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Updated: 1 hour 42 min ago

Podcast: When the Steelers defense comes through with the key stop

2 hours 31 min ago
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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

How many times in recent years has the Steelers defense come up with a big stop to save a game or give the offense a chance to win it? Quite a bit, as a matter of fact. Thank goodness for the Stat Geek to break it all “dahn”. This is just one of the topics that will be discussed on the Thursday episode of the AM slate of the BTSC family of podcasts. Join Co-Editor Dave Schofield as he pulls out the Steelers slide rule and geeks out only like he can.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • End of game situations when the Steelers defense comes up big
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

The 2021 Steelers preseason To-Do list

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 2:05pm
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers still have a number of roster moves to complete before we make it to Week 1

The Pittsburgh Steelers roster is virtually set as we are just a few short days until preseason action gets underway. But as we creep closer to the regular season the Steelers still have a list of roster moves they have to wade through. Below are the things the Steelers still need to accomplish. While some of these aren't actually necessary, the Steelers will be a better team if they are able to make these moves.

Re-Sign T.J. Watt Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The crown jewel move of the offseason is the team signing T.J. Watt to his mega-deal extension. While both Watt and the Steelers aren't openly discussing the deal, by all accounts the parties are working on it. This contract will set records league wide and will likely see Watt take home $30 million annually. Getting this deal on the books takes a ton of pressure off the Steelers for next offseason, and would link the face of the franchise to the team for the foreseeable future.

Consider Re-Signing Joe Haden & Others Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers should also consider signing other veteran players on expiring deals. Coming to terms now could add extra salary cap space for this season but more importantly, and much like T.J. Watt, would lock up players well before the next free agency window. If the Steelers think Joe Haden still has some juice left in the tank they should definitely consider signing him now.

Cut 37 Players Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This is an absolute of any NFL offseason, every team has to axe 37 players before building a practice squad. The Steelers will have some tough decisions to make including cutting a number of veterans. From Josh Dobbs or Dwayne Haskins, to a handful of running back cuts are coming and more than a few of them will be names even casual fans recognize.

Swing A Trade Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This is likely the hardest move for the Steelers to pull off. But managing to trade a cuttable player for future draft capital would be a win for the organization. They’ve done it before trading Josh Dobbs to the Jaguars, and Jerald Hawkins to the Buccaneers. Bringing in addition draft compensation could lighten the loss of the Steelers 2022 fourth round pick which they used to deal for a 2021 fifth rounder, Isaiahh Loudermilk. One minor rumor that circled the Internet was the Rams looking for a running back, and Benny Snell being a possible schematic fit.

Mini Free Agency Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers usually make a move or two right around cut time every year now. In 2017 they signed recently cut Joe Haden, then traded for Vance McDonald. But every year talented players get the axe for whatever reason and still make an impact for another team. According to the Steelers Stat Geek, and BTSC Editor Dave Schoefield himself, the Steelers can lock T.J. Watt into a contract and still spend $4 million on another outside player. If the right positional fit becomes available the Steelers can again improve their roster before they take a run at another Lombardi trophy.

But what do you think? Which of these moves will actually get done? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Podcast: Which Steelers will thrive when the pads go on?

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 2:00pm

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

The Steelers have had some good showings early on in camp, but business will indeed pick up when the pads go on. But just who will thrive when pads get strapped on? This will be just one of the subjects that will be discussed in the latest installment of the BTSC family of podcasts, The Scho Bro Show.

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

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Steelers biggest questions going into camp

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

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

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.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Steelers 2021 Training Camp: Tracking Wednesday’s Practice at Heinz Field

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 1:40pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are putting on the pads Wednesday and will have fans in the stands at Heinz Field.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now in full swing in regards to 2021 training camp as they make the move to Heinz Field for 2021 training camp and put on the pads for the first time. Add in the Steelers will be in front of fans for the first time in preparation for the 2021 season, there should be plenty to report about practice. And when the Steelers are on the field, we will be compiling as much information as to what is going on at practice as we possibly can.

Check out the information below as the players continue their preparation for the 2021 season. If any additional information or reports become available, they will be updated below.

The Steelers Live show from Heinz Field at 1:30 PM can be seen here:

#SteelersNation is in the house & Training Camp Live, presented by @FedEx, is #LIVE!

Get an exclusive live look-in at #SteelersCamp!

For more training camp coverage, watch @NFLNetwork. https://t.co/lMBRvoSKuG

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) July 28, 2021

Pads 2day

— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) July 28, 2021

Pads today…. And Fans today!!! What a DAY!

— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) July 28, 2021

Today's the day! Can't wait to see you for #SteelersCamp, #SteelersNation pic.twitter.com/5s70lB6XoG

— SteelersNationUnite (@SteelersUnite) July 28, 2021

Almost that time ⏳ pic.twitter.com/Zq4zWxVR26

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 28, 2021

A few fans starting to trickle in to Heinz Field for their first look at the 2021 Steelers. #Steelers #dkps pic.twitter.com/MYHrie9NAc

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 28, 2021

WE BACK‼️ #SteelersCamp | #SNUProud pic.twitter.com/2Rydszp8Fu

— SteelersNationUnite (@SteelersUnite) July 28, 2021

Mac Miller blasting over the speakers at Heinz Field and fans in the stadium.

Pittsburgh is back, baby

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 28, 2021

After being excused from practice Tuesday, Ben Roethlisberger is on the field for warmups today.

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) July 28, 2021

Chuks Okorafor is in full pads today. We'll see if he practices. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 28, 2021

J.C. Hassenauer isn't practicing today. But he's also no longer wearing a knee brace. Just has a sleeve on his left leg. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 28, 2021

Zach Banner is in full pads today. Hasn't practiced since the day the Steelers opened camp. But has been on the sidelines working hard. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 28, 2021

Stephon Tuitt still not in pads yet. Hasn't practiced yet. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 28, 2021

Kevin Dotson still not practicing for Steelers #dkps #Steelers

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 28, 2021

Antoine Brooks is back today for the Steelers #dkps #Steelers

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 28, 2021

WR Cody White not in pads today for the Steelers. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 28, 2021

With Dotson out, Rashaad Coward continues to take snaps at LG for the Steelers. The rest of the line is intact today, with Kendrick Green at center. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 28, 2021

We out here‼️ #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/tlNlECz29c

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 28, 2021

Ben Roethlisberger, who was excused yesterday, is not in uniform today at Steelers practice. But he is spending a lot of time with Najee Harris at the moment.

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 28, 2021

After going through warmups without his pads, Ben Roethlisberger putting them on now. Ready to go. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 28, 2021

“Now listen here, buddy, I have the best hair and tats combination on this defense! pic.twitter.com/2ZWIkWa6Qz

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 28, 2021

Your scene for the stretch here as Steelers hold first practice in front of fans in almost two years. pic.twitter.com/AHzBVXkCUD

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) July 28, 2021

Big Ben ➡️ MUUUUUUTH pic.twitter.com/ulXVCdAYZo

— Joey (@JoeyMulinaro) July 28, 2021

Second snap, offense got Najee Harris split out wide in empty, Devin Bush on him, and it was an easy pitch and catch for Ben and the rookie. Bush did give a little extra push at the end to try to dislodge the ball.

