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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 2022-09-30T18:45:00-04:00
Updated: 2 hours 12 min ago

The More You Know: Random facts about your Steelers, Fathers Day edition

Sun, 06/19/2022 - 10:30am

Time to learn more about your favorite NFL team, and some trivia as well!

With today being Father’s Day, BTSC would like to honor all of the Dads of Steelers Nation and beyond with an Iron City. But since SB Nation won’t spring for it, the best I could do is run a special Dad’s Day edition of The More You Know.

It’s the offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers and there are so many topics to talk and write about. Free agents, the coordinator conundrum, the next quarterback, the NFL Draft, signings, retirements and breaking news will all be covered here at BTSC. But who’s going to give you little-known-facts out of the 500 Level?

Luckily, your one-stop, and non-stop, shop for everything Steelers employs a Steelers fan that was allegedly dropped on his head as a one-year-old during the Immaculate Reception. Useless and somewhat fascinating facts are his forte. So, here we are with off-the-wall thoughts from the dark side of a black-and-gold brain that nobody asked for. But the joke’s on you as you’ll be telling your peeps something you read here later.

412 Forever

When trying to highlight Steelers as dads, I remembered the perfect moment which featured Bill and Meghan Cowher moments after the Steelers loss to Dallas in Super Bowl XXX. As despondent as Coach Cowher seemed, he lit up when he saw his wife Kay and oldest daughter Meagan. Bill embraced Meg and said, “Sometimes you win, Sometimes you lose”. The coach’s nine-year old replied with a whisper that wasn’t audible in highlights, “Win or lose, you’ll always be my hero”. That was a Hall of Fame moment from a girl that made her father feel like a champion even though the scoreboard read differently.

Steel Dad Facts

Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t originally have a present father figure in his life as he reportedly did not have a relationship with Baltimore Colt draftee and CFL’s Montreal Allouettes player, Ed Tomlin. But in 1980 at age 8, Julia, Tomlin’s mother, married Leslie Copeland. Copeland assumed the role of male role model and Mike always referred to Copeland as his dad. Coach T., who is a father figure to his players, embraces the responsibility of father to Dino (a WR for Boston College), Mason (a DB for Colombia) and Harlyn (a PA state champion gymnast) even more. At an All Pro Dads and Kids seminar, Tomlin shared his parenting philosophy in 2012. “Family comes first. Coaching is what I do but being a husband and father is who I am. I think that is the proper perspective to have. What we do for a living can consume us, but I think we need to keep our priorities in order. Sometimes we need reminders of that and I continually remind myself”. That’s a great reminder to us all.

BTSC Steelers Jeopardy

(Answer at bottom of article)

Middle Name Madness

We love citing the second name of members of the Men of Steel here at Behind the Steel Curtain. We always cite Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger, Christopher Lynn Boswell and Trent Jordan Watt, but who else? Hence, the “More You Know Middle Name of the Week”. This week we feature the founding father of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the man that started it all after he paid a $2,500 franchise fee in 1933 to fund an NFL franchise in his beloved Steel City.

Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images Arthur Joseph Rooney This Week’s Birthdays of Steel

6/20 Len Dawson (1935), Fred McAfee (1968)

6/21 Gene Breen (1951), Tex Holcomb (1913), Buster Mott (1909), Erwin Williams (1947)

6/22 Paul Martha (1942), Mark Royals (1965), Mike Wagner (1949)

6/23 Marv Kellum (1952)

6/24 Mitch Berger (1972), Duval Love (1963),

6/25 Dan Turk (1962)

6/26 Jace Sternberger (1996), Michael Vick (1980)

Steel Dads in Diverse Duds

The Steelers have six players with fathers that have “NFL Alumnus” on their resumes. Devin Bush Jr. (Devin Bush Sr.), Cameron and Connor Heyward (Craig “Ironhead” Heyward), Terrell and Trey Edmunds (Ferrell Edmunds), Cody White (Sheldon White). What did those pro dads look like in their work clothes?

Devin Bush Sr. - Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns (1995-2002) Craig Heyward - New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams and Indianapolis Colts (1988-1998) Ferrell Edmunds - Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins (1988-1994) Set Number: X40842 Sheldon White - New York Giants, Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals (1988-1993) Varsity Blues Black & Golds

Just because. Ironhead Heyward in a Pitt uniform

Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images Hypocycloids Gone Hollywood

Legendary Steelers Scout Bill Nunn Jr. was (deservedly so) posthumously enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021, His son, Bill Nunn III, carved out quite a career himself in Hollywood as an well-known actor in movies like Spike Lee’s (Nunn’s college roommate) Do The Right Thing (Radio Raheem) and New Jack City (Duh Duh Man’), Sister Act (Lieutenant Eddie Souther) (Duh Duh Man’) and The Spiderman Trilogy (Robbie Robertson) among others. In the 70s, the young Nunn was a ball boy for the Men of Steel, Bill and Art Rooney II actually stole Joe Greene’s green Lincoln Continental during training camp for a joy ride at Saint Vincent College. The duo eventually informed “Mean Joe” of the carnapping, but it was well after the statute of limitations expired sometimes in the 2000s. Two years after his father died at age 89, Bill Nunn III passed away in his hometown of Pittsburgh in 2016 at the age of 62.

Cliff Clavin Corner

It’s a little known fact that Steelers superstar Cameron Heyward was once fined $5,787 by the NFL in 2015 for writing his father’s nickname on his eye black in a month where players wore pink in honor of breast cancer awareness. Craig “Ironhead” Heyward died of bone cancer at the Age of 39 in 2006.

Got fined for honoring my Dad who bravely fought cancer on my eye black. #Nevergiveup #CancerSucks pic.twitter.com/RTx988ijG9

— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) October 14, 2015 Steelers Jeopardy Answer in the Form of a Question: Who is Dick Lebeau ?

Lebeau was such a dad to the Men of Steel who inspired his defense for years. The Steelers wore his Lions throwback before a January 1, 2006 game against Detroit, Troy Polamalu asked his former DC to induct him into Canton, the entire defense (led by Ryan Clark) stood up to Antonio Brown after a disrespectful act against the coach in practice and Lebeau even went as far as to read ”The Night Before Christmas” to his team every Christmas Eve. Well deserving of the title of “Coach Dad”.

So, there you have it. Anybody can spout out stat after stat, but not everybody can embrace the colorful and personal side of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, the more you know, the more you can stupefy your friends, family and neighbors with your big, black-and-gold brain.

We’ll see you right here next week. Until then keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the hypocycloids.

A Letter From the Editor: How the Steelers’ defense and Father’s Day mesh

Sun, 06/19/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

How my father’s sailor-like language has made me realize what the Steelers’ defense should look like this year.

Were you intrigued by the headline of this article and had to check it out? Well, I’m glad you did. I want to take you on a trip back to my adolescent years, when I was really starting to fall in love with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The year is 1994, and the Blitzburgh era of Steelers defense is the trend in and around the Pittsburgh area. Wherever you go, people talk about the Steelers defense. It wasn’t like the offense wasn’t good, after all my favorite player was running back Barry Foster, but that defense was everyone’s favorite.

If you were alive for that era, you can rattle off the names with ease...

  • Greg Lloyd
  • Levon Kirkland
  • Kevin Greene
  • Carnell Lake
  • Rod Woodson
  • Chad Brown

I could go on, but if you know, you know.

During those seasons my time spent on Sunday was with my father, and often times some of his friends. Sundays became events, and if the playoffs were involved it was a big deal.

My jobs on game days were simple:

  • Stay in the same seat, unless things go south. Then move.
  • Try not to talk too much, gotta hear the game.
  • Get anyone who needs a beer a fresh one, I was even taught how to pour from a tap at a very young age.

That was about it.

My mother would stay upstairs and often be making food for the guys, but watching on a separate television. Downstairs was where the guys watched the game, and it was no holds barred when it came to the language used.

The offense got everyone fired up, but the defense turned these regular, everyday guys into lunatics. It didn’t take long for me to look at what I was seeing on the field, and immediately make it synonymous with what I was seeing, and especially hearing.

As Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd planned their meeting at the quarterback, the guys would rise from their seats. And when the sack was completed, crippling high fives went around the room.

And then the color commentary began...

“Go F— yourself (insert name of quarterback here)!!”

“Eat [feces] (insert name of quarterback here)!!

Or my all-time favorite...

“Rip his head off, and [defecate] in his neck!!”

