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Updated: 2 hours 28 min ago

2022 BTSC Training Camp Confidential

Tue, 07/26/2022 - 8:30am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the 2022 BTSC Training Camp Confidential!

Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the time has finally come. The day has finally arrived. The day the team is back at training camp. It is the start of a new season, a fresh slate and the opportunity for the fan base to get an up-close-and-personal look at the upcoming team.

On top of all that, the Steelers will report back to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, the first time doing so since the 2019 season. The trip back to the dormitories brings back some normalcy for both the players and the fans who always attend.

What will there be to keep an eye on during camp this season? There will be a lot...

  • New-look offensive line
  • Teryl Austin’s first year as Steelers defensive coordinator
  • Depth at positions like running back and outside linebacker
  • Of course, the quarterback battle

These are just a few of the storylines to keep an eye on during camp, but we here at BTSC also hope you are enjoying the Training Camp Confidential feature we are putting together once again to get you geared up, and geeked up, for the season.

If you miss a story, all the Camp Confidential stories will be housed right here in this stream so you don’t miss a thing. So, what are you waiting for? Go check out some of the content, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of training camp and the start of the preseason.

As training camp opens, the spotlight is bright on the Steelers offensive line

Tue, 07/26/2022 - 8:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of positions to keep an eye on this training camp, but few will be as important as the Steelers’ offensive line.

The Steelers go to training camp this week with some big questions. How will the quarterback competition play out? Will the defense be able to stop the run? Is the team deep enough at corner? No questions are more important to their success in 2022, though, than those concerning the offensive line. The offense will go as the line goes. So, will the group be better this season than last, and if so, by how much?

It’s often said you get what you pay for. If that’s the case, the Steelers have cause for concern. Although they’ve signed two new starters up front, Pittsburgh has spent less money on their line for the 2022 season — a total of $23.7 million — than any team in football. 49ers left tackle Trent Williams will make nearly as much by himself, at $23.01 million.

The good news is it’s a unit bound to be motivated. Each of the likely starters has something to prove. The free agent additions know their previous teams were willing to let them walk. Those who played in Pittsburgh last season are aware of how poorly they performed. A breakout season, both individually and as a group, would be both beneficial and redemptive.

To get there, they will have to come together quickly. Training camp, then, will be huge. The spotlight will shine brightly on a unit whose performance could define Pittsburgh’s season.

Here’s an overview of the expected starting five up front, with some thoughts on their prospects as the Steelers head to camp.

Dan Moore Jr., Left Tackle

6’5-320 pounds, 24 years old (in September), 2nd season, 17 career games, 17 starts.

Moore was a pleasant surprise last season. A 4th Round draft pick from Texas A&M, he was not expected to start as a rookie. But when injuries and inefficient play hampered Pittsburgh’s original plan, Moore was given a shot.

Moore struggled at times and was occasionally outclassed by some of the better pass rushers he faced. He gave up 7.5 sacks on the year, which is fairly high. Only one of those came in the final six games, however, which included matchups against Harold Landry, Myles Garrett and Melvin Ingram. Moore’s run blocking improved as the season progressed, too. In particular, he proved to be tenacious once he locked on to a defender, displaying a penchant for playing hard to the whistle:

One of Moore’s (LT, #65) best traits is he plays hard to the whistle on nearly every snap

Moore needs to get stronger at the point of attack and to blunt bull rushes in pass protection. The former can be accomplished in the weight room, like we saw with tight end Zach Gentry, who went from being a skinny, overmatched rookie to a powerful, sometimes dominant run-blocker by his third season. The latter should be aided by new line coach Pat Meyer, whose protection philosophy stresses striking first and battling at the line of scrimmage rather than retreating and absorbing blows. Moore will have to perfect his technique to not get beaten quickly by crafty pass rushers. But it’s a style that plays to his strength and should aid in his development.

Kevin Dotson, Left Guard

6’4-320 pounds, 26 years old (in September), 3rd season, 22 career games, 13 starts.

There will be a competition at left guard between Dotson and Kendrick Green. The Steelers would prefer Dotson to win it. He is the most physical blocker on the line and displays the nastiest demeanor. At his best, he plays with a low center of gravity and has the power to bury defenders — good ones, too, like Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox (91):

Dotson does not move particularly well but he’s not an oaf, either. The Steelers have had success in the past with guards who weren’t remarkably athletic (Ramon Foster, Chris Kemoeatu). Matt Canada’s offense asks linemen to pull, reach block and climb to the second level. Dotson will be better blocking his gap. But he shouldn’t be a liability when asked to move.

Dotson (69) shows good agility on this pull, deftly redirecting the spiller and driving him out of the play

As a pass protector, Dotson is adequate. Per PFF, he yielded 3 sacks on 354 pass snaps last season, which is respectable. He lunges too much, but again, Meyer’s approach should be a better fit since Dotson’s inclination is to go forward.

Dotson’s issue, and the area where he can most improve, involves his health and (perhaps) conditioning. Dotson was hampered most of last season by an ankle injury he sustained during pre-season and re-aggravated against Detroit. There were also reports that head coach Mike Tomlin was unhappy with Dotson’s conditioning routine the previous off-season, and that it may have landed him in Tomlin’s doghouse. The Steelers need Dotson to put his frustrating 2021 behind him and have the best season of his career in 2022.

Mason Cole, Center

6’5-300 pounds, 26 years old, 5th season, 60 career games, 39 starts.

Most of what Mason Cole does goes unnoticed, which is perfect for an offensive lineman. This is a group who fondly refer to their unofficial fraternity as the “Mushroom Society,” given that they toil in the dirt and out of the spotlight. In that sense, Cole could be their poster child. He is quiet, workmanlike and unspectacular. This might not bring goose bumps to the flesh of Steelers’ fans. But it may be what they need at center.

Cole is just 26 years old, but his 60 games played make him the veteran of the offensive line. He is versatile, having started at both center and guard. He moves fairly well, which makes him a good scheme fit. Cole is particularly adept as a puller, where he displays an ability to get out quickly and square up defenders at the second level. Here, at right guard, he does just that against the Steelers’ Devin Bush (55):

Cole does his best work in pass protection. He operates with a wide base, communicates well with teammates and displays poise under pressure. I particularly like this rep, where Cole (at center) nearly gets run over at the snap by Green Bay’s Kenny Clark. It’s an inauspicious beginning. But the poise he displays in regaining his balance, fighting to get his hands inside and then anchoring in to thwart the rush is remarkable:

Cole fixes the problem he created and in doing so saves the play, as Minnesota winds up with a big gain on an interference call. Not all plays go smoothly, but the ability to adjust is the sign of a professional.

Cole won’t be Pittsburgh’s next Maurkice Pouncey or Dermontti Dawson. But he could follow in the footsteps of another free agent center who's signing back in 2001 worked out pretty well for the Steelers. If Cole can resemble Jeff Hartings, the line will improve greatly.

James Daniels, Right Guard

6’4-330 pounds, 25 years old (in September), 5th season, 54 career games, 48 starts.

Here is what I wrote about Daniels after the Steelers signed him as a free agent in March:

“Daniels is a technician who uses his hands and feet to win position on defenders. He is especially effective on zone schemes, where he tends to stay square and communicate well with his teammates. When he gets to the second level, he is excellent. He has the athleticism to cover up linebackers, and once he does, they rarely escape the block.

Daniels is also solid in pass protection. He does a great job of covering the feet of a defender with his own. This means he mirrors their movements well.

His biggest weakness appears to be handling big, physical defenders at the point of attack. He can struggle to get a push in one-on-one situations and is susceptible to a well-executed bull rush. Stylistically, he’s more David DeCastro than Ramon Foster. If Daniels winds up reminding Steelers fans of DeCastro, they will be thrilled.”

