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Newly acquired Morgan Burnett and Cameron Sutton have unique bond

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 2:55pm

The unique bond between Burnett and Sutton goes beyond the Steelers and the NFL.

NFL ties between players can be very interesting to track. Sometimes players come from the same hometown, possibly the same high school, have been rivals along the way or even attended the same college/university.

No matter the route, you will often find these ties go beyond their current employer.

This could certainly be true between the Pittsburgh Steelers’ second year cornerback Cameron Sutton, and newly acquired safety Morgan Burnett. The two never played together at any stop along the way, but they have a unique connection.

Burnett’s older brother, Cap, coached both Morgan and Cam in High School. On top of that, Cam was a regular attendee at Morgan’s annual football camp.

“We have a good relationship,” Burnett told Jacob Klinger of PennLive. “And our home town, we don’t have too many people come out of our hometown so I’m very proud and very supportive, especially with us being on the same team now.”

Sutton was also extremely excited when the news broke of Burnett’s signing. He posted this on his official Twitter page:

Soufside Legends On The Same Squad @MoBetta_42

— PickzBurgh (@CamSutton20) March 20, 2018

As you can imagine, Burnett has had a crazy few days since being courted, and signing, by the Steelers, but he certainly is planning on reaching out to Sutton when things calm down.

“There was so much going on in my head, but I’ll definitely give him a call today.” Burnett said.

For Sutton, going from a kid at Burnett’s football camp to being his teammate has to be a surreal experience, but the two will certainly make a tremendous tandem in the back end of the Steelers’ defensive secondary.

Both will have a lot of motivation to play well. Not just to win a championship, but for Sutton to put his injury-riddled rookie season behind him, and Burnett to show the Packers just what they are missing by letting him test the free agent market — finding his way to the Steel City.

The Steelers’ secondary is transforming with the dismissal of Robert Golden, Mike Mitchell and William Gay, and thankfully for the better.

Pittsburgh Steelers scouting department heavily involved in Penn State Pro Day

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 1:17pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers were in Happy Valley to watch the Penn State Pro Day.

When it comes to the keystone state, the Pittsburgh Steelers are heavily invested in the talent coming from the major universities in Pennsylvania. When Penn State University held their annual Pro Day, Steelers brass were in attendance to watch several prospects.

Steelers GM Kevin Colbert with new assistant coach Tom Bradley at #PennState’s Pro Day.

— Mark Wogenrich (@MarkWogenrich) March 20, 2018

#PennState linebacker Jason Cabinda chatting with Steelers GM Kevin Colbert.

— Mark Wogenrich (@MarkWogenrich) March 20, 2018

Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert talks with linebacker Jason Cabinda during Penn State pro day.

— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) March 20, 2018

While Colbert and company were likely there to see the usual suspects, there was one lesser known player who caught their attention — and who they spent some time talking with.

According to Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst, the Steelers were intrigued by defensive lineman Curtis Cothran.

Curtis Cothran one of the most underrated defensive lineman in this year’s draft and a player we grade as draftable, had a dominant day.

Cothran measured 6047 and 283 pounds, completed 26 reps on the bench and posted a 29-inch vertical jump and 9-foot-11 broad jump. He then timed 4.85 in the 40 and 7.72 in the three-cone. Cothran spent extensive time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans. He’s also taking an official visit to see the Pittsburgh Steelers and has been invited to local pro days for the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and New York Jets.

While likely not a huge priority in the upcoming NFL Draft, the Steelers have been closely monitoring several defensive linemen who will likely be available on Day 3 of the draft process. Cothran would certainly fit this mold, and the fact it is being reported he will make an official pre-draft visit to Pittsburgh should speak volumes.

Pitt’s Pro Day is Wednesday, and you can imagine how many Steelers coaches are in attendance there. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on the scouting departement’s whereabouts, and prospects they may be targeting.

Roster Recap: Change is in the air News - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 1:00pm
A look at the Steelers roster after free agency has kicked off.

Morgan Burnett, more than just an experienced veteran joining the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 11:45am

The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to snag Morgan Burnett in free agency, and we give you the low down on the newest acquisition by those who covered him in the past.

The Pittsburgh Steelers sent shock waves throughout the fan base when they signed free agent safety Morgan Burnett, who previously played for the Green Bay Packers. By now, everyone has heard the usual tidbits on Burnett:

  • Has had injury issues in the past
  • Very versatile
  • Great tackler

And so on, and so forth.

I wanted to get to know what the Steelers were getting, and decided to reach out to Evan “Tex” Western from Acme Packing Company, SB Nation’s Packers website, to ask him a few questions about the man he covered since his rookie season.