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 28, 2021

Benny Snell up and at em for the first rep of backs-on-backers blocking drill under the watchful eye of Mike Tomlin. But Robert Spillane seemed to get the better of him.

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 28, 2021

Najee Harris got the second rep, then asked to run it back with Marcus Allen, which was music to Mike Tomlin’s ears. Those two locked horns, to say the least.

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 28, 2021

JuJu just caught a contested pass and celebrated by busting out a Tik Tok dance on the field. The 6ish thousand in the stands loved it. Safe to say that’s not going away this year.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 28, 2021

Last rep of the backs-on-backers action, Najee Harris drew a matchup with certifiable lunatic Robert Spillane. Harris neutralized his rush and got a flying chest bump from Ben Roethlisberger for his efforts.

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 28, 2021

7️⃣➡️1️⃣9️⃣@_BigBen7 | @TeamJuJu pic.twitter.com/3cvIG721SK

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 28, 2021

Now in an 11-on-11 inside run period, Najee Harris dazzles with a nifty move against the first team D (which now has veteran safety Miles Killebrew playing slot corner).

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 28, 2021

Why the Steelers have been using void years rather than restructuring more contracts

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 11:30am
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Even the two bigger contracts the Steelers signed this summer included void years to reduce their 2021 salary cap hit.

After getting reports of the one-year deals the Steelers signed with Trai Turner in June and Melvin Ingram in July, it was later discovered both contracts have void years with them in order to reduce the salary cap it for the 2021 NFL season. This per Mark Kaboly of The Athletic.

Both Melvin Ingram and Trai Turner had voidable years put into their contracts. That's now 6 for the Steelers this offseason.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 27, 2021

In my most recent salary cap update article, I adjusted for the Steelers using void years for Melvin Ingram. By doing so, the Steelers saved $2.34 million off of this year’s salary cap which will be applied, most likely, all to next year. Apparently Trai Turner’s deal also has void years included. The exact number of years has yet to be reported, but when it is another salary cap update will be forthcoming.

As a reminder, void years are placed on the end of a player’s contract in which they do not have a base salary and are not tied to the team. If a player has two void years at the end of their contract, it means they are set to be a free agent during that first void year. If that becomes the case, the money from all the remaining void years will count that next season towards the team’s salary cap.

For now, I’m going to assume Turner’s contract has four avoid years with it just like Mark Ingram‘s. If so, the Steelers are saving another $1.54 million for the season. If you’re keeping track, that makes $3.88 million saved just with the last two contracts of players the Steelers have brought in this summer to bolster their roster for 2021.

What is interesting is the Steelers have opted to go with this method of saving money at this time of the year. In 2020, the Steelers saved as much salary cap space as they could by restructuring every possible contract. As another reminder, a contract restructure is basically taking as much of a player’s base salary as they can (usually reducing it to the league minimum) and converting it into a signing bonus which gets prorated out over the remaining years of the players contract. So if a player only has two years left on their deal and $4 million gets converted into a signing bonus, $2 million get pushed out into the next year and that is how much the team saves by doing the restructure. Remember, they only save the money for this year as every penny will be accounted for at some point. That point is just in the future.

Another thing to remember is a typical restructure is pointless for a player with only one year left on their contract. The obvious reason for this is that a signing bonus can’t be spread into additional years (because there aren’t any) and would all count toward this season anyway. That is, unless void years are added to the contract. This is what the Steelers did with Eric Ebron as they converted $4.88 million into a roster bonus for 2021, the final year of his contract, and added four void years to his contract. This reduced Ebron’s salary cap number by $3.904 million for 2021, but that money is set to count towards the salary cap in 2022.

Both of these examples, restructures and void years, are what is meant by teams “kicking the can down the road.” The player gets paid the same amount of money, but based on how and when they are paid the team is able to account for it against the salary cap at different times.

As noted for 2020, the Steelers use contract restructures all the time in order to gain more salary cap space for a given season. The 2021 offseason is the first time the Steelers have used void years in contracts in order to save money. The Steelers have now used these years for the contracts of Ben Roethlisberger, Eric Ebron, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cam Sutton, and now both Melvin Ingram and Trai Turner. Cam Sutton‘s contract is different than the other five as he signed a two-year deal with three void years added after 2022. So he is the only one of these players still under contract for next season.

As for the other five players, they are set to be free agents in 2022. Depending on each of their contracts, when the void years kicks in has to be specified. Typically, this date comes the week after the Super Bowl. If the player signs an extension with the team before this deadline, it is my understanding the void years will continue to be spread out over the new contract and won’t all come due the next season.

If the dates for these void years to kick in are the first week after the Super Bowl, it does not give the Steelers much time to sign any of these players in order to spread out the salary cap hit. It does not mean that the Steelers cannot sign these players later on, but the full dead money hit will already be in place.

So why have the Steelers chosen do use void years over the remaining restructures they could do this offseason? The Steelers had already restructured Cameron Heyward and Derek Watt in order to lower their salary cap hit for 2021, but the Steelers still have two players with multiple years remaining on their contract that they could restructure in Stephon Tuitt and Chris Boswell.

I outlined back in February while restructure for these two players would be difficult based on the fact their contracts were signed during the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement. Even though the NFL had not announced the 17th game at the time of the previous article, the fact that it was looming, and eventually happened, created a different situation.

To sum up the difficulty with a restructure for these players, the Steelers would actually have to pay more money and add more to the salary cap in order to do the restructure fairly in terms of the player. The only way around that would be for these players to take a loss in salary which they generally do not do during a restructure. This all comes down to the league compensating players with contracts under the old CBA for playing in a 17th game. This money is based off their base salary and does not count towards the salary cap. I explained this in another article back in February if you want a greater explanation.

As stated in the previous article, a player such a Stephon Tuitt would be due to pick up an extra paycheck of $530k for the extra game. If Tuitt reduces his base salary in a restructure, he will receive less than this, if anything at all. If his salary would be reduced to the league minimum, he would not receive any extra money as agreed upon in the last CBA.

A Stephon Tuitt restructure would save the Steelers less than $4 million on the salary cap for 2021. Ironically, the savings from a Tuitt restructure would be almost the same amount the Steelers just saved by adding void years to both Melvin Ingram’s and Trey Turner‘s contract.

Could it be the Steelers added void years to these two contracts when they did not have to in order to have the extra money they would have gained by restructuring Stephon Tuitt? If that was the case, they were just able to save the money without having to pay more out of pocket or add extra money to the salary cap.

This does not mean that the Steelers can’t restructure Tuitt and Boswell if they find that they still need the extra money. But by adding the void years to both Turner and Ingram when they had the room to sign both of them without having to do so, it has now created a situation in which the money that got pushed down the road is dollar-for-dollar and they don’t have to do the final two possible restructures.

Podcast: The Steelers Fantasy Football Fix, I want my quarterback

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 11:00am

Join BTSC’s Jeremy Betz for weekly fantasy football talk as it pertains to the Pittsburgh Steelers, your draft and for success in any of your leagues.

