. Can Canada sculpt an offense which allows Roethlisberger to not throw the ball 40+ times a game? Can Canada be the offensive genius everyone talks about at the college level? The foundation is just starting to be built...

Now more nuggets of information from Tuesday’s minicamp workout:

Watt’s Workload

During T.J. Watt’s media session, he was asked about whether he feels he will be able to stay on the field as long as necessary. Clearly, the depth at OLB is in question, but Watt wasn’t about to suggest he stay on the field longer than he normally would. However, Watt did say if he had some gas left in the proverbial tank, he would be staying on the field.

T.J. Watt on if he can push his workload even more: "If we trust the depth behind us I have no problem with taking a break and letting the guy behind me get some reps. But if it is third down and I have a little bit of gas in the tank, I am going to try to get that rep."

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) June 15, 2021 Injuries?

Two players, namely Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster, didn’t finish practice. But before fans start to stress about injuries to two key offensive players, Mike Tomlin threw water on those flames immediately after practice. It also should be noted the NFL doesn’t mandate teams release injury information during minicamp.

Mike Tomlin says he is not required to discuss injuries and so he won't. Asked specifically abt JuJu Smith-Schuster leaving early and Ben Roethlisberger needing attention from a trainer, Tomlin says, "Rest assured, if I thought something was significant I would address it."

— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) June 15, 2021 Near Perfect Attendance

The Steelers nearly had perfect attendance for minicamp, but the one outlier had a legitimate excuse. Tomlin stated Stephon Tuitt, who recently lost his brother in a hit and run accident in Georgia, was tending to family matters. He was the lone player to miss practice.

89 of the 90 were in attendance at Steelers minicamp. Stephon Tuitt was excused.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) June 15, 2021

Don't see Stephon Tuitt here at Steelers minicamp. Tuitt's brother was killed in a hit-and-run recently. Completely understandable. David DeCastro is here but not participating. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) June 15, 2021 Steelers Vaccination Efforts

The Steelers organization is quickly getting their players and coaches vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus, and this is something Mike Tomlin was extremely proud of when he was asked about it during his post-practice press conference.

Mike Tomlin says #Steelers are 'tops of the league' in vaccinations. Said 'a couple more' Steelers got vaccinated today as well. Wouldn't give specifics but seemed comfortable with the situation.

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) June 15, 2021 Extra Work

You can say a lot about the Steelers and the decisions which have taken place this offseason, but you can’t say the players aren’t hard workers and dedicated. Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network noticed how Watt, and the secondary, stayed on the field well after practice ended to continue working on their respective crafts.

The #Steelers entire secondary is still out here too. Teryl Austin is NOT done teaching.

— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) June 15, 2021 Press Conferences

Mike Tomlin (If video is blocked, click HERE)

T.J. Watt and Terrell Edmunds (If video is blocked, click HERE)

Day 1 Live Look-In

#LIVE: Steelers Live: Minicamp Edition@missi_matthews & @DVEMike are live from @heinzfield as the @steelers take the field for minicamp.

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) June 15, 2021 VIDEO

Just a gorgeous day here. My goodness. Nice cool breeze, too. Forty seconds of footage from Steelers minicamp right now:

— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) June 15, 2021

Najee with the catch and the tumble

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) June 15, 2021

.@_Dbush11 in slow-mo

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 15, 2021

.@_TJWatt on working with @highsmith34:

Full :

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 15, 2021

.@joehaden23, help the guy out!@_TJWatt | Full :

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 15, 2021 PHOTOS


— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 15, 2021

Just the beginning

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 15, 2021

Steelers complete the first day of minicamp Tuesday at Heinz Field.

— Matt Freed (@mattfreedpghpg) June 15, 2021

The guy lifts

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 15, 2021

7 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin following Day 1 of minicamp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 7:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In the first press conference since the 2021 NFL draft, the Steelers head coach was asked about Day 1 of Steelers minicamp.

As the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers assembled together at Heinz Field on Tuesday for the very first time, we were also graced with a media session from head coach Mike Tomlin. Since he was asked about a number of players following the team’s activities, a “players mentioned” article is able to make a brief appearance before the lull in football activities kicks in for several weeks. To qualify as one of the “players” I kept the names highlighted limited to members of the Steelers’ current roster. Remember these are players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.

