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A Letter From The Editor: The Twitter ‘Like’ heard around Steelers Nation will prove to be nothing

Behind the Steel Curtain - 1 hour 19 min ago

The NFL fan base never ceases to amaze me...

There are moments when running a website becomes an either/or type activity. Every day there are opportunities to cover stories, and sometime you have to choose which ones you put your time and attention towards.

Several factors come into play with this exercise:

  • What stories will the fan base engage with the most?
  • Which angle will draw the most traffic?
  • Are we being unique in our perspective/story selection?

I could go on, but I think you get the picture when it comes to what stories we run, and what stories we might pass on.

As much as I hate to say it, there are times when I, personally, have wanted to pass on several stories, but if I did I would receive a, “Why didn’t you run with this story?” email from my superior.

Some examples of stories I would have rather passed on:

  • Le’Veon Bell’s ridiculous Sports Illustrated interview after signing with the Jets.
  • The endless Twitter and Instagram rants of Antonio Brown.
  • Anytime the Steelers and politics are linked together.

The most recent story which would have made this list was the story of second year safety Terrell Edmunds “Liking” Antonio Brown’s “Two Face” tweet on Twitter.

As I said on our Steelers Preview podcast last week (you can hear the show below) I can’t believe fans are making such a big deal over this. Before diving into the logistics, understand I had no clue Edmunds even liked this tweet. Why? Because there are only two ways someone possibly found this information out.

1. On their main feed it showed up as Edmunds liking the tweet

or...

2. Someone went to Brown’s tweet, clicked on the likes and searched for Steelers who may have liked the tweet.

Either way, since I only look at my Twitter lists, and don’t time to go sifting through thousands of likes, I didn’t even know of this news when it happened. When I finally saw it, I couldn’t believe it was blowing up the way it did. Mainstream outlets were running with this story, and I kept thinking, “Really? This is happening? We are crucifying this guy for liking one of his friend’s tweets?!”

But it gets better, Edmunds felt the need to defend himself while speaking to the media this past week, explaining how he ‘Likes’ a lot of stuff on Twitter.

Terrell Edmunds talks about the team working on scoring after turnovers. pic.twitter.com/6GEb1dha0H

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 25, 2019

I can’t speak for everyone, but if you use social media you likely know at least someone who likes and shares almost everything. I know I have a relative who literally ‘Likes’ everything. I mean everything.

A video of grass growing: LIKE!

A video of paint drying: LIKE!

You get the picture...but what I’m trying to say is there are people who just like a lot of stuff on social media. But what I’m really trying to say is how silly this entire story has become, and how when the 2019 season officially begins no one will look back at Edmunds’ social media history and cite that as a reason why he may have made a key interception, or possibly missed a critical tackle.

I get it, it is all a part of the NFL machine which keeps chugging along 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, but there are times when we all need to take a step back and say, “Really?”

This story was one of those instances for me...

NFL awards 2021 draft to Cleveland and 2023 draft to Kansas City

Behind the Steel Curtain - 3 hours 40 min ago

The league has now announced the sites of three of the next four NFL Drafts, with a decision about the site of the 2022 draft yet to be confirmed

With the site of the 2020 NFL Draft already confirmed as Las Vegas late last year, the NFL has now confirmed the venues for the 2021 and 2023 drafts after a vote held during a league meeting in Florida on Wednesday.

Disturbingly for Pittsburgh Steelers fans, Cleveland has been announced as the host of 2021 NFL Draft, with Kansas City named as the site in 2023. As per a report from Kevin Seifert of ESPN, the league has yet to make a final decision on a number of bids for 2022, with around 20 cities apparently interested in hosting the event.

Expected to be held at downtown locations around FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as around shores of Lake Erie, the 2021 draft will also coincide with the Browns’ 75th anniversary. Pittsburgh fans should expect the event to be an unpleasant celebration of all things Cleveland related, with the Steelers selections sure to be jeered by the home crowd. However, given the close proximity of the host city, it is imagined that several Pittsburgh fans will be in attendance to help dilute the negativity.

When speaking to the media about the announcement, Roger Goodell sounded like a man who had never visited Cleveland in person. As reported by Seifert.

“Cleveland has a passionate fan base and the city offers distinctive iconic locations and attractions that will bring the NFL Draft experience to fans in unique and exciting ways. We look forward to collaborating with the Cleveland Browns, the City of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland to celebrate the achievements of the next generation of players and create a memorable fan experience.”

Kansas City officials have suggested they will hold the 2023 draft near Union Station and the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

NFL owners vote to make another amendment to pass-interference replay rules

Behind the Steel Curtain - 5 hours 21 min ago

Any pass interference call challenged by instant replay this season will be a coaches call, even in the final two minutes of the half

Considering the way the Pittsburgh Steelers game went against the New Orleans Saints in Week 16 last season, a revision to the rules surrounding pass-interference that allows a team to challenge the call via instant replay in 2019 might be one of the more intriguing rules changes of the offseason.

When the amendment was initially announced back in March, the league unveiled a one-year trial proposal that would permit coaches to challenge any pass-interference penalty that occured before the final two minutes of a half, regardless of whether it was called on the field or not. As with all other penalties, calls in the final two minutes of each half would remain subject to a booth review.

As of the Wednesday after a vote at the owners Spring League Meeting in Florida, this rule has been amended once again, with all pass-interference calls now set to be a coaches decision, even in the final two minutes of a half.

Owners voted 31-1 to give the Competition Committee the authority to revise replay rules governing pass interference calls/no calls. No more automatic reviews inside 2 minutes of each half and OT. It will be a coaches challenge system throughout the game.

— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) May 22, 2019

The NFL is sure to have many reasons for this slight alteration, but it would seem the most obvious objective is to limited the number of plays challenged under the new rules. The end of each half will now not be littered will pass-interference reviews either.

And if the prospect of trying to determine what actually constitutes pass-interference was not going to challenging enough, it appears that the league also intends trying to define a Hail Mary is as well. Planning to exempt the play from being challengeable under the new pass-interference rules, the NFL first needs to work out what makes a deep throw a Hail Mary, rather than just any other long pass.

And if NFL changes PI challenge rule, one issue is how they exempt Hail Marys from challenge -- league does not want every Hail Mary challenged. Members of committee indicated they will likely have to define what a Hail Mary is and include that in the rule.

— Judy Battista (@judybattista) May 22, 2019

Given the league’s success at determining what continues a catch, it can only be assumed that they will have similar trouble defining a Hail Mary.

Black and Gold Links: How Isaiah Buggs could end the Daniel McCullers experiment

Behind the Steel Curtain - 6 hours 44 min ago

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With the 2019 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 season is fast approaching, and the news surrounding the black-and-gold is far from over. As the team now turns their attention to more offseason workouts, OTAs and minicamp, there is no shortage of news.

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how rookie defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs could finally end the Daniel McCullers experiment.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The past two years the Steelers have signed defensive nose tackle/defensive end Daniel McCullers to a new contract making fans scratch their heads. But could he be on the outside looking in when they cut to the 53-man roster?

Carter’s Classroom: Buggs vs. Big Dan

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

One question I’ve been repeatedly asked about the Steelers’ roster in recent years is about the future of Dan McCullers. Despite underperforming and not bringing much value outside of his size, he has retained a roster spot for five years.

If there’s a chance for a rookie to replace him before the sixth, it could be with sixth-round pick Isaiah Buggs.

Buggs is an interior defensive lineman who wore No. 49 from Alabama who occasionally lined up on the edge. That versatility made him an attractive late-round pick for the Steelers along with the prospect of reuniting Buggs with his former position coach, Karl Dunbar, the Steelers’ defensive line coach.

