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A level-headed news-discussion site with a sense of history and community https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/community_logos/47293/steel_curtain_fave.png 2022-12-04T19:30:00-05:00
Updated: 1 hour 19 min ago

Next Man Up: An in-depth look at the Steelers 2022 practice squad

Sat, 09/10/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Most of the players on the practice squad aren’t going to just sit there.

Why the practice squad matters

The practice squad gets a bit of attention when it is announced, but afterwards people largely forget about it. Real football starts, and no one cares about the guys that are two steps away from seeing the field.

And yet every year the practice squad players make an impact, for good or bad, on the season. The one thing they often do is end up playing. That’s even more true under the current NFL rules that allow veteran players to be on the practice squad and allow for practice squad call-ups that don’t expose players to waivers.

With those new rules, the Steelers have played more than half of the players that were on the practice squad for Week 1 the last two years, with eight players seeing the field in 2020, and nine in 2021. Some have played significant parts in games and some have even moved into full time roster spots, such as Robert Spillane.

Over the past three years the Steelers practice squad players have logged a total of 3,679 snaps, with 6 players having played 200+ snaps. Here are the players with the highest number of snaps played after starting the season on the practice squad over the past three years:

Henry Mondeaux: 570 snaps
Johnny Holton: 549 snaps
Derrek Tuszka: 441 snaps
John Leglue: 407 snaps

You probably recognize each of those players, and you should; they ended up playing important roles in a good number of games even though they weren’t in the Steelers plans when the season started.

Some players on the practice squad right now will play a significant part in the Steelers season this year, and others will play a significant part in a future season. The history and nature of the NFL consistently show this to be the case. It’s why Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s “Next Man Up” mantra is such a big deal. We don’t know which player it will be, but it will happen.

I’m not going to cover all 16 players in one article, we’ll start with the names that people will be most familiar with.

The returning players

John Leglue, OL: Leglue joined the Steelers late in the 2020 season, when they signed him to their practice squad. He received a futures contract at the end of the season and after the 2021 offseason, signed him to the practice squad. When B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer struggled filling in at left guard for Kevin Dotson, the Steelers called up John Leglue. He played almost every snap of Week 13, and took over as the starter in Week 14.

Leglue lacks versatility and isn’t a top athlete. He isn’t a great pass blocker, but he has good size and he’s a great inside zone blocker. His best game was in Week 17, when the Steelers simplified the offense and ran a ton of inside zone against the Browns to win their final home game of Ben Roethlsiberger’s career. His limitations showed up in the 2022 preseason. Those limitations and his lack of position versatility has him on the practice squad again. But if there are injuries at guard, John Leglue will likely be back on the roster.

Anthony McFarland Jr., RB: McFarland joins the practice squad for the first time in his career. A fourth-round pick in 2020, he saw little success as the entire run game floundered, and after an MCL tear right before the season started, he spent most of the year off the active roster in 2021.

McFarland looked like he might be putting it together in the preseason this year, but with the rise of Jaylen Warren McFarland and Benny Snell were fighting for the third running back spot on the roster. While McFarland is a solid kick returner, he offered little else on special teams, while Benny Snell has proven himself as a key special teams player. McFarland brings speed to the running back position and versatility as a solid pass catcher, but while he has dynamic speed when healthy, he has been hampered by leg injuries so far in his NFL career and hasn’t been able to break off big gains.

Carlos Davis, DL: The Steelers seventh-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Davis brings excellent athleticism to the defensive line, and showed flashes of potential in his rookie season. He injured his knee in Week 1 of the 2021 season, and didn’t play again until December. Davis joins the practice squad over several other players the Steelers had in their very deep defensive line group this offseason, including his twin brother Khalil Davis and Henry Mondeaux.

Davis will look to get back to building on his promising rookie season, and Steelers history has shown he is very likely to see the field as defensive lineman are one of the more likely players to get called up.

Delontae Scott, OLB: Scott joined the Steelers as a practice squad signing after he was cut from the Green Bay Packers at the end of the 2021 offseason. He was active for one week of the season, playing 7 snaps on defense and 2 on special teams against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Scott makes the practice squad after a full offseason with the Steelers. He joins starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith as the only outside linebackers to last the entire offseason and still be working for the Steelers. We’ll see if that pays off as the season progresses.

Cody White, WR: White isn’t a player that most Steeler fans are familiar with, even though he saw snaps in 15 of the Steelers 17 regular season games of 2021. White spent most of his time on special teams where he recorded 4 tackles. White only saw 77 snaps on offense, but caught 5 passes for 33 yards in that time. He has good size and reliable hands and brings special teams play the Steelers can trust, so he’s a pretty good candidate for a practice squad spot.

Mark Gilbert, DB: Gilbert was an undrafted free agent signing for the Steelers in 2021, and made the practice squad. He was signed by the Detroit Lions before Week 8 and was on their active roster for most of the rest of the season. When the Lions cut Gilbert, the Steelers signed him to their own practice squad.

While he didn’t play in any games for the Steelers, he played a good bit against the Steelers in Week 10. Gilbert showed off his physicality and hustle in that game, specifically in one play where he did a really good job showing both his strengths and weaknesses.

Lions vs. Steelers, OT, 6:56.

Mark Gilbert (#40) is covering Diontae Johnson.

Gilbert is a physical defender, and uses that physicality to stick with receivers well. He isn’t the best at tracking and playing the ball in the air, especially on over-the-shoulder throws. He gives up a catch here when he can’t find the ball, and gets shook by Johnson. But Gilbert stays with the play and strips the football. Gilbert isn’t an elite athlete or a technician, he’s a fighter and the Steelers liked him enough to bring him back.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series when we look at the rest of the players on the Steelers practice squad.

2023 NFL Draft Preview: Alabama, Texas prospects the spotlight in Week 2

Sat, 09/10/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images

These college football players in action this weekend may be wearing Steelers uniforms next year.

The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at potential Steelers draft targets to pay attention to during their respective games.

Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis, especially early in the season.

Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.

As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the top prospects and games to keep an eye on this Saturday.

#1 Alabama vs. Texas | Noon ET on FOX

Alabama Spotlight: Eli Ricks — CB; Jordan Battle — S
Texas Spotlight: DeMarvion Overshown — ILB; Isaiah Neyor — WR

We could go a number of ways with Alabama, but their defensive backs will actually be tested this week, making them the point of focus in Week 2. Ricks is a potential first-round pick who possesses great length for the position. Listed at only 195 pounds, he will want to add weight to his frame, as one of the major questions on his resume is his ability to get physical with bigger receivers.

For Texas, I have my eye on DeMarvion Overshown. He possesses speed, reactive quickness, and a frame that can hold more weight. Do not lose sight of a sleeper in yet another deep class of receivers, either. Isaiah Neyor is a height/weight/speed athlete who could skyrocket on draft boards with a big game on a stage as big as this week’s game.

#24 Tennessee vs. #17 Pittsburgh — 3:30 ET on ABC

Tennessee Spotlight: Darnell Wright — OT; Jerome Carvin — IOL
Pittsburgh Spotlight: SirVocea Dennis — ILB; John Morgan III — EDGE

Much of the attention for the Volunteers is dedicated to quarterback Hendon Hooker, but the offensive line protecting him should be looked into as well. Darnell Wright is a massive tackle who, despite lacking elite mobility, has held his own and done his part in protecting Tennessee’s prized quarterback. He also possesses excellent power in the run game.