There’s a theme developing here. In discussing Moore, Cole, Daniels and, in a moment, Chuks Okorafor, the Steelers seem to be prioritizing versatile linemen who can move laterally and protect the quarterback. This should tell us a lot about the offense. They will be more of a horizontal attack, looking to create seams in the defense by making them defend the width of the field, than one that tries to displace teams vertically. They will still run the inside zone play, as every offense does, but they will be defined by their use of wide zone, sweep, boot, play-action, perimeter screens, and RPOs.

Daniels is a great fit for that style. And, with 48 starts under his belt before his 25th birthday, he has enough experience to become a leader up front. I expect Daniels to become Pittsburgh’s best offensive lineman and one of their smartest free agent signings in years.

Chuks Okorafor, Right Tackle

6’6-320 pounds, 25 years old (in August), 5th season, 46 career games, 35 starts.

The Steelers know what they have in Okorafor. Just as importantly, they know what they don’t have. They didn’t sign him to a 3-year, $29.25 million extension with the expectation they would transform him into a mauler. The extension was more about how the offense will change post-Ben Roethlisberger, and Okorafor’s fit in that scheme.

Okorafor can protect the quarterback. He can block the perimeter on pin-and-pull sweeps and receiver screens. He can use his long arms in the run game to handle smaller edge players, like we see here:

What he hasn’t been able to do is gap block. If Canada wants to run Power at Okorafor, he might as well punch himself in the face. When Okorafor blocks down, his feet are a mess, his hands get sloppy, and his weight is too far forward. Hopefully, with better instruction from Pat Meyer, this will improve. No matter how eager Canada is to attack the perimeter, the Steelers will need to run between the tackles to keep defenses honest.

Okorafor (right tackle, #76) lunges on this gap block, causing him to whiff on the linebacker

Expect Okorafor to be critiqued harshly because of the contract he signed. Maybe it was more than the Steelers should have paid. For what was available, however, and for how the Steelers intend to structure their base offense, resigning him made sense. Hopefully, he rewards their faith with a breakout season.

Depth

Green should be the swing player on the interior, giving the Steelers a valuable depth piece. He struggled as a starting center last year, but as a backup who can play both center and guard, he’s important.

Joe Haeg returns as a backup tackle who can play guard in a pinch. They also signed Trent Scott, a veteran who has played in 53 games over his career with 19 starts. His signing in May went largely unnoticed but could sure up the Steelers’ lack of depth at tackle.

Green, Haeg and Scott give Pittsburgh three backups with starting experience who could be effective in limited roles. The Steelers have a deeper bench than they did a year ago.

Outlook

At tackle, Moore in Year 2 will be better than Moore in Year 1, while Okorafor should improve in an offense better suited to his strengths. Inside, Dotson and Daniels will be better than Trai Turner and last season’s Pupu Platter at left guard. Ditto for Cole at center over Green.

The coach should be better, too. Meyer is a veteran who seems like a great fit for a unit that needs instruction more than motivation. His guys don’t need to be pep talked into running through a wall. They need to master combo blocks and pick up twist stunts. They need to rep their timing on the outside zone play. They need to familiarize themselves with a moving pocket after protecting the statuesque Roethlisberger last season. Meyer should be able to help.

The challenge now is to do it. The line doesn’t have long to gel, and an early slate of tough defenses — Cincinnati, New England, Buffalo and Tampa Bay among their first six games — means they will need to do so quickly. They will almost certainly be better than the 2021 unit. How much better is the question that may define the season.

The spotlight will be bright. It’s showtime for the men up front in Pittsburgh.

It really is all about the quarterback for the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers

Tue, 07/26/2022 - 7:00am
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As the Steelers begin training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, they do so without Ben Roethlisberger for the first time since 2003. And that’s why the Steelers 2022 season is all about the quarterback.

“QUARTERBACK!”

That word became a mocking refrain for certain radio hosts and fans all throughout the early portions of the Steelers' 2022 offseason. But there was a reason for that word being thrown around a lot and that subject dominating the headlines and the debates: Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement in January after 18 glorious seasons filled with championship success, awesome memories—the whole 64,088 yards.

It became quite apparent early on that Pittsburgh’s brain trust, consisting of owner Art Rooney II, general manager Kevin Colbert, and head coach Mike Tomlin, was determined to find the team’s next quarterback and do so as quickly as possible. This helped fuel the vocal minority who wanted the Steelers to bring in someone like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, or even Deshaun Watson. After that didn’t happen, and even after the Steelers signed veteran Mitch Trubisky at the onset of free agency in March, the weeks of news coverage prior to the 2022 NFL Draft were fascinating, redundant and downright stressful.

Would the Steelers, who seemingly looked under every quarterback rock from Pittsburgh to Liberty University, use their first-round selection to take someone from a class that was considered to be underwhelming at best?

Yes, and his name was Kenny Pickett, the pride and joy of the University of Pittsburgh, a football program he helped rescue from the past thanks to a glorious ACC Championship Game victory in 2021.

As the Steelers begin their first training camp without Roethlisberger since the summer of 2003, they do so with a full war chest of quarterback contenders: They invested in a veteran in free agency; they invested in a high-pedigreed rookie in the draft; they even still employ Mason Rudolph, a 2018 third-round pick who, as hard it is to believe, may have a more realistic chance of winning the starting job in 2022 than he actually did during Roethlisberger’s less-than-stellar final few seasons in town.

Yes, this 2022 Steelers preview article has been dominated by quarterback talk up til now, but, again, there’s a reason for that.

It’s like what Terry Bradshaw once said: “You may lose with me, but you’ll never win without me.”

People love to talk about the twenty-year period between Bradshaw and Roethlisberger as if it were the Great Depression and Steelers fans were standing in lines desperately hoping for crumbs of memories. However, while the first half-decade or so after Bradshaw retired was mediocre-to-worse, the 1990s and early-2000s were mostly awesome under new head coach, Bill Cowher; the Steelers went from has-beens under Chuck Noll, to contenders again with Cowher, the hometown boy, stalking the sidelines at old Three Rivers Stadium and new Heinz Field.

There was only one thing missing from those contending teams that made the playoffs eight times, the AFC Championship Game four times and the Super Bowl one time between 1992-2003: A quarterback who could put the franchise over the top.

The Steelers finally found that man in Roethlisberger, the final piece to a Super Bowl puzzle that had been so frustrating to complete.

Roethlisberger even kept the Steelers, a team that was a far cry from its 2000s Super Bowl days, from sinking into a familiar post-championship abyss in the 2010s—something Bradshaw may have been able to prevent in the mid-to-late-’80s, despite Pittsburgh’s mostly mediocre roster, had he not retired at the age of 35. Heck, this is something that Pitt’s Dan Marino may have been able to do had the Steelers been smart enough to select him in the 1983 NFL Draft.

Again, “You may lose with me, but you’ll never win without me.”

We can talk about the youth of the Steelers as they prepare for the 2022 regular season. We can talk about running back Najee Harris and the offensive line. We can talk about a defense that has the potential to be good-to-dominant.

We can talk about T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

We can even talk about Tomlin and his legacy.

But Tomlin’s legacy, as well as the legacies of Watt, Heyward, Fitzpatrick, etc., will be shaped in part by how quickly the Steelers can find their next great quarterback.

If it’s as soon as 2022, that guy just might be able to lift up the Steelers boat and allow it to compete in choppy AFC waters that will include Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and the aforementioned Wilson and Watson.