But the Steelers tried this in 2018 when they selected Joshua Frazier, another Alabama defensive lineman, in the seventh round to no avail. Buggs was available late because he was one of the worst performing defensive linemen at the scouting combine. From his defensive line class he ranked:

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The biggest difference between college football and the NFL? The speed...

Rookie Snell admits NFL is ‘really fast’

By: Hunter Homistek, DKPittsburghSports

Benny Snell agrees: The NFL is fast.

Throughout Steelers OTAs, I heard the expression from players at various levels. Rookies face many challenges when coming to the pros, but the biggest by far, it seems, is the speed of the game. There was this from Vance McDonald when I asked him about his work with rookie Zach Gentry:

Well, first off, the NFL is way faster than college,” McDonald was telling me after Day 2 of OTAs at the Rooney Complex. “But when you’re talking about a guy with that kind of size, obviously playing low to the ground is very difficult. Naturally, you want to run high and come off the ball, so that’s the first thing he’s going to have to focus on and think about, is staying low, playing low and playing fast. That’s really phase one for him.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • You can never underestimate what a comfort level can do for a player, and James Washington is finally comfortable.

James Washington more at ease playing with Roethlisberger, Steelers

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

James Washington never felt entirely comfortable in the Steelers offense — or with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — in his rookie season.

A late-season pep talk by Roethlisberger calmed the young Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver’s nerves. Still, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Washington began to feel totally at ease around the team’s franchise quarterback.

He hopes that cohesion serves as a springboard into a strong second NFL season.

Washington was one of 10 skill position players that Roethlisberger invited to his vacation lake house in Georgia. The players spent some time in the pool and riding on Roethlisberger’s boat, and they also mixed in a little football while bonding during a getaway that preceded organized team activities.

“It was a time for us to get to know each other a little better,” Washington said. “Last year, we never really got to hang out.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The Steelers are serious about increasing their defensive turnover totals in 2019. But will it matter?

Haden’s statement

By: Mike Prisuta, Steelers.com

For a team that’s hopefully destined to come up with more interceptions, the first play of OTAs couldn’t have worked out any better.

We’ll let cornerback Joe Haden explain:

“It was me and (tight end) Vance (McDonald) out there on the island. He ran an outside release so I thought it was going to be a fade. Then when he sunk his hips down to run a comeback I just under-cut it.

“I looked back and the ball was there so I had to pick it off.”

It was an opening statement that resonated in “Seven Shots,” the Steelers’ practice-opening, two-point conversation/short-yardage drill.

It worked out so well for the defense in that particular instant on Tuesday morning at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex that it almost appeared scripted.

“I just told Joe I did it on purpose to get him ready for the year,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger joked.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

7️⃣ is back in his element. pic.twitter.com/JZKQ6DRv7d

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 26, 2019

Week 1️⃣ of OTAs ✅ pic.twitter.com/aQC4AsFkal

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 25, 2019

Steve Nelson talks about what attracted him to Pittsburgh, how he has been adjusting, and more. pic.twitter.com/yZfPIt7q57

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 25, 2019

Terrell Edmunds talks about the team working on scoring after turnovers. pic.twitter.com/6GEb1dha0H

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 25, 2019

Grading the Steelers 2016 NFL Draft: Mediocre at best describes the 2016 draft class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/25/2019 - 1:39pm

Giving immediate NFL Draft grades is an exercise in futility, so it only seems appropriate to go back to 2016 and look at where these players find themselves heading into the 2019 season.

While many NFL football fans cling to those immediate draft grades and consider their contents gospel, it seems rather ridiculous when these ‘experts’ grade a selection who has yet to step foot onto an NFL field.

With that said, it doesn’t seem as ridiculous to go back and look at the 2016 NFL Draft to see just how these players, who are nearing the end of their rookie contracts, have done throughout their first few seasons in the NFL.

Dane Brugler of The Athletic, decided to go back and not only grade the classes, but give the best player, best value, etc. According to Brugler:

The narrative on the players from the 2016 draft class will continue to change, but three full seasons in the NFL is enough of a sample size to judge the teams that drafted well and the teams that are reeling because of poor draft choices.

So, what did he think about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2016 NFL Draft class? Let’s take a look!

Pittsburgh Steelers

Grade: C

1 (25) Artie Burns, CB, Miami (Fla.)

2 (58) Sean Davis, SS, Maryland

3 (89) Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State

4 (123) Jerald Hawkins, OT, LSU

6 (220) Travis Feeney, LB, Washington (Free Agent)

7 (229) Demarcus Ayers, WR, Houston (Free Agent)

7 (246) Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple

Best player: Javon Hargrave

A two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the MEAC, Hargrave had a strong pre-draft process, catapulting him into the top-100 conversation. That positive momentum carried over to his NFL career where he has been a three-year starter and important piece of the Pittsburgh front.

Best value: Tyler Matakevich

Special teams might not be sexy but it keeps some players on NFL rosters, and Matakevich is a prime example. Over the past three seasons, his 29 tackles on special teams rank second-best in the NFL. Considering his impact, Hargrave is arguably the better value, but let’s give some love to the special teamers.

Biggest miss: Artie Burns

The Steelers were reportedly set to draft William Jackson at No. 25 before the Bengals pulled the rug out from underneath them and drafted the former Houston corner at No. 24. Desperate for cornerback help, Pittsburgh drafted Burns, who has shown flashes of first-round talent but very little consistency, taking a step back in Year 3 last season.

It is difficult to disagree with the above assessment of the team’s 2016 draft class, but Brugler went a step further and spoke to Steelers’ beat writer for The Athletic, Mark Kaboly, to get his insider view on the draft class. Here is what he had to say:

Beat writer’s take: Kevin Colbert routinely mentions how important it is to hit on their first-round picks because of their organizational philosophy of building through the draft, extending their homegrown players and then supplementing through free agency. Colbert hasn’t missed much over his 20 years but sure whiffed with Artie Burns with the 25th overall pick — the first time they drafted a corner in the first round in nearly 20 years. Burns’ fifth-year option wasn’t picked up, and he will be gone after the season, which is a major disappointment since he was penciled in as a starter last year at this time. Sean Davis has been erratic but positional changes have led to that. Javon Hargrave is easily their best pick as he is a unique talent in the middle. Other than that, the draft has been a major disappointment but that will happen when you miss on your first-rounder. — Mark Kaboly

Is Kaboly right? Has this class been a total disappointment? Hargrave is coming off a season where he had 6.5 sacks in a part-time role, but at a time when fans thought they had three starting defenders in the first three rounds of the draft, this class certainly lacks the luster fans expected immediately after the draft process concluded.

What do you think of the 2016 class? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Joey Porter adds his name to the list of Ben Roethlisberger’s critics

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/25/2019 - 11:35am

The NFL Network attempted to pour more fuel on the Steelers fire once again on Friday

If the offield drama that surrounds the Pittsburgh Steelers is to ever end, it will require the national media finding another topic to fill the offseason. But if fans are to be able to disconnect themselves from some of the pointless narratives that appear to be following their team as of late, it will probably require them turning off the NFL Network.

Among the national broadcasters, it is somewhat of a surprise to note that no outlet seems to be enjoying fanning the flames of dissent in Pittsburgh more than the network owned and run by the NFL. The apparent dysfunction in the Steel City has been discussed ad nauseam on the NFL Network’s many shows from dawn till dusk, with opinion coming from everyone and anyone the broadcaster can get their hands on.

