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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 2019-06-26T06:31:00-04:00
Updated: 1 hour 17 sec ago

Ryan Shazier selected as 2019 George Halas Award winner by PFWA

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 6:47am

The Steeler linebacker continues to win accolades as he battles back from the injury he suffered in 2017.

The Pro Football Writers of America selected Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier as the winner of the 2019 George Halas Award winner on Monday, an annual award given to an NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. A move the PFWA announced via social media

.@steelers LB @RyanShazier, who continues to make remarkable progress after a spinal contusion suffered late in the 2017 season, has been selected as the 2019 George Halas Award winner by the PFWA.

— Pro Football Writers (@PFWAwriters) June 3, 2019

Shazier becomes the 51st winner of the award, named after legendary founder, owner and head coach of the Chicago Bears, George Halas. Other 2019 nominees also included New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, recently retired Houston Texans safety Andre Hal and teammate James Conner, as per the association’s official website.

PFWA member Ed Bouchette of The Athletic providing an insight in the character of the man that made him such a deserving winner.

“In my 35 years covering the Steelers, I’ve seen many players overcome much adversity, but never have I seen such determination by a player to overcome what Ryan has and to reach a point, physically and mentally, where he is. It’s unbelievable how teammates talk about how he has inspired them. (Steelers VP/general manager) Kevin Colbert and (head coach) Mike Tomlin have spoken many times about what he has meant to the organization, the front office and the players. He has been one big inspiration.

“He’s going to all the meetings, watching film, breaking down opponents, going in with the scouts to watch stuff, looking at prospects at draft time, and he’s on the field every day. He’s made remarkable recovery from an injury where many of us believed he wouldn’t be able to.

“He’s an inspiration to fans as well. His first public appearance was at a Steelers home game. They showed him on the Jumbotron, and the ovation was incredible. Same thing at a Penguins game. At the NFL Draft, he walked without help publicly for the first time. He’s been a tremendous inspiration all the way around.”

Shazier is the third member of the Steelers organization to receive this honor, joining Rocky Bleier in 1975 and John Stallworth in 1985.

Podcast: Is Ben’s allegiance to a former player’s number over a current teammate a telling sign?

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 5:32am

Join Tony and Bryan as they break down numbergate.

With questions abound regarding Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership quality for the Steelers, “forcing” a rookie to change his number in deference to former TE Heath Miller May be disconcerting to some. Join Bryan Davis and Anthony Defeo from BTSC as they share their thoughts afterwards for the extravaganza known as “Steelers Hangover”.

In case you are new to the show, you can check out a complete rundown of the show below:

  • Fact or Fiction
  • NFL happenings that effect Steeler Nation
  • Ben’s muscle-flexing over the No. 83.
  • and MUCH MORE!

Check out the show below:

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

Black and Gold Links: Terrell Edmunds becomes a huge factor in the success of the Steelers’ defense

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 4:35am

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

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

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2018 first round draft pick, Terrell Edmunds, will have crucial for the success, or failure, of the team defense in 2019.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Terrell Edmunds wasn’t supposed to play as much as he did in 2018, yet here we are. Morgan Burnett couldn’t stay healthy, and Edmunds became the iron man of the Steelers’ defense. He will need to take a big step forward in 2019 for this defense to come full circle.

Carter’s Classroom: Edmunds’ versatility key

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler needs players who can erase different kinds of offensive threats in today’s NFL. That’s why Terrell Edmunds is a key cog in what the Steelers’ defense needs to become in 2019.

Here’s a quick dive into why Edmunds is vital to how the defense performs:

Edmunds’ 966 snaps in 2018 were the second most on the team and were more than 92 percent of all defensive snaps on the season. No rookie had done that for the Steelers, even with players like T.J. Watt and Artie Burns playing more than 70 percent of defensive snaps in their rookie seasons.

I wrote about Edmunds’ level-headed approach to his rookie season, despite playing multiple NFL MVP quarterbacks like Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Pat Maholmes and Tom Brady. His calm assessment of offensive schemes and his assignments to counter them on the field showed the potential to be a major leader for the Steelers’ defense.

Combine that with the versatility he brings to the field and you have the reason why he saw so much time in 2018, and why he will be a major component to 2019’s defense.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Bud Dupree knows he could, and should, be better. Hopefully he is able to finish some of the plays which present themselves to him in 2019.

Bud Dupree: The plays are there, I have to finish

By: Josh Alper, ProFootballTalk

Dupree had 5.5 sacks last season and has 20 sacks over his first four NFL campaigns. He said last week that he believes those numbers can go up if he can just do a better job of finishing when chances come his way.