SirVocea Dennis made several key plays in Pitt’s opener against West Virginia, but becoming more consistent for an extended period of time will be the biggest challenge as it pertains to boosting his draft stock. The traits are there. He can cover, blitz, and defend the run all at high levels when at his best.

#9 Baylor vs. #21 BYU — 10:15 ET on ESPN

Baylor Spotlight: Siaki Ika — NT; Connor Galvin — OT
BYU Spotlight: Clark Barrington — G; Keenan Pili — ILB

I am intrigued by many of Baylor’s draft-eligible prospects, but my favorite player on that Bears team has to be Siaki Ika. At 6’4”, 350 pounds, Ika is a behemoth who moves incredibly well for his size. The most intriguing thing, however, is Ika’s ability to create pressure from the nose tackle position. With Tyson Alualu set to be a free agent following the season, Steelers fans need to pay close attention to this guy. He passes the eye test and could make for an intriguing choice in the early rounds of next year’s draft.

For BYU, I would not mind taking a closer look at Clark Barrington, an interior lineman who lacks bulk (just a shade over 300 pounds) but displays good mobility and footwork. A technically sound athlete, Barrington projects best as a guard in a zone-blocking scheme at the next level. He does have a tendency to play over his feet in pass protection, but he is definitely a guy who could be considered by NFL teams on Day 2 of the draft.

Which NFL Draft prospects do you have your eye on this weekend? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!

Team in the Mirror: Who are the 2022 Steelers?

Sat, 09/10/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

Taking a look at the 2022 Steelers, and what fans can expect this season.

What is this year’s Pittsburgh Steelers identity? Will they maintain their composure after getting hit in the mouth? Will they be a punch first/score first offense? Will the defense need to grind out low scoring wins in games a la the 2000 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens?

Well let’s take a team look into the mirror to reflect, if you will, on the state the Steelers on the cusp of the 2022 NFL campaign.

The Steelers are transitioning from a team with a never-say-die franchise quarterback legend in Ben Roethlisberger, to a team led by Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky is a gamer, with mobility and athleticism who not only won in Chicago, but took them to the playoffs twice during the 2018 and 2020 NFL seasons. How he rolls in the Black and Gold during the regular season remains to be seen.

It seems as if Kenny Pickett is fitting in well and has done nothing to diminish his standing as the team’s quarterback of the future. He’s provided solid performances this preseason and also looks to have lived up to his instant readiness label. He starts the season as QB2 on the depth chart.

If the mirror breaks when the Steelers look into it, and neither Trubisky nor Pickett are ready to lead the offense, will it lead to a similar 7 iteration (or 7-year in regard to mirrors) QB run of bad luck—like the unremarkable run of QBs after Terry Bradshaw called it a career? For example, this seven quarterback sample-cluster of Mike Tomczak, Cliff Stoudt, Mark Malone, David Woodley, Kent Graham, Jim Miller, and Todd Blackledge that gave Steeler Nation quite more than a 7-year itch?

The failure to draft Pitt Panther Dan Marino in 1983 helped to fuel this run of inconsistent quarterbacks. I hope the drafting of Kenny Pickett is not just a day late and a dollar short make-up call. Many will point to preseason statistics, but they are only preseason statistics. They have to show us what’s up when the games count, starting September 11 against the division rival Bengals.

The Steeler’s offensive line was out of pocket at times

Mitch’s pocket was pushed, breached, assaulted and collapsed. In other words, Mitch with at least the preseason game 2 starting offensive line was under consistent and heavy duress from the Jaguars’ front seven.

There were times in which the offensive line could not get push for effective running. Tomlin recently called out the offensive line, Kendrick Green in particular, for sub-par performances. In the words of rapper Pusha’ T, “how will they respond.”

Against the Lions the line gave Steelers’ quarterbacks more time to pass. Recently named starter/captain, Mitch Trubisky, went an impressive 15/19 outing for 160 yards with no picks. His 38-yard sideline strike to Diontae Johnson and his 32-yard, down the middle connection with Pat Freiermuth were most impressive. The run game left much to be desired with only 57 ground yards on the day, this after a paltry 24 rushing yards the previous game against the Jags.

As a result of inconsistent, erratic offensive line play, the Steelers made a move on roster cut down day to snag Vikings OL Jesse Davis. The offensive line remains a work in progress and starts two offseason acquisitions— C, Mason Cole and G, James Daniels—but if it congeals it could put the Steelers offense into the upper third of the NFL.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

If the NFL knows one thing about the Steelers, its their propensity for identifying, drafting and developing Steelers-type receivers. We’re talking about talented, productive, physical receivers like Plaxico Burress, Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson etc. Just ask Ed Reed and Vontez Burfict about the physicality. They mirror each other in their key contributions to high performance playoff/Super Bowl offenses. It appears the Steelers have struck gold again in this regard with rookie receiver George Pickens. He’s a starter on the season-opening depth chart.

With a simple YouTube or Google search you’ll see how Pickens rag-dolled a Georgia Tech DB when he played for the University of Georgia. He played big-time ball in the SEC and came back from a knee injury to help the bulldogs win the NCAA football championship last year. His brand of toughness is custom-built for the Steelers and the AFC North.

Diontae Johnson has seemed to have cured his case of the drops and has earned a lucrative contract extension. He’s the top dog in this receiving corps. I’d like to see him bulk up a bit to bolster his durability, because it seems that every time he hits the ground, he gets up slow.

We know what Chase Claypool sees when he looks in the mirror: “A top 3 receiver!” I’ve got two words for that—“we’ll see.”

Pat Freiermuth is definitely the real deal, and is ready to build on a productive rookie season in which he made major contributions to the offense in terms of receptions and touchdown. His trajectory should continue to climb.

Vitamin D (-Line) Deficiency

The Steelers’ defensive line needs to continue to work on stopping the run. They brought in Larry Ogunjobi from the Bengals and drafted DeMarvin Leal in the third round of his year’s draft to work towards that goal. They’ve again, looked in the mirror and seen this area as one that could use improvement to some degree. Of course this is true in part to Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt’s absence last year, as well as Tuitt’s subsequent retirement.

When this unit is healthy and has depth it puts an intensified bite into the team’s vicious front seven. Cam Heyward was ranked the NFL’s 27th best player and anchors this unit. He, with 10 sacks, contributes mightily to the Steelers defensive line playing a major role in the unit’s NFL leading 55 sacks last year. Going into the 2022 season, this group is not to be slept on. Regarding this Steelers’ defensive line, I believe the Steelers see a unit that’s on its way and ready to rock when they look in the mirror.

What makes the special teams relevant?

Mr. Danny Smith. A quick look in the mirror says it all, consistency to the tune of 9 years as the coach of this group. He’s coached kicker Chris Boswell through mostly ups and through one of his worst slumps and back to prominence. Boswell has rebounded so well from the slump of a few years back that he’s now one of the highest paid kickers in the league.

The Steels added kick-returner/wide receiver Gunner Olszewski who flashed speed and toughness this preseason. Overall this group is ready and steady.

How resilient is this team?

Mike Tomlin has raised the bar and set a new organizational standard for the Steelers. No losing seasons and mostly playoff appearances in 15 years. He is the first head coach in NFL history to establish this standard right out of his career’s starting blocks.