Ben Roethlisberger & JuJu Smith-Schuster

Two players who were hindered slightly with minor ailments the first day of minicamp were quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Despite saying he would only talk about significant injures, Coach Tomlin was asked if he would walk through what happened with Roethlisberger’s potential injury.

“I won’t.”

Tomlin was also asked if we are safe assume the injury to JuJu Smith-Schuster is not significant.

“Yes, you are.”

Even after his previous responses, Coach Tomlin was asked if we should expect to see Roethlisberger and Smith-Schuster at Day 2 of minicamp.

“You can expect whatever you wish. We’ll see what tomorrow holds.”

David DeCastro

Getting into the category of “beating a dead horse” when it comes to injured players, Coach Tomlin was asked about David DeCastro being at minicamp but not participating.

“Again, if I thought injury circumstances or reasons why people were not participating were significant, I would share them with you, but I’m not going to address day to day like things in this environment. It’s not required.”

Terrell Edmunds

Steelers 2018 first-round draft pick Terrell Edmunds did not have his fifth-year option picked up last month. Coach Tomlin was asked if there was anything different dealing with the situation with Edmunds based on his contract or if it could be used as motivation.

“This is grown men business. This is football at its highest level. Tough decisions and tough conversations happen daily and it’s just part of the environment that we’re in. I think we all understand that and we all try to approach it in as professional and sensitive a manner as we can.”

Alex Highsmith & T.J. Watt

For the first time in his NFL career, T.J. Watt is going into the season with a different outside linebacker set to lineup opposite of him to start the 2021 season. Coach Tomlin was asked about Alex Highsmith and if he can develop the chemistry with Watt the Steelers have seen at the position the last four seasons.

“It starts first with two really good players. The best thing that Alex can do is continue to sharpen his skills and get better and grow and develop as a player. You know we’ve got great expectations for a second-year guy in terms of proceeding in his career and taking a step not only in understanding the preparedness, but production and consistency. He’s been a highly professional, mature young man, and so I think it’s reasonable to expect those things to happen. But make no mistake, before you start talking about dynamic duos and tandems and so forth, it requires two big-time, varsity players. And so he’s working to grow and improve his game.”

James Pierre

The Steelers have some vacated position for 2020 in the defensive secondary which will play out during the preseason. Coach Thompson was asked about one specific cornerback, James Pierre, and both what he saw from him last season and what improvements he would like to see for 2021.

“I saw consistent varsity gunner play. Often times, when you have that level of consistency and performance in a special teams area, it’s often an indication of advancement or maturity and growth opportunity in the other phases as well. I think over the course of my time here, the young guys that are consistent and perform in that area usually ascend within the offensive or defensive unit and so it’s reasonable to expect him to do that. He got a lot of in-game experience last year, although it was in a special teams area. I think that field time and that game speed exposure will help in the growth and development. I think it is reasonable to expect him to utilize that experience as a catalyst for his growth on defense.”

Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen here:

A 12 team college football playoff could one day give the NFL playoffs a run for their money

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 6:00am
Photo by UA Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Look out, NFL, a 12-team college football tournament could be coming for your popularity.

There are few new sports proposals that excite me these days.

Even when something does come along, like the proposed 4th and 15 “onside kick” that was championed by the Eagles in 2020—and, again, in 2021—it gets shot down fast. Speaking of the NFL, I am genuinely happy about a 17th regular-season game in 2021, but I try not to share my happiness with other NFL fans, lest they think I’m trolling them. The same can be said for my support of expanding the postseason field from 12 to 14 teams a season ago.

I’m too afraid that I’ll anger the folks who don’t want more NFL football...for some reason.

But there is a new proposal out there that has me jumping for joy, and that’s the idea of expanding the college football playoff field from four to 12 teams. The proposal made news last week and is currently being explored by a four-person committee.