Take a look at the interview below:

Morgan Burnett hasn’t played a full season since 2012. Have his ailments been similar, like a lingering knee injury, or just fluke maladies?

While Burnett has missed time each of the last few seasons, it has been almost entirely due to minor, or nagging, muscle-related injuries. He has had a few hamstring pulls (which is what kept him out of a few games in 2017 and 2013), he popped up on the injury report a few times with a groin issue, and he missed a few games in 2015 with a quad injury. However, the only notable major injury he has suffered as a pro was a torn ACL as a rookie in 2010, but he bounced back from that without any issues in the following seasons. There’s certainly a good chance he misses a game or two with something in 2018, but there’s no reason to think that he has any particular limitations from any of his previous issues.

Burnett has played a number of positions while in Green Bay. Where does he excel the most?

By far, Burnett’s best role is as a roving box safety where he can support the run. He rarely misses a tackle and has an excellent nose for sniffing out ball carriers and avoiding blocks. Interestingly, he played a little more of a free safety role early in his career before moving down towards the box, and as the years have gone on he has taken on more and more responsibility at different spots. He also lined up frequently as a slot cornerback and a sub package linebacker in 2016 and 2017; opposing teams did not target him a whole lot in coverage out of the slot last year, but when they did they were successful as he allowed a passer rating over around 133 (according to Pro Football Focus). If you can keep him in more of a run support role while giving him a handful coverage assignments on running backs or tight ends, that’s probably where he’ll be at his best.

Were the Packers interested in bringing Burnett back? Why or why not?

The team was definitely interested, in large part because of his leadership and veteran presence in the locker room. He also wore the communications helmet on defense for the last few years and was very much the field general for that unit, making sure everyone was aligned properly. His impact probably goes beyond just his own stats and performance, as the defense appeared to be much more coordinated with him on the field and more prone to blown assignments and miscommunications when he was sitting out. However, early on in free agency, rumor had it that he was looking for upwards of $8 million per year, which seems far too pricey, but I expected his market to drop down into the level that the Packers would be comfortable with signing him. Apparently that isn’t the case.

What is your general description of what fans can expect from Burnett?

All told, Burnett is a solid tackling safety with the ability and experience to pitch in at a variety of different positions. He won’t blow anyone away with his coverage ability, but does enough to get by and brings a wealth of veteran experience to ensure that he’ll be in the right place at the right time. If he were paired with a good ball-hawking free safety, he would make for a very good traditional strong safety, but his versatility ensures that he can find a role in pretty much any defensive scheme.


A huge thanks to Evan for helping us out with this article, and hopefully it helps fans get a more realistic viewpoint of the newest member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and information on the black-and-gold heading into the NFL Draft.

How newly acquired Jon Bostic upgrades the Steelers defense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 10:40am

Some feel Jon Bostic is nothing more than a depth addition, but he is much more than that for the sagging Steelers defense.

“Run to the ball!” an old defensive coordinator I once coached with used to scream during team pursuit drills. “And be in a bad mood when you get there!”

I have been thinking about this quote in the wake of the Steelers’ signing of linebacker Jon Bostic. The signing seems to have elicited mixed reviews from the BTSC faithful. Optimists see him as a thumper who will bring to Pittsburgh a physical presence and a much-needed penchant for stopping the run. Pessimists portray him as a journeyman who can’t stay healthy and who represents no more than a Dixie cup with which to bail the hull of the sinking Steeler D.

Perhaps it’s my nature, or the ringing of that old DC’s voice in my ear, but count me among the optimists.

To begin, I have all the respect in the world for Sean Spence for the way he battled back from a gruesome injury to forge a respectable NFL career. Spence was thrown into a near-impossible situation last season when the Steelers plucked him from his living room and asked him to replace the uber-talented Ryan Shazier. Spence, without a training camp to get his surgically-repaired body ready, just couldn’t do it. His inability to find seams to pursue the ball-carrier, and his lack of a burst to make impactful plays when he did, rendered him a liability on the field. Shame on the Steelers for putting him into a situation in which he was destined to fail, or for not having a replacement for Shazier who was more serviceable. The situation was untenable, and it cost the team a shot at the Super Bowl.

Enter Jon Bostic.

His career thus far suggests he is by no means Ryan Shazier. Few linebackers are. Shazier’s combination of speed, instincts and physicality are so rare that few can match them. If Bostic isn’t Ryan Shazier, then, what is he? After reviewing some film, one thing I can say with certainty is this: Jon Bostic runs to the football. He is explosive at the snap and he has a knack for diagnosing “clear” (open) vs. “cloudy” (closed) gaps and bursting through them. Bostic won’t be the cure for everything that ails this Steeler defense, but his presence at Heinz Field this past January would have limited the effectiveness of the Jaguars run game. He is an upgrade over Spence in every conceivable way.