News Flash: This is not Tomlin’s first season coaching without Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers fans. Don’t act “brand new” (coy, naive, uninformed). This resilience was firmly tested during a season with Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges at the helm. As you recall, Tomlin and the Steelers made a valiant push toward the playoffs and acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick in the process. Tomlin’s Steelers teams adjust on the fly in a myriad of ways, all in the name of leaving NFL stadiums with wins.

As this young Steelers team begins to establish their identity, they will need to tap into resiliency, establish consistency and trust in each other. There will be ups and downs and they will delve into unchartered water. this is called life after Roethlisberger. Plain resilience is a character-trait of the Steelers organization. The 2022 Steelers will need to embrace and embody it to the full extent.

All teams want to find about themselves in the preseason while avoiding major, long-term injuries. Other than a few camp injuries and the devastating loss of veteran safety Karl Joseph the Steelers are doing just that.

Ground and Pound Offense?

With Najee Harris coming up with strong rushing and all-purpose yardage last season, he is the chief offensive weapon, make no mistake. The Steelers invested in the aforementioned offensive line free agents to bolster that unit. Consequently, Najee, and perhaps Jaylen Warren and Benny Snell, will get high volume touches.

Harris is coming off a dominant rookie campaign in which he clearly established himself as a committed, consistent and extremely tough and durable contributor. He’s back for more in 2022.

Trubisky will just need to get his play-action-fake game together and mix in some bootleg and jet sweep looks out of the offensive bag. As a result, this attack will be more ground and astound with a deep array of misdirection options out of Matt Canada’s offensive bag.

Undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren supplanted incumbent Benny Snell as Najee’s chief understudy. His tough running and receiving skills elevated him to such a status, however Snell could still play a key role in the backfield.

T.J. Watt looked good and he has help

Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the NFL Top 100 No. 7 player, Watt went out and added high Wattage to the defense. He did what he does and harassed the opposing quarterbacks. A healthy Watt and hopefully an active sack total from his OLB counterpart Alex Highsmith will make this defense one of the most dominant in the league.

The addition of Myles Jack to the Steelers defensive interior adds boom, passion, skill and an improvement from Joe Schobert.

Devin Bush, now two years removed from a season-ending knee injury has something to prove. He needs to show the reckless abandon needed for a middle linebacker to dominate. He did not have his 5th year option exercised, thus he could either play his way out of the Steelers’ price range or play himself off the Steelers’ roster. I believe that he will have a strong bounce-back season given the time his knee has had to heal and the fact he had no major injury setback last year. I believe having Jack alongside him in the interior defense will help Bush as well.

Safety Dance?

Not so much; however, if they did dance, they’d be doing “The Bump!” Fitzpatrick led the team in tackles and Edmunds always thumps opposing players that dare to enter his domain. The Steelers had a few injuries that led to Kazee and Joseph ending up on the IR, but the overall experience and tenacity of this group will keep them focused and effective.

This team, as noted in a recent Behind the Steelers Curtain article, is one of the NFL’s youngest. They will need to grow up, and do so expeditiously.

Final Reflections

This team is Rooney run and Tomlin coached. Those constants give every Steelers team a strong chance to compete for a playoff spot. We saw that even with Mason and Duck running the show a couple of years back.

The Steelers brass will have the 2022 Steelers ready to compete. When this team looks in the mirror right now, less than a week before the start of the season, they see a team that’s ready to do whatever it takes to get win.

Men, women and even numbers can lie. Mirrors tell the truth!

The mission for the Steelers 2022 regular season: To write less clickbait stories

Sat, 09/10/2022 - 6:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There’s nothing worse that writing clickbait articles, stories that compel the readers to click on links against their will, and it’s a practice I plan on curbing all throughout the Steelers 2022 regular season.

The Steelers are set to kick off yet another campaign this Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati, and I simply cannot wait to cover them with honor, integrity and pride all throughout the 2022 regular season.

That’s forever been my mission, of course, but I don’t always hit the mark. What areas do I struggle in? I won’t list each one, but I do know that publishing clickbait articles is one of my weak points. I never thought of myself as someone who would stoop to such levels, but the feedback I often get speaks to the contrary.

The fact that there are innocent Steelers fans out there just minding their own business—walking their dog, doing their laundry, concentrating hard on work—who feel compelled to click on an article against their will...because of me...well, that’s the kind of thing that makes a person reevaluate his or her priorities.

Why do people often charge me with the crime of clickbait? They say I'm motivated by clicks. They say I do it to drive up numbers. They say it helps me make money. That’s right, even though I’ve explained to readers a million times that I get paid a flat fee for my articles—$10,000 per week—they still accuse me of writing sensationalized headlines for profit.

No Steelers writer or journalist wants to be accused of clickbait. It’s like a standup comedian who gets accused of stealing jokes about original topics involving relationships and airline food.

It’s a scarlet letter that marks you for life and damages your credibility.

So how do I fix this problem? For starters, I need to figure out what compels readers to click on articles in the first place. What makes them tick? What grinds their gears? Do they want to click on trendy topics or the ones that aren’t popular—like a three-part feature on the history of long-snappers?

Perhaps I need to figure out what the definition of a clickbait article actually is. I used to think a headline like this: “You’ll Never Guess What This former Steelers Receiver Is Up To Now,” followed by a piece about Darrius Heyward-Bey having lunch at a Primanti Bros, was clickbait.

But the term seems to get thrown around so arbitrarily, that the true definition has become lost on me.

If my headline mentions how classless Steelers fans were for booing Mason Rudolph during a preseason game, and then I follow that up with an article about why booing Mason Rudolph during a preseason game was classless, that’s considered to be clickbait.

If my headline alludes to Steelers fans feeling threatened by the idea of Rudolph ultimately earning the starting quarterback job, and my article talks about the same thing, that is also considered to be clickbait.

Apparently, any article involving Mason Rudolph, a figure so polarizing that a straight-up BTSC news piece published on Monday about the Steelers' latest depth chart tallied 184 comments—mostly about Mason Rudolph—is considered to be clickbait.

What’s the solution? How do I proceed from here?

Total transparency in the titles, that’s how.

Here is your typical headline from me moving forward:

“Local Area Professional Football Team, The Pittsburgh Steelers, Would Be Wise To Trade For This Valued Player, (insert the actual name of player here), To Shore Up (list position he plays here). Some Organizations Still Know How Business Is Done”

I honestly think the readers will be more welcoming if I am truly sincere with my headlines and my reporting; that’s how I plan on conducting my business in the future.

Having said all of that, I will still try to stir the pot all throughout the Steelers' 2022 regular season.

You know, for clicks.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Sat, 09/10/2022 - 5:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

Nonetheless, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

Here We Go, The Pregame Show: The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Man in the Box

Steelers Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin will be on the Steelers sideline instead of up above in the box. With Brian Flores being the eye in the sky, what advantages do the Steelers have this week against the defending AFC Champion Bengals? Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Kevin Smith for Here We Go. The BTSC duo break down the Steelers like no one else does as Coach Smith and BAD talk what needs to happen against the Bengals in CIncinnati.

Check out the rundown

  • News and Notes
  • The Flores/Austin dynamic
  • Who the Steelers need to step up against Cincy
  • Who the Steelers need to stop on Cincy
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Friday Night Six Pack with Tony: Steelers set to kick off the season in the AFC’s lion’s den

The Steelers kick off their 2022 regular season against the Bengals this Sunday afternoon at Paycor Stadium. The Bengals have had the upper hand in this matchup in the last three meetings. Can Pittsburgh catch the defending AFC Champions before they come out of hibernation? That and more on this episode of Steelers Friday Night Six Pack!