Yes, that was actually said, and it got quite the reaction from the crowd of terrible towel waving fans who were in attendance.

It was quite the spectacle.

At this point, you might be wondering what this has to do with either Father’s Day, or the 2022 Steelers defense. Let me explain...

As for the Father’s Day portion, I will always remember those days with my dad. Whether it was sprinting to the basement refrigerator and back to try and beat the commercial break, or just the thrill of victory being celebrated with my dad, my brother and myself. They were very special moments, and still are.

As for the 2022 defense, when I think back to those days, the Blitzburgh era, those defenses had a nastiness about them. Same with the 2000s defenses. I feel as if that is something which is desperately needed in today’s group. You see streaks of it here and there from players like Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt, but the group as a whole needs to bring the nasty to be mentioned with those other defensive units.

I understand the game has changed since those mid-90s teams, but I am hoping not just for a great Steelers defense this season, but an intimidating group. A group who imposes their will on the opponent. It’s been a while since we’ve experienced one of those, and I would love nothing more than to sit down this season and watch a game with my dad just to hear those colorful comments come spewing out.

Because they still happen, and I still love it.

(Note: The Letter From the Editor feature runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)

BTSC Top Ten: Alex Highsmith makes the list at 9th, who will be the last Steeler to join the list?

Sun, 06/19/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

BTSC voters are choosing the most valuable Steelers from 2021.

As the Steelers continue through the offseason, building 2022 roster, it is a good time to take a look back at 2021 again and rank the Top 10 Steelers players of the season. There are a good number of players who played well, and a lot who didn’t.

Alex Highsmith joins in the penultimate spot on our Top-10 list. Highsmith in his second season and first as a starter was a bright spot in run defense, recording the second most run defense tackles of any edge rusher and with an average tackle depth of 2.1 yards, he was much more effective than much of the Steelers defense that allowed an embarrassing 5 yards per rush over the season. Highsmith tied Cameron Heyward for second on the team with 15 tackles for a loss and ranked third in QB hits with 15 of those as well. In defending the run and pressuring the quarterback Highsmith ranks third on the Steelers defense, behind only T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward.

Highsmith also shows coverage ability to go with his smart and strong play defending the run and pressuring the quarterback. The one clear area for Alex Highsmith to improve on is in recording sacks. If you compare Highsmith’s pressure, hit and sack rates for his first two seasons to T.J. Watt’s first two seasons Highsmith only lags behind Watt significantly in his rate of recording sacks. While some of that is caused by Highsmith losing the race to the quarterback to T.J. Watt, he has shown he has room to grow in becoming a finisher on pass rush.

Best Steelers of 2021:
1. T.J. Watt
2. Cameron Heyward
3. Najee Harris
4. Minkah Fitzpatrick
5. Chris Boswell
6. Pat Freiermuth
7. Diontae Johnson
8. Ben Roethlisberger
9. Alex Highsmith

With Alex Highsmith joining the list, we add Chukwuma Okorafor to the candidates for the final spot in the top 10.

Let’s take a quick look at the candidates:
Bold = led Steelers in stat, * = led NFL in stat

Chase Claypool: Claypool’s 2021 season was considered a drop-off from his rookie season, but statistically that was only true in touchdowns scored, one of the most volatile stats for receivers. Claypool’s second season saw him improve slightly in yards per game, yards per target, broken tackles and drops. While the entire passing game was less efficient in 2021, Chase Claypool saw the least decline in efficiency.
Stat line: 105 targets, 59 receptions, 860 yards, 2 TDs.

Kevin Dotson: Dotson only appeared in 9 games for the Steelers, and it showed. With rookies starting on either side of him, Dotson was the anchor of the line, and that line was improving before he was hurt. The Steelers recorded 5 straight 100+ yard rushing games, a streak that ended with Dotson’s injury. That span of time involved the only two wins the Steelers recorded where their opponent scored 20 or more points.

Terrell Edmunds: Edmunds was labeled a reach when he was drafted, and while he has played in all but one game since then, and started all but 5, Edmunds has been more known for his weaknesses than his strengths. Edmunds has put in the work, improved every season, and in 2021 had his best coverage season, ranking in the top 20 in passer rating against when targeted, while still being a key player against the run for the Steelers.
Stat line: 2 interceptions, 6 passes defended, 1 sack, 8 tackles for a loss, 63 solo tackles.

Joe Haden: The veteran cornerback missed 5 games, but was still the Steelers best cornerback over the course of the season, and the Steelers defense continues to be a much better defense when he plays and the Steelers continue to win far more of their games with him than when he is out.
Stat line: 0 interceptions, 6 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 26 solo tackles.

Dan Moore Jr.: Dan Moore Jr. didn’t have the best rookie season, but he stepped in when he wasn’t supposed to play and solidified the left tackle position while providing a lot of value in the run game. Moore Jr. also had the disadvantage of playing with numerous different left guards lined up next to him and was left on an island to guard Miles Garrett a lot in the Steelers two games against the Browns, allowing 1 sack.

Chukwuma Okorafor: Okorafor finally was a full-season starter for the first time in his 4th season with the Steelers. While he isn’t a star player he is a very reliable player at a position that is one of the hardest to find quality play. Okorafor enters his fifth season with the Steelers with a new contract that makes him the highest plaid player on the Steelers offense and the 4th highest paid Steeler overall. Hopefully his play continues to improve as it has every season of his career so far.

Joe Schobert: Schobert joined the Steelers via a trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he helped hold down the inside linebacker position for the Steelers. He ended up second on the team in tackles, while playing the 5th most snaps on the Steelers defense. While not a long-term solution to the Steelers linebacker needs, Schobert was a solid player for the one season he was on the team.
Stat Line: 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 70 solo tackles, 6 passes defended, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit.

Cameron Sutton: Sutton moved from the Steelers dime back to the Steelers #2 cornerback for the 2021 season. He played well in that role, but struggled some when Joe Haden was out and Sutton needed to take over the role of the Steelers top cornerback. He was the Steelers most reliable cornerback though, starting 16 games, five more than any other Steeler cornerback in 2021 and played the second most snaps on defense of any Steeler.
Stat line: 2 interceptions, 6 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 44 solo tackles, 4 tackles for a loss.

Ahkello Witherspoon: Ahkello Witherspoon only played in 9 games in 2021, and ranked 8th in snaps for defensive backs on the Steelers, but he also led the Steelers in interceptions and tied Cameron Heyward for the most passes defended. His shorter time on the field definitely limited his value to the team, and with his awful first game, justifiably so. But it is hard to overstate the impact Witherspoon had late in the season when the Steelers made their push to a playoff berth.
Stat Line: 3 interceptions, 9 passes defended, 14 solo tackles, 1 tackle for a loss.

Chris Wormley: Chris Wormley was put into a much bigger role than he had played before in 2021, when injuries moved him from the #4 defensive lineman on the team to #2. In that increased role Wormley nearly doubled the previous highest snap count of his career, and his production more than doubled. While Wormley was part of the defensive struggles in run defense, he was a major asset in pass defense, ending up third on the team in sacks and 4th in pressures.
Stat line: 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 3 passes defended, 51 total tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, 10 QB hits.

There’s only one spot left in the BTSC 2022 Top Ten Steelers list, who will it be? It’s your last chance to vote for the best Steelers of 2021.

Retiring from fantasy football after 19 years isn’t easy, but I will do so as a Steeler

Sun, 06/19/2022 - 6:30am

It’s been a tolerable 19 years in fantasy football, but I’ve decided to finally retire from the sport.

I was at the bar the other night relaxing after a long run when the subject of fantasy football came up.

I immediately got this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Call it the Sunday scaries or whatever, but just the thought of having to go back in the lab late this summer and do the necessary research in order to be ready for the multiple fantasy leagues I would be invited to put me into an instant state of depression.

I was filled with anxiety and stress. I began to dread the online fantasy drafts and maybe even a trip to Applebee’s for a live one.

Something hit me as I walked home from the bar, however: I do not have to play fantasy football this year if I don’t want to. I don’t have to pay the price. I don’t have to know the players. I’ve put in my time. After all, it has been 19 years. I was a free agent last year, anyway. I turned down offers to join leagues because, as I told my friends, I was just so gosh darn busy.

But truth be told, my heart just wasn't in it. I had lost my passion for fantasy football long before—years before, I’d say.

I stayed with it for a number of years, but I always seemed to enjoy watching the NFL more during the rare seasons when I would skip fantasy football for one reason or another.