On Friday, it was the turn of former Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter to have his five minutes of airtime on the state of the locker room in Pittsburgh, a rare guest on the show and someone who at least actually had a connection to the team.

Responding to questions about Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership and the issues between him and Antonio Brown, Porter left no doubt who he felt was at fault, suggesting that Big Ben had taken far to long to apologize to his former teammate.

“You know, it’s kind of like, once you have a bad situation, they’re not going to be pick up the phone. If you feel slighted by any way, with any teammate, friend, teammate, once you feel like you’d been betrayed in any type of way, I’m not picking up your phone call. You can’t call me and say, “oh, I’m sorry” the next day. I need you to be sorry when you did it. You can’t be sorry that late. So, those relationships went the other way.”

“Now that he’s being a man and apologizing now, it’s just a couple days too late. All of that could have probably been avoided if he was coming to them and saying, “you know what, I didn’t handle that the right way”, but, that’s the way he chose to go about it and apologize now and it’s just a little too late.”

Critical of how Roethlisberger uses his power within the organization, Porter portrayed the quarterback as player who is not as beloved in the locker room as he was once when he was a leader of the team.

“It’s clear that he has the power. And how he uses it, he uses it for him. You love to see the guy like when Jerome was our captain, and when I was moving into that role, you want the locker room to love you the whole time. I never wanted to go up top to the front office and really talk to them ...”

“Now Ben on the other hand, he’s accepted in that world. And when they [teammates] see him not using it for them, but only for himself, you’re going to have some animosity there and I think once it got so bad, it was good for AB to go his way, L Bell to go his way. Ben isn’t going anywhere. He’s going to be the future. He’s going to be there for as long as he wants to be there.”

“If you treat everybody fair, and that’s what it comes down to, guys want to be felt like treat me fair. Even if it isn’t fair, fake me out to make me think that it’s good and then I’ll give you everything, but when you show me you have it way better than me, you’re going to create resentment.”

Without any examples from Porter about Roethlisberger using his power only for himself, it is frankly impossible to have any idea what the former linebackers coach is alluding to with his remarks. Some observers might even suggest that the position Big Ben holds in the organization is no different to any other franchise quarterback around the league.

Claims that Roethlisberger took too long to apologize to Brown seems a little harsh given that Porter appears to considers anything longer than 24 hours too long. He also seems to completely discount Big Ben's assertion that he attempted to communicate with AB on multiple occasions late last year when he became aware of a problem.

It will be up to the individual to decide if Porter’s words are in anyway motivated by not having his contract renewed by the Steelers, but it has to be wondered how well other teams around the league will view his remarks when considering him for a coaching hire in the future.

One day this story will end, but not until the NFL Network has milked it for all it is worth.

Fantasy Football: Analyzing the value of the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/25/2019 - 9:59am

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost some talent on their roster in 2019, but there are still fantasy points to be had this year for the black-and-gold.

With the NFL regular season still months away, it might seem too early to think about your fantasy football league, but we all know it is never too early to take a look at who might be worth that first round pick this year in your league.

With that said, the truth of fantasy football is the game itself is changing. Daily fantasy leagues, like FanDuel, are thriving while the traditional style of fantasy football remains as strong as ever.

Some like one, some like the other, but what we want to do here in this article is to give you plenty of information to digest for both styles of fantasy football.

In this article, myself, Dave Schofield and Bryan Davis will analyze the 2019 Steelers and give you everything from guaranteed players for the year, must-have players and of course the ever elusive sleeper picks. As always, you are welcome to contribute to the discussion in the comment section below.

Jeff Hartman

Must-Have Player: James Conner

Player/Unit to Avoid: Jaylen Samuels

Sleeper Pick: James Washington

Lock of the Year: Ben Roethlisberger

Rookie Watch: Diontae Johnson

Overall Thoughts: While many people believe Benny Snell Jr. will impact Conner’s playing time, I completely disagree. Conner is the feature back, and when he is healthy he is dominating running behind that ridiculous offensive line. Conner will be worth of a pick in your fantasy football league. On top of that, Conner’s feature back status is another reason why I would avoid Jaylen Samuels. Samuels will be used, but not quite as big of a role as many expect, barring the health of Conner.

I think Washington is going to have a big year, and look for Roethlisberger to have a bounce back season, maybe not in terms of yardage, but look for a better TD:INT ratio. Of all the rookies, I’ll go with Johnson to make an impact. Could have picked Snell Jr. here, but I have a hunch Johnson will be a playmaker.

Dave Schofield

Must-Have Player: JuJu Smith-Schuster

Player/Unit to Avoid: James Conner

Sleeper Pick: Diontae Johnson

Lock of the Year: Ben Roethlisberger

Rookie Watch: Benny Snell, Jr.

Overall Thoughts: JuJu is really GoodGood! While his yards could drop in 2019, he should see an increase in TD’s. If playing a traditional fantasy league, he would be the top Steeler I would look to draft, followed closely by Ben Roethlisberger. If Ben is on your team, he should be in your lineup any week he is playing.

Dionte Johnson is a player who would be nice to pick up late in a traditional league or on the cheap in daily fantasy. He’s a low-risk/high-reward player to stash on your bench after the draft or to fit in a daily fantasy spot if your budget has been blown other places.

The reason I chose James Conner to avoid is he will carry a hefty price tag in daily fantasy and would require a very high pick in a traditional league. With the possibility of Benny Snell, Jr. taking away some goal-line carries, Conner may still receive a bulk of the yards but may not benefit from the high fantasy value of getting in the end zone.

Bryan Davis

Must-Have Player: JuJu Smith-Schuster

Player/Unit to Avoid: Vance McDonald

Sleeper Pick: Donte Moncrief

Lock of the Year: James Conner

Rookie Watch: Bennie Snell Jr.

Overall Thoughts: The Steelers offense may not be as high-powered of a scoring machine as it was with a man that went by the first two letters of the alphabet, but they still have double-digit win potential. Fantasy-wise they may not be nearly as strong. Ben Roethlisberger will surely be a good player to have, but he’s a matchup guy and not an every week one. JuJu is the one guy on the roster that can carry your team as a wideout and Moncrief is a later round sleeper that will pay dividends should he develop a rapport with Roethlisberger. The Steelers are going to reduce the RB workload to not run the wheels off of James Conner, so BSJ will get some goal line opportunities and some relief work as a rookie. Plus, in keeper leagues he should pay off later. However, Conner is still the RB1 and will still get a large enough amount of carries to justify starting him every week. Steeler TEs are fool’s gold. Be careful of fantasy inconsistencies with Vance McDonald. He’ll hit, but not always the weeks you start him.

Devin Bush selected as one of the top picks in the best position to succeed in Year 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/25/2019 - 8:24am

The Pittsburgh Steelers first round pick could be slated for a big year in 2019.

Whenever an NFL draft pick is selected, especially one taken early in the draft process, fans and experts always speculate how this player might impact their respective team from Day 1. Patience isn’t a common thread among those who expect draft picks to start fast and produce early in their NFL careers.

Looking back at the 2019 NFL Draft, fans everywhere, but especially Pittsburgh Steelers fans, want to know if their top pick will become a big-time playmaker sooner than later. For the black-and-gold faithful, the thought of finally getting a suitable replacement for Ryan Shazier is enticing enough, but when the team took an aggressive stance, moving up 10 spots in the draft process, to take Devin Bush in Round 1 only intensified these thoughts.