Fantasy Football is a phenomenon and some of us could use a little help with our drafts and during the season. With that in mind, BTSC is debuting a new weekly show surrounding all aspects of the world of fantasy football with a black-and-gold twist. Welcome to the Steelers Fantasy football Fix. Join BTSC’s Jeremy Betz for weekly fantasy football talk as it pertains to the Pittsburgh Steelers, your draft and for success in any of your leagues.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The quarterback you need for your Fantasy Football team!
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeremy Betz of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers in the landscape of Fantasy Football and then some.

Check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

BTSC Roundtable: Who are you most excited to see in the Hall of Fame game?

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 10:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With the main players on the sideline, who are you excited to get a look at?

With the Hall of Fame game approaching the BTSC team is here to give you their picks for the player they are most excited to see take the field in Canton Ohio. While Ben Roethlisberger will join many of the Steelers best known players on the sideline, the hall of fame game will be the first chance many new faces and returning depth players will have to show Steeler fans what they can do. Here are our thoughts on the players to look for.

Dave Schofield: Kendrick Green

Thanks to my nephew Kyle, a new nickname has been given as “Quadrick Green.” If you’re unsure why Green would get this nickname, check out any coverage from Tuesday’s practice at Heinz Field. The Steelers third-round rookie is already in line to start the Hall of Fame Game and Steelers Nation wants to know how close he is to grabbing the starting role for the 2021 season. Until the pads come on, we’ll never truly know what Green has to offer. Since he’s getting the start, we should see Green matched up against the best players who will appear on the other side of the ball.

Big Bro Scho: James Pierre

There has been plenty of talk that Pierre could challenge Cam Sutton for the starting spot opposite of Joe Hadden. We got a very small sample size from Pierre last season, but what we got looked VERY good. He should get plenty of opportunities this preseason to show the coaching staff exactly what he can do. I really like his size and speed and am excited to see more of what he has to offer this secondary.

Bryan Anthony Davis: Isaiah McKoy

In a college season that was only four games, Kent State’s McKoy had 25 receptions for 455 yards, an 18.2 yard average, and five touchdowns in 2020. Isaiah is big at 6’2” and is a fast, deep threat that can add to an already talented stable. I want to see if McKoy can thrive in the NFL and make things even more interesting in Pittsburgh.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

K.T. Smith: Antoine Brooks

The Steelers need someone to step up and claim Mike Hilton’s role in the nickel. Brooks is being given a shot to do it. Like Hilton, he was a great tackler and aggressive blitzer coming out of college. I’m excited to see how he looks.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Shannon White: Buddy Johnson

Buddy Johnson is a more athletic run thumping inside linebacker in the mold of Vince Williams. He is a hard hitting Buck linebacker who may very well be Robert Spillane's backup in this his rookie season. He has been lauded for his tackling and leadership qualities, and his solid athleticism suggest he should improve in pass coverage through hardwork and improved coaching. Beyond excited to watch him in the Black and Gold.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Michael Beck: Pat Freiermuth

it’s been a very long time since the Steelers have had a tight end with the athletic and receiving ability of Freiermuth’s. If this kid plays as well as he’s reportedly done at training camp he may revolutionize the Steelers offense.

Andrew Wilbar: Anthony McFarland

After an unproductive rookie year behind a struggling offensive line, McFarland will be hungry to prove doubters wrong. He will obviously be running behind the backup linemen, but with his former college coach Matt Canada running the offense, I expect McFarland’s skill set to be utilized much better in year two. Despite the vanilla play calling we will see in the Hall of Fame game, I am excited to see McFarland have an opportunity to shine.

Anthony Defeo: Quincy Roche

Roche, selected in the sixth round out of Miami in the 2021 NFL Draft, was super productive in college. He had 30.5 career sacks in four years—including 26 in three seasons at Temple before transferring to Miami in 2020. Why was he drafted so low? If he bucks the odds and plays above his draft pedigree, that could bode well for the Steelers and their depth at outside linebacker—at the very least. Roche figures to go up against players at his level or lower during the preseason. Will he dominate? Will he struggle? I’m excited to find out.

Jeff Hartman: Dwayne Haskins

While everyone chooses rookies or undrafted players, I am excited to see what the team has in Haskins. Could he be the next quarterback for the Steelers? Some scream yes, while others scream no. How will we ever know? By watching him play this preseason and seeing if he is the first round pick, or a dud who couldn’t survive in Washington. For all those reasons, and many more, I am excited to see Haskins play in the black and gold for the first time vs. Dallas.

Be sure to follow BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.

The Steelers will have to overcome low expectations in 2021

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 9:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers find themselves in the rare position of having low expectations as they prepare for the 2021 regular season. But the bleak outlook is mostly coming from the outside world—the national and local experts. It would appear that the Steelers’ own expectations are as high as usual. Who’s right: the outside world or the Steelers?

As the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers begin the pad-popping portion of a training camp that will be conducted away from St. Vincent College for a second straight summer, they do so with a regular-season outlook that hasn’t been this bleak in almost a decade.

I realize “bleak” is a rather dramatic word to use when talking about what people are expecting out of Pittsburgh in 2021 but is it though? Let’s be honest, the low expectations for the Steelers 2021 campaign started to become apparent the second their 2020 season came to a crashing halt in a 48-37 home loss to the Browns in the wildcard round on January 10.

Would quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finally retire after 17 seasons? The wish for that to become a reality was more palpable than ever. How would the Steelers, a cap-compromised franchise that would almost certainly have to make major cuts just to be compliant—let alone do anything noteworthy in free agency—even be able to piece together a semi-competitive roster?

A team free of Roethlisberger would take some getting used to, sure, but at least the Steelers could free up some finances and finally begin their future, a future that would almost certainly start with a major rebuild.

Instead, Roethlisberger and the Steelers worked out a deal where he would take a pay cut and they could make some moves in free agency. They didn’t make moves that earned them high praise, of course. B.J. Finney? Not inspiring. The surprise re-signing of receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster? Believe it or not, polarizing. The sudden contract dispute between the team and cornerback Steven Nelson that ultimately led to Nelson’s release? Bizarre.

In the meantime, Mike Hilton departed, as did Matt Feiler and Bud Dupree. None of these were surprising exits, but they sure didn’t do much to raise those low expectations for 2021.

Throw in the retirements of center Maurkice Pouncey and tight end Vance McDonald, the failure to retain the services of defensive lineman Tyson Alualu—or so it seemed—along with the not-so-surprising release of inside linebacker Vince Williams, and the tide was quite low in Steeler Nation.

But as they often tend to do, things eventually settled down. Alualu actually had a change of heart and returned to the Steelers after verbally agreeing to a deal with his former team, the Jaguars. The Steelers ultimately had to cut veteran guard David DeCastro, but they quickly signed another veteran guard to take his place—Trai Turner.

Let’s not forget about the recent signing of outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, a player who will either provide great insurance or be a dangerous weapon, depending on who you talk to.

Oh, and how about a 2021 NFL Draft class that most fans are pretty darn optimistic about?

Yes, sir, a Steelers offseason is a lot like a whirlwind first week at a new job. It’s all so confusing at first, and you never know how you’re going to get through it, but everything eventually slows down and starts to come into focus.

But that’s just the fans, folks who are always secretly optimistic, even if they don’t often give off that vibe. As for the local and national football experts, I don’t think most have changed their tune about the Steelers and their low expectations for them in 2021.