Oh, I enjoyed the heck out of it over the first few seasons, but I was also quite frustrated, especially during my first season—2003—when I drafted Adam Vinatieri in the fourth round.

Needless to say, my rookie season in fantasy football was a forgettable one. Just how forgettable? I lost a game in which Peyton Manning, my quarterback, threw six touchdown passes against the New Orleans Saints.

Anyway, it is with much relief—and just a hint of regret—that I am announcing my retirement from fantasy football after 19 seasons.

I’d like to say the memories were great, but I honestly can’t think of all that many. Although, as bad as I was during my rookie season—my record was 3 and something—I did sweep the eventual league champions. I also defeated my brother in the semifinals of the consolation round (I had such a bad team that he considered it to be a bye going in).

It actually took me four seasons to finally make the real playoffs, which also resulted in a first-round victory over my brother (2-0 against him all-time in postseason play). Unfortunately, my brother won the league title twice in like four seasons. And when he wasn’t winning it, my brother-in-law’s brother won it twice.

Not a lot of fun around the dinner table during the holidays for yours truly, that’s for sure.

As I’ve already alluded to, I never truly wanted to pay the price from a “constantly being on my computer/smartphone while at work” standpoint during my fantasy football career. Truth be told, I was limited by the kinds of jobs I had throughout my years in the sport, jobs that either denied me access to a computer or an optimal wifi connection. Oh, who am I kidding? I could have found a way to scour the waiver wire if I really wanted to. I just didn’t want it. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t have the desire. I was a 9 to 5 fantasy football coach. I didn’t study the players. I didn’t learn the backups of the starters, and I had no urge to research the backups of the backups.

I did manage to win a title one time. It actually happened late in my fantasy football career—2018, to be exact. I was co-owner of a team with my uncle. My biggest contribution to that title came during the draft—that’s right, it was one of those Applebee’s drafts—when I said, “They were saying on the radio that this new quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, might have a breakout year.” Other than that, I was just along for the ride (kind of like Daniel Sepulveda during the Super Bowl XLIII season).

While I will miss some things about my fantasy football days, I will not miss most of the things.

I won’t miss the 11th-hour player scratches after CBSSports/ESPN/Yahoo spends the entire week telling me that (insert player here) is expected to start or at least make an appearance in the upcoming game.

I will not miss those Tourettes-like outbursts while in the middle of a conversation about ceiling tiles because the person I am talking to happens to look down at their smartphone and discovers that Frank Gore was taken out at the goal line.

I will not miss being a fantasy football commissioner and spending the entire season begging people to pay me their league fee. “Aww, man, I can’t believe you’re keeping the money,” said my brother back in 2008 after he won the runner-up prize. That just so happened to be the same season in which he failed to pay the league fee. Yep, he lacks in both self-awareness and shame.

I will not miss donating a portion of my salary to the fantasy gods every season but one.

I will not miss this phrase: “I just couldn’t start him against the Pittsburgh Steelers.” It makes no differ....forget it.

I will not miss being slapped by Tommy Pham.

As the title suggests, I would like to sign a one-day contract and retire from fantasy football as a Pittsburgh Steeler. That’s why I’m sitting here today as “The Bubby Bristers,” the name of my first fantasy football team. If I manage to make it into the Fantasy Football Hall of Shame one day, I’d like Edmund Nelson to present me. Why? Because “The Edmund Nelsons” was the name of my second fantasy football team. Yes, sir, I sure was creative back then.

Finally, it has been a fun—or tolerable, at times—ride over the past 19 years, but it’s time to pursue other passions, such as writing about football.

I also look forward to spending time in my living room this fall and not worrying about who’s doing what other than the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I realize some people will try to coax me out of retirement, even though, unlike Bill Cowher, I suck at evaluating talent.

But my mind is made up.

Keep reaching for the stars and stop sending me invites to your fantasy leagues.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Sun, 06/19/2022 - 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 website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest two 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 and written, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

Steelers Touchdown Under: The off-season is the best time for optimism

Everybody is undefeated in the off-season, well maybe not the Cleveland Browns. But this is the time for football dreamers to be optimistic about their team’s Lombardi chances. With Matty Peverell on assignment, Mark Davison and Kyle Chrise will talk Steelers from an Aussie/L.A.Yinzer perspective. Here we go!

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • An off-season of optimism
  • Listen to the show below

Tune into the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts.

The Steelers Power Half Hour: Signing Minkah is a win-win for the Steelers and him

Minkah Fitzpatrick has signed an extension with the Steelers, seemingly a win for both the player and the franchise. Welcome to the Steelers Power Half Hour. This week, Joe Frost, Paul Yanchek and Chris Pugh discuss the latest Steelers news and 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

Saturday Night Open Thread: Happy Father’s Day Edition

Sat, 06/18/2022 - 6:00pm
Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Come and join this merry band of Steelers’ faithful for some lively debate about our Steelers, good food, music, and the merits of the odd cold beverage.

Happy Father’s Day Weekend!

I am sitting here trying to put into writing what Father’s Day means to me. It shouldn’t be just another weekend for any of us. We all have a ‘Father’. Some of us hit the jackpot while some get an early dose of ‘life isn’t fair’. Regardless of what your Dad did or didn’t do while you were growing up, you have the opportunity make it right for someone else.

Being a Father is in my humble opinion the most important job I will ever have. It is the job that should define us men best. We all need to teach our kids about integrity, humility, community, and most importantly about love.

Over the past few days I have read a few ‘stories’ on social media about Fathers that weren’t birth Fathers. Men that either adopted or served as mentors to children that didn’t have the good fortune of having a ‘stand up Dad’ in their lives. Everyone of those stories pulls at my heart strings. To any of you that match this description I salute you! You are what the world needs more of. Please take a minute this weekend and be extra proud of what you have done. You are the living, breathing definition of integrity, humility, community and love.

  1. This week we read about the naming rights for Heinz Field. If you were in charge of naming the place the Steelers call home - money be damned! - what would it be?
  2. Kevin Colbert in now retired. Regardless of your current work status, what does or will retirement look like for you?
  3. Two part question... Steph Curry just finished leading the Warriors to another NBA title. A) Where does he rank as an NBA great all time? B) Is he the greatest point guard ever?
  4. What is the most important lesson your dad or any other father figure taught you?
  5. What are your plans this weekend in honour of Father’s Day?

Going For Two: Jake Dixon & Kevin Dotson

Sat, 06/18/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s Day 8 of Going For Two, featuring Jake Dixon and Kevin Dotson

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Jake Dixon Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Offensive Tackle
Age: 24
Year: 1
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 290
Drafted: UDFA 2022
College: Duquesne
Roster Outlook: Long shot
Analysis:

Although the story of the local kid getting signed as a UDFA with the Steelers is great, his chances of making the 53-man roster in 2022 are not. It’s great to see Jake Dixon getting a shot to play in the NFL, but his best path to stick around would be to impress enough and show the potential to land on the practice squad as a developmental tackle. If Dixon could manage to do that, he would get a season of NFL training to make a push to show what he can do in 2023.

Kevin Dotson Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Position: Offensive Line
Age: 25
Year: 3
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 321
Drafted: Round 4, Pick 135, 2020
College: Louisiana
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

Things just haven’t seemed right over the last year when it comes to Kevin Dotson. After coming onto the scene as a rookie, it seemed like he had to fight extra hard to land in the starting lineup for 2022. Being put on the Reserve/Injured List following Week 10, Dotson began practicing in order to return but his 21-day window expired without much being said. And now Dotson admits that he’s in a battle with Kendrick Green at left guard. While many in Steelers’ Nation see Dotson as the next generation of tough offensive lineman in the Steel City, circumstances have prevented him from even locking in a starting position. But like with so many players, 2022 brings a new season and lots of opportunity.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

How should the Steelers handle their 3-game preseason?

Sat, 06/18/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images

For the first time the Steelers will only have three preseason games. How should they handle player usage?

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t just returning to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA this July for training camp, they will also be preparing for something they never have before — a three-game preseason schedule.

If you recall, last season the Steelers and Dallas Cowboys faced off in the Hall of Fame game, giving them four total preseason games. While the other 30 NFL teams had to adjust to a 3-game slate of preseason games, the Steelers and Cowboys had their traditional allotment.

In the past, here is how the Steelers would handle their 4-game preseason:

Game 1: Very few starters play

Game 2: Starters will see minimal playing time

Game 3: The final dress rehearsal

Game 4: Most starters sit as backups fight for final roster spots

This begs the question how the Steelers, and Mike Tomlin, will utilize these games? On top of the fact they have one less preseason game, how will Tomlin handle the Steelers’ quarterback battle during these exhibition games?