With plenty of questions on these top picks for almost every NFL team, Dan Parr of NFL.com recently ranked the best spots for rookies to succeed, and he ranked them in the following categories:

Top contenders for Rookie of the Year (ROY) honors
Greatness within reach
Big opportunity, big payoff?
Don’t sleep on ‘em

For fans of the black-and-gold, you will be happy to know Devin Bush was listed as one of 5 rookies who are considered contenders for ROY honors. Check out the list below, as well as Parrr’s description of why Bush falls into this category:

Top contenders for ROY honors

1. Ed Oliver, Buffalo Bills
2. Devin Bush, Pittsburgh Steelers

“ I like everything about the Steelers’ bold move to trade up for Bush, who offers an intoxicating blend of speed and coverage ability. The 10th overall pick is an ideal fit and leader for this unit. He will post gaudy numbers as an inside ‘backer for Mike Tomlin.”

3. Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers
4. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
5. David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

If you want to read the full article, and see all the rankings, click HERE

These types of articles have been circulating regularly since the draft concluded in Nashville, TN, and Bush has found his name on many of these articles as one of the top picks in the entire draft, but fans should also remember to temper expectations for the young man just starting his professional career.

Sure, he has the pedigree, came from a big-time school and played in big-time games, but there is a learning curve for almost every player who laces up their cleats in the NFL. Going from college to the National Football League is no easy transition, and there will be growing pains, but if Bush lives up to even half of the hype he has received since walking across the stage and hugging Roger Goodell, the Steelers’ defense should be more complete than ever with Bush in the middle of the defense.

2019 NFL Odds: Sportsbook offers opening spreads for every regular season game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/25/2019 - 6:21am

We take a look at the latest odds from CG Technologies for every game on the Steelers schedule through Week 16.

The start of the 2019 NFL season may still be several months away, but that has not stopped Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technologies from pricing up every single game of the 2019 regular season through Week 16. Projected to win just nine games by the company that runs sportsbooks at the Venetian, Palazzo, Tropicana, Hard Rock, Palms and more a few weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers will seemingly only face a handful of challenging games this year if these latest lines hold true.

As per the spreads released by TheLines.com, the Steelers have been listed as favorite in 10 of their games this season, with their largest spread as favorites set at -10 points versus the Miami Dolphins in Week 8. Two of their games feature an even spread and Pittsburgh are underdogs in just three of their contests, their largest spread as underdogs coming in Week 1 versus the New England Patriots with a spread of -6.5-points.

Week 1
  • Spread: Pittsburgh +6.5 @ New England -6.5,
  • Total: 52-points.
  • Money Line: Steelers +225, Patriots -265
Week 2
  • Spread: Seattle +3 @ Pittsburgh -3
Week 3
  • Spread: Pittsburgh PK @ San Francisco PK
Week 4
  • Spread: Cincinnati +9 @ Pittsburgh -9
  • Total: 50-points.
  • Money Line: Bengals +320, Steelers -400
Week 5
  • Spread: Baltimore +3 @ Pittsburgh -3
  • Total: 47.5-points.
  • Money Line: Ravens +135, Steelers -155
Week 6
  • Spread: Pittsburgh +4.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers -4.5,
  • Total: 53-points.
  • Money Line: Steelers +195, Chargers -230
Week 8
  • Spread: Miami +10 @ Pittsburgh -10
  • Total: 50-points.
  • Money Line: Dolphins + 450, Steelers -600
Week 9
  • Spread: Indianapolis +2.5 @ Pittsburgh -2.5
Week 10 Week 11
  • Spread: Pittsburgh +2.5 @ Cleveland -2.5
  • Total: 50.5-points.
  • Money Line: Steelers +125, Browns -145
Week 12
  • Spread: Pittsburgh -3 @ Cincinnati +3
Week 13
  • Spread: Cleveland +3.5 @ Pittsburgh -3.5
Week 14
  • Spread: Pittsburgh -3.5 @ Arizona +3.5
Week 15
  • Spread: Buffalo +7 @ Pittsburgh -7
Week 16

Week 17 games have not been included by the bookmaker, presumably in light of the fact that some end of season contests could well feature under strength squads, with certain teams expected to be resting players going into the playoffs.

These lines are now available to be backed at multiple Las Vegas locations run by CG Technologies.

Black and Gold Links: Michael Thomas’ extension could shine light on potential deal for JuJu Smith-Schuster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/25/2019 - 5:06am

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With the 2019 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 season is fast approaching, and the news surrounding the black-and-gold is far from over. As the team now turns their attention to more offseason workouts, OTAs and minicamp, there is no shortage of news.

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the New Orleans Saints giving their star wide receiver Michael Thomas a new contract could shine light on a potential second contract for JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Let’s get to the news:

  • When it comes to paying star wide receivers, excuse Steelers for being hesitant with this exercise. However, when the New Orleans Saints recently gave Michael Thomas his second NFL contract, it put a spotlight on a potential deal awaiting JuJu Smith-Schuster.

What Michael Thomas’ extension with Saints could mean for Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Drafted a year before Smith-Schuster at No. 47 overall, Thomas is entering the final year of his contract. According to ESPN, the Saints “likely will find a way to take care of Thomas” in regards to a lucrative extension before the season begins. ESPN even speculates that “it’s not out of the question that Thomas could become the NFL’s first receiver to average $20 million per year.”

Smith-Schuster, the No. 62 overall pick in 2017, isn’t quite to Thomas’ level just yet. Thomas has 321 career catches, the most in NFL history for any player over his first three seasons. Smith-Schuster has 169 catches through two seasons.

That said, if Smith-Schuster matches his 2018 production (111 catches, 1,426 yards) this season without Antonio Brown as a running mate, that would signify he’s solidly in Thomas’ company as one of the NFL’s best receivers. He also would be 2 ½ years younger than Thomas when he was entering the final season of his contract, with when accounting for a year’s worth of NFL salary inflation could indicate that Smith-Schuster could demand a contract similar to what Thomas gets.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Could the Steelers pull off the ‘addition by subtraction’ theory in 2019?

Steelers’ hopeful 2019 outlook: Addition by subtraction

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

Young, ascending players will be emboldened.

“No disrespect to those guys or what they’ve been able to do over the course of their careers, particularly in Pittsburgh, but we had a Pro Bowl wideout on our team who’s still on our team from last year. We had a Pro Bowl running back last year who was on our team who’s still on our team,” said Tomlin, referring to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner. “So, we’ve got good players. We’ve got good, quality players specifically at those positions. Will we need additional plays from other people? Certainly, but you have that discussion and make those statements year in and year out, and we do.”

Starting with OTAs, which begin Tuesday, the Steelers hope to offset the loss of major talent with improvements in chemistry, depth and expanded roles.

The leadership growth of Smith-Schuster and Conner in year three will be one of many pivotal storylines, with two-thirds of the now-defunct Killer B’s trio in different locker rooms.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • How is the leadership on the 2019 Steelers? As JuJu Smith-Schuster says, it is “on point”!

JuJu: Chemistry in Steelers’ WR room ‘on point’

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

JuJu Smith-Schuster likes what he sees in his first official week as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ No. 1 receiver.

”The chemistry is on point,” Smith-Schuster told reporters after Wednesday’s organized team activities session. “Everyone is on the same page. Everyone is communicating. There’s really no -- how do you say? -- drama in our locker room.”

The Steelers took the field with excitement about Smith-Schuster, who replaces Antonio Brown as the top option in the passing game. Quarterback and co-captain Ben Roethlisberger said he believes Smith-Schuster is ready for the “awesome challenge.” Co-captain Cameron Heyward said Smith-Schuster, 22, is a “great kid” who only wants to improve.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Antonio Brown might be gone, but he is continuing to be a nusance to the community.