What’s the point of bringing Roethlisberger back at the age of 39? Why draft a running back—Alabama’s Najee Harris—in the first round? Sure, the team parted ways with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner after three seasons, but this Matt Canada has no experience designing an offense at the professional level.

The offensive line appears to be in total-rebuild mode. The new offensive line coach certainly isn’t Mike Munchak. It’s some guy named Adrian Klemm. Sure, he talks a good game, but who cares about that? What are his credentials?

Alex Highsmith is going to replace Dupree at outside linebacker, but he’s obviously not going to be as good. People are excited about the fact that the team was able to retain the services of Cam Sutton, but is he going to replace Hilton in the slot or Nelson on the outside? Will he be as good as either of those guys? What about the depth at inside linebacker now that Vince Williams, who the team actually re-signed in April at a reduced cost, has suddenly retired at the onset of training camp?

And let’s not even get into what the experts think of head coach Mike Tomlin, who is preparing for his 15th season as the man in charge on the sidelines.

Oh, and the rest of the AFC North, a division the Steelers won with a 12-4 record in 2020, appears to be passing Pittsburgh by in terms of talent. The Ravens have been a few paces ahead for a while (according to the experts). The Browns sped by the Steelers on Art Rooney Ave. back in January. Heck, even the Bengals appear to have a young and talented team on the rise, one that includes a super-capable quarterback in Joe Burrow.

Vegas has the Steelers finishing with nine wins in 2021, a total that might actually seem generous to some.

But that’s all coming from the outside world. What are the Steelers' expectations for 2021? Surely, they wouldn’t have brought Roethlisberger back at age 39 just so he could have a farewell tour. As for that offensive line, one that factored heavily into the team finishing last in rushing yards a season ago? How could it be any worse? What if it’s actually better with some younger blood at most positions, including left tackle (Chukwuma Okorafor), left guard (Kevin Dotson), possibly center (rookie third-round pick Kendrick Green) and right tackle (Zach Banner)?

To the outside world, it was stupid to draft Harris in the first round, but what if he becomes a difference-maker on par with Le’Veon Bell in his prime? What if Canada actually designs a better game-plan than Fichtner? After all, that’s what he was hired to do.

To the outside world, Highsmith is a downgrade from Dupree. However, people are paid to find players to take the place of other players who simply can’t be retained in the salary cap era. If he were to do so, Highsmith wouldn’t be the first Steelers prospect to successfully replace a productive outside linebacker.

It’s actually happened a lot in the long and storied history of the organization.

Maybe the traditional way in which the Steelers are handling their current situation at outside linebacker—draft a guy, groom him for a year or two, and then throw him in there when the other guy leaves—is an example of the disconnect between how they see themselves and how the outside world views them.

I have no doubt in my mind that the Steelers think they can compete for a title in 2021.

As Tomlin has often said: the standard is indeed the standard.

I guess the biggest question the Steelers must answer as they prepare for the 2021 regular season is this: are they living in reality or their own bubble?

We’ll find out the answer to that question soon enough.

Training Camp Recap, Day 5: TEs take on new role, and attitude

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 8:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back at Training Camp, and it is time to check out what went down during the latest practice!

It isn’t Saint Vincent College, but it hasn’t been Latrobe, PA since 2019. The Pittsburgh Steelers are taking in their 2021 Training Camp between Heinz Field and their UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the Southside of Pittsburgh.

What went down during the latest training camp practice? That is where this article comes in. Check out all that was said, as well as photos and videos from the day’s workouts.

Here we go...

There were several positions which can be deemed as weak entering the 2021 offseason. Tight end might not be atop the list, but it would certainly make the cut. And this isn’t breaking news. Fans knew it, coaches knew it and so did the players. That was a driving force behind the Steelers taking Pat Freiermuth in the 2nd Round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and the focus on the position remains in training camp.

In fact, the primary tight end tandem Eric Ebron and Freiermuth were in front of the media, and they are focused on changing the perception of the position in 2021. In fact, their tight end room has a nickname, courtesy of new TE coach Alfredo Roberts, and it is “the bad asses”.

This year’s Tight End room nickname - The Bad Asses - brought to you by new TE coach Alfredo Roberts.

Ebron: “Tight ends, we should be bad asses. We should block ass. We should be able to run badass routes. And we should be able to score on anybody in a badass way.” pic.twitter.com/LGWKGD7CZZ

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 27, 2021

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step, and that would describe where the team’s tight end depth chart currently resides.

Now onto the other news from Monday’s practice at Heinz Field...

No Big Ben

Fans who constantly criticize the Steelers giving Ben Roethlisberger days off won’t like this news, but Mike Tomlin excuses Roethlisberger from practice Monday for personal reasons. He is expected back for the first padded practice of camp Wednesday.

No Ben Roethlisberger today at practice. Tomlin said that he excused him for personal reasons.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 27, 2021

Mike Tomlin said QB Ben Roethlisberger was excused from practice Tuesday for personal reasons. He is expected to practice Wednesday when the pads come out and fans are in the stands.

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) July 27, 2021

Injury Update...sort of

If you were looking for an injury update, this is about as close as we go from head coach Mike Tomlin after Monday’s practice:

“Had a number of guys that missed some work for a variety of reasons, most of which we’ve been talking about. I gave Ben (Roethlisberger) the day off for personal reasons. He’s been excused by me. We look forward to getting him back tomorrow. Other guys that are working their way back, getting back to us, we’d expect those guys to be back in a short number of days.”

A lot still to prove

A huge part of the issues surrounding the tight end position has been their blocking, or lack thereof. Freiermuth has been flashing his pass catching/play making abilities throughout camp thus far, but with pads being donned soon, fans will soon know what their 2nd round pick can do, from a blocking perspective.

TE Pat Freiermuth can catch. Can he block?
"It's hard to show you can block with (only) helmets on. My job is to make catches and block ends and block LBs. I've had a good couple days but the real work starts tomorrow when the pads go on and I've got to prove I can block D-ends."

— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) July 27, 2021

We don’t draft first round picks to not block

Don’t think Eric Ebron doesn’t know what drafting Najee Harris being drafted in the first round means for the tight ends. Just watch...

Fun exchange I had just now with Eric Ebron here. I’ll have a Steelers column up later. pic.twitter.com/lLALudv9o0

— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) July 27, 2021

How good were the TEs at blocking last year? Try terrible...

Speaking of Ebron’s honesty, is there anything more honest than his comments on how poor the tight ends were last year?

"... all should do better, including myself. Yeah, if you want to get paid and you want to perform and you want to be amongst the best, you've got to be able to block. Yeah, that's a pivotal part of our focus this year." 2/2

— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) July 27, 2021 BTSC Training Camp Recap Podcast VIDEO

#SteelersCamp practice is #LIVE at @heinzfield!

Watch Training Camp Live, presented by @FedEx, an exclusive daily live look-in at #SteelersCamp!

For more training camp coverage, watch @NFLNetwork. https://t.co/6INOD7G0qy

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) July 27, 2021

#LIVE: Hear from Coach Tomlin and about all that happened at today’s practice at @heinzfield on Training Camp Wrap Up, presented by @UPMCHealthPlan.