Speaking of Noll and Cowher, this may actually be the most important transition period for the Steelers since 1992; only, instead of a head coach, they’re trying to replace a legendary quarterback.

Yes, it might be cliched to say it’s all about the quarterback for the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers, but isn’t it, though?

The Steelers may lose with a great quarterback, but they’ll never win without one.

The 2022 State of BTSC Address

Tue, 07/26/2022 - 6:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp TODAY, and it’s time to address the BTSC faithful before things kickoff.

Well, well, well...fancy meeting you here.

If you are a regular here at BTSC and you virtually walk into the comment section like Norm on the legendary show Cheers, then welcome back! However, if you are new to these parts, let me introduce myself and many others who call this fine establishment home.

My name is Jeff Hartman, and I am the Senior Editor here at BTSC. I’ve been the main in charge of this shin-dig since the 2015 NFL Draft when the Steelers selected some pass rusher out of Kentucky named Alvin “Bud” Dupree. Outside of two months since then, this site, in all its many facets, has been a large part of my life. You’ll see my name plenty under articles, mainly news articles and highlighting what other sites are saying about the Steelers. On top of that, I also do several podcasts a week, but when it comes to the one I love the most, it is by far my Let’s Ride podcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. More on that later...but I can’t run this site by myself, I need help. Here are some other names you should know.

Dave Schofield — Editor

Dave has been with the site for several seasons now, and is my No. 2 at BTSC. You’ll see his name almost as much, if not more, than mine throughout the year. On top of writing, Dave also podcasts a lot and hosts his own Steelers Stat Geek podcast every Thursday morning. Let me put it this way, I couldn’t do this without Dave always being there to lend a helping hand.

Bryan Davis — Podcast Producer

Believe it or not, Bryan has been with the site almost as long as I have, but his role has changed a lot throughout the years. He started out strictly as a writer, then writer/podcaster, now writer/podcaster/podcast producer. Bryan’s work on the podcast side helps me focus more on the global product of BTSC, and his work is beyond valued.

The three of us, myself, Dave and Bryan, make up the brain trust of BTSC, but we also have a ton of help in every facet. Below is our own “roster” and the roles they have at the site. Take a look:

Tony Defeo — Writer/Podcaster — Longest tenured BTSC member, and expert in satire.
Kevin Smith (aka CHISAP) — Writer/Podcaster/Film Room — He’s forgotten more about football than I’ll ever know.
Geoffrey Benedict — Writer/Podcaster/Film Room — He and Kevin make an unbelievable duo for those who love the X’s and O’s, and are what makes BTSC great.
Shannon White — Writer/Podcaster — Another long-time BTSC member who turned from a reader to a content producer. Shannon does great work, and is a large voice in the community.
Andrew Wilbar — Writer/Podcaster — Our local NFL Draft guru. He’s young, but he knows his stuff...just don’t bring up Malik Willis around him.
Jeremy Betz — Writer/Podcaster — One of our newest additions to the team has improved by leaps and bounds since coming on board. Great addition to draft coverage, as well as fantasy football.
Bradley Locker — Writer — Another young member of the BTSC staff, but keep your eye on this kid in the future, he’ll be moving onward and upward before you know it.

We have some writers who do volunteer work here and there, but for the vast majority of our content, the roster you see above is where that content will come from. As for podcasts, we do have some voices which won’t show up on the masthead of BTSC, but are contributors. Here is our weekly lineup, and who hosts the shows:

Monday: Let’s Ride, Jeff Hartman / BAD Language, Bryan Davis / Steelers Hangover, Bryan Davis, Shannon White, Tony Defeo

Tuesday: From the Cutting Room Floor, Geoffrey Benedict / The Steelers Fix, Jeremy Betz, Andrew Wilbar / Scho Bro Show: Rich and Dave Schofield

Wednesday: Let’s Ride, Jeff Hartman / War Room, Matty Peverell / The Curtain Call, Geoffrey Benedict, Shannon White

Thursday: Steelers Stat Geek, Dave Schofield / What Yinz Talkin’ About, Kyle Chris, Greg Benevent / Steelers Preview, Jeff Hartman, Bryan Davis, Dave Schofield

Friday: Let’s Ride, Jeff Hartman / Here We Go, the Steelers Show, Bryan Davis, Kevin Smith / Six Pack with Tony, Tony Defeo

Saturday: Steelers Touchdown Under, Matty Peverell and Mark Davison / State of the Steelers, Daniel J

Sunday: We Run the North, Kevin Tate

As the season progresses, some of these days/times will change and new shows, like the post-game show, will be added.

I can’s stress enough how proud I am of everyone who contributes to BTSC in any way. It is all of their hard work which makes this thing tick. On top of that, I want to thank you, the reader, for being here for the vast majority of the year, if not the entire year.

We have some big things in store for you this season, so I hope you are as ready as ever for the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers season to kick off.

Here. We. Go.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Tue, 07/26/2022 - 4:30am

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 now 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:

BAD Language: There’s 4 sides to every hypocycloid

Everybody has a different opinion of how the Steelers organization should be run. There’s the players, the organization, the fans and the media. With that being said, there are four sides to every hypocycloid. Again, everybody’s got an opinion. Some subscribe to conventional wisdom. others are ill-informed, while some are unorthodox and way out there. So, BTSC podcast producer Bryan Anthony Davis decided to make no apologies and share his black-and-gold brand of enlightenment. Join BAD preaching his own gospel of the hypocycloids on the new show, BAD Language.

  • News and Notes
  • Perspective on Steelers decision-making
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Hangover: Just like Christmas Eve

The Steelers report to training camp tomorrow. BTSC feels the excitement. Who should win the prestigious Redman Award and what are the most likely storylines coming out of camp? Join Bryan Anthony Davis, Tony Defeo and Shannon White with discussion of this and more on the Steelers Hangover.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The night before training camp
  • and MUCH MORE!
From the Steelers’ Cutting Room Floor: Do any of the Steelers quarterbacks have the “it” factor?

You know it when you see it. Terry Bradshaw had it, Ben Roethlisberger had it. Others kind-of had it. But do any of the Steelers current quarterbacks have the “it” factor? Geoffrey Benedict examines this and more on the latest episode of BTSC’s “From the Cutting Room Floor”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The QB “it” factor
  • and MUCH MORE!

Geoffrey walks you through everything you need to know regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Steelers reportedly set to release running back Trey Edmunds

Mon, 07/25/2022 - 3:01pm
Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images

In four seasons in Pittsburgh, Edmunds has primarily held down a spot on the Steelers practice squad.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers are set to begin training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe this week, players will be reporting on Tuesday. Despite having a full 90-man roster, it is being reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter the Steelers are releasing running back Trey Edmunds.

Steelers are releasing RB/FB Trey Edmunds today, per source.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 25, 2022

Signed this offseason to a veteran salary benefit contract were Edmunds was set to make $1.035 million while only counting $895k against the salary cap, his salary did not land in the top 51 for the Steelers at this time so there is no benefit financially from Edmunds release. For this reason, unless there’s an extenuating circumstance with Edmunds’ availability moving forward, this is likely a move for the Steelers to add another player to the roster.

Undrafted in 2017, Trey Edmunds appeared in 16 games with the New Orleans Saints his rookie year were he had nine rushers for 48 yards and a touchdown. Spending training camp with the Saints again in 2018, Edmunds did not make the roster and instead signed with the Steelers practice squad. Spending the last four years with the Steelers along with his brother Terrell, Edmunds was utilized for multiple games each season with the most being 11 games in 2019. In all, Edmunds played in 21 games for the Steelers where he had his only touches in 2019 with 22 rushes for 92 yards as well as six receptions for 48 yards. Edmunds also had an interception on special teams in 2019 during a fake punt.