Antonio Brown not done being a nuisance in Pittsburgh

By: Matt Rosenburg, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Antonio Brown might be gone from the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he’s not quite done causing a stir in the Pittsburgh area.

The grass on Brown’s Pine property appears to have gone weeks without manicuring, and a neighbor called him out on Twitter on Thursday night in a tweet that since has gone viral.

The Tribune-Review traveled to Brown’s home Friday morning, verifying the grass indeed was overgrown, as neighbor Donald Binotto’s tweet indicated.

Allegheny County real estate records confirm Brown is the owner of the home and Binotto is a neighbor.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

When you realize it's almost the weekend.#FridayFeeling pic.twitter.com/B9A9zqlWpZ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 24, 2019

The 1️⃣st week of OTAs is in the books.

Missi and Mike break down everything that happened from the sidelines. pic.twitter.com/cd7GUXETNS

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 24, 2019

Donte Moncrief sat down with Missi to talk about his role on the team, working with his new quarterback, and more. pic.twitter.com/nIhpzGYnN6

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 23, 2019

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Edition, Vol. 21

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/24/2019 - 5:48pm

There is plenty to talk about regarding all things black-and-gold!

Several people have asked if we could bring back the Friday Night Open Thread. I had moved the event to Saturday morning, but after minimal success, I decided to bring it back to Friday night — with a slight twist.

I liked the Saturday Six-Pack theme, so I decided to just take the six questions and move them to Friday night. Say hello to Friday Night Six-Pack of Steelers Questions and open thread!

The rules haven’t changed...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

  • I’ll ask at least four questions strictly related to the Steelers.
  • The rest of the questions could be about anything.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have fun talking about the Black-and-gold.

That’s it! With that out of the way, it’s time to get this party started. Hey, don’t act like you’ve never done a little Friday night drinking. Here goes:

1. I asked this question on my ‘Steelers Burning Question’ podcast this week (you can listen to it below). Is there anything other than health you take away from OTAs, or ‘football in shorts’?

2. At season’s end, who has more touchdowns? Vance McDonald or Donte Moncrief?

3. Do you see Jaylen Samuels pass-catching ability,and ability to be flexed out as a tight end, as a reason why the Steelers weren’t extremely aggressive finding one in free agency or the NFL Draft? Explain your answer...

4. This past week on the ‘Steelers Preview’ podcast we broke down Benny Snell Jr. In a perfect world, what would the Steelers’ distribution of the workload look like in 2019?

5. If you had to pick one, who would you pick? Aaron Smith or Brett Keisel?

6. a) OVER/UNDER on Benny Snell average TOUCHES a game — 8
b) OVER/UNDER on James Conner average CARRIES a game — 22

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

Steelers are fine with the rare role of underdog entering the 2019 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/24/2019 - 12:35pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers are considered underdogs not just in the AFC, but in the AFC North.

To me, the 2008 season comes to mind. The season when the Pittsburgh Steelers had the toughest regular season schedule among all 32 NFL teams, and when everyone left them for dead, they rose up.

While the 2019 Steelers schedule isn’t nearly as difficult as their 2008 counterparts had to endure, the attitude surrounding the team certainly seems similar. An ‘us against the world’ mentality has been resonating from the UPMC Rooney Practice Facility throughout the first week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs). A focus solely on what lies ahead, and leaving behind an immense amount of drama and disappointment.

The attitudes seem to have been adjusted, but there is another variable here, and it is how NFL experts, like NBC Sports’ Peter King, don’t just have Steelers as a middle-of-the-road team this year, but finishing 3rd in the AFC North. Yes, behind both the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.

Some might view this as disrespect, considering the Steelers have won the AFC North two out of the last three seasons, but you won’t hear that coming from Steelers players. Instead, they are embracing the role of underdogs.

“Just having that chip on our shoulder and having people doubting us, I think it’s something we can use to our advantage,” Haden told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review after OTAs this week. “Just come out here and grind.”

For many players who don the black-and-gold every week, they might not be used to having people doubt them. Having people pick against them. Having people view them as lesser than. But Haden knows all about that after spending the first seven years of his career in Cleveland with the Browns.

“This team, I feel like they’ve not really been underdogs,” Haden said of the Steelers. “Ever since I’ve been playing against the Steelers for seven years, they were never an underdog.

“You hear the outside noise,” Haden said moments earlier. “Usually, Pittsburgh, (outsiders are) always, ‘Aw, they’re going to be in the playoffs.’ They just basically put us in the playoffs. Now to hear people not talk as highly of us has kind of put a chip on our shoulder.

“I think that’s a great thing. We’ve got something to really work for.”

Some teams can cling to this underdog mentality and ride the wave of momentum all the way to the Super Bowl. Just ask the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles who donned dog masks throughout the playoffs when no one thought they could win in the postseason with Nick Foles filling in for the injured Carson Wentz.

Then there are teams who listen to the outside noise too much, and start to doubt their own ability. There are a ton of examples of this happening in the NFL, but you have to wonder which side of the fence the 2019 Steelers will reside.

They are being doubted, but how they respond will be the true story this year...

Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Camp Battles: Mike Hilton vs. Cam Sutton

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/24/2019 - 10:55am

We take a look at some of the more significant position battles that will be fought during minicamp, OTAs and training camp this offseason.

While it would be fair to say that the Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 roster looks to be set at several positions, there are still a handful of starting roles yet to be decided and a number of backup up jobs remain up for grabs.

Over the coming weeks, BTSC editor Jeff Hartman and myself will take a look at some of the more obvious key names that will be fighting position battles throughout minicamp, OTAs and training camp later in the year, each taking a different side in the fight and providing our thoughts on why our pick will be the winner.

So far we have weighed in on the impending battles between quarterbacks Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph, runnings backs Jaylen Samuel and Benny Snell Jr. wide receivers James Washington and Donte Moncrief, tackles Matt Feiler and Chukwuma Okorafor and linebackers Devin Bush and Mark Barron. Today we move onto the cornerbacks.

Mike Hilton vs. Cameron Sutton

While Mike Hilton may have arrived in Pittsburgh a year earlier than Cameron Sutton, his debut season with the Steelers was a brief one in 2016, signed to the practice squad a few weeks before the end of the season after being released by the New England Patriots. Both players took part in their first training camp in 2017, but it was Hilton who emerged in the far stronger position.

The former Ole Miss product would claim the starting role as the nickel corner and Sutton would begin the year on injured reserve after suffering a hamstring injury in the final preseason game, returning for the final few games of the season in Week 13. Hilton would keep the job heading into 2018, with Sutton limited to a backup role and playing on special teams.

Despite being an active part of the defensive game plan at the start of the season, the only snaps Sutton saw after Week 8 was three plays at the end of the Steelers blowout win over the Carolina Panthers. Through the first seven games of 2018, Sutton saw more than 40 percent of the available snaps on defense each week, but was limited to just special teams duties once the team returned from their bye.

As the secondary faltered, Sutton would find himself back in the mix at practice seeing snaps over Hilton in training. However, he would still be limited to just 30 snaps on defense in the final three games of the season.

Jeff Hartman

This is an intriguing camp battle considering how Hilton’s game time was scaled back at the end of last year. Hilton’s 2018 just wasn’t as good as his 2017 season, and many suspect it is because the league has been able to catch up with him, how the Steelers use him, and his weaknesses.

However, for a guy who has literally fought for every inch he has earned with the Steelers, I feel a bounce back season is going to happen. Hilton is a smart player with tremendous blitzing skills, and he will benefit from having a better supporting cast around him in 2019. Terrell Edmunds will have a year under his belt, Joe Haden and Sean Davis return and Steven Nelson should help iron out any kings on that side of the defense.