If Ben Roethlisberger were still at the helm, outlining just how the team will deploy their starters would be much simpler; however, with Roethlisberger retired every and any thought is on the table.

To get a glimpse of what other teams did last season, when the NFL increased the regular season to 17-games and cut the preseason to three games, look at the Steelers’ fourth, and final, preseason game a year ago. It was a trio to Charlotte, NC to play the Carolina Panthers. The Steelers’ third string players were blown out 34-9, and that was mostly due to the Panthers using the third game as their final dress rehearsal.

In the game, Sam Darnold finished 19/25 for 162 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT and a 119.1 rating. Meanwhile, the two backup quarterbacks just accounted for just 17 attempts once Darnold left the game. Compare that to the Steelers playing just two quarterbacks, Joshua Dobbs, who finished the day 6/11 for 35 yards before leaving with injury, and the late Dwayne Haskins, who finished 9/16 for 105 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.

Yes, these games are meaningless, but coaches value these games. On top of that, for teams like the Steelers who have plenty to figure out with their lineup, it does make you wonder what the plan will be when the preseason rolls around.

So, what do you think? Let us know how you would handle the 3-game preseason in the comment section below, and, in case you forgot, below is the team’s preseason schedule:

Week 1: vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 2: at Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 3: vs. Detroit Lions

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason and get ready to report to training camp on July 26th.

What position group is the greatest concern for the Steelers 2022 offense?

Sat, 06/18/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are reasons to be optimistic, or concerned, about several positions on the Steelers offense.

Every offseason, almost every position group on the Steelers roster gets a little bit of a makeover. Sometimes there are additions which can give fans more hope going into the next season, while other times there are losses which can cause doubt and uncertainty. Sometimes there aren’t any changes in the position group, which could be viewed as either a positive or a negative.

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers offense for 2022, it’s safe to say improvements need to be made at a number of positions based on their 2021 performance. With the defense leading the way as the team squeezed its way into the postseason, there were many times throughout the season where the offense didn’t offer much support at all to their teammates on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

With many changes coming in personnel, there are some position groups which appear to be improved while others have a lot to prove for the upcoming season. Whether it be a group with a lot of changes or none at all, what position are fans most concerned about going into the 2022 season?

Here is a breakdown, including key losses and gains, for each position group on the Steelers offense:

(NOTE: Only players signed with previous years of service in the NFL or players selected in the 2022 NFL draft will be considered additions, and players who were on the Steelers 53-man roster in 2021 will be considered losses.)

Quarterback

Losses: Ben Roethlisberger, Dwayne Haskins
Additions: Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, Chris Oladokun

While it’s easy to look and see the loss of a two-time Super Bowl champion and future Hall of Fame quarterback, many Steelers fans saw the physical limitations of Ben Roethlisberger over the last two seasons as his career was coming to an end. Whether or not the new quarterbacks on the roster will be able to match Roethlisberger’s experience and ‘it’ factor when it came to end of game heroics with mobility and being able to push the ball down the field remains to be seen.

Running Back

Losses: Kalen Ballage
Additions: None

While there was some fluctuation in personnel within this group, a player with only 14 touches on the season for the Steelers departing while only addressing the position with undrafted free agents, there isn’t really any net change to the group that is apparent at this time. With Najee Harris coming off a record-setting season, concerns are mainly not about his production but of those who follow him on the depth chart.

Tight End

Losses: Eric Ebron
Additions: Connor Heyward

With Eric Ebron missing a large portion of the 2021 season, the Steelers adapted to what they wanted to do at the position with their young players emerging. Whether or not Connor Hayward makes the roster and contributes as a sixth-round draft pick is something fans will have to wait until training camp to try to determine.

Wide Receiver

Losses: JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud
Additions: George Pickens, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin, Gunner Olszewski

While the Steelers lost three of their five receivers who initially made the roster in 2021, they were the three least productive of the group. JuJu Smith-Schuster missed most of the season due to injury, James Washington never really emerged as the second-round draft pick he was hoped to be, and Ray-Ray McCloud was mainly called on because of the absence of Smith-Schuster. With their top two receivers back in 2022, the biggest question is how quickly the rookies at newcomers can step in to fill the void left by those who departed.

Offensive Line

Losses: Trai Turner, B.J. Finney, Zach Banner
Additions: James Daniels, Mason Cole, Trenton Scott

While it looks on paper that the Pittsburgh Steelers have gained much more quality than they lost on the offensive line over the last season, the biggest question is if the additions are enough. Whenever starters from the previous season have to fight for a job, it generally means an improvement should be on the horizon, but being an improved unit still doesn’t mean that it’s not a weakness of the offense.

So which position group on the Steelers offense are you most concerned about heading into the 2022 season? While there may be multiple groups for there to be concern, which one is on top of the list? Make sure to vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Gone but not forgotten: Chuck Noll has had a lasting impact on the Steelers organization

Sat, 06/18/2022 - 9:00am
SetNumber: X19240

No person in the history of the Steelers franchise has had a bigger impact than the late, great Chuck Noll.

You might think this is one of those “Must be a slow news day” articles. After all, it is the middle of June, and the Steelers are in the quiet portion of their offseason.

But the middle of June—June 13, to be precise—was when Chuck Noll, the Steelers’ legendary head coach who changed the fortunes of the franchise, passed away in 2014 at the age of 82.

I’d like to think someone would occasionally take the time to acknowledge Noll’s passing and contributions to the organization even if the date of his death fell right in the middle of a Steelers’ Super Bowl run. In fact, that would be quite appropriate since Noll was perhaps the most responsible for giving the organization a reason to actually build a trophy case.

One was never needed during the first 36 years of the organization’s existence. The Chief, the late Art Rooney, probably had one erected somewhere at his team’s headquarters, but it was like the broiling door at the bottom of an oven: Was there ever a reason to open it?

Most astute and diehard Steelers fans know the story after Noll was hired in 1969. He came in with a vision like no other coach had ever had before him. Noll built the team up from the very foundation, and by his sixth season, he finally gave the Chief something to put in his trophy case. Five years later, after a victory over the Rams in Super Bowl XIV, the Chief was the proud owner of a fourth Lombardi. The Steelers went from pathetic losers who would be laughed at on the Tonight Show, to the mecca of the football world, all within a decade.

That was all because of Chuck Noll. Yes, Dan Rooney, Art’s son and the man who convinced Dad to hire Noll, was in many ways the heart and soul of the organization—and the entire NFL—during his many years as the Steelers president and then majority owner, but Noll gave the Steelers’ their blueprint on how to win.

Dan Rooney said as much after Noll’s passing back in 2014. Noll taught the Steelers how to win.

It was Noll who made building through the draft a Steelers’ philosophy. It was Noll who created an environment within the locker room where players had to be self-starters and had to hold one another accountable. “If I have to motivate you, I will fire you,” Andy Russell once said of Noll’s philosophy on fiery pre-game speeches. But it was Noll who had the vision and just the right timing to give perhaps the most important speech in the history of the franchise in the days before Pittsburgh traveled to Oakland to take on the Raiders in the 1974 AFC Championship Game: “The best damn team is in this room.”

It worked like a charm.

It was Chuck Noll who taught the Steelers about staying the course, even through adversity, and not overreacting to every little thing. This is what Mike Tomlin means when he says, “Don’t blink!”

It was Noll who believed that, before you can win a game, you have to first not lose it.

Noll believed in a ball-control offense and moving the chains years before Bill Cowher called it “Smash mouth football.”

Noll also knew defense was important—this goes back to not losing the game before you can win it. He believed that you won by outhitting your opponent.

Obviously, Cowher subscribed to that theory during his time, and Tomlin does today.

But as conservative as Noll was, he knew how special Terry Bradshaw and his stable of offensive weapons were, and he let them fly by the late-70s. This just so happened to be right when the game of football was changing into an aerial circus. Wouldn’t you know it, Noll had the Greatest Show on Earth.

Years later, Cowher reluctantly took the reins off of his young stud, Ben Roethlisberger, and it led to the team’s first Super Bowl trophy in 26 years. In a perfect world, Tomlin will have to do the same with Kenny Pickett, one day.