In 2021, Edmunds was called up from the practice squad on two occasions in both Week 16 and Week 17. In both games, Edmunds only appeared on special teams.

Exactly what the Steelers have in mind for their final roster spot remains to be seen. Chances are, the Steelers will be attempting to add another player before their first practice begins on Wednesday.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for 2022 training camp at St. Vincent College.

Going For Two: Ahkello Witherspoon & Chris Wormley

Mon, 07/25/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s Day 45 of Going For Two, featuring Ahkello Witherspoon and Chris Wormley

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 final two players:

Ahkello Witherspoon Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Position: Cornerback
Age: 27
Year: 6
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 195
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 166, 2017 (San Francisco 49ers)
College: Colorado
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

Oh, how Steelers’ fans opinions changed with Ahkello Witherspoon by the end of the season. At the midway point, some had already deemed him the biggest mistake of Kevin Colbert’s time as general manager with the Steelers. By the end of the season, after Witherspoon led the Steelers in interceptions, he was a player those same fans claimed the Steelers could not afford to lose moving forward. For this reason, Witherspoon is a lock to make the roster. The biggest question with Witherspoon will be can he be on the field for all the defensive snaps or if he will only be used in certain packages. If his tackling and support in run defense can improve in 2022, Witherspoon could be a player who doesn’t leave the field on defense.

Chris Wormley Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Position: Defensive Tackle
Age: 28
Year: 6
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 300
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 74, 2017 (Baltimore Ravens)
College: Michigan
Roster Outlook: Highly likely lock
Analysis:

I used a very unusual roster outlook for Chris Wormley. In essence, he is a roster lock. The only situation where I believe he would not be with the Steelers is he is the most tradable player on the Steelers defensive line where there are many more bodies than there are roster spots. With Wormley only costing a new team $2.3 million and only costing the Steelers $600k in dead money, Wormley is only 28 and the most intriguing player for other franchises at the position based on age, experience, and salary. But it is more than likely that the Steelers don’t move a defensive lineman as the return would have to be right. Thrust into a starting position last year due to injuries, Wormley is much better suited to be a rotational piece used in specific situations rather than having to be the main player on the line. It will be interesting to see how much Wormley has to be utilized in 2022 and if his contributions will be more even with less playing time.

Thank you for checking in 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.

What is the best position group for the 2022 Steelers?

Mon, 07/25/2022 - 12:45pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers have plenty of talented position groups, but which one is the best?

The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers have plenty of talent on their roster. Sure, there are position groups which are better than others, but it begs the question — which position group is best?

When you look at the current roster, there are several position groups which could be considered “the best”. Recently, the talking heads at ESPN put together the best position group for all 32 NFL teams, and it should come as a shock to no one what aspect of the team they picked for the black and gold.

Before getting to the position group they selected, here is a little background on how they made their decision:

It’s important to note that we set a rule for ourselves not to consider the quarterback position. You don’t need us to tell you that Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are the best and most important players on their respective teams. We chose to dig a little deeper.

So, what position did they pick? You guessed it, the pass rush.

Here is what they had to say about the best position group:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pass rush

It’s a bit of a cheat, since the pass rush in Pittsburgh incorporates both edge-rusher linebackers like T.J. Watt and down linemen like Cameron Heyward. We list the pass rush here for the Steelers largely thanks to the brilliance of those two players. Watt and Heyward combined for 31.5 sacks, 21 hits and 61 hurries in 2021.

The Steelers have been forever defined by getting after the passer, and lately they have done it as well as at any point in their proud history. Last season, they led the NFL in sacks for the fifth straight year, and they have been first or second in adjusted sack rate each season in that span.

Pittsburgh’s defense was hardly dominant otherwise, finishing 27th in DVOA against the run, for example. It’s likely that the pass rush will again be the key element to defensive success in 2022.

When you think about other positions which could have been labeled the best, here are a few which could have been considered:

  • Tight End
  • Wide Receiver
  • Starting RB
  • Outside Linebackers

What do you think? What would you consider to be the Steelers’ best position group? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for training camp to start tomorrow, Tuesday, at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

Updating the Steelers’ 2022 offensive depth chart going into training camp

Mon, 07/25/2022 - 11:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As the Steelers head to Latrobe, where do they stand at each position on defense?

As the Pittsburgh Steelers have been active since March in filling out their 90-man roster ahead of the 2022 NFL season. Looking specifically at the offensive side of the ball, the Steelers have retained several of their free agents and added new players into the mix both in the draft, free agency, and undrafted rookie free agents.

With training camp beginning and the first practice on Wednesday, let’s look at the Steelers offensive depth chart by position. For now, we will look at all players on the defensive side of the ball on Steelers’ roster according to Steelers.com.

QB
Mitch Trubisky
Mason Rudolph
Kenny Pickett
Chris Oladokun

RB
Najee Harris
Benny Snell Jr.
Anthony McFarland
Trey Edmunds
Mataeo Durant
Jaylen Warren

FB
Derek Watt

WR
Diontae Johnson
Chase Claypool
Geroge Pickens
Calvin Austin III
Miles Boylin
Cody White
Gunner Olszewski
Anthony Miller
Steven Sims
Tyler Vaughns
Tyler Snead

TE
Pat Freiermuth
Zach Gentry
Kevin Rader
Connor Heyward
Jace Sternberger

OT
Chukwuma Okorafor
Dan Moore Jr.
Joe Haeg
Trent Scott
Chaz Green
Jordan Tucker
Jake Dixon

C/G
James Daniels
Kevin Dotson
Mason Cole
Kendrick Green
J.C. Hassenauer
John Leglue
Nate Gilliam
Chris Owens

When it comes to the offensive line, since all of the centers are also capable at guard, I simply combined the two groups into one.

Much like defense, the Steelers have proper numbers at each position group going into training camp. While the Steelers seem to be satisfied with the names in each group, fans may have differing opinions when it comes to that for each position.

So what position group stands out as having more players than necessary? Which ones do you think the Steelers still may have the most concerns? Give your thoughts in the comments below.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers defense will allow less than 20 points per game in 2022

Mon, 07/25/2022 - 10:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In the “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at St. Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Steelers defense will allow less than 20 points per game in 2022.

Why it will happen: Last season the Steelers defense game up 23.4 points per game. A pretty decent total considering they were the worst run defense in the league last season. When I think about what the 2022 defense could, and most would say should, look like, it would be a better version.

Knowing for sure Stephon Tuitt won’t be returning, and the addition of Larry Ogunjobi, the run defense should be better prepared to improve from that 32nd ranking. By being better against the run, even if they were to jump to just middle-of-the-road, would help them limit opponents point totals.

Lastly, considering it would just be 3.4 points off their 2021 average, making those improvements aren’t out of the realm of possibility.

Why it won’t happen: On paper, the Steelers’ defense has improved, but there are still a lot of question marks which could hinder their overall production:

  • Is Ogunjobi’s Lisfranc injury totally healed?
  • How does Demarvin Leal fit into the scheme?
  • Will Tyson Alualu be able to continue a high level of play after his injury and age?
  • What will the difference be between Keith Butler’s defense and Teryl Austin?

You get the picture...

But it does make you pause when considering giving this unit some lofty expectations for 2022. If the Steelers want to keep opponents off 20 points, they need to be vastly better at stopping the run. That’s something I have to see to believe, so I can see why fans aren’t about to suggest the Steelers will make a huge improvement this year.