I’m not a betting man, but I’d wager that a 12-team field will most likely become a reality at some point. From what I’ve read, it’s a rather logical idea that will award an automatic bid to each champion of the Power Five conferences, plus a bid for a champion from one of the Group of Five conferences (I just learned that term but think MAC or Mountain West Conference). The other six seeds will be at-large bids and will most likely be dominated by the SEC and Notre Dame.

I can’t wait. I think sports fans need an expanded college playoff field. Why? Excitement, that’s why. Also, I believe the team that eventually gets to hoist that weird-looking CFP trophy will seem like a more legit champion. One of the weirder realities in modern sports has been the crowning of a CFB college football national champion after the smallest of tournaments, and even that only became a thing fairly recently—there was a time when the media just voted for the winner. Will there be a 13th team that is angry just about every year because it didn’t get in? Will at least one Group of Five winner feel like it got screwed more often than not? Yes and yes, but there will always be THAT in college athletics.

Mostly, I like the fact that an expanded field will keep more college football fans and teams invested in the idea of claiming that weird-looking trophy. As a fan of the Pitt Panthers, I can dream the impossible dream. Heck, if you’re a fan of the Temple Owls, you may be able to dream of an Elite Eight appearance that doesn’t involve legendary basketball coach, the late, great John Chaney.

It’s going to be fantastic! Look out, NFL, an expanded college football field could one day give your postseason tournament a run for its money. Why? Fun. Excitement. Passion.

You ever watch a college football game? Those folks in attendance—often 100,000 packed in like sardines dressed in primary colors— don’t seem all that worried about traffic, the price of a beer or even the level of competition. They’re there to cheer on their teams. It’s a three-hour celebration consisting of fight songs, dances and chants. The fans are into it. The players are into it. Not much is considered a distraction because, well, that’s just silly.

It’s a stark contrast to today’s NFL climate where everyone from the owners to the coaches to the players and fans is wound about as tight as LaMarr Woodley’s hamstrings.

Do you think college football fans care about touchdown celebrations? No. They probably want to join in—they often do when they storm the field after a huge win.

Anyway, just wait until the ratings for the 12-team field come out. They may not rival the NFL’s right away, but I can see it happening eventually. I can certainly envision a 12-team football field quickly surpassing the 68-team basketball tournament in an “I gotta call off work” kind of way.

What about those brackets? Would you give top seed Alabama the edge over 8th seed Michigan State? Sure, but what if it’s Auburn, the Tide’s top rival? An actual playoff matchup between those two schools could cause the entire state of Alabama to implode...days before kickoff.

I also like the idea of the four highest-ranked conference winners getting automatic byes. If that part of the proposal remains intact, Notre Dame, a football program that never wants to be part of a conference, will always have to play three games to be crowned champion. Speaking of which, what if Alabama doesn’t win the SEC one year and has to take the long route to the title, while Baylor, the Big 12 champion, only has to play two games?

Talk about evening the playing field between the traditional haves and the have nots.

One thing I will say about the NFL is it has always been great about creating a system that gives every team an equal chance. Even if you don’t really believe a seventh seed can run the table en route to a Super Bowl title, at least that seventh seed has a chance to line up and give it a shot.

A 12-team playoff field could combine college football’s passion with the NFL’s belief in parity and make for the most glorious postseason tournament we’ve ever seen.

Finally, who knows what a 12-team college football postseason field will ultimately look like when it does officially become a reality, but it might be the greatest thing to hit the sports world since the advent of the Super Bowl.

Podcast: Has Le’Veon Bell’s Pittsburgh bridge imploded?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 06/16/2021 - 4:30am

Jeff Hartman brings an AM studio show to the BTSC family of podcasts with the latest episode of “Let’s Ride“.

Le’Veon Bell does not have a job and has spouted off against every team he has played for in the NFL. It actually seems like his verbal assault against the Steelers has been the most mild. But has he burned his Pittsburgh bridges beyond repair? This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts. Join BTSC co-editor Jeff Hartman for this and more on “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Note
  • The Live Mail Bag
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE


Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

The self destruction of Le’Veon Bell

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/15/2021 - 2:30pm
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Bell might’ve become the poster boy for ruining your career.