With that said, I do see them using Sutton more this year, but I still think Hilton wins the battle entering Week 1. Will he keep it? That depends. In my opinion, a huge indicator for how the Steelers feel about Hilton will come this offseason. Hilton is currently without a contract since he hasn’t signed his tender. He wants a new deal, but do the Steelers give him that contract? Or just wait and see how this season goes? If they give him the deal you have your answer, but if they don’t give him that brand new contract this job is up for grabs.

Simon Chester

If Sutton is ever to repay the faith the Steelers had in him when the selected him in the third-round of the 2017 NFL Draft, now would be the time to do it. With free agent signing Steven Nelson and Joe Haden seemingly locks for the two starting roles on the outside and the lastest third-round draft pick in Justin Layne all but guaranteed to be part of the final 53-man roster, Sutton is far from certain to make the team this year.

But if he has hopes of breaking into the first team in 2019, perhaps his best opportunity will come at nickel corner. Hilton suffered a notable drop off in play from 2017 to 2018, a fact highlighted by grades of 83.1 and 69.9 in the respective season by Pro Football Focus and confirmed by anyone with eyes who watched the decline of the secondary last season. That being said, he was limited by a elbow injury suffered in Week 3 for much of the year and was hardly helped by the play of some of those around him.

While Sutton has had his moments in certain matchups, his struggles in games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens in the first half of the 2018 season were clear for all to see when given extended playing time. Having played multiple positions for the Steelers last year, his versatility alone will likely keep him in the Black and Gold for one more season, but his chances of taking the starting role might rely more on Hilton declining than his own improvement.

Praised for his man-coverage skills coming out of college and commended for his instincts, the coaching staff need to see more of the skills he showed as cornerback at Tennessee if he is to be a starter. The criticisms back then centered around his passive nature in press coverage and his ability to locate the ball once it is in the air, a trait he appears to still struggle with. Improving his tackling skills would not hurt either, another issue the scouting reports highlighted back in 2016.

How bad do the Steelers need an even better Ben Roethlisberger in 2019?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/24/2019 - 9:19am

An attempt at classifying the 2018 season of Ben Roethlisberger.

On a recent installment of the Steelers Preview podcast, I made a comment regarding 2019 being a bounce back season for one Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger. My ideas were opposed, albeit not in an insulting or a confrontational manner, by my co-hosts on the podcast.

The exact reason that they were called into question were his stats. The 15-year vet, and all-but-certain Hall of Famer, had a statistically fine year that included 34 touchdowns and 5,127 yards through the air. Those were both bests of a brilliant career. Plus, Ben is one of a mere seven passers to eclipse 5K (done 11 times in history though). His completion percentage of 67.0 was third best for him. So, I can definitely see the counterpoint levied against me. But when you factor in a league-high of 16 interceptions, my point has validity. Sure, Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck had one less at 15, but the futility of being the top name on a bad stat is daunting and disconcerting.

I also contend that a disappointing nine wins, and the missing of the playoffs is also a reason to sound the alarm and Ben was at the helm for that.

Again, it could be said that Chris Boswell’s myriad of misses and costly fumbles by Stevan Ridley (New Orleans), James Conner (Cleveland and Denver), JuJu Smith-Schuster (New Orleans) and Xavier Grimble (Denver) affected many a win, and transformed them into losses. But 2017 was a 13-3 campaign which hinged on mishaps that went the Steelers’ way.

So...it’s hard to tell.

As the general population of Steeler Nation, we may just have to rely on our own personal “eye tests” or Ben bias. The one thing that I recognize is the end result was less than optimal for all concerned and involved. While I contend Ben could have been better, I would not say his window is closed. The gigantic contract has raised some concerns about the amount of money paid to a quarterback in his career’s twilight, but would you rather see Joshua Dobbs and his rookie minimum run the show?

Despite the season we’d all like to forget for various reasons, I have a surge of optimism running through my black-and-good veins for various reasons. No. 7 has a history of rallying when his ability has been questioned. After the Week 5 debacle against Jacksonville in 2017, where he threw five balls (including two pick-sixes) into the greedy, waiting mitts of Jaguar players, “the old cowboy” lamented that maybe he doesn’t have it anymore. He then reeled off eight-straight wins for that 13-3 mark.

A very telling stat surrounds Ben and the artist currently self promoting himself as “Mr. Big Chest”, our estranged friend Antonio Brown. Ten of Ben’s 16 interceptions were passes intended for No. 84. That equates to a percentage of 62.5%. While I disagree with Ben’s criticism of Brown over the alleged “flat route” against Denver (I thought it was a bad choice in the direction of a defensive lineman), Antonio seemed to have been making a strategy of freelancing on the agreed upon routes he was to run. I feel that Ben forced a majority of his throws to appease his All-Pro teammate in the name of team harmony and because of his once-certain rapport with Brown. That strategy could be deemed as poor decision making as well. Nevertheless, that option has ceased to be one for the upcoming Steelers campaign.

When Brown left in a blaze of controversy, he threw Ben under the bus and accelerated over his QB leaving long lasting skid marks. Le’Veon Bell did as well, but he was more in need of a scapegoat after not getting the contract he desired after he threw so much away. With those guys gone, Ben is left with a supporting cast that has been going out of their way to praise his leadership and celebrate the opportunity to play with him. So, my excitement lies in the prospect of a stable of hungry teammates excited to play with an accomplished winner. It also lies in the optimism that Ben seems poised to celebrate and guide the young receivers he is throwing to. Add in a suspected attempt to elevate a rushing attack along with a dedication to resuscitate a choking defense and employing the capable personnel to accomplish both goals, a scenario for success could become far likelier.

Finally, Ben seems to thrive with his back firmly pressed up against the wall. With all of these factors in play, he would not necessarily need to eclipse the stats of last season...except for the win total. While there’s still a debate on just how bad last season was, the writing is on the wall for 2019 to be really good. It just all depends on the author and his awareness and dedication to rewrite the script.

Mike Hilton waits patiently for Steelers to discuss contract extension

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/24/2019 - 7:55am

With his exclusive rights free agent tender unsigned, Mike Hilton is still taking part in OTAs in hopes it will show the team how much he wants to be there long term.

While hoping to negotiate a long term contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason, cornerback Mike Hilton has been a constant presence during the team’s 2019 offseason training program. This despite having yet to sign his exclusive rights free agent tender.

Technically not under contract, any injury Hilton that suffered during voluntary OTAs would potentially cost him dearly without a new deal in place, but the undrafted nickel corner appears to be approaching practice with something to prove. Speaking to reporters about his contract situation after training on Wednesday, Hilton confirmed that he had yet to sign his tender and explained why he had come to OTAs without the security of a extension. As reported by Chris Adamski of TribLive.

“No, not yet, but that’s why I am here. I want to be here and I want to show them I want to be part of this group for as long as possible. So, when that time comes around, hopefully things work out.”

“It’s up in the air; that’s something my agent, I will discuss it with him. (The Steelers) know I want to be here — and I’m trying to show all the signs I want to be here.”

Certainly a different approach to the one taken by Le’Veon Bell, and one that would be more likely to work in his favor if it was not for the Steelers lack of salary cap space right now. As an ERFA, Pittsburgh are obligated to pay Hilton no more than $645,000 on a one-year deal in 2019. If he refuses to play under that contract, he would be forced to sit out the season.

However, Hilton is hoping the front office will extend him the same courtesy they made to Alejandro Villanueva in 2017 when he was also an ERFA, signing him to a multi-million dollar four-year deal when they could have legitimately had him play under a tender worth $615,000.