For more training camp coverage, watch @NFLNetwork. https://t.co/8vurOP2357

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) July 27, 2021

"Guys were energized in this environment."@OurFordStore | Coach Tomlin on today's practice: https://t.co/7vKIVD4em0 pic.twitter.com/8jhm7KMBgv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021

Back at @heinzfield & loving every second@budlight | #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/4fT7sgVZtO

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 28, 2021

Get outta @ohthatsNajee22's way pic.twitter.com/0wroUUNG8y

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021

TE TD@Ebron85 | @pat_fry5 pic.twitter.com/hioLJVXlcF

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021

@_TJWatt | @DOCnation_7 pic.twitter.com/t7Z7XtRgbX

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021

See you soon, #SteelersNation @pat_fry5 pic.twitter.com/9ZQGgY6bfX

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021

Yinzers getting ready for #SteelersCamp at @heinzfield@JoeyMulinaro pic.twitter.com/tgsc6Du95S

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021 PHOTOS

Visor heat pic.twitter.com/EYeFGHoif1

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021

Steelers work out during their first day of training camp at Heinz Field Tuesday afternoon. pic.twitter.com/RFmehoAHDN

— Matt Freed (@mattfreedpghpg) July 27, 2021

The 2021 Training Camp Confidential

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 7:12am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are at Heinz Field, and the pads are popping! We welcome you to the multi-day stream of content called the Training Camp Confidential.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in pads at Heinz Field for a strange training camp, meaning not at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, and it is time to get fans excited for the events which are about to ensue.

This is where the 2021 Training Camp Confidential comes in!

Right here is where all of the articles which fall under the Training Camp Confidential will be housed for your reference. Obviously, not every article which is produced at BTSC will be content for the Camp Confidential series, but this will be a place for you to see what you may have missed, keep up with comments and ultimately prepare yourself for the 2021 regular season!

For those new to these parts, the Training Camp Confidential is a 3-4 day feature where we run anywhere from 5-6 pieces a day directly related to the start of training camp. This usually takes place as players report to dorms at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, but with things out of whack, again, this season we thought the start of padded practice would be a good place to start.

Therefore, check out all the content right here, and be sure to check back often to enjoy all of the fine work by the staff here at BTSC for the 2021 Training Camp Confidential!

6 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin following Tuesday’s practice

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 7:00am
Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking to the media after the first practice at Heinz Field, the Steelers head coach answered many questions about specific players.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers assembled together at Heinz Field for the first time of 2021 Training Camp. Since the Steelers were back on the field, we were also given the typical media session from head coach Mike Tomlin. Therefore, it’s time to look at the players mentioned by Coach Tomlin during his media time. Remember these are current players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.

Chase Claypool & Cam Sutton

One play of note from practice on Tuesday was a battle for a pass thrown to Chase Claypool and defended by Cam Sutton. Coach Tomlin was asked his thoughts on the play between the two players.

“I just like the energy and effort. We cannot take the energy and effort for granted. Everybody wants a good day. Everybody wants a good and competitive environment, but it requires all of us to be actively engaged in the creation of that. And so those guys right there were creating that, competing the way they did for that play. We all want to be a part of a good environment, we’re all responsible for being active participants in the building of it. So, I just want to highlight that.”

Coach Tomlin was asked for his ruling on the play.

“Incomplete.”

Pat Freiermuth

In his press conference earlier on Tuesday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert commented about second-round draft pick Pat Freiermuth and how Mike Tomlin responds when he makes a play. According to Colbert, Tomlin says, “Nice catch, but can you block?” Coach Tomlin was asked about making that statement to his young tight end.

“Yeah, I’m gonna play my role. I’m going to be consistent. So don’t ask me anything glowing about him. Those of you that know me, it’s too early in the process to get that from me.”

In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked about how Freiermuth responds when he asks the question about blocking.

“I’m not surprised by it. He’s a Penn State kid, regional dude, I’ve got a very good relationship with Coach (James) Franklin, went to his Pro Day, got a lot of exposure. I don’t think any of us are surprised by what we’re seeing from him.”

Arthur Maulet

One of the Steelers free agents they acquired in the secondary is defensive back Arthur Maulet who has played 35 NFL games for three different teams in four seasons, most recently with the New York Jets. Coach Tomlin was asked about what he likes about Maulet.

“He’s got a reputation for being a rough and tumble teamer and a versatile defender. And I just think guys that show that level of versatility in two phases, you better have an interest in. He’s displaying that out here. Obviously, tomorrow will be a big day and the subsequent days after we step into stadiums and stuff like that, but that’s what his resume tells us and he’s exemplifying that.”

Zach Banner & Chuks Okorafor

One large area of concern for many Steelers fans are the starting offensive tackles going into the 2021 season. Both Zach Banner and Chuks Okorafor have not been full participants in team drills throughout the training camp. Coach Tomlin was asked if he expects to see his two tackles doing team drills before the Hall of Fame Game.

“You very well may, certainly.”

A portion of Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen below as well as a link to the full interview on the Steelers’ YouTube channel.

"Guys were energized in this environment."@OurFordStore | Coach Tomlin on today's practice: https://t.co/7vKIVD4em0 pic.twitter.com/8jhm7KMBgv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021

The 2021 State of BTSC Address

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 6:00am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Time to update what is going on here at BTSC heading into the 2021 regular season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 season is upon us, and with training camp already underway it is time for us here at BTSC to start our annual ‘Training Camp Confidential’ series. This was usually a series we did on the day players reported to camp, and ran for 48-72 hours after, but the past two seasons have had very anticlimactic starts. We decided to combine our feature with the start of the excitement — the first padded practice.

We did it last year, and it worked out well, so why not do it again?

The start of the Training Camp Confidential also brings with it my State of BTSC Address. This is where I talk about all the exciting, and new, things happening here at this site.

At this point, the kinks are still being worked out with the Coral commenting system, but they are still working hard to get things right. It is a slow, and painful, process, but it is still ongoing.

Out podcast platform has never been better. We are ready to debut the following shows starting today (Wednesday August 28) and several in the coming weeks:

Steelers Fantasy Fix

  • This show is based around all types of fantasy football with a focus on the Steelers who could be in your lineup.

The Cutting Room Floor

  • Our very own Geoffrey Benedict will dive into the X’s and O’s of the Steelers with this unique twist to your standard podcast.

The Steelers Power Half Hour

  • Who doesn’t love to debate rankings? Welcome to the Steelers Power Half Hour, where the rankings are unique, fresh and guaranteed to cause a stir.

What Yinz Talkin’ About?

  • This show focuses on the fans, and how they use social media to vent. They will talk about what everyone is talking/complaining about by the week..

These shows are all unique, and will be a welcome addition to our already great lineup. I really hope you check them out. If you don’t know how to subscribe to our podcasts, check the links below:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

On the editorial side of the site, things won’t be changing all that much. We still strive to be the best Steelers site on the internet, and that doesn’t mean just the best fan-driven site. No, we want to be better than everyone. We are always open to ways to make the site better, so if you can do it in a constructive way, we are all ears!