Prediction: The 20 point plateau is a tough one to reach. Last season only four teams averaged less than 20 points per game. They were:

While eliminating just 3.4 points from the average isn’t a huge deal, it isn’t necessarily an easy feat either. There are too many question marks on this defense both with starters and depth, so I’m going to say I don’t think the defense is capable of getting this job done in 2022. However, if you want a number prediction, I can see them improving their average, but being slightly over 20 points. I’ll go with 21.3 points per game surrendered in 2022, and that is still an improvement.

Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

Updating the Steelers’ 2022 defensive depth chart going into training camp

Mon, 07/25/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

As the Steelers head to Latrobe, where do they stand at each position on defense?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been active since March in filling out their 90-man roster ahead of the 2022 NFL season. Looking specifically at the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers have retained several of their free agents and added new players into the mix both in the draft, free agency, and undrafted rookie free agents.

With training camp beginning and the first practice on Wednesday, let’s look at the Steelers defensive depth chart by position. For now, we will look at all players on the defensive side of the ball on Steelers’ roster according to Steelers.com.

Defensive Line
Cameron Heyward
Chris Wormley
Tyson Alualu
Larry Ogunjobi
Montravius Adams
Isaiahh Loudermilk
DeMarvin Lael
Henry Mondeaux
Carlos Davis
Khalil Davis
Daniel Archibong*
Donovan Jeter
Doug Costin

*Was placed on the Reserve/Retired list on an NFL transaction report but still remains on the roster on Steelers.com, which put the Steelers at 91 players.

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

ILB
Devin Bush
Myles Jack
Robert Spillane
Ulysees Gilbert III
Marcus Allen
Buddy Johnson
Mark Robinson

CB
Cam Sutton
Levi Wallace
Ahkello Witherspoon
Arthur Maulet
Justin Layne
James Pierre
Linden Stephens
Chris Steele
Carlins Platel

Safety
Minkah Fitzpatrick
Terrell Edmunds
Damontae Kazee
Tre Norwood
Miles Killebrew
Karl Joseph
Donavan Steiner

Despite only drafting two players on defense in the 2022 NFL draft, the Steelers have filled out their position groups quite nicely when it comes strictly to the numbers. Whether or not the players they have at each position is the quality needed for success remains to be seen and up for debate as training camp rolls on. Between signing both outside free agents or retaining their own players, the two draft picks, undrafted rookie free agent signings, and some more recent swaps on the defensive line, the Steelers have the adequate numbers.

So what position group stands out as having more players than necessary? Which ones do you think the Steelers still may have the most concerns? Give your thoughts in the comments below.

Power Rankings: ESPN predicts the Steelers to remain middle-of-the-road

Mon, 07/25/2022 - 7:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The latest ESPN Power Rankings look at each team’s long-term future, and they see the Steelers as a middle-of-the-road team.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are reporting to training camp Tuesday at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, the first time doing so since 2019. It is typically around this time when fans of every NFL team want to know where their team stands in the upcoming season. This is one of the reasons why rankings are so popular before camp begins.

But what about the future? What about after this year? What about those rankings? Well, leave it to ESPN to provide those future power rankings for all the fans out there. But before diving head-first into where everyone ranks, let’s take a look at how ESPN formulated these rankings:

To project which NFL franchises are in the best shape for the next three seasons (2022 through 2024), we asked our panel of experts — Jeremy Fowler, Louis Riddick, Seth Walder and Field Yates — to rate each team’s quarterback situation, remaining (non-QB) roster, drafting ability, front office and coaching using this scale:

100: A+ (Elite)

90: A (Great)

80: B (Very good)

70: C (Average)

60: D (Very bad)

50 and below: F (Disastrous)

After averaging the results from the panelists, each of the five categories was weighted to create the overall score: roster (30%), quarterback (20%), draft (15%), front office (15%) and coaching (20%). The result is a comprehensive ranking based on how well each team is positioned for the future. Our experts dove in on additional analysis for all 32 teams, hitting on biggest worries, stats to know and what could change in upcoming years, along with why each team landed where it did on the ranking.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the rankings and where the Steelers fell in these future power rankings:

The Top 10

1. Buffalo Bills
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Green Bay Packers
3. Los Angeles Rams
5. Los Angeles Chargers
6. Cincinnati Bengals
7. Baltimore Ravens
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Indianapolis Colts
10. Cleveland Browns
10. San Francisco 49ers
...
14. Pittsburgh Steelers
Score: 80.8

Why they’re here: When you have Mike Tomlin as your head coach, you are always going to receive the benefit of the doubt. The Steelers steer one of the steadiest ships, and Tomlin’s leadership is among the most critical aspects of the operation. Two notable retirements took place this offseason for Pittsburgh that will impact how this team fares going forward: long-time standout GM Kevin Colbert and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Be it Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett, the transition at quarterback will decide just how far this team can go in the next three seasons. — Yates

Biggest worry: It’s all about offensive coordinator Matt Canada and his ability to design, teach, develop, refine and evolve his offensive system and take advantage of the skills of his new QB room. Too often in 2021 it appeared as though he didn’t maximize what he was working with from a personnel perspective. The Steelers need to get that corrected going forward. — Riddick

What could change for the better: This offensive line still needs work. The Steelers addressed it this offseason by signing free agents James Daniels and Mason Cole. But the Big Ben-led Steelers were last great with high draft picks David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert protecting Roethlisberger. Most of the Steelers’ highest earners are on defense, so they are due to spend more on the other side. — Fowler

Stat to know: The Steelers had the fastest time to throw (2.40 seconds) and second-shortest air yards per target (6.6) in 2021. While they lost a future Hall of Famer in Roethlisberger, a new quarterback won’t restrict the offense to an ultra-quick, ultra-short passing game. — Walder

So, do you believe the Steelers are nothing more than a middle-of-the-road team in the future? Or do you feel ESPN got their ranking spot on? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes as they prepare for the start of training camp Tuesday.

T.J. Watt likely isn’t seeking validation or respect from a video game

Mon, 07/25/2022 - 6:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

T.J. Watt doesn’t need a video game to gain any sort of validation or respect.

I wish I were just scraping the bottom of the offseason barrel to find something to write about on the eve of the Steelers reporting to training camp. I wish I were creating one of those strawman arguments that are so popular on social media.

I wish I were good at Madden, a popular video game.

Actually, I don’t wish I was good at Madden, a football video game that my friends, nephews, cousins and friends’ kids have been kicking my butt at for years—I maxed out at Tecmo Bowl, sadly.

However, if I do decide to play the 2022 version of Madden, you damn well better believe I won’t be using Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt in any capacity. Why? He sucks, or at least he won’t give me as good of a chance at getting after the quarterback as the Browns’ Myles Garrett. You see, Watt was rated a 96, while Garrett received a 99. What does this all mean? I do not know, but I’m proud to say that I never bothered to research any of this recent “controversy” before sitting down to write this piece.

The reason I didn’t bother to research what the Madden rating—and slight—means for Watt is because, much like unicorns, Madden is fictional. I mean, if sports is the toy department of the newsroom, what does that make fictional sports?

Unlike slip screens and Cover 3, I can proudly sit here and tell the fans that they are foolish for getting all up in arms over Watt’s inferior Madden rating compared to Garrett’s, and there’s nothing you can call me out for.

Speaking of those mad at Watt's Madden rating, I believe these are the same people who create GoFundMe pages to pay player fines or start petitions to save stadium names.

Are you really that worried about Watt’s validation and respect at that point?

The man just won the most prestigious award any NFL defensive player could receive—besides the NFL MVP Award, of course.

Not long before that, Watt’s employers, the Steelers, decided to guarantee him $80 million.