Checkout a rundown of the show:

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • The 2022 Opener
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!
State of the Steelers: How can the Steelers upset the Cincinnati Bengals?

The AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals are 6.5 favorites at home against the Steelers on Sunday. Can the Steelers beat the Bengals? If so, how? That’s the latest topic of discussion from Daniel Jay on the State of the Steelers. Join Daniel for the latest new offering from the Behind the Steel Curtain family of podcasts in addressing the State of the Steelers.

Checkout a rundown of the show:

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • Can the Steelers Upset the Cincinnati Bengals?
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Week 1 Edition

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 5:45pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

There is always something to talk about when it comes to the Black & Gold!

It’s Friday again, so it’s time for the six pack of questions. It seems as if Jeff and Dave come to a consensus in cutting to the chase...

This week, I, Jeff, will be tasked with the questions up for discussion.

The rules are still the same...

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.

Procedural Note: Since the title feature has gone away, please feel free to leave your usual title as the first line of your response and even bold it if you can for the ease of others.

So here we go! With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to jump on in. Hopefully this party is exactly what you’re looking for on a Friday night. Here goes:

1. Let’s have some fun to start things...a lot was made of the “clerical error” on the depth chart earlier in the week. Think of a funny story which could have resulted in said error...

2. Which pass catcher will have the biggest game Sunday?

  • Pat Freiermuth
  • Diontae Johnson
  • Chase Claypool
  • George Pickens
  • Other

3. Time for the OVER/UNDER game. I’m setting the following lines, are you taking the Over or Under?

PIT Takeaways: 1.5
PIT Turnovers: 1.5

4. In your opinion, how important is this Week 1 game vs. Cincinnati in the grand scheme of the 2022 season?

5. Who sees the field more in Week 1?

  • Connor Heyward
  • Jaylen Warren

6. Let’s talk game day rituals. Do you have any? If so, what are they? This could be anything from a gathering, menu, recipe or jersey you like to wear. Let’s hear it!

Stay safe out there!

And it wouldn’t be a Friday night unless we said...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

We added some new shows and a new platform to our podcasts...if you haven’t checked out our full lineup of morning, noon, and evening shows, give them a try by listening below!

Steelers Injury Report: No players ruled out for Sunday

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 2:00pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

All players were able to practice on Friday as the Steelers look to start the season at full strength.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have finished up their preparation for their first matchup of the 2022 NFL season. As the Steelers took the field for their final practice in preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals, there were no players who did not participate. In the final injury report of the week courtesy of the Steelers PR department, all players were full participants and no one carries an injury status for Sunday.

Steelers PR Department

Having two names added to the list on the second injury report of the week was not something Steelers’ fans generally went to see. Defensive captain Cam Heyward missed practice on Thursday due to a coach’s decision and was back on Friday. His status for Sunday was never in question, hence why he carries no injury designation.

What was more concerning was starting right tackle Chuks Okorafor missing practice Thursday due to a back injury. With the Steelers offensive line still trying to find the cohesion they need for the season, having the player with the longest tenure with the Steelers miss time is not ideal. On Friday, Okorafor returned fully to practice and his set to play one Sunday.

The biggest concern coming into Week 1 in terms of injury was the availability of Pro Bowl wide receiver Diontae Johnson. Leaving the Steelers final preseason game with a shoulder injury, Johnson has not been a full participant at practice since, at least that has been reported. After being listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice, Johnson was listed as limited once again on Thursday with an additional injury of “cramps.” On Friday, Johnson returned as a full participant and carries no injury status for Sunday.

Linebacker Marcus Allen was the other player who was limited in practice on Wednesday with a hamstring injury. On Thursday and Friday, Allen returned as a full participant and is good to go for Sunday.

As for the Bengals’ injury report, you can see the names below when available.

NFL Odds and Predictions: Picking all the Week 1 games against the spread

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 12:30pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Several of the BTSC staff pick all the NFL games both against the spread and over/under point totals

It’s the start of a new NFL season! Fans may think they have an idea of how their favorite teams should perform, but until the players get on the field and play regular season games it’s difficult to tell exactly how the season will progress. Every team is 0-0 and hope springs eternal throughout almost every fan base.

Week 1 of the NFL season can also be make or break those placing wagers on the games. Lines will be difficult due to not being able to truly get a feel for teams based on preseason games, so the most attractive bet may not be the safest one.

For the 2022 NFL season, nine members of the BTSC will be picking every game against the spread and the over/under point totals. This feature will show all the games for the week including games on Thursday and Monday. Those specific game picks will be featured in the open thread articles for each game. Please remember we are not experts on betting or any kind of sports gamblers. We are just a group of Steelers’ fans saying who we think will come through each week.

We are using the same program as the last two years called Tallysight. It allows us to show picks in a much more “friendly to the eye” manner. To understand how it works, the default tab is for our picks against the spread. To see the over/under picks, click the “O/U” tab in the upper left. Also, make sure you scroll on the graphic to see all the picks. If there are quotation marks next to a pick, it means the person making the selection made a comment about the game.

With one game already played on Thursday night, some of the staff, such as Matty, Mark, Shannon, and myself, are off to 2-0 starts. Others, such as Geoffrey and Bradley, are already 0-2. When the results are given here each week, they before the entire first week and typically not include the Thursday night results. Since there were no games from last week, it seemed appropriate to mention last night’s results.

So here are the picks for the games for Week 1 of the NFL season. Please feel free to list your choices in the comment section below and play along! Odd are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Expert Picks: While it may be close, experts like the Bengals over the Steelers

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Time to check in and see who the experts like in Steelers vs. Bengals Sunday in Week 1.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals are slated to face off in Week 1 of the 2022 regular season, and there are a lot of narratives between these two teams. For the Bengals, they are trying to show their 2021 AFC Championship, and trip to the Super Bowl, wasn’t a fluke. To prove they are not just AFC contenders, but AFC favorites. As for the Steelers, they turn the page to a new quarterback, and a new era of Steelers football. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the team, and there remain huge question marks surrounding the team heading into the regular season.

For those who follow the current betting lines, the Steelers opened as 6.5-point road underdogs, and, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, that line hasn’t moved since the schedule was released.

(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)

At this point, it is time to check in and see who the pundits, who call themselves experts, like in this showdown in Cincinnati this Sunday.

After looking at expert picks, there was a common thread among all of them. What was that thread? Of those who had a full panel picking the games, only one expert thought the Steelers will actually leave Cincinnati victorious Sunday.

All the haters at SB Nation...only 1 believes.

The huge panel at ESPN...only 1 believes.

The Sports Illustrated panel of experts...only 1 believes.

The USA Today crew...only 1 believes.

Those are sites where people just check a box on a website and move on with their lives. However, there are some who spend more time pouring over these picks, and provide some analysis than just a winner and loser.

For those type of experts, one which is talked about a lot is Pete Prisco of CBS Sports. Prisco predicts a close game Sunday, but the Steelers ultimately falling short vs. the Bengals.

The Steelers come in as a division dog, which is a role Mike Tomlin has done well in as coach, going 14-6. There are concerns about the Steelers offensive line, which is why this number is bloated. But Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has been dealing with appendicitis all preseason, which might lead to some rust. The Steelers will hang around in this one, but the Bengals will win it late.