Le’veon Bell has put the exclamation point on one of the hardest falls from grace in recent NFL memory. Once thought to push Jerome Bettis and Franco Harris as the Steelers all-time greatest running back, Bell has flushed away his amazing potential and many are wondering will he ever play another snap in the NFL. From drug charges, to hold outs, and now talking ill of a respected head coach here’s a recap of Le’Veon Bell’s spiraling career.

August 2014 - DUI and marijuana possession - Suspended Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The first negative instance in the career of Le’Veon Bell was when he and fellow teammate LeGarrette Blount were arrested for driving under the influence and position of marijuana. Bell was originally suspended for the first four games of the 2014/15 season but an appeal reduced the suspension to two games.

August 2016 - Violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy - Suspended Photo by: 2016 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The following year while being in the NFL’s substance of abuse program he broke the rules earning himself another suspension. NFL Players who find themselves in the substance of abuse program have stricter rules following them including ramped up monthly testing. Bell would state the failed test was due to missing a scheduled appointment which the NFL would originally suspend the running back four games for. This suspension was also reduced but to three games.

2017 - First contract holdout Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

After receiving his first franchise tag designation Bell sat out all of the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason activities including OTA’s, mini camp, off field programs, and the entirety of training camp. Bell would sign his deal just prior to Week 1 and was given the starting duties right away.

2018 - Second contract holdout - Declined Steelers final offer Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire

When the Steelers slapped Bell with his second franchise tag the runner opted to not only miss out on offseason activities but the entire regular season as well. By missing the year Bell didn't make a penny on the 17 million dollar valuation of the tag. He also tuned down the Steelers final contract offer which was upwards of 5 years and 70 million dollars. Sure, the guaranteed money wasn't nearly that high but that's not how the Steelers structure any deal. If Bell performed well the Steelers most likely would have restructured his deal on a yearly basis making most of that money guaranteed anyway.

March 2019 - Signed to play behind the worst offensive line in the NFL Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The contract offer Bell was waiting for never came. Instead, he took what was likely the best offer on the table without actually thinking about the fit. Bell’s patient running style was lethal behind the Steelers solid offensive line. The Jets however had a terrible line and his patient running got him killed behind the line of scrimmage.

March 2019 - Critical of Ben Roethlisberger Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

After Bell signed with the Steelers he jumped in on the slagging Ben Roethlisberger tour which was guided by Antonio Brown staying: “Ben wants to win — but Ben wants to win his way, and that’s tough to play with. Ben won a Super Bowl, but he won when he was younger. Now he’s at this stage where he tries to control everything, and [the team] let him get there” .

Instead of being humble on his way out Bell ran his mouthed burned bridges. A theme of what was to come with his next few teams.

October 2020 - Demanded a trade - Released Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Bell/Jets marriage was doomed from the moment the former All-Pro signed the contract. Fed up of playing for a terrible team Bell demanded a trade. The problem was a year an a half of terrible production and an inflated contract made him un-acquirable. The Jets would have to bite the bullet and release Bell to get him off the team. Much like with Ben Roethlisberger, Bell made sure he was never welcome back to New York after his release.

June 2021 - Critical statement about Andy Reid Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Before I get to Bell’s statement about Andy Reid it’s also notable that Le’Veon once again put himself in a bad situation. The Chiefs loaded offense was a pass heavy scheme and had a number of skilled running backs ahead of him on the depth chart. The combination of the two meant Bell played exactly 0 snaps in this year’s Super Bowl game. More bad production, but for a successful team, further tanked Bell’s contract worth.

After his time in Kansas City was up Bell wanted his feelings known about the situation taking to social media to slam Andy Reid “I’ll never play for Andy Reid again... I’d retire first”. That phrase motivated many long time Chiefs who defended their coach. But once again Bell made the situation about himself and this time no team wanted to offer him a contract before hand and certainly don't want to after.

A wise man once told me, that if you met a rude person in the morning but went the rest of your day without meeting another rude person, you had a bad experience. But if you meet rude people all day long, then you’re the rude person. Given the fact Bell has complained about every team he’s ever played for, it should be time we start pointing the finger at Le’Veon Bell for ruining his own career. He has no one to blame but himself and should be the poster boy of what not to do when you get into the NFL.


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