How much validation and respect does one man need? Watt now gets to go to the same parties as Mean Joe Greene, Mel Blount, Rod Woodson and James Harrison (yes, I know I left out the names of some other Steelers who won the Defensive Player of the Year Award, but I want you to be offended on their behalf).

Also, Watt now has more money than he’ll ever be able to spend. His great great great granddaughter won’t ever wake one morning a century from now and say, “Man, the light bill is due. I hope I can swing it.”

I realize this is a hard concept to wrap your head around, but some battles are worth fighting, while some are not. Just be glad the Steelers have a Watt going to battle on their behalf every week. Just be happy other teams have to stay up all hours of the night to prepare for his seemingly unstoppable pass-rush.

Speaking of the people who vow to pay a player’s fine, they’re probably the same folks who say things like, “Just keep disrespecting T.J. Going to fire him up for the season.” If that man is paying attention to the outside noise of Madden ratings, he’s probably in trouble.

Finally, if Watt’s rating bothers you so much, just use Garrett whenever you’re playing a serious game of Madden.

I know what you’re going to say, and here is my rebuttal: Yeah, because that’s what’s crazy.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Mon, 07/25/2022 - 4:30am

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 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 and written, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

We Run the North: Favorite All-Time plays from each franchise In the division

Join BTSC’s Kevin Tate for the latest AFC North news on his signature show, We Run The North. This week, Tate and Co. look at the Top 5 players on each AFCN roster and the guys list their favorite all-time plays from each franchise in the division.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Note
  • AFC North Updates
  • The Best Plays in North History
  • Special Guests: B-Dirt, Pay, C.B. Butler and THE Gr8 Mike T8
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!
The Steelers Sunday Night Q&A: What to expect when you don’t know what to expect

It’s another offseason Sunday in 2022 with no NFL football and no games scheduled. However, the Steelers drafting is complete. so is their minicamp for rookies, voluntary OTAs and mandatory minicamp. BTSC is continuing a question-and-answer free-for-all from you the loyal fans. This time, join BTSC’s Dave Schofield and K.T. Smith as they team up to take questions from the live chat for some good Steelers discussion.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!
Let’s Ride: It’s time for Big Ben to fade into the background

Ben Roethlisberger continues to make his presence felt, even in retirement. Maybe it’s time that should stop. Jeff Hartman, Senior Editor at BTSC, talks about this, as well as the coaches and special teams in preparation of training camp, on the latest episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The lingering of Ben Roethlisberger
  • 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

Have a BAD Week: A look back at the Steelers week from a black-and-gold mind

Sun, 07/24/2022 - 3:30pm
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

BTSC’s random-thought renegade is back with his bizarre look at the Steelers week that was.

The Steelers’ season ended over seven months ago, but there’s plenty of news coming out of the Steel City. BTSC continues their recap of the past week’s events for our readers. So, let’s all take a look at the week in the ‘burgh together.

Monday 7/18

The first of two massive Heinz ketchup bottles framing the scoreboard is down at the newly-renamed Acrisure Stadium.@TribLIVE pic.twitter.com/0k4uBcO9V7

— Julia Felton (@JuliaFelton16) July 18, 2022

This is like a statue of a great warrior coming down, but rumor has it that they were deteriorating greatly. I’m still depressed though.

Tuesday 7/19

We have signed DT Doug Costin to a one-year contract. @BordasLaw https://t.co/H4iUg8TxHp

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 19, 2022

After trying out USFL standouts on the defensive line in the form of Doug Costin, Freedom Akinmoladun, Domenique Davis, Dondrea Tillman and Willie Yarbary, the Steelers bring in Costin.

Wednesday 7/20

Former Steelers first-round draft pick Charles Johnson dead at 50.https://t.co/ezEpBovKNM pic.twitter.com/5w1emePs5p

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 20, 2022

I was so excited when Johnson was drafted first by the Steelers in 1994 and he had a decent career here actually. I would have loved to have seen a healthy CJ81 in Super Bowl XXX instead of on IR. Oh, what might have been. 50 is way too young and we at BTSC feel this loss greatly. Rest In Peace Charles Johnson.

Thursday 7/21

Wait, what? https://t.co/EXRsSFz50m

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 21, 2022

See, it’s not all going away. But, again, blame Heinz not Acrisure and the Steelers.

Friday 7/22

Ben Roethlisberger: Kevin Colbert wanted to move on, Mr. Rooney brought me back last year. https://t.co/qO2mGHTksJ

— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 22, 2022

Sports is a business and the entire organization comes before an individual, even if he is a future Hall of Famer. Ben would have returned this season if asked back, but....

This was the significant week that was for the Steelers, mixed-in with my black-and-gold loving life. I’m sure next week will be full of Steelers happenings as well, so we’ll have to do this again. Have a great week, but better yet have a BAD one.

Going For Two: T.J. Watt & Cody White

Sun, 07/24/2022 - 2:00pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It’s Day 44 of Going For Two, featuring T.J. Watt and Cody White

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:

T.J. Watt Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Position: Linebacker
Age: 27
Year: 6
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 252
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 30, 2017
College: Wisconsin
Roster Outlook: Lock it and swallow the key
Analysis:

Whether it be roster spot, starting position, or dominant force on the defense, T.J. Watt has them all locked in. Questions such as team MVP, NFL Defensive Player of the Year, or other NFL record holder are the bigger points when it comes to Watt for the 2022 season. Despite the greatness Watt is known for by Steelers fans, seeing the anti-Steelers bias from other places is actually more helpful to throw fuel on the fire of what is the explosive Trent Jordan Watt.

Cody White Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Wide Receiver
Age: 23
Year: 3
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 215
Drafted: UDFA 2020 (Kansas City Cheifs)
College: Michigan State
Roster Outlook: Bubble
Analysis:

Although he spent the majority of the 2021 season on the Steelers 53-man roster, Cody White is sometimes the forgotten player in the mix at wide receiver. With the designation as a bubble player being extremely accurate as someone who lands on the practice squad and ends up on the roster, which side of things Cody White falls this year still seems up in the air. Even though his father was hired in the Steelers scouting department, Cody White, known as the GOAT to some of his teammates, needs to continue to show his value to the Steelers receiving corps moving forward if he wants to land on the 53-man roster again this season.

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.

The More You Know: Random facts about your Steelers, Gone Campin’ edition

Sun, 07/24/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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

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

Kate Rooney Mara and Patricia Rooney Mara are accomplished actresses that just happen to have two favorite NFL teams. That’s quite okay when your paternal great-grandfather, Timothy Mara, was the founder of the New York Giants and your great-grandfather on your mother’s side is “The Chief”, Arthur J. Rooney. That means that Kate and Rooney’s uncles are John K. Mara. the president, CEO, and co-owner of the New York Giants and Art Rooney II, well you know what he does. Patricia, who goes by her middle name of Rooney, and Kate grew up going to football games every Sunday and are still huge football fans of both the Steelers and Giants. Kate told Time Magazine that she was filming and missed the Steelers playing in Super Bowl XL. She now has a stipulation put into all of her contracts that she does not have to work if the Giants or Steelers go to the Super Bowl. With both Rooney and Mara in both of their names, it would be hard to miss those big games.

BTSC Steelers Jeopardy

(Answer at bottom of article)

Steel Facts

The Steelers are returning to their summer home in Latrobe, PA after a two-year Covid-19 hiatus. It really seems like St. Vincent College has been the black-and-gold summer home of the franchise forever, but the Steelers bounced around with many training camp sites until they settled in on the St. Vincent campus with practices in 1966 and full-time in 1967. Where all have the spent the dog days? Let’s take a look.