Pick: Bengals 23, Steelers 20

Like Prisco, Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News also goes in-depth on every one of his picks heading into Week 1 Sunday. Iyer also sees a close game, but like Prisco sees the Steelers starting the season 0-1.

The Steelers present a tough immediate challenge as the Bengals try to avoid a Super Bowl-losing hangover in the brutal AFC North. But Cincinnati gets a break with Pittsburgh starting Mitchell Trubisky over the better QB choice, first-round rookie Kenny Pickett.

The Bengals’ offense should come out confident with an improved line, but Joe Burrow is facing a dangerous pass defense coming off a preseason layoff. They will survive late with Burrow delivering better than his counterpart, but the Steelers stay in it with plenty of Najee Harris and other key QB help.

Pick: Bengals win 24-23 but fail to cover the spread.

These are just a few sites who make weekly NFL picks. When you think about all those sites not listed above, this is when we turn to our friends at NFL Pick Watch, a site dedicated to tracking NFL expert picks by the week. They take all expert picks and put them into an easy-to-read graph for fans to enjoy. When it comes to the Steelers vs. Bengals game, a whopping 95% of NFL experts like the Bengals to hold serve and win on Sunday.

What do you think about the upcoming game? Will the experts have it right? Or are they way off? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Bengals in Week 1.

2023 NFL Draft Stock Report: Top Tackles were tremendous in Week 1

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 10:00am
Kyle Robertson-USA TODAY Sports

Time to break down the latest NFL Draft updates after Week 1 of the college football season!

The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this past week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at draft prospects who improved their stock based on their performance.

Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis, especially early in the season.

Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.

As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the highest of highs from Week 1 of college football!

Paris Johnson, Jr. | OT | Ohio State

Many NFL scouts were watching Saturday’s game with great anticipation, waiting to see what Ohio State’s reshuffled offensive line would look like. Come to find out, the unit looked incredibly strong, allowing only one sack as a whole. The player projected to be the best lineman on the unit played like such against the Irish, and that player is none other than Paris Johnson, Jr. Johnson has finally became the full-time left tackle, and his first performance in 2022 was stellar, as he displayed solid footwork, great balance, and a consistent pad level. If Johnson’s play is consistently strong against big-time competition, he will have a chance to become the first tackle off the board in April.

Broderick Jones | OT | Georgia

Jones was already respected as a strong run-blocking tackle, but after starting only four games at left tackle in 2021, there were concerns as to how well he would hold up in pass protection. Nevertheless, Jones, sent a strong message to his doubters after Week 1, as did the entire Georgia Bulldogs team. Jones displayed great mobility and swift feet, getting out of his stance smoothly and mirroring Oregon pass rushers consistently. He is still a little choppy in his stance at times, but overall, his stock is trending in the right direction after Week 1. With a strong season, expect to see Jones in the first round of most, if not all, mock drafts this spring.

Ivan Pace, Jr. | ILB | Cincinnati

All three of the players discussed today were mentioned in last week’s Week 1 preview article, and all three of them lived up to expectations on Saturday. Although it was in a losing effort, Pace was a wrecking ball, amassing 12 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. Pace gave the Bearcats defense a spark of electricity, and that will be much needed this season, as Cincy is still learning to cope after losing Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Coby Bryant, Darrian Beavers, and Myjai Sanders. Pace may lack elite length, but he displays tremendous closing speed, and his ability to diagnose the play quickly will bode him well moving forward.

Others Who Improved Their Stock

DJ Turner | CB | Michigan (2 TCKL, 1 TFL, 2 FUM REC)
Mazi Smith | NT | Michigan (4 TCKL, 1.5 TFL, 0.5 SCK)
Bryce Ford-Wheaton | WR | West Virginia (9 REC, 97 YDS, 2 TD)
Charlie Jones | WR | Purdue (12 REC, 153 YDS, 1 TD)
Joey Porter, Jr. | CB | Penn State (8 TCKL, 3 PD)
Joe Evans | EDGE/LB | Iowa (3 TCKL, 2 SCK, 2.5 TFL)
Anthony Grant | RB | Nebraska (23 CAR, 189 YDS, 2 TD)
Keylon Stokes | WR | Tulsa (11 REC, 169 YDS, 1 TD)

What are your thoughts on the aforementioned prospects? Do any of them make sense for the Steelers? Which draft prospects caught your eye this weekend? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!

Steelers will honor their late teammate Dwayne Haskins with helmet decal in 2022

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 9:38am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers will be remembering Dwayne Haskins in 2022 with a helmet sticker for the entire season.

There are those who say the game of football is the ultimate team sport. How teams are bonded together like a family, or brothers. This bond is unlike many in professional sports, even other team sports.

With that said, you can imagine the hurt and heartache players must feel when they lose one of their own. When someone in the family is lost.

This is exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers endured this offseason when their teammate Dwayne Haskins was killed in Florida following a workout with teammates. To honor Haskins, the Steelers have announced they will wear a No. 3 helmet decal on the back of their helmets for the duration of the 2022 season.

This per Burt Lauten, director of communications for the Steelers:

The #Steelers will honor their late teammate, Dwayne Haskins, by wearing a “3” sticker on their helmets throughout the year. pic.twitter.com/zaSqAJm1hv

— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) September 9, 2022

The accident which resulted in Haskins’ death in April will still hit home with many players, especially those who were with the former Ohio State quarterback during the trip to Florida. Haskins had traveled down south to workout with new teammate Mitch Trubisky, and to throw with the pass catchers on the 2022 Steelers roster.

An investigation into the accident showed it was just that, an accident. But it doesn’t make the loss any easier to handle for the players who were used to seeing Haskins at the facility on a day-in and day-out basis.

As stated earlier, the Steelers will wear the ‘3’ decal on their helmets for the entire 2022 season, and maybe the team can make it a special season in memory of Haskins.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their Week 1 regular season opener vs. the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday.

3 games to watch in Week 1 which give perspective on the Steelers future opponents

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are several NFL games this week which will help get a better understanding of teams the Steelers face later in 2022

With the Pittsburgh Steelers kicking off their season on Sunday, there will be a multitude of games going on at the same time. When the smoke clears and Steelers Nation looks to see what else has gone on around the NFL, there are a few matchups between two teams the Steelers will face later in the season.

In the future, we’ll recap these game during next week’s article. For Week 1, here are the three games which could give the most perspective on what the Steelers can expect with some of their future opponents. When it comes to the betting lines for the game, the following information is the current consensus spread this week as reported by DraftKings Sportsbook.

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets Sunday at 1:00 PM on CBS
Spread: BAL (-7)

Even though the Steelers do not face Baltimore until December, they will be squaring off twice the season and the results of their games will be important in the AFC North standings. More importantly, the Steelers hosts the New York Jets in Week 4. Although there is the possibility of Zach Wilson returning to face the Steelers, for now the Jets are captained by Joe Flacco as he goes against his former team. The result of this game will likely show the strength of one team, the weakness of the other, or possibly both.

Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers Sunday 1:00 PM on CBS
Spread: CAR (-1.5)

This is a tough game to call. The reason the line is so close is because it’s difficult to see how this will play out. Is Christian McCaffrey back? Will Baker Mayfield be able to pull off the game against his former team? Can Cleveland overcome their 1–21–1 record in Week 1 since they returned to the league in 1999? With the Steelers facing the Browns in Week 3 and the Panthers in Week 15, this will be an interesting one to watch.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Sunday at 1:00 PM on CBS
Spread: MIA (-3.5)

With two of the next three opponents by the Steelers already covered, it made sense to look at the team who they play merely a week from now. Some may be surprised to see the Dolphins are favored by more than a field goal hosting the Patriots. But New England has struggled in Miami even when there is a large disparity between these two teams. Some people are sold on New England, while others are sold in Miami. I’m not sold on either one of them. There will be more time to figure out what’s going on with the Dolphins by the time the Steelers travel there in Week 7, the bigger team to watch is New England as they come to Acrisure Stadium next week.

So there are the three main matchups which can give Steelers fans an indication as to the quality of upcoming opponents in 2022. Not always knowing what to expect for Week 1, the first glimpse of teams playing a full 60 minutes may change some narratives.

Obviously the Steelers game itself will tell fans the most about the season. But which of these other games will be the most telling as it pertains to the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers? Make sure you vote in the poll and give your thoughts in the comments below.

Behind Enemy Lines: BTSC’s Q&A with Cincy Jungle

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Preparing for the Steelers and Bengals Week 1 showdown, I asked Cincy Jungle some burning questions leading up to the AFC North showdown.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their 2022 regular season opener with a trip to Cincinnati, OH to play the Bengals in Week 1. A tough task for the Steelers who have lost three straight to Cincinnati dating back to the Monday Night Football fiasco in 2020.

With this being such a big game, not like every game isn’t a big game, I was able to ask Anthony Cosenza of Cincy Jungle, SB Nation’s Cincinnati Bengals website, five questions leading up to the game.

Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.

How do the Bengals’ fan base overall view the Steelers in 2022? This is the first year without Ben Roethlisberger since 2003, and the Steelers’ win total is set at 7.5. Are Cincinnati fans seeing this as the beginning of the end, or just the start of a serious rebuild?

Personally speaking, I never count the Steelers “out” of anything. Even without their Hall of Fame quarterback, losing one of their top wide receivers and most pundits being lower on them than usual, they’re still the Steelers. Last year was interesting to watch from a Bengals perspective though, as they just didn’t seem to have as much of that trademark edge or confidence that they usually hold.

Some of that swagger seems to have been potentially recaptured with a blend of local favorites (Kenny Pickett) and those with fierce attitudes (George Pickens). Cincinnati fans are pretty in tune with the happenings around the league and the division, so they are aware that Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season with Pittsburgh. It’s somewhat hard to imagine, even with the roster turnover they’ve had the past couple of offseasons, that he’d buck that trend in 2022.

As a more direct answer to your question, I think Bengals fans are much more confident going against Pittsburgh than they have been. Not only is this because of some of the lingering questions at quarterback and the offensive line with the Steelers, but the fact that Cincinnati has seemingly hit on a lot of top picks in the Zac Taylor era.

Who is a player on the Bengals offense who could be an impact player Steelers fans might not know much about? Everyone knows about Burrow, Mixon, Chase and Higgins. Who is another weapon to keep an eye on?

I’m sure Steelers fans know about Tyler Boyd and what he can do because of past performance, his years in the league and his being a hometown Pitt guy. So, we won’t go there.

One guy I think could become a thorn in Pittsburgh’s side over the next couple of years is backup running back Chris Evans. He will get the occasional carry, line up as a receiver and return kickoffs to begin the year in 2022 and has shown a penchant to be electric.

He might be WR4 for the Bengals this season at times and could prove to be a great outlet for Burrow—particularly if/when things break down on a play.

Sticking with the offense, if there is a weakness on the Bengals’ stout team, what would it be?

One could argue Eli Apple played the best football of his pro career last year and was a nice fallback option after the Trae Waynes signing blew up in the team’s face. Still, there are spells of inconsistency and/or his looking like the guy who had struggles in New York and New Orleans—they are just way fewer and more far between because of his longtime relationship with Lou Anarumo.

Aside from that, figuring out how to get consistent pass-rush help from rotational players is a must. The good news is that Cincinnati appears to have the able players to do so in Joseph Ossai, Zachary Carter, Khalid Kareem, Cam Sample and others. It’s just that those players are young, have had injuries and/or are inexperienced to varying degrees.

The Bengals had the opportunity to pay safety Jessie Bates big-time money, but the team franchise tagged him instead. How do you see this playing out in the long run? Also, are fans confident they’ll get a long term deal done next offseason?

Most are resigned to the fact that this is likely Bates’ last year with the Bengals. His agent (David Mulghetta) is an aggressive negotiator and he wants to see his client get paid towards the top of his position. And, for largely good reason.

However, I’ve always held the notion that, at least statistically, Bates has been a “tale of two seasons within a season” kind of guy. He seems to have great portions of a season, while disappearing for stretches. And that, combined with their traditional devaluation of the position, has caused the contractual stalemate.

Regardless, his teammates love him and those on the Bengals’ defense consistently gush about his value to the unit. It will take a subpar year from Bates, the Bengals pivoting on their stance, or a combination of both for them to re-sign him in 2023, as the Bengals try to shore up long-term deals with their core players a year before they are set to hit free agency.

They’ve had two years to get something done and the franchise tag is what has come of it. It’s also doubtful a second franchise tag is on the table.

Currently, Cincinnati is a 6.5-point favorite at home in Week 1. Are you confident the Bengals will win AND cover? Or do you think this game will be a close one? How do you see this game playing out?

I don’t have the specifics at hand, but, if memory serves, even the poorer recent Bengals teams were decent at covering the spread. This looks as good of a time as any for Cincinnati to host the Steelers, given their quasi-state of transition and potentially feeling out new players.

Still…it’s the Steelers. Getting nearly a touchdown as the favorite is something that is uncharted in this rivalry. As I said above, I never count Pittsburgh out of anything, but it’s also hard to overlook the two dominant wins by the Bengals last season.

The finality of this game will be decided in the trenches. Which team did enough offensive line revamping to stymie the other defense? Did both do quality work in that regard?

Cincinnati has barely lost any key players (really just C.J. Uzomah and Larry Ogunjobi) from last year’s Super Bowl squad, so they’re primed. Pittsburgh has to hope Mitch Trubisky finds new life in a new situation and thrives (Tommy Maddox, anyone?).

I’d say Bengals win, but maybe just miss covering. I think it’ll be more competitive than last years outings.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their season opener vs. the Bengals this Sunday in Cincinnati.

The Steelers are set to kick off the season on the wrong side of a rivalry they used to dominate

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 6:00am
Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Steelers are no longer the tormentors in their AFC North rivalry vs. the Bengals. The roles have been reversed. Do the Steelers have it in them to put a halt to the Bengals’ dominance in a Week 1 showdown this Sunday?

The hunter has now become the hunted.

Or is the proper phrase: The hunted has now become the hunter?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to kick off their 2022 regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

I don’t know if the Steelers are the hunter or the hunted, but they are a 6.5-point road dog to a team that came within a drive of winning the Super Bowl a season ago.

That’s right, these aren’t your slightly-older brother’s Bungals any longer; the Bengals, who used to be AFC North rivals to Pittsburgh in theory only, are now the kings of the jungle.

The Bengals enter the 2022 regular season as the defending AFC North and conference champions; they are a franchise whose 2021 success had to seem like a pipe dream as recently as 2020 when being a league doormat was still accepted as the norm by many inside and outside the organization.