“I had a big opportunity last year to be in the conversation and I didn’t close the plays,” Dupree said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m always in position. The plays are always there; it’s on me to finish those plays and easily have double-digit sacks. I’m trying to go out and reboot and finish those plays this season.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • T.J. Watt had a tremendous season in 2018, but could there be more left for him in 2019 and beyond? According to him he is looking for more ‘splash’ this season.

T.J. Watt looking for more splash this year

By: Josh Alper, ProFootballTalk

Watt also saw a rise in quarterback hits and forced fumbles, but he feels he could have done even more. Watt said this week that his goal for the coming season is to make an even bigger impression on opposing offenses.

“More splash. More plays,” Watt said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I think I left a lot of plays out there. I feel like I definitely got into a rhythm toward the end of the season and got more comfortable in all aspects of the game, not just the pass rush.”

Watt said he feels “way more comfortable” on the left side now that he has a year under his belt and that he has “more moves” at his disposal than he did a year ago. Given how productive he’s been thus far in his NFL career, that bodes well for the defense in Pittsburgh.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • No OTAs Monday for the Steelers. Instead, they did some “team bonding” at Top Golf in Pittsburgh.

Building a team bond

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

“It’s always fun to see young guys thinking we are going to practice on a day like this and their faces light up when Coach (Mike) Tomlin says it’s team building today,” said Ramon Foster. “It’s good because you get to see guys outside of the building. As big as a team we are, it’s good to keep guys close in a non-football atmosphere.”

Tomlin has made it an annual tradition to give the players a day off during OTAs, a day committed to team building where fun is the only thing on tap. This year they changed things up, going to Topgolf for the first time, a choice that was popular with the players.

“It’s great. I think if you expect them to work cooperatively together they have to get to know one another in informal activities,” said Tomlin. “We provide them a platform for that. I think guys just generally enjoy themselves.

“This is a key time for forming those bonds, but there is never a bad time for that. That is one of the reasons I still like that we are committed to go away to training camp when others aren’t. I feel like that opportunity in that secluded setting is also a good opportunity for those type of things.

“The guys get competitive. It doesn’t surprise me. Hopefully it doesn’t get too bad today.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Fun Day At The Office pic.twitter.com/Kg5Ii7kM0q

— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) June 3, 2019

Hittin' the links today at Topgolf ️‍♂️⛳️

: https://t.co/77OI3ZuCAK pic.twitter.com/oxTOlk48M0

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 3, 2019

Steelers’ players headed to Topgolf for a morning of team building instead of taking the field for OTAs.

More: https://t.co/s2bWD1n5JE pic.twitter.com/QMNxt7I4tv

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) June 3, 2019

Prom w/ my bro @amoli_13! Got a DM from him a while back about needing someone to go with, decided why not, had a litty night at his school! YouTube vid coming soon! pic.twitter.com/lL8pUzXZJf

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) June 3, 2019

Bud Dupree’s ability to “close” will go a long way in dictating his future with the Steelers

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 2:25pm

Close doesn’t cut it as a pass rusher, and Bud Dupree is learning this the hard way.

We’ve all heard the saying...

“Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

This is certainly true in many aspects of life, and if you just happen to be an outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it applies to you too.

Bud Dupree was a first round draft pick and came into the league with some extremely high standards attached to his name. Did he live up to the hype? I think it is safe to say most would say ‘No’ at this point, but there is still time for Dupree to prove how it just took him some time to fully mature into a pure pass rusher.

Dupree’s rookie year he ended the season with 4 sacks, making most believe the best was yet to come. In 2016, a year where he started just 7 games due to injury, he registered 4.5 sacks. More production in half the playing time, there was hope.

Another baby step forward took place in 2016 with 6 sacks, but a giant disappointment came in 2018 when he registered just 5.5 sacks throughout a full 16 game season.

I realize outside linebackers aren’t measured solely by their sack totals, but whenever someone talks about how a 3-4 OLB is going to be called to drop into coverage, how do you explain T.J. Watt reaching double-digit sack totals last season? He certainly had to drop into coverage too.

If you ask Dupree, he claims he is improving, but just needs to learn how to ‘close’.

“I had a big opportunity last year to be in the conversation and I didn’t close the plays,” Dupree told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’m always in position. The plays are always there; it’s on me to finish those plays and easily have double-digit sacks. I’m trying to go out and reboot and finish those plays this season.”

When you look at Dupree’s current contractual status, he better hope he closes on those sacks soon. The Steelers elected to pick up his 5th year option, paying him over $9 million dollars for the 2019 season, but after this year he is a free agent if the Steelers don’t want him back.