As per the NFLPA public salary cap report, the Steelers currently have just $1,152,180 in cap space available, a figure that includes a tender amount of $645,000 for Hilton. Finding the room to create the cap space required to give Hilton the sort of deal he is likely looking for would require a release or a restructure of another name on the roster.

Given that he is represented by Drew Rosenhaus, fans should expect that his agent will not allow this situation to go unresolved one way or another, but it would be a surprise to see anything done before training camp. The possible release of a player like Artie Burns could help generate some of the space require to pay Hilton, but it is doubtful the Steelers will be rushing to agree an extension anytime soon.

If Hilton plays under the terms of his ERFA tender in 2019, he will become a restricted free agent in 2020 and liable to find Pittsburgh placing at least a second-round tender on him, projected to be worth around $3.278 million.

Steelers OTA Recap, Day 3: Terrell Edmunds talks about how difficult defense will be with new PI rules

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/24/2019 - 6:43am

Time to check in on what went down at the UPMC Practice Facility for Organized Team Activities.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers wrap up their first week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, one thing which hasn’t been discussed much are the new rule changes in the NFL. While the rules of pass interference haven’t changed, the fact the play is considered reviewable is certainly new.

Defensive players have already been figuratively handcuffed by the rules not allowing a defender to even touch an offensive player while they are attempting to catch the football. Now, teams, and officials, will be pouring over replay footage hoping to catch a hand on the back, a slight pull on the jersey or even the grazing of a shoulder pad.

It really does make playing defense an almost impossible task.

And that is exactly what Terrell Edmunds was talking about after practice on Thursday to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. He labeled it as ‘tough’, stating you have to rely more on other aspects of your game, footwork, etc. to help you get by without a ridiculous number of penalties.

Check out the video below:

Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds said new pass interference rules will be ‘tough' but will incentivize defensive backs to use their feet more than their hands. pic.twitter.com/ggh2aZllxv

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 23, 2019
  • Do-it-all Sutton Smith

Sutton Smith has been labeled as undersized for a pass rusher, but you might not know the Steelers actually have been giving him reps on the offensive side of the football too. He lined up a full back for a short time Thursday, and talked about how he is willing to do whatever it takes to make the team. Wise words from a rookie.

Sutton Smith is willing to do whatever is asked of him. pic.twitter.com/fndxvfbWxy

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 23, 2019

Roethlisberger doesn’t practice much anymore. Not during the season, and certainly not in OTAs. But even though he wasn’t on the field during live offense vs. defense sessions, doesn’t mean he wasn’t present and still helping. James Washington spoke with Mark Kaboly of The Athletic on what it meant to see Roethlisberger there, even though he wasn’t taking any live reps.

Asked James Washington what it means to have 16-year vet Ben Roethlisberger attend voluntary OTA3 today knowing that he wasn't going to participate because of a scheduled day off: "He wants a Super Bowl ... the guy wants to be out here with his teammates and get to know guys."

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) May 23, 2019
  • Number geeks take note

For those of you out there who love keeping up with jersey numbers, there have already been some changes. If you are looking to buy any rookie jersey, wait until the season starts to do so, unless it is Devin Bush’s jersey, his number won’t be changing. Anymore, every season a player might change their number. Just a few years ago Sean Davis, Mike Hilton and Stevan Ridley all changed numbers before the season since numbers were vacated by players leaving.

A couple of number changes for the Steelers. Sutton Smith is now 42, Tuzar Skipper is now 51 and Zach Gentry is now 81

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) May 23, 2019

VIDEOS/PHOTOS

The 1️⃣st week of OTAs is in the books.

Missi and Mike break down everything that happened from the sidelines. pic.twitter.com/cd7GUXETNS

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 24, 2019

Steelers using boxing gloves on sticks to practice avoiding having the football punched out pic.twitter.com/7GB5xaJI36

— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) May 23, 2019

I caught up with @suttonsmith5 (#42 defense) after practice today about working with the #Steelers offense for part of practice. His interview will be up shortly on https://t.co/lpUa8m5Ig5. pic.twitter.com/i1PFmfjNKo

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) May 23, 2019

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton goes through drills Thursday, May. 23, 2019, at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, Pittsburgh. pic.twitter.com/GX4K13440T

— Peter Diana (@peterdianapghpg) May 23, 2019

Podcast: Does Benny Snell Jr. equate to the return of smash mouth Steelers football?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/24/2019 - 5:32am

In the latest episode of “The Steelers Preview” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-gold from the week that was.

The 2019 NFL Draft is over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for a fresh, new season — so it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Preview. On this show Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis break down all things Steelers leading into the offseason.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • 2019 NFL Draft Breakdown: Benny Snell Jr.
  • Steelers News
  • The ever popular Either/Or segment
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, Bryan Anthony Davis and Dave Schofield 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
Spotify: 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.

Black and Gold Links: The Steelers have a way to go before learning how to avoid social media pitfalls

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/24/2019 - 4:35am

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With the 2019 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 season is fast approaching, and the news surrounding the black-and-gold is far from over. As the team now turns their attention to more offseason workouts, OTAs and minicamp, there is no shortage of news.

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how despite a very tumultuous season in 2018, the Steelers haven’t seemed to have learned their lesson when it comes to social media. At least not yet anyways.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Just when the Steelers were saying all the right things, leave it to one Bud Dupree to not completely understand what appropriate behavior on social media looks like...

Tim Benz: Quieter Steelers on social media? So far, no good

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

I get the feeling that’s what’s happening to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now that Harrison is muckraking on FS1, Bryant is petitioning the league for reinstatement, Bell is causing front-office upheaval in New York and Brown is still tweeting away in Oakland, those of us in Pittsburgh are wondering who the new internet distraction jockeys will be in Black and Gold.

It didn’t take very long to figure out.

On Monday, Terrell Edmunds “liked” that Brown tweet, which seemed to be calling Ben Roethlisberger “two-face(d).”

Then on Wednesday, Bud Dupree called Steelers writer Mark Kaboly of The Athletic a “fat boy.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • For those who were wondering about Chris Boswell’s competition for the placekicking job in 2019, the competition is there, and nothing is guaranteed.

Rookie Matthew Wright given shot to unseat Chris Boswell as Steelers kicker

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“It’s different,” Wright said of an NFL practice as opposed to a college session at UCF. “But it’s been all good so far.”

Wright was brought in as an undrafted free agent to compete with veteran Chris Boswell to be the Steelers’ kicker going forward. Boswell was the AFC’s Pro Bowl representative at the position for the 2017 season and signed a lucrative contract with the Steelers just nine months ago.

But Boswell struggled mightily last season (seven missed field goals, five missed extra points in 15 games), and the Steelers used Matt McCrane for their season finale. McCrane, like Boswell, remained on the roster once the offseason began. But Wright was added to the mix 3 ½ weeks ago.

“I agreed to come here about midway through the draft on the third day actually,” Wright said. “They called and me, and my agent thought there was an opportunity (with the Steelers), a good opportunity.”

To read the full article, click HERE

Barron calls teammate Bush ‘good, young talent’

By: Hunter Homistek, DKPittsburghSports

Among those newcomers Barron will influence is Devin Bush, who the Steelers moved up 10 positions in the 2019 Draft to select at No. 10 overall. While many rookies take a year to learn and develop, Bush is expected to contribute in some form in Year 1. He’s on the field with the first team for some reps during OTAs, he’s calling plays and he’s making reads and adjustments on the field.