I am genuinely proud to have such a tremendous team to work with on a daily basis. Whether it’s Dave Schofield being my right-hand man in almost all situations, Bryan Anthony Davis spear-heading the podcast platform, Michael Beck running the social media platforms or any of our writers who tirelessly pour themselves into their work all for you, the reader.

Here is to another Pittsburgh Steelers season! May it be filled with no drama, but plenty of wins!

HERE WE GO!

Steelers 2021 Training Camp: How to Watch, Listen, Follow, and more

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 5:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

All the information needed to stay up to date with the Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Training Camp

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hitting Heinz Field for their first padded practice of 2021 training camp on Wednesday, July 28. While a limited number of fans will be permitted to view practice from the lower level of the visitor-side seats, the rest of Steelers’ Nation will be looking for as much information as possible in regards to the teams preparation for the 2021 season.

First, Behind The Steel Curtain will be offering our Training Camp Tracker each day which compiles various information, videos, and reports from training camp and put them all in one spot. This article will be updated continually as more information becomes available.

Additionally, each day BTSC will offer a training camp breakdown podcast each day the Steelers are on the field. These podcasts are available on the BTSC podcast channel wherever you listen to podcasts simply by searching for Behind The Steel Curtain.

A live look in is scheduled each day courtesy of Steelers Live and is described on steelers.com as follows:

Training Camp Live, Presented by FedEx, is an exclusive video program streamed live on Steelers.com and the Steelers Official Mobile App. Fans can take a live look-in at Heinz Field at at 1:30 p.m. ET each day that the Steelers practice, as well as have the opportunity to have their questions answered and see their social media posts featured in the program. Missi Matthews hosts.

Once the Steelers Live show is made available through the Steelers social media, it will be linked as the top item in the BTSC Training Camp Tracker. Additionally, the tracker will end with the Steelers Training Camp Wrap Up Show, which is described as follows:

Training Camp Wrap Up, presented by UPMC Health Plan, is streamed live on Steelers.com and the Steelers Official Mobile App and is your go-to program to see and hear all that happened during Steelers practice. Missi Matthews hosts.

As usual, Behind The Steel Curtain will continue to bring a wide variety of articles in regards to Steelers training camp including recaps, players mentioned by Coach Tomlin, and other breakdown of the goings-on at Heinz Field.

For your reference, a complete list of Steelers training camp practices open to the public can be seen below:

Who's coming to #SteelersCamp at @heinzfield⁉️

Practice dates & times have been announced!

Visit Training Camp Central for everything #SteelersCamp: https://t.co/VUo9sftRDN@FedEx pic.twitter.com/9jA3szeFrx

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 8, 2021

It should be noted that the practice on Friday, July 30, has been moved to 5 PM and is the Steelers annual “Friday Night Lights” practice. Additionally, practice on Saturday, July 31, will remain at 1:30 PM but will be a part of Steelers Fest with a variety of activities going on outside of Heinz Field beginning at 10 AM.

Join us on Art Rooney Avenue for Steelers Fest on July 31st! Enjoy activities outside the stadium, visit the @SteelersShop and more starting at 10 am ET. @GiantEagle

— SteelersNationUnite (@SteelersUnite) July 27, 2021

Additionally, don’t forget to tune in to the Steelers preseason games:

Thursday, August 5: 8 PM vs the Dallas Cowboys (Hall of Fame Game)
Thursday, August 12: 7:30 PM at the Philadelphia Eagles
Saturday, August 21, 7:30 PM vs the Detroit Lions
Friday, August 27: 7:30 PM at the Carolina Panthers

Be sure to check out Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, and our training Camp confidential for the 2021 season.

Podcast: Have expectations changed for the 2021 Steelers?

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 4:30am

Jeff Hartman leads the way with the Wednesday episode of his AM studio show on the BTSC family of podcasts with the latest episode of “Let’s Ride“.

There has been a certain level of expectations for the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers since the season ended in embarrassing fashion in January. But since drafting Najee Harris and the signing of two former L.A. Chargers, there’s been an upswing in optimism. This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts. Join BTSC senior editor Jeff Hartman for this and more on “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • The Live Mail Bag
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Najee Harris ranked most likely to upset Trevor Lawrence for Offensive Rookie of the Year

Tue, 07/27/2021 - 2:00pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

One NFL writer thinks big things are in Najee Harris’ future.

Lance Zierlein of the NFL dropped a list of the NFL’s most likely Offensive Rookie of the Year winners. Top pick and golden child Trevor Lawrence was obviously the top name listed, but Steelers fans will like who is clawing at Lawrence’s heels. Najee Harris is, without a doubt, the Steelers number one back, and yes we are less than a week into camp. This kid will be the bell-cow back of an NFL team from the first snap of the 2021 NFL season. So Zierlein is smart in his reasoning. His full quote is below.

This award has become quarterback-centric in today’s pass-oriented game, but running backs should not be counted out. An RB has been named OROY in four of the past eight years, and Harris is certainly a worthy contender. Pittsburgh understands that Ben Roethlisberger may no longer be capable of carrying an offense with his right arm. Harris gives the Steelers a bruising three-down back with qualities similar to former Steelers star Le’Veon Bell. Harris is a tenacious runner with good vision and the agility to make tacklers miss when needed. He should stack up rushing yardage, but his ability as a pass catcher and touchdown maker could be the difference if he is to win the award.

Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates: Najee Harris top threat to Trevor Lawrence (via @LanceZierlein)https://t.co/DohmASDrRZ pic.twitter.com/DdQo2ar8fj

— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) July 26, 2021

According to OddShark, Najee Harris has the fourth best odds (+750) of hoisting the award, or about a 12.50% chance of hearing his name called at the NFL honors ceremony. The thing is the guys in second and third, Justin Fields and Trey Lance, aren’t expected be starting for their teams for at least the first few handfuls of games into the 2021 season. If you're interested the sports betting world, the odds for Harris to win this award are too great to ignore. Steeler fan or not, this is the right bet to be placing.

From great odds that should hit to sleeper odds that likely won't, Pro Football Focus unveiled a list of Most Valuable Player award sleepers and listed Ben Roethlisberger at +8000 odds. These are terrible odds if we’re being honest, however the hate for Roethlisberger this offseason has gone off the rails. He has been written off by so many of the national pundits it has tanked his stock. While he still wouldn't be considered a favorite in a normal year, Roethlisberger should still have better odds than everybody not named Tom Brady listed below. This is a shot in the dark bet that could net you an unreal profit if it pays off.

Betting for the 2021 MVP? @PFF_George hits you with the bets that hold the most value

Which is your favorite bet? pic.twitter.com/ohK3v1q38J

— PFF (@PFF) July 26, 2021

Both Roethlisberger and Harris are being severely slept on in the sports betting world (just like the regular world). Either player will surprise a lot of people come the fall, and hammering these bets could line your pockets come the new year. Of course, that’s only if they hit! (Bet wisely and at your own risk)

But what do you think? Are you at all surprised that Steelers players are being slept on in the eye of the national media and Las Vegas? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Steelers 2021 Training Camp: Tracking Tuesday’s Practice at Heinz Field

Tue, 07/27/2021 - 12:36pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have made the move to Heinz field and will practice on Tuesday before putting on the pads Wednesday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now in full swing in regards to 2021 training camp as they make the move to Heinz Field for 2021 training camp on Tuesday. Even though the team won’t be in pads, or in front of fans, until Wednesday, there is still plenty to report about practice. And when the Steelers are on the field, we will be compiling as much information as to what is going on at practice as we possibly can.