1933 (1) Newell’s Grove - Greensburg, PA

1934 (1) Mount Pleasant High School - Mount Pleasant, PA

1935-1937 (3) South Park High School - South Park Township, PA

1938-1940 (3) St. Francis College - Loretto, PA

1941-1942, 1945-1946 (4) Hershey, PA

1943 (1) Philadelphia, PA (Phil-Pitt Combine “Steagles”)

1944 (1) Waukesha, WI (Card-Pit)

1947-1951 (5) Alliance College - Cambridge Springs, PA

1952-1957 (6) St. Bonaventure College - Allegany, NY

1958-1960 (3) California State Teachers College - California, PA

1961 (1) Slippery Rock College - Slippery Rock, PA

1962-1963 (2) West Liberty College - West Liberty, WV

1964-1966 (3) University of Rhode Island - Kingston, RI

1967-2019 (54) St. Vincent College - Latrobe, PA

2020-2021 (2) Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA

Middle First Name Madness

We love citing middle names of members of the Men of Steel here at Behind the Steel Curtain, but real first names are fun to unveil as well. In the past, we have cited FeDerius Terrell Edmunds, Trent Jordan Watt and Brett Mason Rudolph, but who else? Hence, the “More You Know Given Name of the Week”. This week we feature a Special Teams Demon, a valuable depth linebacker and a black and gold legacy.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images John Robert Spillane This Week’s Birthdays of Steel

7/24 Montravius Adams (1995), Pete Gonzalez (1974), Bill McPeak (1926), Mewelde Moore (1982), Maurkice Pouncey (1989)

7/25 Dean Biasucci (1962), Tee Martin (1978)

7/26 Jonathan Dwyer (1989)

7/27 Anthony Henton (1963), Donovan Woods (1985)

7/28 Dante Brown (1980)

7/29 Pete Rostosky (1961), Warren Williams (1965), Keith Willis (1959)

7/30 Ricardo Mathews (1987), Dwight White (1949)

Strange Sights for Sore Steelers Eyes

Not every NFL player retires with their original team, having played with no other franchise. We may try to forget the image of our Steel Heroes wearing another uniform, but it’s a part of fandom and legends sometimes change team colors. We all know the story of Neil O’Donnell, won of the better quarterbacks for five seasons in Pittsburgh Steelers history. A majority of fans will never forgive the two crucial interceptions in Super Bowl XXX and his immediate defection to the Jets following the loss on the big stage remains a point of suspicion for some. No. 14 ended up remaining familiar to Steeler Nation after his two years in the green and white, with a year as a Bengal in Cincinnati and another five in Nashville with the Oilers before retiring after 2003.

Neil O’Donnell Varsity Blues Black & Golds

Some may refer to him as the other Watt Brother, but Derek Watt has been a solid professional in his own right. Watt played at the University of Wisconsin from 2011 to 2015 and, as a fullback, paved the way for Melvin Gordon to break Badger records. An adept receiver out of the backfield, Watt’s pass-catching skills coupled with his blocking ability helped the middle Watt bro to be drafted by the Chargers in 2016.

Hypocycloids Gone Madison Avenue

In a 2001 commercial, the Ben Roethlisberger Era was foreshadowed with the Steelers QB wearing No. 7, but the concept of the ad was that having a Visa Check Card could be crucial to an entire stadium, that is unless you love you some Minnie Riperton. Jerome Bettis makes a cameo.

Cliff Clavin Corner

It’s a little known fact that (not including his first and final years in 1957 and 1964) Buddy Parker coached the Steelers to six ties in six seasons from 1958 to 1963. Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin had total of four ties from 1974 to 2021. That’s four from Noll’s first tie in 1974 to Tomlin’s last November in a total of 48 years.

Steelers Jeopardy Answer in the Form of a Question: Who is Joe “Turkey” Jones?

Join me in watching the Cleveland Browns attempt the legal assassination of Terry Bradshaw for a minute. The piledriver Terry absorbs from Joe “Turkey” Jones at 0:30 may be the defining play of 70s football ... pic.twitter.com/jqPH7eH9gV

— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) April 23, 2020

In a game that would drop the Steelers to last place and a 1-4 record, the worst thing that happened on that day was losing their quarterback to injury on a body slam. The Cleveland Plain Dealer called it a “questionable call” when Joe “Turkey” Jones blew past Larry Brown and spiked Terry Bradshaw to the turf. The Steelers would lose Bradshaw until his return with two games left in the season. However, the Men of Steel would win their final nine games to go 10-4. As for Turkey, he expressed remorse the next day in an interview with the aforementioned Plain Dealer. “I’m sorry it happened,” Jones said. “I hope he’s OK. I hate to see any quality player like Terry Bradshaw get hurt. We’re all in this game trying to make a living.”

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.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: T.J. Watt will break his single-season sack record in 2022

Sun, 07/24/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at St. Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: T.J. Watt will break his single-season sack record in 2022

Why it will happen: As T.J. Watt enters his sixth NFL season, one thing Steelers fans have seen year by year is an increase in sacks. While sometimes the jump is as small as 0.5 sacks, like when T.J. Watt went from 14.5 in 2019 to 15.0 in 2020, the number has always gone up. Not only that, T.J. Watt will be just as good, if not better, in 2022. Getting 22.5 sacks last season, Watt did it only appearing in 15 games and playing less than 50% of the snaps in three others. If he can remain fully healthy, T.J. Watt will continue to add his numbers. Even if Watt misses a game, he still hasn’t just as good of a chance to add another 0.5 sacks to his yearly total again for 2022.

Why it won’t happen: Although T.J. Watt has increased his sacks each year, there is going to be a turning point eventually. It’s not like he’s going to be 40 years old and getting 42 sacks in a season. But the bigger reason T.J. Watt doesn’t have to surpass his sack total from 2021 is because the Steelers defense will hopefully be better so he doesn’t have to do so. In 2021, the absence of T.J. Watt was huge as the Steelers were 0-4-1 when Watt didn’t play at least half the defensive snaps while they were 9-3 when he was on the field more than half the time. If the Steelers defensive line can keep from being decimated by injuries once again this season, and if the overall defense ends up being better, the Steelers won’t have to rely on T.J. Watt to win them games as much and can instead spread out the sack numbers to both more players and in greater quantity.

Prediction: As much as I want to agree with the scenario, I’m actually going to disagree. It’s not that I don’t want T.J. Watt to break the NFL record for sacks in a season, I simply don’t want him to have to do it. When Michael Strahan set the mark of 22.5 in 2001, he followed it up the next season with only 11.0 sacks. I don’t see T.J. Watt dropping off that far, but it’s hard to put up back-to-back seasons of 20 sacks in the NFL as, using retroactive stats at Pro Football Reference which go back to 1962, Deacon Jones has been the only player to do so in 1967 & 1968. What I do expect from T.J. Watt is for him to break the Steelers record for all-time sacks. Needing 9 sacks to surpass James Harrison‘s 80.5, I’m hoping Watt sets the record prior to the Steelers bye week in 2022. Another record Watt can shoot for in 2022 is to tie Reggie White as the only player since sacks became an official individual stat in 1983 to have 15 or more sacks in three consecutive seasons. Watt is the only player in the NFL with at least 15 sacks in each of the last two years, and was only 0.5 sacks away in 2019 from already tying this record. So even if having the most sacks in an NFL season is not something Watt sets in 2022, there are still plenty of records to break.

Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

A Letter From the Editor: Ben Roethlisberger speaks, but maybe he shouldn’t

Sun, 07/24/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger has injected himself into the conversation, and maybe it is time for this to stop happening as the 2022 Steelers report to work this week.

In case you didn’t notice, this past week Ben Roethlisberger injected his name into the Pittsburgh Steelers news wire after giving the Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook an interview to talk about his life in retirement.