Interestingly, Bush and Barron share similar skill sets and strengths, something that could put them in competition for playing time depending on the defensive scheme. But Barron feels neither tension nor a need to compete with Bush. To him, it’s an opportunity to teach — and to learn from — a young player he expects to be great.

”[Bush is] a good, young talent,” Barron said. “I knew that as soon as we picked him up. I’m excited to work with him. I always feel like great players bring out the best in each other, so just getting to work with each other and bringing the best out of each other, I think that will be good for the team as a whole.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Think life in the NFL is a breeze? Think again. James Washington talks about how difficult his rookie season was in 2018.

Washington: ‘It was hard’

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

Sure, the 15 pounds he lost this offseason, dropping down to around 210 pounds, were a big part of the difference. One of Washington’s offseason goals was to drop some weight, and he did that with a combination of working on his family’s farm in Texas and with a trainer in Miami.

“I went home for the first two weeks, was putting in some hard work with my dad on the farm,” said Washington. “I was trying to cut down weight. Eat less. I went to Miami and worked in the sun. Worked on strength, strong hands, all the things receivers work on.

“I feel great. I feel lighter. I feel like I am a lot quicker off the ball. It was about 40 percent farm work and 60 percent field work. Last year at the end of the year I wrote down some goals. That was my top goal, to cut weight, to get faster. Not just for me, but for the team. That was my main goal.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Missi and Bob hit the sidelines to bring you all of the action from our first OTA. pic.twitter.com/OqFShU6AAw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 21, 2019

Got him.#DoItTuitt pic.twitter.com/cbEpl0J916

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 23, 2019

#HappyBirthday @DOCnation_7‼️ pic.twitter.com/2PbLp1ypJO

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 23, 2019

On my tea kick! Thanks @AllieHeyy for the mug! #ninjaturtles pic.twitter.com/XNUDYexobt

— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) May 23, 2019

James Washington primed for a big year after a forgettable rookie season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 2:05pm

The 2018 second round draft pick has a year under his belt, and is primed to succeed with a new opportunity in front of him.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, and their fan base, had high hopes for James Washington in his rookie season, and why not? After he was selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, fans saw the next JuJu Smith-Schuster, also drafted in the second round, but of the 2017 draft.

What transpired was an extremely disappointing season for Washington. A year in which he hardly contributed, and some would argue was remembered more for his mistakes than plays made.

Either way, 2018 is gone, and Washington is a new man. Both figuratively, and literally. In the offseason Washington worked on getting faster, and by doing so meant he would have to lose weight. In total Washington dropped roughly 10 pounds, and it was a combination of hard work on his father’s farm, and training in Florida.

“I went home for the first two weeks, was putting in some hard work with my dad on the farm,” Washington told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “I was trying to cut down weight. Eat less. I went to Miami and worked in the sun. Worked on strength, strong hands, all the things receivers work on.

“I feel great. I feel lighter. I feel like I am a lot quicker off the ball. It was about 40 percent farm work and 60 percent field work. Last year at the end of the year I wrote down some goals. That was my top goal, to cut weight, to get faster. Not just for me, but for the team. That was my main goal.”

This is all well and good, but Washington also talked about the trials and tribulations which came from last year — none of which surrounded the drama that engulfed the Steelers locker room the entire year.

Washington was just struggling with his confidence.

“It was hard. I am not going to lie,” said Washington. “There were times I would go home, think to myself ways to get better and not let the team down. I was disappointed last year. I have high expectations for myself and this team has them for me.”

“I was thinking too much. Talking to Coach (Mike Tomlin), he gave me some encouragement. I talked to Ben (Roethlisberger) and that cleared up a lot of confusion with myself and my capabilities.

“I am more relaxed now when I am in the huddle with Ben. I am listening to him call the play. My mind is functioning more. It’s thinking about the entire play, the fine tuning of my route.

“Last year it wasn’t there because I was a different person. I feel like a different person. Ten times different. I feel like a veteran even though I am only in my second year. It feels a lot better.”

Washington feels like a better person, and the rabid Steelers fan base hopes he plays like a different person in 2018. Rookies have been known to get off to slow starts, but the Steelers will need Washington, and others, to step up in a big way with Antonio Brown now officially a member of the Oakland Raiders.

If the offseason proves anything, it should show fans Washington is not only a tireless worker, but someone who is determined to make his mark on the team, and possibly the NFL, in 2019.

Antonio Brown should learn not to look a gift horse in the mouth

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:05pm

Ben Roethlisberger's recent interview and apology has extended Antonio Brown the olive branch of peace and an unbelievable shot at redemption. Brown seems to be blissfully unaware.

My father used to say it takes two to tango. He was referring to the fact that in any relationship, whether they be professional or personal, there are no perfect individuals. Even in a situation that involves an obvious villain, there is always a victim. Some individuals prove to be perpetual victims.

I used to share a office with a work colleague who happened to be the father of two daughters. Both daughters had been married and divorced multiple times, with one daughter having achieved the trifecta. Needless to say, my work colleague loved to go on and on talking about how utterly worthless he felt each of his ex son-in-laws were in his opinion. It actually became quite uncomfortable for any listener, myself included.

On one particularly aggravating day filled with hostility and rancor, I finally asked my colleague a simply question after my father's words of wisdom came to mind. What was the common denominator in each situation? He seemed confused and asked me to clarify. I merely pointed out that his daughters were the one constant in each relationship. If each of these men were as despicable as he described, then why did his daughters keep on marrying that type of man? Though he seemed pretty distraught by my question, the good news was he never tried to discuss his daughters love interests in my presence ever again.

Ben Roethlisberger's one and only interview since last season's disappointing ending and drama filled off season recently aired preemptive to the first day of OTA's on Tuesday. In an obvious attempt to express his side of the story in a controlled setting and effectively close the book on all the drama, Ben took the opportunity to issue an apology and be the bigger man. In no way trying to play the victim, even though he was repeatedly attacked unfairly throughout Antonio Brown's insanity tour by the man himself and a multitude of national media, Ben accepted responsibility for his comments toward AB on his radio show and offered an apology. He even called AB a good friend and hoped they could put the whole situation behind them someday. Ben and I definitely have a different definition of what a good friend actually is.

Whether intentionally or not, Ben has provided Brown with a golden opportunity previously believed unthinkable. He has given Brown a road back in, an avenue to forgiveness if you will. After Brown burned every possible bridge around Pittsburgh, Ben has erected a temporary rope suspension bridge for Brown to cross back over. The sad part of it all is the fact that Brown seems oblivious to the possibility.

Steelers Nation is filled with individuals who would love nothing better than to welcome Brown back into the fold with open arms someday. Time has a way of healing old wounds, and forgiveness is often an option as we all enjoy a good redemption story.

That's what made Brown's obvious attempt to force a trade to a location where he could obtain the max contract he desired so puzzling. He didn't know when to quit when he was ahead. Similar to a mother of dragons, he couldn't just burn a few bridges, he had to burn the whole city. He exposed his true nature like Pee Wee Herman at a movie theater. There is just no coming back from some behavior.

Incredibly, Brown has been granted the ultimate second chance, all on a silver platter. All he has to do is accept Ben's apology and move on. Take responsibility for his own actions moving forward and let the healing power of time do the rest. Once the still fresh sting of betrayal has faded then a mutually beneficial dialog can commence. Antonio Brown can't allow this golden opportunity to pass him by, but it appears he will.

He seems determined to play the perpetual victim to the end. Brown has had conflict or issue with Ben, Tomlin, coaches, ex-players, local media, and fans across social media. What is the common denominator in each situation? Or should I say who?

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