Check out the information below as the players continue their preparation for the 2021 season. If any additional information or reports become available, they will be updated below.

The Steelers Live show from Heinz Field at 1:30 PM can be seen here:

#SteelersCamp practice is #LIVE at @heinzfield!

Watch Training Camp Live, presented by @FedEx, an exclusive daily live look-in at #SteelersCamp!

For more training camp coverage, watch @NFLNetwork. https://t.co/6INOD7G0qy

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) July 27, 2021

Good morning #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/hhEnWxmuu3

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021

@heinzfield @Juiceup__3 | #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/bMiJ9ucxdu

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021

.@DerekWatt34: Big ketchup guy pic.twitter.com/U8ICIdi6Ux

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021

Checkin’ in @rell_island6 | #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/cCEUcw7RKB

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021

Here We Go. pic.twitter.com/JaiSJO1JDk

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) July 27, 2021

It’s finally here - the #Steelers first practice @heinzfield.

Join us at 1:30pm as the team takes the field and we bring you Training Camp Live, presented by FedEx. https://t.co/1RalwIBxv3 pic.twitter.com/GSq82TeaSx

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) July 27, 2021

Let’s work #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/cHigwtOiUh

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 27, 2021

6 players mentioned by Matt Canada so far in training camp

Tue, 07/27/2021 - 11:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With no press conference from Mike Tomlin on Monday due to a player’s day off, let’s see which players were discussed by the coordinators.

The 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers have four practices in the books at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. With no media session from head coach Mike Tomlin on Monday, let’s look back at the players mentioned by defensive coordinator Keith Butler and offensive coordinator Matt Canada who spoke to the media on Friday and Saturday respectively. With so many player who were discussed, this will be split into two articles with one occurring for each coordinator.

After looking at those mentioned by Coach Butler earlier today, next up is Coach Canada and the offense from his press conference on Saturday. Remember these are current players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period. Not every response has been included due to some repeat statements.

Mason Rudolph

When Ben Roethlisberger is not participating in practice at Steelers training camp, Mason Rudolph is the guy getting the reps with the first team. Coach Canada was asked about Rudolph’s performance on Saturday when Rothlisberger did not practice.

“I can’t tell you details about today, but Mason’s working hard. Obviously, he’s got a high expectation of himself and I think he, like everyone three days in, is having good days and bad days, good plays and bad plays. We’re happy with where Mason’s at. Got to keep getting better.”

Coach Canada was asked a follow-up question about his confidence in Rudolph if he needs to be called on during a regular-season game.

“Sure. Definitely. We have confidence in everybody. We have to get everybody ready to go. And obviously, the beauty of the Hall of Fame game for us is we get extra time to work, extra time to practice. Like I said, we’re installing at a nice pace because we have time to do it and guys are getting reps. We feel good about where we are.”

Dwayne Haskins

The quarterback who may be more closely watched during training camp is former first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins. Coach Canada was asked about his impression so far of Haskins’ time with the Steelers.

“We’re happy with where Dwayne’s at as far as the way he’s working. I think he’s come in and really worked very hard to learn our system. He’s spent a lot of time studying what we do, how we do it, what Ben’s done. In our offense, obviously we’re making some changes, some not. But I think he’s doing everything he can. His work ethic, his time in the office has been awesome so really happy with where he’s at and got to keep getting better, like we all do.”

Trai Turner

One of the offensive players new to the Steelers since minicamp is former Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner. Coach Canada was asked about how Turner has fit in the offense so far.

“We’ve been here three days so it might take a couple more. He had a mistake today that I didn’t see on the side as we worked he came up and knew what it was and said it right away. Obviously a veteran like him who’s played as well as he has, I think we’re very fortunate to have him and really like where he’s at. And he’s worked very hard to not have those mistakes and to be as efficient as he has been in three days is really a real positive for us and him. Big fan of him.”

Pat Freiermuth

The Steelers spent the first four draft picks of the 2021 NFL draft on offensive players. For this reason, the offensive coordinator will be asked plenty of questions about rookies. The first question coach Canada was asked was about tight end Pat Freiermuth.

“Really been pleased with him. Certainly, we were all, obviously, excited when we got him, excited he was still around. And I think he has exceeded or met every expectation. He’s certainly a student of the game, very conscientious and working hard. I like him a lot. He’s done a very good job as this point. As everybody, a long way to go, but really, really pleased with him.”

Ben Roethlisberger

One of the biggest questions of the Steelers 2021 offseason was how veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would adapt to Matt Canada‘s offense, and vice versa. Coach Canada was asked about how Roethlisberger and other players are grasping changes to the offense.

“I feel like they’ve grasped them very well. Again, I look at Ben and the time he’s played and all the time he’s had to put in, knowing his system. The tweaks on the run game and things are there and he’s done a great job and worked really hard and (has) been a great leader for the young guys too. It’s been great.”

Najee Harris

Although it was the final question asked, there was little surprise that the Steelers offensive coordinator was going to be asked about first-round draft pick Najee Harris. Coach Canada was asked about if he was surprised at how Harris prepares before he steps on the field.

“He loves football. He’s as advertised as far as his work ethic in those things. Obviously, expectations are what they are, but the way he works, the way he prepares, he’s going to do everything he can to be ready to play. And that’s a huge compliment to him and the way he’s going to go after it. So certainly like him a lot.”

Podcast: Early Steelers’ camp stars and those we’re waiting to see shine

Tue, 07/27/2021 - 11:00am

In the latest episode of “Steelers Hangover” show, Bryan Anthony Davis, Tony Defeo and Shannon White look at the week that was and the Steelers going forward.

It’s always nice to see young players emerge in Year Two in Training Camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers and it is happening again in 2021. Who are those men on the rise and shining bright? Who are the players we are waiting to play up to a higher level as well? On this show, Bryan Anthony Davis, Tony Defeo and Shannon White break down all things Steelers! Join the veteran trio as they analyze all things black-and-gold.

Check out the rundown of the show

  • News and Notes
  • Camp phenoms so far and those that need to step it up

and MUCH MORE!

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.

Part 1

Part 2

Alex Highsmith approaching camp with a starter mindset, despite Melvin Ingram’s presence

Tue, 07/27/2021 - 10:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers now have a decision to make at the outside linebacker position, but Alex Highsmith isn’t worried about it.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers approached the 2021 regular season, they had to be concerned with their depth at the outside linebacker position. With Bud Dupree gone via free agency to the Tennessee Titans, the Steelers were faced with a pretty bare cupboard when it came to one of the most important positions in the team’s 3-4 base defense.

Nonetheless, when the 2021 NFL Draft came and went with the Steelers only taking Quincy Roche in the 6th round, you had a feeling the team was somehow satisfied with their depth.

Just to refresh your memory, this was the depth at outside linebacker after the 2021 draft:

T.J. Watt
Alex Highsmith
Cassius Marsh
Quincy Roche (R)

R = Rookie

No one viewed Marsh as a genuine No. 3 pass rusher, and fans were left wondering if the team would put that much pressure on a rookie like Roche, who wasn’t selected until the 6th round out of Miami, to be the guy to spell Watt and/or Highsmith.