Consider the following images of Spence and Bostic versus the run. In the frame below, taken from the divisional playoff game, Jacksonville is running a one-back inside zone play with Leonard Fournette (#27). Spence, who is circled, should be playing over the top of the combo block on LT Walton (#96) since the backside gaps are sealed.

Spence doesn’t press the hole fast enough, however, and is unable to beat the guard chipping to the 2nd level. You can see him hung up on the guard’s block below, unable to get separation. This is poor gap integrity, and the result is one of the many big plays Jacksonville made in the run game that day.

Now let’s look at Bostic versus the run. In the image below, you immediately notice how quickly he recognizes the pull of the near offensive tackle and steps with it. His reaction time is excellent, and his lateral step is sound as it mirrors the step of his read key.

Next, we see Bostic pursuing laterally and finding a seam. As you can see below, once the seam develops, he is through it in a hurry. Notice how, between frames two and three, Bostic has covered four yards downhill (from the 34 to the 30) while the pulling tackle and the running back have covered just two. What does that mean? It means our newly-signed linebacker is coming downhill in a hurry. You can see the force he brings to the point of impact by the way he plays right through a 300+ pound OT as though he were a high school kid.

The result, seen below, is a tackle for loss on 3rd and 1.

Some may be saying, “Okay, the guy plays downhill. So what? Isn’t that what Vince Williams does?” The answer is yes, that is what Vince Williams does. Except that Bostic is quicker to the ball and rangier than Williams. He’s every bit the hitter, too. Bostic’s highlight films are loaded with shots of him de-cleating opponents, including this famous hit on Teddy Bridgewater while the two were in college:

In today’s NFL, that hit might get you five-to-ten in a Turkish prison. But it gives you an idea of the aggression with which Bostic plays. Given the fact that stopping the run became a liability against physical teams like the Ravens and Jaguars once Shazier went down last season, pairing Bostic with Williams has plenty of merit. To reiterate: Jon Bostic runs to the football. And he appears to be in a bad mood when he gets there.

As far as defending the pass, Bostic has just one career interception. However, he doesn’t appear to be a liability against the pass. He is athletic enough to get down the seam with tight ends and to move with crossing routes. He’s just such a downhill player that pass defense seems foreign to his DNA. He seems exploitable on play-action concepts on early downs, which is something the coaching staff will have to work on with him. That said, I’d rather have a guy the coaches have to back off than a guy they have to get going. If teams resort to counters and play-actions because of your aggressiveness, you’ve already taken away the thing they intend to do best. There’s nothing more demoralizing than an opponent slamming the ball down your throat and not being able to stop them. That was the case late last year. With Bostic and VW paired together, I would be surprised to see it happen again.

Still, in passing situations, I would expect the Steelers to sub for either Bostic or VW or perhaps even both. L.J. Fort has shown some aptitude in coverage, and is a candidate for situational reps. More likely, the Steelers will draft an athletic inside backer with their first or second pick. Bostic’s addition alleviates the need for a rookie to be an every-down starter from day one. But, should the team go ILB early, he needs to be an immediate contributor in sub packages. Bostic and Williams cannot play every down together, and a more versatile addition to the linebacking corps remains necessary.

For those who question why I’m singing Bostic’s praises when he’s bounced around the league and can be had for a relative bargain in the Wild West free agency has become, consider the following:

In Chicago, he made a combined 131 tackles in 29 games his first two seasons in the league. That’s solid production from a young player, especially when you consider the Bears were breaking in a new coaching regime under Marc Trestmann and had just replaced their entire defensive staff. Bostic also played under two different linebacker coaches his first two seasons before an injury cost him his third year in the league. He was traded to New England in 2015, where he was trapped behind a trio of stud linebackers in Dont’a Hightower, Jerod Mayo and Jamie Collins. He lost another season to injury after being traded to Detroit, then rebounded with a solid 2017 in Indianapolis where he recorded a career-best 97 tackles.

What does that all mean? It means Bostic showed promise of becoming a solid pro linebacker his first two seasons but was hindered by an unstable coaching situation. After some frustrating trades and injuries, he once again played solid football last season despite playing behind a woeful Colts defensive front that consisted of Margus Hunt, Jonathan Hankins and Steeler cast-off Al Woods. Imagine trying to play linebacker behind that group. It’s tough to make tackles when the defensive front is being relocated into your lap every play.