Noll certainly had his flaws as a head coach, and these were more noticeable over the latter stages of his career when Pittsburgh was trying to transition from the Super ‘70s into a new era that would bring about more championship success. Noll made several unsuccessful attempts to recreate the magic of the Steel Curtain defenses of the 1970s by using multiple first-round picks on underwhelming to worse defensive linemen in the 1980s. Noll was quite lackadaisical about hiring assistant coaches, but he was also extremely loyal to them when it was obvious that they weren’t getting the job done.

Noll’s philosophy of not overreacting and staying the course seemed to become a negative in his last years as head coach, as the game of football appeared to pass him by.

Yet, despite the organization’s struggles over the last seven years of Noll’s tenure—the Steelers only made the playoffs once between 1985-1991—he still managed to leave the cupboard quite full for Cowher when he was named head coach in 1992.

People often talk about Tomlin winning Super Bowl XLIII with Cowher’s players, but take a look at this list of names: Rod Woodson, Dermontti Dawson, Greg Lloyd, Carnell Lake, Neil O’ Donnell, John Jackson, David Little, Ernie Mills, Merril Hoge, Tunch Ilkin, Eric Green and Barry Foster. That’s quite the roster of talent for a young head coach to inherit.

Many of those players managed to stick around for the entirety of Cowher’s initial postseason run of the 1990s and were instrumental in the team’s march to Super Bowl XXX.

Noll coached 23 seasons in Pittsburgh and racked up 209 victories. Needless to say, he’s the greatest head coach in franchise history.

It’s kind of a shame that he’s not celebrated as much as he probably should be, but that was mostly his doing. Again, he wasn’t a motivator—at least not verbally. No, Noll believed that the best way to motivate someone was to show them how to get the job done. In other words, he loved to teach. The fun was in the doing.

You know how folks like to circulate memes with quotes they falsely attribute to famous people? You never see one with Noll’s likeness, because that would be ridiculous.

Noll didn’t crave the spotlight. He probably didn’t care that people often got him mixed up with Chuck Knox, a fellow head coach and a contemporary. He probably didn’t even care that many spelled his surname with a K—something a lot of fans still do to this day. Noll wasn’t a personality. He wasn’t a fire and brimstone guy. He didn’t do commercials. He didn’t work for the networks when his team was out of the playoffs.

Noll may not have cared about fame, but he sure made the Pittsburgh Steelers famous.

Dare I say, this is why millions of people own a yellow towel. It’s probably why I’m sitting here about to finish this article about my favorite sports team.

Noll is probably why the Steelers are my favorite sports team.

Perhaps nobody in the history of professional sports had a greater impact on an organization than Chuck Noll had on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rest in peace, Emperor.

Report: NFL considering a full year suspension for Browns Deshaun Watson

Sat, 06/18/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns new quarterback could be lost for the entire 2022 regular season, per reports.

The AFC North has gone through an overhaul recently. Gone is Ben Roethlisberger for the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Deshaun Watson becomes the latest quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. While the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens remain contenders within the division, the Browns’ 2022 season hinges on the future of their quarterback.

As every NFL fan knows, Deshaun Watson faces a suspension from the league, and the question is how many games he could miss in 2022. Everyone has their estimations and guesses, but a recent Washington Post report suggests Watson could be suspended for an entire year.

Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports the NFL will argue that Watson should receive a “significant” suspension, and that the league “probably” will ask for a one-year banishment.

This per ProFootballTalk:

Per Maske, NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler has become involved in the case. The league reportedly is concerned that Kessler will push for no discipline at all.

Maske confirms our report that, in defending Watson, the NFLPA will point to the punishments imposed (or not) on Commanders owner Daniel Snyder, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to support the argument that Watson’s punishment, if any, should reflect the consequences those owners received — especially since the Personal Conduct Policy warns that owners are held to a higher standard than players.

Maske adds that the league would like to have the situation fully resolved before training camp opens, but that the approach taken by Watson and the NFLPA could delay the outcome. Don’t blame Watson if that happens, NFL. You’ve had months to investigate the situation and to make a decision. When the time comes for Watson and the NFLPA to present a defense, it should take whatever amount of time it needs to take. And that should have been factored into the timing of the initiation of the process.

Per Maske, the league could impose discipline against Watson based on currently available information, with the understanding that further discipline could be imposed if new information surfaces. That could get tricky for the league. If, for example, he’s suspended eight games and proceeds to lose any, some, or all of the 24 (soon to be 26) lawsuits pending against him, the NFL surely wouldn’t be able to suspend him again simply because juries believe the testimony of the plaintiffs and impose verdicts against Watson. There would have to be something truly new — new claims, new evidence. Something that the league didn’t already know or that it shouldn’t have known, through reasonable investigative steps.

At this point, all of this is purely speculation, but you can expect more news on this to heat up as summer, and training camps, approach in the month of July. In the meantime, the rest of the AFC North will be looking at this situation closely, knowing how it will impact their favorite teams in 2022.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they prepare for their return to Saint Vincent College for training camp starting July 26th.

There are several reasons to be cheerful and excited for the 2022 Steelers

Sat, 06/18/2022 - 6:30am
Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 roster is better than the 2021 roster. Yet NFL analysts continue to write off the team. But there are so many reasons to be optimistic.

With the 2022 offseason officially here, what do Pittsburgh Steelers fans need to think about? Well, on the day ESPN released an article predicting the Steelers will pick 6th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, I think it’s time someone took a positive outlook towards the upcoming 2022 season.

Going into this 2022 season I firmly believe that the Pittsburgh Steelers have a better roster than in 2021, a season where they finished 9-7-1 and were only half a game back of the Cincinnati Bengals. A Bengals team that were vaunted and celebrated by NFL analysts. Throughout free agency and the draft the Steelers front office have addressed needs the roster has needed, and made the team stronger and more NFL-ready.

Let’s take the biggest problem from last year — the offensive line. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the 2022 line. First, the acquisition of James Daniels gives the Steelers a real leader and example setter. Daniels has already spoken about his desire to be a leader on offense.

Now, add to that the signing of Mason Cole, a solid center from the Minnesota Vikings. His presence could mean an end to the high snaps and bull rushes which often left Kendrick Green in Ben Roethlisberger’s lap. Furthermore, the competition between Dotson and Green can only be good for the Steelers. Competition drives up standards and keeps those standards high. Whoever wins the battle will need to play to the best of their abilities to keep their starting spot. Again, good news for the Steelers!

Last season the offense often let down the defense. Just look at the Kansas City playoff game. The defense holds the Chiefs for 20-25 minutes, something no other team had done, but the offense goes 3-and-out time and time again. This coming season’s offense has a far better chance of succeeding with Matt Canada now having all the pieces he needs to institute his offensive system. He has a mobile quarterback with a stronger arm than Roethlisberger, at the end of his career, in Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett. He has some excellent young receivers and a great tight end room too. George Pickens, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and Calvin Austin III all bring great attributes to help the Canada system succeed.

Add to this the fact Najee Harris is bigger, stronger and has a better line, he could be even better this coming season. Once the run can be established the Canada system can then begin to work.

The most important reason to be optimistic, even though Stephon Tuitt has retired, is the return of Tyson Alualu. Alualu being added to the star-studded defense the Steelers already have means this unit will be even stronger. There’s even more flexibility there too. Rookie DeMarvin Leal and Genard Avery can play a number of positions. Three top quality safeties mean the defense can use 3-safety looks to help bolster both the run and pass defenses. This defense is loaded, and looks like a Top 5 unit.

Finally, another reason to be excited about the upcoming season is the fact the Steelers have Mike Tomlin. Tomlin hasn’t had a losing season, and has dragged very average rosters in the past to playoff contention, something very few other coaches have done.

So, let’s be optimistic and let the analysts write the team off. Because we know come September there’s going to be a lot of people in the media eating crow about the Steelers!

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Sat, 06/18/2022 - 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 two 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 Steelers Show: Safety in numbers

The Steelers nailed-down Minkah Fitzpatrick for the next five years. That’s a good thing due to the possibility that the Steelers may employ a three-safety set with Minkah, Terrell Edmunds and Damontae Kazee. Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Kevin Smith for Here We Go. The BTSC duo break down the Steelers like no one else does.

Check out the rundown

  • News and Notes
  • The safety of three safetys
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Friday Night Six Pack with Tony: Minkah’s new deal is a big deal

The Steelers came to terms on a new extension with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, and they did so faster than many perhaps thought they would. Has a new precedent been set? All of that and more on this episode of Steelers Friday Night Six Pack with veteran BTSC podcaster and writer Tony Defeo.