But something happened near the end of the 2020 campaign: The lowly Bengals put a temporary halt to the Steelers' drive toward an AFC North championship thanks to a 27-17 victory at old Paul Brown Stadium.

Not much was expected from Cincinnati at the start of the 2021 season, but the Bengals put folks on notice—at least the folks in Pittsburgh—when they came into old Heinz Field in Week 3 and thoroughly dominated their long-time tormentors in a 24-10 win that wasn’t even that close.

If you thought those recent victories by “little brother” were flukes, the Bengals put that sentiment to rest late last year with a 41-10 home win over Pittsburgh that, believe it or not, seemed more thorough than the score indicated.

To repeat: The Bengals, a team that used to call old Riverfront Stadium “The Jungle,” are now the reigning kings of many things, including the Steelers.

If you are a Steelers fan—or even a current or former Steelers player—you probably spent many years reasonably and logically marking down two wins when discussing an upcoming regular season schedule and the dates vs. Cincinnati--Pittsburgh had won 11 in a row over the Bengals prior to that aforementioned surprise loss in December of 2020.

Those days are over—at least it would appear.

I realize it’s hard for a lot of people to grasp, but the Bengals are currently in a better place than the Steelers.

Cincinnati has a loaded offense, led by quarterback Joe Burrow, the king lion among the group of quarterbacks in the AFC North.

The Bengals have a lethal arsenal of skill-position players and a revamped offensive line.

The defense doesn’t resemble the ‘76 Steel Curtain, but it’s pretty darn good at every level.

The Bengals are a damn-good football team.

The Steelers enter 2022 as a franchise in transition following quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement in January. Pittsburgh begins its 2022 campaign as a real underdog, a franchise that is expected to finish with a losing record according to the oddsmakers--it would mark the first under head coach Mike Tomlin.

The Steelers may be able to boast a better defense than Cincinnati in 2022, but will that be enough? Will it make up for not having Roethlisberger behind center—even if Mitch Trubisky, the first man tasked with stepping into Big Ben’s enormous shoes, is at his very best all season long?

Can the defense keep the Steelers in games on a consistent enough basis to offset an offense that may be weighed down by the hogs up front?

It would appear that Pittsburgh’s skill-position players can be special if given the chance, but will the offensive line improve just enough to do its part?

These questions will all be answered in due time, but what happens Sunday in Cincinnati? Have the Bengals truly established dominance in this rivalry and shifted the dynamic for the foreseeable future?

The Steelers were able to sneak up on the Bills a season ago when they marched into Buffalo in Week 1 and left with a 23-16 upset win.

However, it may be a bit more difficult for Pittsburgh to do that this Sunday against a Bengals team that figures to be on the lookout for the scary ghosts who used to spook them into submission whenever these two teams got together.

The Steelers are in a weird place as they move on from the Roethlisberger era and have the look of a franchise that may be headed for some truly dreadful days if this transition phase doesn’t go as planned. Speaking of ghosts, it feels like the Steelers are getting ready to visit an early-’80s-themed haunted house on Sunday that may be full of people dressed like Ken Anderson and Cris Collinsworth who are hiding in the dark and just waiting to scare the bejeezus out of them.

Can the Steelers repeat recent history with a Week 1 road win this Sunday in Cincinnati?

Or are they primed to revisit the 1980s when the Bengals almost always had the upper hand in this rivalry?

How to watch Steelers vs. Bengals: Time, TV Schedule, and game information

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 5:30am
Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

All the information needed to watch, listen, stream, or follow the Steelers game on Sunday against the Bengals in Cincinnati.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hitting the road to start the season for the eighth-straight year, this time opening for the first time ever against the Cincinnati Bengals. Fresh off their Super Bowl appearance, the Steelers are looking to stop their three-game slide versus the Bengals dating back to 2020.

How will Mitch Trubisky fare in his first start for the Steelers? Will the Steelers offensive line hold up enough to get any kind of rhythm? Will the defense be able to stop the run?

This Sunday will answer these questions as the Steelers look to start their 2022 season on a positive note. Make sure you get all the information you need below so you can enjoy the Steelers Week 1 showdown. The latest odds are per DraftKings Sportsbook.

Week 1:

Game: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Date: Sunday, September 11th

Kickoff: 1:00 P.M. ET

Venue: Paycor Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

Odds: Pittsburgh (+6.5); O/U (44)

Weather: Live weather update

TV Channel: Broadcast locally on KDKA-CBS with Ian Eagle and Charles Davis as commentators and Evan Washburn as the sideline reporter. Check the national broadcast map to see if the game is on in your area.

Online: NFL+ offers live games for international viewers and replays of every game upon conclusion with a paid subscription. A subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket gives access to stream games as well. fuboTV also allows you to stream NFL games online with a subscription. NFL Game Center will update the action on a play-by-play basis.

Radio: Steeler Nation Radio with Bill Hillgrove, Craig Wolfley, and Max Starks. The broadcast will be live on WDVE 102.5 FM and WBGG 970 AM in the Pittsburgh area or check the list of Steelers Radio Affiliates. Viewers can listen anywhere in the world online via Steelers.com, but the Steelers Official Mobile App does have geographical restrictions. The Steelers broadcast is also available on Westwood One radio or SiriusXM Radio on channel 383 or channel 134.

You can also follow Behind the Steel Curtain on Twitter or in the game thread article to catch all of the highlights. Be sure to check back with BTSC after the game for our post-match roundup, and subscribe to BTSC Steelers Radio on YouTube to catch The Steelers Post Game Show with Jeff Hartman, Bryan Anthony Davis, and Dave Schofield.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

Steelers 2022 is ongoing and we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said or typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout: Renegade Science

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout is the conversation about the Steelers social media conversation. Hosts Kyle Chrise (@KyleChrise) & Greg Benevent (@GregBenevent) break down the hottest and most toxic takes on the Black and Gold. This week we welcome August Derose-Jones (@auggied32 on IG) to the show. He has front office experience with the Pens & Raiders. Today, we break down the “cut and paste component” controversy, and why Tomlin may have enjoyed this entire thing. Plus, we go over Steelers season predictions from across the media landscape. Then, Dr Matt Pascal from Point Park University exposes the science behind “Renegade,” and why the song actually gives the Steelers a statistical advantage.

Rundown of the show:

  • Toxic Takes
  • Much, Much More

Take a deep dive into the world of Steelers social media from a yinzer perspective as BTSC proudly presents a very unique show that highlights “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout”.

The Steelers Preview: Long-Time division foes, first time Week 1 opponents

The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers are going to do battle on Sunday for the first time ever on the NFL’s opening weekend. What should Steeler Nation and the NFL world expect in this battle between AFC North foes. This is just one of the subjects that will be discussed and speculated on in the latest edition in the flagship show of the BTSC family of podcasts, The Steelers Preview with Jeff Hartman, Bryan Anthony Davis, and Dave Schofield. Join the triumphant trio as they combine all things Steelers with shenanigans galore.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News of the Week
  • Long-Time division foes, first time Week 1 opponents
  • Over/Under
  • Trivia
  • Final Thoughts
Let’s Ride Friday: What the Steelers need to do for a repeat Week 1 road win

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their first regular season action of 2022, and it just happens to be a road trip to play the division rival Bengals. What does the team need to do to win? A lot.

Check out the latest “Let’s Ride” podcast with BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman as he outlines what the Steelers need to do for a repeat Week 1 road win in 2022.