In other words, Bostic has never been in a situation as favorable as the one he finds himself in here. The chance to play for a stable franchise that values assistant coaches and to have formidable interior linemen like Cameron Heyward, Javon Hargrave and Stephon Tuitt in front of him should be a boon to Bostic’s career.

News of the Morgan Burnett signing broke just as I was finishing this story. If I may opine on that for a second, let me say I think it is fantastic. He is a savvy veteran who understands coverages, can quarterback the secondary, and most importantly, can mentor Sean Davis and hopefully transform him into the disciplined football player he needs to become. The Steelers needed a smart, calming presence in the secondary more than a big hitter. Burnett checks all of those boxes, and we should celebrate his signing. Don’t sleep on Bostic, though. He will endear himself to fans of old-school Steeler football with his aggressive style and he may even surprise some by being more versatile than expected. With the draft yet to come, the organization has already taken some big steps towards building a championship-caliber defense. The steps of Jon Bostic running to the football should be music to our ears.

Ryan Shazier scouts for Steelers at Pitt pro day - Steelers/NFL - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 10:35am

Kevin Colbert said last month that injured Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier would remain a contributor to the organization in some capacity.

Asked and Answered LIVE: Mar. 21 News - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 10:15am
A live Q&A with Bob Labriola.

Steelers fans have to be excited about the acquisition of Morgan Burnett

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 7:43am

Safety Morgan Burnett should be a steadying influence for the Steelers secondary, and that's enough to get excited about his acquisition.

Over the weekend, while writing about the possibility of the Steelers signing anyone significant in free agency (a possibility that I admittedly thought was slim), former Packers safety Morgan Burnett was a name that jumped out at me.

After all, when someone is rated as the number one safety in free agency by, who described Burnett as the "centerpiece" of Green Bay's defense, why wouldn't any fan covet that player for his/her team?

But never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen.

Here we are today, and it has happened.

On Tuesday, the Steelers officially announced the signing of Burnett to a three-year deal worth just under $15 million, according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport.

That's more money than I thought Pittsburgh would and could spend on any single player in free agency, but it's not my money, so I'm not going to fret about it (I'll let team cap whiz Omar Khan worry about such things).

What does concern me is whether or not Burnett can be an upgrade over veteran Mike Mitchell, who was released last week after four sort of okay years playing free safety for the Steelers.

Full disclosure: I was at least as excited about the free agent acquisition of Mitchell four springs ago, when he signed a fairly lucrative five-year, $25 million deal to come to Pittsburgh after one season with the Panthers.

As I alluded to earlier, Mitchell never quite lived up to his contract, although in fairness, he was mostly solid, at least until a season ago, when his play seemed to drop off.

So what makes me think things will be different with Burnett?

I believe the difference between Mitchell and Burnett is that the latter comes to town with more of a proven track record.

After being drafted in the second round by the Raiders in the 2009 NFL Draft, Mitchell failed to crack the starting lineup in Oakland, before finally signing a one year "show me" deal with Carolina in 2013.

To his credit, Mitchell showed a lot that year in his one season with the Panthers, as he started 14 games for a really good defense.

Perhaps we thought the sky was the limit for Mitchell, who arrived to town just shy of his 27th birthday and seemed primed to turn into something special (or at least a carbon copy of Ryan Clark).

Things never got much above average for Mitchell.

Unlike Mitchell, Burnett, 29, a third round pick by the Packers in the 2010 NFL Draft, assumed the role of starter in his second season and never relinquished it, starting 98 games over his final six seasons in Green Bay.

Burnett isn't a decorated player by any stretch, but if he can be for the Steelers defense what he was for Green Bay's—a centerpiece and a steadying influence in the secondary, he'll certainly be worth the investment.

Does Burnett come to town with some concerns?

Sure he does, at least from an injury standpoint, considering he's missed 10 games over the past three seasons.

But Ronnie Lott in his prime, Burnett is not—otherwise, he never would have made it to free agency.

Any free agent acquisition is going to include a bit of a gamble, but when you're considered a team on the cusp of winning a championship, you have to roll the dice.

It could have been easy (or least closer to the Steeler Way) to sign a depth player with the hopes that Pittsburgh would find and develop a youngster in the upcoming draft.

But if the Joe Haden signing from last summer taught us anything, it's that the Steeler Way is a very fluid concept, at least these days, when that championship window closes a little more each and every summer.

The Steelers don't need Morgan Burnett to be a superstar. They just need him to make their defense better.

If he can do that, it might just be enough to get over that championship hump.