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • Minkah’s new deal
  • Steelers Q&A
  • 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: Offseason Vol. 17

Fri, 06/17/2022 - 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. The Steelers locked up Minkah Wednesday. What was your knee jerk reaction to the contract, and the financials?

2. If you are Omar Khan, who do you try and sign next? Chris Boswell or Diontae Johnson? Or do you not even try to sign anyone inside the organization?

3. An extension of No. 2, if you were to sign an outside player BEFORE training camp, what position would you target, and why?

4. OVER/UNDER Minkah Fitzpatrick interceptions in 2022? Line is set at 3.5

5. Both the safety and running back positions have devalued over time. Which position do you feel is more important to have a big-time player at that position?

6. This weekend is Father’s Day weekend. Whether you have a father still in your life, feel free to tell a great story about the man, maybe how they shaped your Steelers fandom, on this special weekend.

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!

Going For Two: Carlos & Khalil Davis

Fri, 06/17/2022 - 2:30pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Day 7 of Going For Two, featuring Carlos & Khalil Davis

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Carlos Davis Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Defensive tackle
Age: 25
Year: 3
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 320
Drafted: 2020, Round 7, Pick 232
College: Nebraska
Roster Outlook: Outside looking in
Analysis:

As a seventh round draft pick, there weren’t a lot of expectations on Carlos Davis his rookie season of 2020. Still, he appeared in seven games for the Steelers and seemed to be a developmental defensive lineman with potential going into the next season. But in 2021, his season was derailed after Week 1 where he had a lingering knee injury, yet the Steelers didn’t place him on the Reserve/Injured List until Week 8. Coming back later in the season, Carlos Davis appeared in three more games but never saw more than 15 snaps in a week. With the Steelers having many more options on the defensive line than positions they can keep on the 53-man roster, Carlos Davis is going to have to move up significantly in order to make the team or Week 1. Otherwise, he’s a prime candidate for the practice squad.

Khalil Davis George Walker IV / Tennessean.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Position: Defensive tackle
Age: 25
Year: 3
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 308
Drafted: 2020, Round 6, Pick 194 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
College: Nebraska
Roster Outlook: Outside looking in
Analysis:

Despite being drafted a round ahead of his twin brother Carlos, Khalil Davis has only appeared in three NFL games in two seasons and played less than 50 total snaps. Only appearing in two games as a rookie with Tampa Bay, when the Buccaneers waved him at the beginning of October in his second season the Indianapolis Colts claimed him off waivers and he appeared in one game. But when Khalil Davis was once again released at the end of October, the Steelers waited for him to clear waivers and signed him to the practice squad to reunite the twins out of Nebraska. But with Carlos seeing action late in the season but Khalil never leaving the practice squad, he has a longer shots to make the team that his twin brother. As of now, Khalil’s best bet is if he can land on the Steelers practice squad yet again in 2022.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

Mitch Trubisky feels ‘fortunate’ to have landed with the Steelers

Fri, 06/17/2022 - 12:45pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have options at quarterback, and it seems as if the front-runner would be none other than Mitch Trubisky.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a unique situation heading into the 2022 regular season. With Ben Roethlisberger officially retired, the team now turns to a trio of options at the quarterback position.

Mitch Trubisky

Kenny Pickett

Mason Rudolph

Outside of Pickett, the team’s 20th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Steelers have bolstered the positional depth with a lot of experience.

For Trubisky, who was considered a failed experiment with the Chicago Bears, a year backing up with the Buffalo Bills has the veteran quarterback looking forward to the future. When he does that, he is fortunate he landed where he did with the Steelers.

“I just feel very fortunate and lucky that I landed here in Pittsburgh,” said Trubisky at the close of minicamp. “I am happy to be here with these guys and this team, coaching staff and everyone…the city and the fans. I feel like I am in a very fortunate situation, and I am excited for the opportunity.

“A part of me wishes we were still going next week. We’ve got some time off, so we have to take care of our bodies and get ready for training camp. But it was a lot of fun, especially the last couple years when OTAs with Covid have looked different, being at home, being virtual. So being together, being able to build that chemistry and be around the guys and have fun on the field like that, it’s bittersweet it’s over. But I feel good about the work we put in so far.”

The Steelers have wrapped up all of their offseason workouts, and won’t come together again as a team until the team reports to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 26th. But that doesn’t mean the players won’t be meeting and continuing to work on their craft during the summer down time.

In fact, Trubisky is headed down to Florida to workout this offseason, and is expecting company. More specifically, he is going to be hosting the other quarterbacks in Florida to workout.

Kenny Pickett acknowledged the workouts before the team broke mandatory minicamp last week.

“We already talked about meeting up down there, training and hanging out,” said Pickett. “I definitely want to use those guys. They are great teammates as a resource and to help me learn. I can’t say enough great things about how they have been.”

If you are someone who looks at the Steelers as being different, a family environment, this should point to that still being true. Trubisky could give Pickett the Ryan Tannehill treatment and not be willing to help him. He could be the veteran who realizes the other quarterbacks are competition, and every advantage he can get is worthwhile.

Nonetheless, it seems Trubisky has bought into the team-first mentality the Steelers have called their own for decades now. He is confident in his own abilities, and isn’t about to be the guy who isn’t willing to help his teammates, even if they are competing for the same job.

Trubisky is fortunate to be with the Steelers, and all reports out of Pittsburgh this offseason is how the Steelers are fortunate to have Trubisky. Both for the experience, as well as the leadership qualities he exudes.

Regardless of who wins the quarterback job, it seems the position room is in good hands, something many questioned when Roethlisberger called it a career after 18 years.

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

Steelers Post-Draft Roster Review, Part 7: Outside Linebackers

Fri, 06/17/2022 - 11:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is over and the Steelers have added many new faces to the roster. In this series, we’ll take a look at each position and what you need to know as the offseason rolls on. In Part Seven, we’ll break down the Outside Linebackers.

The Steelers Outside Linebacker (OLB) position group has a lot to boast about, but there’s also cause for some concern. Let’s dive right into this polarizing group of players.

The Players

T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Derek Tuszka, Genard Avery, Tuzar Skipper, Delontae Scott, T.D. Moultry, Tyree Johnson

Group Breakdown

The Steelers like to do things differently than the rest of the NFL. We know that. But one of the more interesting differences is in how they designate player positions. Only two of the players mentioned above are actually labelled outside linebackers (Tuszka, Avery), while the rest are given the simple designation of linebacker (LB).

In a way, it speaks to the versatility that the team requires of its EDGE defenders. In the traditional 3-4 defensive scheme the Steelers have deployed since the early Dick LeBeau years, Steelers’ OLBs are not strictly pass-rushers, as they are frequently asked to drop back into coverage on Tight Ends and Running Backs. That being said, Pittsburgh currently boasts the best pass-rusher in the business in none other than T.J. Watt, the reigning 2021 Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY).

To borrow a Mike Tomlin catch phrase, the volume of Watt’s work speaks for itself. It is not hyperbole to say Watt should be the favorite to repeat as DPOY in 2022 and be one of the best players again in all of football, regardless of position.

Watt’s running mate on the outside is the ever-improving Alex Highsmith. All the signs are there pointing to a potential breakout year in 2022 for the UNC Charlotte alum. The Steelers are looking for this breakout intently to take some of the pressure off of the All-World Watt, and establish the duo as one of the best in football. Highsmith’s work ethic and tenacity cannot be questioned, and if he can combine his improving talent with those qualities, watch out for the 3rd-year pro.

This is where it get’s a little cloudy for Pittsburgh. After Watt and Highsmith there is a serious drop-off in experience and production, with Derek Tuszka and Genard Avery having the best combination of the two, but still leaving the Steelers without a truly impactful 3rd rusher. Finding a player to fit that role is crucial, and could easily be an area the team addresses before the start of the season.

That's not to discount Tuszka, who showed flashes of ability with 2 sacks in the final three games of the season, or Avery, who also has some solid tape out there, specifically his rookie season in Cleveland. Also, the team brought back training camp sensation and fan-favorite Tuzar Skipper, an undrafted free agent (UDFA) in Pittsburgh in 2019, after brief stints with the Giants and Titans. Could he recoup some of the magic that earned him a spot on the original 53-man roster in 2019? If not, he’ll have on his heals the likes of Delontae Scott, T.D. Moultry, and Tyree Johnson, who all similarly have something to prove as UDFAs and/or former practice squad guys.