In the interview, Roethlisberger talked openly about a lot of topics.

  • Leadership of the team
  • The front office’s desire, or lack thereof, for him to return in 2021
  • New Steelers quarterbacks
  • His favorite Steelers moments

...and plenty more!

For the average Steelers fan, this was a fantastic glimpse into Roethlisberger’s mind, but for me it was another eye-rolling moment for the former Steelers quarterback.

Yes, even as a fan of Roethlisberger, I have grown extremely tired of these types of interviews. I understand it was how Roethlisberger used to try and communicate/motivate his teammates, but it resulted in a face plant more than it did a success. When you think back to Roethlisberger’s weekly spot on the local sports radio, it almost always resulted in headlines, and very few of them were deemed positive.

At first glance, Roethlisberger’s interview seemed innocent, then as I kept reading I kept wondering why Roethlisberger even took the interview. Sure, he has a good relationship with Cook, but if Cook sends Roethlisberger a text message it could look something like this:

RC: Hey Ben, was wondering if you’d be willing to do an interview with the Steelers reporting to camp next week.

BR: Hey Ron, hope all is well, but I’m going to politely decline. I don’t want to take away from the 2022 team. Maybe later in the year or next offseason.

Instead, what we got were quotes like these which, in my opinion, were cringe-worthy:

On the team’s three playoff wins since 2010:

“I feel like the game has changed. I feel like the people have changed in a sense. Maybe it’s because I got spoiled when I came in. The team was so important. It was all about the team. Now, it’s about me and this, that and the other.

“I might be standing on a soapbox a little bit, but that’s my biggest takeaway from when I started to the end. It turned from a team-first to a me-type attitude. It was hard. It’s hard for these young guys, too. Social media. They’re treated so well in college. Now, this new NIL stuff, which is unbelievable. They’re treated so special. They’re coddled at a young age because college coaches need them to win, too. I know coach [Terry] Hoeppner never coddled me [at Miami of Ohio]. Neither did [Bill] Cowher.”

On the front office when he returned in 2021:

“It was mostly Kevin [Colbert]. He was ready to move on. I think Mike [Tomlin] was a little ready to move on, but I think he was OK with me coming back. I think Mr. [Art] Rooney really wanted me to come back last year to play. …

“I thought I went out on my terms. I never wanted to stay too long. I know some people might think I did. ‘You stayed last year.’ But I thought I played pretty well last year, to be honest. My arm feels like I still could go out and play. I’m pretty confident I could still play. But it’s every day. It’s mental. Not having to prepare for camp and the season has been the biggest blessing for me. I’m fine with where I’m at with everything.”

On the Super Bowl 45 loss:

“That was tough. It still stings. We lost [Maurkice Pouncey] right before that game. I still think, ‘What if? What if he’s able to play?’ He was such a different playmaker for us. I look back at it and think, man. …

“I know some Packers. I have talked to them. We were starting to make a little bit of a run, driving down the field. They were nervous. A couple of guys were like, ‘Here they go.’ It would have been fun to see what would have happened [if Rashard Mendenhall hadn’t fumbled].”

The above quotes will be deemed as pretty harmless by the vast majority of fans, but my question remains — why even take the interview? Sure, he just retired last season, but do you think someone like Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu or even Heath Miller took these same requests after they retired.

The answer is no.

Ward took a job with NBC after his retirement, and gave his opinion on the Steelers, but Roethlisberger once again injecting himself into the conversation as the team prepares for training camp just seems odd. If I’m being completely honest, it feels desperate. A call for attention.

To an extent, I get it. Roethlisberger has been getting geared up for training camp at this time of the year for the last 18 years. It has to be weird for him to now get acclimated to life without football.

At some point Roethlisberger will just fade into the background and become just another former player, but it seems the 18-year franchise quarterback isn’t ready to do that yet. Will he ever? That’s certainly debatable, I just hope it happens sooner, rather than later.

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

Best Steelers Plays of 2021: Chase Claypool is a natural playmaker

Sun, 07/24/2022 - 6:30am
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the biggest plays from the Steelers big receiver.

As a rookie, Chase Claypool set or tied multiple franchise rookie records. He led the Steelers with 11 total touchdowns, 9 of them receiving touchdowns. He set the franchise rookie reception record with 62. Claypool also led all Steelers in yards per target. His 8 yards per target was a full yard higher than any other player on the team.

In 2021 as part of a much less successful Steelers offense Claypool was targeted 4 fewer times, caught 3 fewer targets for 13 fewer yards. He again led the Steelers in yards per target, by an even bigger margin of 1.3 yards per target. While the difference in these stats was small, his touchdowns dropped from a team leading eleven in 2020 to two in 2021. But while his scoring plays dropped off substantially, Chase Claypool still made plenty of big plays.

Steelers vs. Bills, 3rd quarter, 3:45

Chase Claypool is the receiver to the top of the screen.

Chase Claypool was an effective runner for the 2021 Steelers. Claypool rushed for 96 yards, only 2 fewer yards than Benny Snell, the Steelers second leading rusher. His speed and physicality have made him effective on jet sweeps and end arounds. This run only led to a field goal, but was an important part in changing the momentum of the game.

Steelers vs. Raiders, 4th quarter, 12:14

Chase Claypool is the receiver to the bottom of the screen.

The Steelers put Claypool alone in this set, and it gets them a one-on-one shot downfield. Claypool makes a tough catch, and gains some extra yards realizing he isn’t down. This was the second longest play of the season for the Steelers, and they would score shortly after. Claypool gets plenty of criticism for falling to the ground when he catches the ball, but this is a great catch by Claypool.

Steelers vs. Broncos, 2nd quarter, 5:11

Chase Claypool is the second receiver from the bottom of the screen.

This is the Steelers longest play of 2021. The Steelers come out with two tight ends, Pat Freiermuth lines up outside to the top of the screen while (in order from bottom) Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and Eric Ebron line up on the other side. Chase Claypool draws a linebacker in coverage and easily beats future Hall of Famer Von Miller on a slant route. While the formation and play design got him that far, Claypool turns a nice gain into a field-flipping play by heading directly up-field to draw defenders in before cutting outside and stiff-arming a defender.

Steelers vs. Chargers, 1st quarter, 13:35

Chase Claypool is the receiver to the top of the screen.

Claypool’s impact wasn’t just seen on big plays though. On this play Claypool converts a third down with a hurdle over a defender, securing the yards needed for the first down. Claypool consistently showed a knack for getting across the first down line as well as getting into the end zone in his rookie season, and while he didn’t score many touchdowns in 2021, he still showed the knack for picking up the yards needed to convert.

Steelers at Bengals, 1st quarter, 6:01

The Bengals scored on their first two drives of this game, and facing a 10-0 deficit Roethlisberger threw this deep ball to Chase Claypool to start the drive. When the ball is thrown the defender is in a great position to defend a pass, but Claypool used contact from the defender to win position and make a tough catch. Check out the replay of the catch.

That’s the kind of fight for the ball the Steelers need to see more of from Chase Claypool in 2022.

Steelers vs. Vikings, 4th quarter, 2:11

Chase Claypool is the receiver to the bottom of the screen.

With just over 2 minutes left in the game, the Steelers were backed up deep in their own side of the field in need of a touchdown. This play to Chase Claypool got them out of bad field position, and what a play by Claypool it was. The cornerback was flagged for pass interference on this play, but that didn’t matter as Claypool was able to find a way to catch the ball anyway.

These are my picks for Chase Claypool’s best plays of the 2021 season, now it’s your turn to pick which of these plays is the very best play from Chase Claypool.

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