Bettis: 'It was a new lease on life' News - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 7:01am
Being traded to the Steelers changed it all for Jerome Bettis.

Legends Series: Bettis Videos - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 7:00am
Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis looks back on his career in Pittsburgh.

Newly signed Morgan Burnett talks about his injury history, position flexibility and Super Bowl 45

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 6:36am

Get to know the latest addition by the Steelers a bit better.

The Pittsburgh Steelers officially welcomed safety Morgan Burnett to the team after passing his physical and signing his contract Tuesday, and there was a brief media session for the new inside linebacker afterwards.

During the session Burnett didn’t hold back from answering questions weighing on everyone’s minds.

His own injury history?

Being the lead communicator for the Packers defense last year?

His positional flexibility?

His memories of Super Bowl 45 his rookie season?

Why he is excited to make Pittsburgh his next football home, and more!

Check out the full interview below, courtesy of’s official Twitter page:

Morgan Burnett discusses the strengths of his game and what his role might be this season.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 20, 2018

Podcast: Breaking down the Steelers’ recent Free Agent Frenzy

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 5:32am

The black-and-gold news all in one place!

Welcome to the latest episode of the podcast the ‘Black and Gold Blitz’. Here, Jeff Hartman talks about the latest news on the Steelers, but also throws in some Penguins and Pirates coverage for the true die hard Pittsburgh fan!

On today’s show:

- Steelers Free Agent Frenzy

- Breaking down the additions

- Are the Steelers done?

- What’s next for the black-and-gold?

- Penguins plow towards the playoffs

- Ignore Spring Training results

- Why I won’t be boycotting a baseball game

- and MORE!

Check out the latest podcast in the player above! If you want to check out all of our shows, you can follow us on iTunes by searching ‘The Standard is the Standard’, as well as on our BlogTalkRadio page.


The show is sponsored by Frank Walker Law, the top criminal defense firm to call in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia and home to one of the nation’s top-100 ranked trial attorneys in Frank Walker. For his PA office, call 412-212-3878 or to reach his WV office call 304-712-2089.You should also checkout his website to see how he can help you in your time of need. Frank Walker Law: Real Talk, Real Experience, Real Results.

HIGHLIGHTS: Jon Bostic Videos - Tue, 03/20/2018 - 5:05pm
Check out some highlights from Jon Bostic's 2017 season with the Colts.

Burnett excited to be a Steeler Videos - Tue, 03/20/2018 - 3:25pm
Steelers' new free agent signing Morgan Burnett discusses the strengths of his game and what his role might be with the Steelers.

Burnett: 'I love football' News - Tue, 03/20/2018 - 2:53pm
Morgan Burnett has already embraced the Steelers' tradition.

Ed Bouchette: The Steelers are better than they were two months ago - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 03/20/2018 - 1:28pm

Say this about the Steelers: They are better today than they were at the end of the 2017 season.

HIGHLIGHTS: Morgan Burnett Videos - Tue, 03/20/2018 - 1:00pm
Check out some of Morgan Burnett's highlights from past seasons.

Steelers sign Burnett News - Tue, 03/20/2018 - 12:52pm
The signing of safety Morgan Burnett will give the defense a boost.

Steelers make acquisition of safety Morgan Burnett official

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 03/20/2018 - 12:37pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers have added a valuable asset to the team’s defensive secondary.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers released both Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden, the general consensus was the team would be adding both a free agent safety, and drafting a safety as well. When NFL Free Agency officially began there wasn’t just a lack of moves, there was even a lack of rumors.

Leave it to the Steelers, they stuck to the game plan.

After the first wave of Free Agency came and went, the Steelers started to get busy. Rumors swirled of free agent visits, the team signed inside linebacker Jon Bostic and most recently the team added their much needed safety in former Packers defensive back Morgan Burnett.

The #Steelers and former #Packers S Morgan Burnett, agreed to terms on 3-year deal worth close to $14.5M, source says. Finally a top safety off the board.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 20, 2018

Burnett brings a lot to the Steelers, most importantly being versatility. While in Green Bay, Burnett has lined up at free safety, strong safety, slot corner and even as a dime linebacker. He is great around the line of scrimmage and known for his physical presence on the football field.

What does this mean for the Steelers’ secondary? It means they have added another tool to their expanding arsenal. Burnett will help complete the unit with his experience and skill set, but don’t think the organization is done adding depth and talent at the safety position.

While the Steelers might be done adding free agent talent at the safety position, don’t think they won’t be looking hard at several prospects to fill some holes in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on this story, and others, surrounding the black-and-gold.


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