Depth Chart Prediction

This specific Roster Review exercise is all about who steps up at the number three EDGE role. The Steelers will likely take a long look at what they have in house before attempting to fill that spot with a veteran Free Agent who may or may not end up having a “hostage” mentality. We all know how that flies with Coach Tomlin. It doesn’t. Right now, my money is on Derek Tuszka earning those reps early after a strong finish to his 2021 campaign.

Expect big seasons from both T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith in 2022, with the latter taking another step in his development as a Bud Dupree-like force opposite the incomparable Watt. In order for this team to be a legitimate contender in the AFC, the Defense will need to be a difference-making unit, and that starts with continued success for these two key contributors.

LEFT OLB: T.J. Watt, Derek Tuszka

RIGHT OLB: Alex Highsmith, Tuzar Skipper

PRACTICE SQUAD: Delontae Scott

Steelers 2023 NFL Draft Position Preview: Defensive Linemen

Fri, 06/17/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With Tyson Alualu’s future unknown, the Steelers should look into these defensive linemen in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Ready for the NFL’s dog days of summer to be over? If you have fallen into this category and are currently suffering from football withdrawal, how about a splash into the pool entitled, “2023 NFL Draft”?

Over the next few weeks, we will be taking a brief look at the outlook of each primary position in the 2023 NFL Draft, breaking down the top prospects of note while also taking a look at the prospects who make the most sense for the Steelers. This week, we will be looking at a position that has been a major headline in recent Steelers news: defensive line.

With Stephon Tuitt retiring, the Steelers are expecting a combination of DeMarvin Leal, Isaiahh Loudermilk, and Chris Wormley to fill his void. Wormley seems to be penciled in as the starter as of now, but Leal will have every opportunity to steal the starting gig in the preseason. A replacement for Tuitt is not the only thing the Steelers have to worry about on the defensive line, however. Tyson Alualu is 35 years old and coming off a season-ending ankle injury, and after passing on Travis Jones on Day 2 of the 2022 draft, the Steelers will definitely need to address it in 2023.

If you have any thoughts on these prospects, be sure to share them in the comment section below.

Let’s dive in!

First Rounders 1. Jalen Carter | Georgia

The numbers may not wow you on paper, but if you watched Georgia’s defense in 2021, you can testify to the impact Carter made. He was an absolute wrecking ball, and it is not absurd to consider him better than any of the other defensive linemen on that stacked Georgia defense. That includes Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt, who were both high-profile draft prospects this past year. When it comes to down linemen, Carter’s quickness and twitchiness are unparalleled in the 2023 class, and his solid base allows him to defend the run at an incredibly high level. Now that he finally has a chance to garner the spotlight, do not be surprised if he becomes a top-ten pick next April.

2. Bryan Bresee | Clemson

While we are talking about athletic freaks, I would be remiss not to mention Bresee. At 6’5”, 300 pounds, Bresee can literally play anywhere along the defensive line thanks to his uncanny speed for a 300-pound lineman. He is incredibly quick out of his stance, and he uses his length well, consistently winning the battle for leverage in the trenches. If he can make a full recovery from an ACL injury he suffered at the beginning of the 2021 season, he could shoot up draft boards in a hurry.

Rest of the Top 10

3. Jaquelin Roy | LSU
4. Cory Durden | North Carolina State
5. Siaki Ika | Baylor
6. Calijah Kancey | Pittsburgh
7. Gervon Dexter | Florida
8. Myles Murphy | North Carolina (not to be confused with Myles Murphy from Clemson)
9. Tyler Davis | Clemson
10. P.J. Mustipher | Penn State

Steelers Prospect to Watch Siaki Ika | Baylor Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

If you like large human beings, Ika will become your BFF in short order. At 6’4”, 350 pounds, Ika fits the mold of a prototypical nose tackle, but he has also shown flashes of three-down ability. Unfortunately, those flashes need to become more frequent in 2022. While 3.5 sacks may not sound like much, it is a solid number for a man as big as Ika. However, it does not erase the fact that he is capable of even more.

Ika began his collegiate career at LSU, a school which showed serious interest in him coming out of high school. The former four-star recruit was expected to play a major role in the Tigers defense, but to his demise, LSU changed their defensive scheme to a base 4-3 front, making Ika the odd man out of the puzzle. When realizing his role was going to be destroyed, he entered the transfer portal and ended up choosing Baylor. He now heads into his fourth season of college ball with the expectation of becoming a Day 2 draft pick.

Ika’s size is no secret, but it is worth mentioning that he certainly lives up to the billing of a two-gap, run-stuffing defender. He plays with heart and emotion, and his work ethic has been unquestioned. If he can drop, say, 10 pounds and remain in the 335-340 pound range, it could do wonders for his quickness coming out of his stance.

Regardless of what he weighs in at, he is a player the Steelers should keep a close eye on this fall as they look to find a long-term replacement for Tyson Alualu.

Which of the aforementioned defensive linemen do you like the most? Which defensive lineman do you think fits best in the Steelers’ current defensive scheme? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this topic, and stay tuned to BTSC throughout the remainder of the summer for all the news and notes surrounding our beloved black and gold!

Mitch Trubisky may have found Valhalla

Fri, 06/17/2022 - 8:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers QB Mitch Trubisky may have located the NFL version of Valhalla.

When it comes to NFL success for any NFL quarterback, timing is everything. Next on the list of important metrics would probably be location, location, location. However, none of the aforementioned metrics means anything without the most important metric of all: talent.

Recently signed free agent newcomer Mitchell Trubisky definitely has talent. The kind of athletic talent that warranted the second overall selection of the 2017 NFL Draft for the Chicago Bears. That selection reveals the importance of location.

The Chicago Bears are one of the oldest and most storied franchise in NFL history. Names like George Halas, Gale Sayers, Mike Ditka, and the legendary Walter Payton immediately come to mind. There are plenty of other Hall of Fame names worth mentioning, but there is one glaring position that lacks a distinguished namesake: quarterback.

Chicago is where quarterback careers go to die, making the Bears basically a quarterback graveyard. As if the Bears knew how to recognize and develop quarterback talent in the first place, an ability that they have yet to display in their history of ineptitude at the position.

The 1985 Super Bowl Shuffle squad was lead by the infamous wild child Jim McMahon, a player best remembered for his hairstyle and erratic behavior, more so than his passing prowess. That being said, McMahon is arguably the best quarterback in Bears history. Let's put it this way, there were many occasions during Walter Payton's illustrious career where the best quarterback on the roster was...Walter Payton. I am only half joking about that, as Payton was an accomplished passer, good enough to fill in as the signal caller in a pinch.

Trubisky had the distinguished opportunity, or the misfortune, depending on how you look at it, to be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears for the majority of his four years with the franchise. He helped lead the Bears to the playoffs in two of his four years with the team. Believe it or not; his 10,609 passing yards, 64 touchdown passes, and 1057 rushing yards, plus the aforementioned two playoff appearances, makes him one of the best quarterbacks in Bears history. This from a young man who many Bears fans consider a bust. Anybody else noticing a trend here? A common denominator if you will. Maybe Trubisky wasn't the problem.

Now Trubisky finds himself with the most stable franchise in the NFL. The franchise with the most overall wins in the modern NFL era, and tied for the most Super Bowl titles with six total. By the way, the most successful and consistent organization in the sport has had three Hall of Fame caliber head coaches during that same timeframe, total. Not only have the Steelers had two Hall of Fame caliber, face of the franchise quarterbacks in Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger, they actually drafted and developed both.

Trubisky must feel like he has escaped purgatory and gained access to the NFL version of Valhalla. Fresh off a 2021 season that saw him as the seldom used, primary backup for Pro Bowl quarterback Josh Allen with the Buffalo Bills, Trubisky signed a two year free agency contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After being the perceived best option on the free agent market at quarterback, he finds himself in an enviable position with the Steelers.

Although he currently is engaged in the early stages of what is presumably a three man, open quarterback competition with incumbent Mason Rudolph and 2021 first round selection Kenny Pickett, Trubisky's starting experience and first round pedigree likely gives him a leg up in the competition. He will enter training camp number one on the depth chart.

This is Trubisky's best chance for sustained NFL success. Whoever said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression definitely wasn't talking about Mitch Trubisky.