Throughout it all, it seemed natural to believe Highsmith was going to be the guy opposite Watt in his sophomore season. That was, until the team signed Melvin Ingram III right before training camp began.

Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, fans were wondering if Highsmith was the starter, or if Ingram came into to do what he does best — start. The answer to this question isn’t decided yet, but Highsmith is extremely excited to be working with someone as experienced and seasoned as Ingram.

“It was awesome,” Highsmith told reporters last week. “So far Melvin has been great for us here. He’s been a guy that I’ve been able to ask questions and be able to learn from. He’s a veteran, Pro Bowl guy. All of us were excited whenever we brought him in. He’s going to be a great addition to our D-line and our outside ‘backer room.

“I’m really excited for the pass rush we’re gonna have this year. He’s been great so far, works hard. He has a lot of knowledge. I’m excited to just continue to work with him.”

For those who paid attention last season, you shouldn’t expect much of a sound byte out of Highsmith. He knows he should say he is excited about Ingram, but one thing which isn’t stretching the truth is the genuine excitement for the team’s pass rush in 2021.

“I just know it’s gonna be a good one,” Highsmith said. “All three of us, I think, are definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with. I’m excited to work with him and T.J. this year, it’s gonna be awesome.”

But who will be starting? Is this going to be a training camp battle? Is the job actually up for grabs? Maybe our assumptions of Ingram being pass rusher No. 3 were overblown, and Highsmith’s job is anything but set in stone. Either way, Highsmith is going to do whatever is asked of him, in whatever role.

“I’m just gonna go in and whatever role I play, that’s what I play. I’m gonna have that starter mindset, of course. But whatever role that I have, that’s the role I want to play. My role is to be the best player I can be for this team.”

Highsmith is an easy player to root for. He doesn’t make waves, puts his head down and works and is always being praised by coaches for his preparation and willingness to improve. Even if Ingram sees equal, or more, snaps than Highsmith, fans shouldn’t view it as a slight against Highsmith. It might just be he needs more time. Not every pass rusher is a player like Watt who comes into the league and makes an impact almost immediately.

Just don’t expect Highsmith to give up the No. 2 spot opposite Watt without a fight, and I’ll never count out Alex Highsmith in that situation.

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

Bart Scott's recent comment reveals respect for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers franchise

Tue, 07/27/2021 - 8:30am
Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Former Ravens LB turned ESPN talk show contributor Bart Scott recent comments showed a tremendous amount of respect for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers franchise.

By this point in his career, the hand writing is already on the wall. Ben Roethlisberger will go down as one of the most disrespected, great players in NFL history whenever he decides to hang up the cleats. I really don't believe there is anything he could accomplish this season to change that in all honesty.

He could have a monster season, good enough to win his first MVP award, and lead the Steelers to their NFL record 7th Lombardi Trophy. It still wouldn't change how so many of the national sports media view him. They would simply utilize his late career success as further evidence that he could have accomplished so much more if he would have taken his conditioning more seriously, maybe studied the playbook a little more, or even been more coachable earlier on in his Steelers career. You know, be more like Tom Brady.

Well, I am here to tell you why that is totally inaccurate and utter nonsense. While many pundits will eagerly point out that Ben could never be like Brady, I will point out another obvious truth: Tom Brady could never play like Ben Roethlisberger. Brady would have never survived. He was never close to being tough enough to be a warrior like Ben. There, I said it. Now all the closet Brady fans can lose their minds fawning all over the GOAT, and tell me how crazy I sound. Prior to that inevitable response, read a little farther.

I am not arguing that Ben Roethlisberger is better than Tom Brady, or even that Brady isn't the GOAT. Regardless of my personal feelings or opinions about Brady, the numbers don't lie and Brady is the greatest winner in NFL history. He has accomplished all his success playing the toughest and most influential position in all of professional team sports. He will be at the top or near it in every conceivable statistical categories by his retirement. By the way, I almost forgot to mention he has not only played longer than any QB in NFL history, but he has achieved the most success at a later age than anyone ever. I definitely don't like the player, but you better believe that I have the utmost respect for his accomplishments.

I am not debating Brady versus Ben, merely pointing out that Ben Roethlisberger is a special player in his own right, an all time great actually. Roethlisberger is a old school warrior who could have played in any era. His toughness and will to win are legendary. Willing to battle every single play till the last instance trying desperately to make a game changing play. Not only is he on pace to retire in the top five in most passing categories himself, he will also go down as one of the winningest QBs in NFL history. Did I mention that he is getting ready to begin his 18th NFL season with the Steelers, a record for longevity and loyalty to a single franchise? That's a record that may never be broken in the free agent and salary cap era.

All that is well and good, but his numerous accomplishments mean nothing to some people. They will never forgive him for the arrogance of his youth. How he was surly, cocky, and filled with pride. He didn't appreciate his good fortune to be drafted by the greatest franchise in NFL history, to a loaded team simply in desperate need of a franchise QB. He enjoyed the most successful start to a NFL career for a QB, but he apparently took all his good fortune for granted. Then came the accusations and legal issues. More fuel for the haters fire. They already hated the Steelers, and Roethlisberger became the poster child for that hate.

Ben Roethlisberger is now a husband, father, and man of faith. He is a outstanding representative for the Steelers franchise and Steelers Nation. While he will never receive the respect he is due from the national sports media; or even from some in the fanbase, he is respected where it truly matters, by his most fierce rivals. Specifically the Baltimore Ravens.

Former Ravens standout LB Bart Scott made a comment about Ben a couple of days ago that reminded me of the respect reserved for Ben Roethlisberger the player from his opponents. After former NBA center Kendrick Perkins ranked Roethlisberger the worst QB in the AFC North, Scott couldn't hide his respect for Roethlisberger.

Scott said, "Big Ben is greatness. He won't be fully appreciated until he is gone." That is a small snippet of his complete statement, where he went into detail to defend his stance on Big Ben and the Steelers. The respect for Ben and the franchise was undeniable.

This means a lot coming from the man who laid one of the hardest hits this football fan ever witnessed on a NFL QB when he blew Roethlisberger up after being unblocked on a blitz attempt in a blowout victory for the Ravens in Baltimore. There have been precious few QBs over the years that wouldn't have been carted off the field after that vicious assault. That fact that Ben survived that train wreck of a collision, eventually walking off the field in intense pain, had to have made an impression on Scott and his teammates.

Through the years they have battered and bruised him repeatedly, even breaking his nose on one occasion. Through it all, he remained in the game and kept competing. If you believe that Brady would of or could have done the same, I would love to speak to you about investing in some beautiful ocean front property here in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.

I have heard former Ravens greats Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs make similar statements about Roethlisberger. Their statements show proper respect for Ben's talent, toughness, and competitiveness. They know his ability and greatness more than most, because they have been on the wrong side of it numerous times.

That's all that really matters in the end. Having the respect of your opponents, especially in that intense rivalry, is more important than the accolades of the national sports media.

Greatness recognizing greatness when they see it, up close and personal. It's a beautiful thing in my opinion. Just saying.

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