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Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • What the Steelers need to do for a repeat Week 1 road win
  • A visit w/ Jeremy Betz
  • Hart to Heart
  • 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

Rams vs. Bills: Thursday Night Football picks, odds and open thread

Thu, 09/08/2022 - 7:00pm
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NFL regular season is here! Check out the latest odds, picks and more.

The 2022 NFL regular season is officially here with the kickoff game between the defending Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams and the AFC favorite Buffalo Bills. You can’t ask for much more when it comes to a star-studded matchup to kick off the season in prime time.

As for the game itself, below you’ll see some vital information for you to enjoy the contest. You’ll get odds for the game, check out our staff picks for the game and to use this comment section as an open thread for the game.

Let’s take a closer look ...

How to Watch:

Los Angeles Rams vs. Buffalo Bills
Date: Thursday, Sept. 8
Venue: SoFi Stadium
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
TV: NBC
Streaming: Peacock

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

BUF: -2.5
O/U: 52
Moneyline:
BUF: -140
LAR: +120

Staff Picks:

Will the Rams be able to defend their championship with a victory over the highly touted Bills? It will hopefully be a highly contested game and fun to watch. Let us know your picks in the comment section below. On top of that, follow along with other Pittsburgh Steelers fans in the comment section below as the open thread.

In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold. And continue counting down the days until the Steelers travel to Ohio to play the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 on Sunday, September 11th.

Steelers Injury Report: Chuks Okorafor misses practice on Thursday

Thu, 09/08/2022 - 3:01pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Okorafor’s back injury is from one of two players added to the report on Thursday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are continuing their preparation for their first matchup of the 2022 NFL season. As the Steelers take the practice field for their second official day of preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals, there were two players who did not participate while one was still limited. In the second injury report of the week courtesy of the Steelers PR department, Chuks Okorafor and Cam Heyward did not practice while wide receiver Diontae Johnson was limited.

Steelers PR Department

Having two names added to the list on the second injury report of the week is not something Steelers’ fans generally went to see. Having defensive captain Cam Heyward miss practice due to a coach’s decision is not uncommon even for the first week of practice and gives little reason to be concerned about his status for Sunday. What is more concerning is starting right tackle Chooks Okorafor missing practice due to a back injury. With the Steelers offensive line still trying to find the cohesion they need for the season, having the player with the longest tenure with the Steelers miss time is not ideal. Ultimately it will come down to Friday’s injury report as to whether or not Okorafor will be able to play on Sunday.

The biggest concern coming into Week 1 in terms of injury was the availability of Pro Bowl wide receiver Diontae Johnson. Leaving the Steelers final preseason game with a shoulder injury, Johnson has not been a full participant at practice since, at least that has been reported. After being listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice, Johnson was listed as limited once again on Thursday with an additional injury of “cramps.” Being limited both day this week keeps Johnson’s availability for Sunday still in a questionable position.

Linebacker Marcus Allen was the other player who was limited in practice on Wednesday with a hamstring injury. On Thursday, Allen return is a full participant and is trending in the right direction to be available on Sunday.

As for the Bengals’ injury report, you can see the names below courtesy of Steelers.com.

Cincinnati Bengals Participation/Injury Report, Week 1

Thursday, September 8

TE Devin Asiasi (Quad) - DNP

TE Mitchell Wilcox (Ankle) - LP

WR Trent Taylor (Hamstring) - LP

TE Drew Sample (Knee) - FP

Wednesday, September 7

TE Devin Asiasi (Quad) - DNP

TE Mitchell Wilcox (Ankle) - LP

TE Drew Sample (Knee) - FP

Steelers coordinators declare their location for the regular season

Thu, 09/08/2022 - 12:30pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ coordinators will be in different locations as the 2022 regular season approaches.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals in their Week 1 regular season opener, and the coaches are putting the final touches on their plans too. In other words, where will the coaches be standing when the game starts?

Last season, offensive coordinator Matt Canada was in the booth for the entire regular season, and Thursday he announced he will be staying in the booth in 2022. However, last year Keith Butler spent his season on the sidelines with the players. What is the plan for new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin?

Thursday when he met with the media Austin said he will be on the sideline, not in the booth. This is a change for Austin who said he hasn’t been on the sideline since 2013.

This per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Teryl Austin will be on the sidelines and Brian Flores in the press box. Austin said he hasn’t been in the sidelines since 2013. He tried both in the preseason and decided he liked being around the players.

— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) September 8, 2022

The caveat in this news, especially for Austin, is the fact Brian Flores will be in the booth. Often times coaches rely on someone in the booth to help relay information they are seeing with an aerial perspective to help them make calls. In this case, it would be Flores who is speaking with Austin regarding what he’s seeing which might not be able to be seen from the sideline.

As for Canada, being in the booth also means he can’t communicate as easily with his players on the sideline. His line of communication is through Mike Sullivan, the Steelers quarterbacks coach. Once the offense leaves the field, the signal callers can reach Canada via phone, but being in the booth does have its downfalls, and this is one of them.

Some view this as significant, while others brush it aside as a non-story. Only time will tell if this plays a role in the success of the 2022 Steelers. In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Bengals this Sunday in Cincinnati, OH.

Previewing the Steelers vs. Bengals Week 1 showdown

Thu, 09/08/2022 - 11:30am
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Pittsburgh Steelers are traveling to play the Cincinnati Bengals Week 1 of the 2022 regular season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals are two teams who know each other well considering they are AFC North division rivals. For these rivals, the game in Week 1 is as big as a Week 1 game can get. Throw in the fact the Steelers haven’t beaten the Bengals in the last three meetings, and this game gets even more attention.

Here is the game preview for the Steelers and Bengals for their Week 1 matchup in Cincinnati.

Teams (Records)

Pittsburgh Steelers: 0-0
Cincinnati Bengals: 0-0

Odds (Courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)

Steelers (+6.5)
OVER/UNDER: 44.0
Moneyline: Steelers +235; Bengals -280

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.

Last 5 Games in series

Steelers: 2-3
Bengals: 3-2

Matchup History

Pittsburgh Steelers lead series 67-38-0

Injury Report (Note: This will be updated throughout the week as more injury reports are released) Steelers

Wednesday, September 7

WR Diontae Johnson (Shoulder) - LP
LB Marcus Allen (Hamstring) - LP

Bengals

Wednesday, September 7

TE Devin Asiasi (Quad) - DNP
TE Mitchell Wilcox (Ankle) - LP
TE Drew Sample (Knee) - FP

News and Notes

At one time, the Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the Cincinnati Bengals. In fact, there used to be road trips from the Pittsburgh area to Cincinnati as if it were a chance to go see another Steelers home game.

Times certainly have changed.

After winning 11 games in a row vs. the Bengals, the Steelers have dropped three in a row, dating back to the horrid 2020 Monday Night Football loss in Cincinnati. In almost the blink of an eye the Bengals are considered the dominant force, and the Steelers are nothing more than just a team in flux.

Will the trend dating back to 2020 continue? Will the Bengals continue to dominate the Steelers like they did twice in 2021? It is a new era of Steelers football, but it is also a new era for the Bengals. There is a lot of uncertainty swirling around the Steelers this regular season, and the Bengals will be a tough test for the team as they kick off the 2022 regular season on the road.

Related Articles Podcasts

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Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold for all the coverage of their game with the Bengals in Cincinnati in Week 1 of the 2022 regular season.

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