This opportunity with the Steelers could be viewed as his first real chance to show all he is capable of. He seems like a ideal fit for the Steelers new look offense that is currently being installed by offensive coordinator Matt Canada. I say new look because nobody in the league, and Steelers Nation for that matter, has yet to witness an accurate representation of what Canada's offense will look like. That should at least begin to change after the Steelers spent the entire offseason acquiring players with skill sets that appear to fit his system. Now it's put up or shut up time for Matt Canada in Pittsburgh.

Trubisky's athleticism should mess perfectly with the assortment of play-action and designed rollouts required in Canada's offense. His mobility will be a huge asset to the Steelers young and reconstructed offensive line, giving them much greater room for the inevitable error. Although he will still only be a 28 year old entering his sixth NFL season by the start of the 2022, he will be essentially a graybeard in the Steelers incredibly youthful offense. His experience in the heat of battle could bring valuable leadership qualities, and a calming presence in the huddle. He is well known as a respectable and affable young man.

Trubisky will easily be surrounded by the most talented group of skill position players he has ever had the privilege of leading as a starting quarterback. One could argue an even better group than the one he got to watch perform in Buffalo last season.

Although Trubisky really didn't get any meaningful minutes in his one year hiatus with the Super Bowl contending Buffalo Bills, he did get the invaluable opportunity to see what a well constructed and coached operation looks like, expertly lead by a young franchise QB.

Now he has to out perform the competition, and seize this golden opportunity to show whether or not he is capable of doing the same.

Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation after Minkah Fitzpatrick’s deal

Fri, 06/17/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The new deal freed up some cap space for the 2022 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have filled up their 90-man offseason roster heading into the 2022 NFL season. While there still could be some significant swapping of players, htere is always the chance something else changes things whether large or small. As reports come in of these deals well before they are official, even after pen is put to paper it can sometimes take some time to know the exact financials within the contract. Relying heavily on reliable salary cap websites such as overthecap.com or spotrac.com, when they are able to report a player’s contract numbers over the specific years I then update the salary cap situation with a more precise number.

To the delight of Steelers’ Nation, Minkah Fitzpatrick and the new Steelers front office worked out their deal much earlier than many expected. In doing so, the move saved the Steelers some salary cap space. The exact numbers for Minkah Fitzpatrick when it comes to the 2022 salary cap were reported by ESPN’s field Yates.

Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick received a $17.5M signing bonus as part of his extension, while his 2022 base salary dropped to $4M.

His updated 2022 cap charge: $8,124,235.

In locking up their star, the Steelers also created $2,487,675 in cap space.

— Field Yates (@FieldYates) June 16, 2022

As I stated in an article yesterday, the problem with these numbers is they don’t exactly add up based on all the information given. If adding Fitzpatrick‘s base salary for 2022 to the $3.5 million prorated bonus created by having a $17.5 million signing bonus over five seasons, it only comes to a cap hit of $7.5 million for 2022. Exactly where the other money comes in, which is almost $625k, has not been reported in this time. It could be a number of things, such as Fitzpatrick’s original contract being under the old CBA and they have since added a 17th game. Saying the missing amount is EXACTLY 1/17 of Fitzpatrick’s fifth-year option to the dollar, this is likely the case, but exactly where this money falls as part of the contract is unclear. Unfortunately these specifics have not been reported at this time. But with Yates giving a very specific dollar amount for Fitzpatrick’s salary cap charge this season, I am moving forward with this report as being accurate and will adjust the numbers later if it is found to be incorrect.

Based on this number, Fitzpatrick’s $10.612 million salary cap hit for 2022 will reduce by almost $2.5 million with this new deal. What I found interesting is the amount of Fitzpatrick’s base salary that was not converted into a signing bonus. With an additional $3 million that could have been included, it did not give the Steelers additional cap releif for the season but also did not spread more than needed into the future. If one wants to read between the lines, it could simply mean the Steelers did not feel that they needed the extra cap space for this year.

When a player is signed by the Steelers, one thing that has to be factored in is roster displacement. As a reminder, roster displacement is taking into account only the top 51 contracts for a team count towards the salary cap during the offseason. As a larger contract comes on the books, it bumps a smaller contract out of the top 51. Therefore, it’s only the difference in those contracts that increases the salary cap number. But in the case of Fitzpatrick, it was not an addition to the roster so there is no displacement.

Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space based on their recent moves by my own calculations. The numbers are strictly the salary cap hit for each player in 2022. Players who were released, were given a tender, or had their exact salary reported are indicated below and the precise numbers are known.

(NOTE: Unless indicated, reported salaries displaced a $825k salary.)

Steelers salary cap space heading into free agency: Approximately $28.8 million

Dwayne Haskins: Tendered $2.54 million salary; After displacement++: -$1.715 million
Miles Killebrew: Reported $1.5175 million; After displacement: -$0.6925 million
Arthur Maulet: Reported $1.535 million; After displacement: -$0.71 million
Mitch Trubisky: Reported $3.66 million; After displacement+: -$2.765 million
Mason Cole: Reported $2.556666 million; After displacement+: -$1.661666 million
Chuks Okorafor: Reported $4.333333 million; After displacement: -$3.508333 million
Robert Spillane: Tendered $2.433 million salary; After displacement: -$1.608 million
Marcus Allen: Tendered $2.54 million salary; After displacement: -$1.715 million
James Daniels: Reported $4.166666 million; After displacement: -$3.341666 million
Levi Wallace: Reported $2.5175 million; After displacement*: -$1.672317 million
Montravius Adams: Reported $1.7675 million; After displacement+: -$0.8725 million
Zach Banner: Saved $5 million salary; After displacement: +$4.175 million
Myles Jack: Reported $4.75 million; After displacement*: -$3.90139 million
Joe Schobert: Saved $7.834 million salary; After displacement+: +$6.939 million
Ahkello Witherspoon: Reported $2.5175 million; After displacement+: -$1.6225 million
Gunner Olszewski: Reported $1.5825 million; After displacement+: -$0.6875 million
Genard Avery: Reported $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
Karl Joseph: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
Miles Boykin: Reported $2.54 million; After displacement++: -$0
Terrell Edmunds: Reported $1.1875 million; After displacement+: -$0.2925
Damontae Kazee: Reported $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
George Pickens: Reported $1.22767 million; After displacement+: -$0.33267
Trenton Scott: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
DeMarvin Leal: Reported $0.943072 million; After displacement+: -$0.048072
Bryce Watts: Released with $10k in dead money: -$0.01
Tuzar Skipper: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
Stephon Tuitt: Saved $9.05 million salary; After displacement+: +$8.155 million
Minkah Fitzpatrick: Reported $8.124235 million; Replaced $10.612 million: +$2.487765 million

Estimated salary cap space: Approximately $23.1 million

*The salaries displaced by these two contracts were $845,183 (Tre Norwood) and $848,610 (Pressley Harvin)

+A $895k contract was displaced

++Displaced by each other, giving no change to the cap

So where does this number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites (at the original time of publishing, before any potential updates)?

According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $20,618,968 under the salary cap. OTC does not have the new Fitzpatrick contract yet, but without it we had the exact same dollar amount.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $20,131,112 under the cap. Spotrac has the above contracts except Fitzpatrick, but also has Miles Boykin’s prorated bonus incorrectly counting for the Steelers instead of it sticking with the Ravens. Spotrac does not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap at this time either. Additionally, Spotrac counts the potential dead money hits of players outside the top 51 salaries in their totals.

What about Kenny Pickett?

The only remaining draft pick left to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers is Kenny Pickett. After factoring in displacement, his contract will count approximately $1.99 million towards the salary cap based on the rookie pool estimate chart provided by OTC. Since this contract is not signed yet, it will not be included at this time until the precise dollar amounts are known. Even if taking these amounts into account, the Steelers would still have approximately $21.1 million left in salary cap space.

The Steelers will need as much as an additional $10.8 million come September when they need to account for all 53 players on the roster, sign their practice squad, and have some carryover in order to do business throughout the year as outlined in the following article:

Based on this number, the Steelers could have at least $10 million above what they need for the 2022 season based on previous years. Even though there could be some dead money in contracts with players not making the 53-man roster, it should be offset even more by larger contracts of players who are waived.

But there is one more expense that could add to the $5 million the Steelers like to take into the season (in years past). If the Steelers elevate players from the practice squad, they must receive a full game check. Taking this into account, along with increases in league-minimum salaries, the Steelers may want to carry as much as another $3 million into the season. For this reason, a more conservative estimate of what they have available would be more in the $7 million range.

Does something not make sense? Curious about any of the specifics? Leave your questions in the comments below and I will check in and do my best to answer them.

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