Let me rephrase that, if the Steelers don’t see more production from Dupree in 2019, there is a very good chance he will be unemployed come March of 2020.

If you go back and watch the film, Dupree isn’t wrong in his summation of the season. He was close on numerous occasions, often just missing the sack. There were times it wasn’t a backside blocker who picked him up — he just whiffed.

Dupree’s success could dictate a lot of the success the entire defense experiences in 2019. Think if Dupree was finishing on plays, and what that could do not only for Watt, but the other pass rushers. There would be more one-on-one matchups to exploit, and that is always a good thing.

Dupree’s success is vital not just to his future with the team, but to the success of the 2019 defense. Let’s hope he starts to ‘close’ on some of those plays this upcoming season.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Player Profile: Winston Craig

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 12:39pm

Continuing our breakdown of the newest members of the black-and-gold, and their odds of cracking the 53-man roster.

Defensive lineman Winston Craig is one of the castoffs the Pittsburgh Steelers signed from the now-defunct Alliance of American Football. Like most former members of the league, he has found it tough to stick with an NFL team. Can he shine during OTAs, training camp and the preseason like other former castoffs, Ramon Foster and Mike Hilton have? Be watching for No. 64 during the offseason and see if he can shine.

During his four seasons playing for Richmond in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), Winston started 52 games over his four-year career. Below is a quote from the Spiders radio/TV voice had to say when asked to sum up his college career.

Winston was the rock of the defense, and more specifically the defensive line. Number 98 was digging in at the line of scrimmage on virtually every play for four years, and more often than not, wound up in the offensive backfield chasing down quarterbacks and running backs. He would have dominant stretches, where he would have back to back, or three in a row, QB sacs or tackles for loss. He was spectacular at times, but he was always reliable and consistent. Ironically, my most vivid memory of him came in his first collegiate game as a true freshman against VMI. Richmond was up big towards the end of the game when he entered – and he intercepted a pass – a thrill for any defensive lineman, let alone in his first collegiate game. I remember needing to quickly look at our roster to find out who that Number 98 was! He almost returned it for a pick-6. Needless to say, I knew his number for the next four years, as he was a starter from the end of his freshman season. He also had another interception as a senior, and again, was one tackle away from returning it for a TD. As with any defensive lineman, he likes to talk about those INTs!

College career stats. 2013
  • Played in 10 games while starting two.
  • Tallied 13 tackles
  • one interception (First collegiate game.)
  • one pass breakup.
2014
  • Played in 14 games while starting 10.
  • 35 tackles
  • 4 tackles for loss
  • 3 sacks
  • one pass breakup
  • two quarterback hurries
  • one blocked kick
2015
  • Team Captain
  • Started all 14 games
  • 59 total tackles
  • 4.5 sacks
  • Second-team All-CAA
2016
  • Team captain
  • Started all 14 games
  • 38 total tackles
  • 9 tackles for loss
  • 7.5 sacks (Second in the league.)
  • 1 interception
  • 1 forced fumble
  • First-team All-CAA

Craig went undrafted after his senior season but signed with the Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent. The Eagles cut Craig prior to the start of the season and remained a street free agent until early December when the Eagles signed him to their practice squad. On January 9, Craig was again cut. Because of being released, he was not part of the Eagles Super Bowl team.

The Eagles again brought him back on February 20, only to release him prior to the 2018 season. The 6’4”, 291-pound Craig had two short stints on the Eagles practice squad before spending the rest of the season waiting by the phone.

A month after his last release by Philadelphia Craig signed with the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF, keeping his professional football dreams alive. The Commanders played eight games before the league folded. Craig finished the season with 2.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, and 14 total tackles in seven starts.

Craig latched on with the Steelers after the AAF suspended operations and will compete for a backup defensive end spot. In 2018, the Steelers carried just six defensive linemen while two of them were nose tackles. That leaves four spots. Two of those spots are locked down with starting ends, Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward. Tyson Alualu is 32 and may or may not be guaranteed of a starting spot because of carrying just a $1.75 million dead money hit if released prior to the season. Could Craig land a spot on the 53-man roster or practice squad if Henry Mondeaux, Casey Sayles, Conor Sheehy or 2019 sixth-rounder, Isaiah Buggs does not stand out in camp? Craig will need to show more than he has shown so far in his two-year pro career.

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”

— Socrates

Throughout offseason workouts, Devin Bush looks like he “belongs” in the Steelers’ defense

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 11:10am

So far so good for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ prized 2019 NFL Draft selection.

Just the other day I was doing one of our many podcasts for BTSC (you can check out all of them in the player below this article) and a fan on our YouTube channel asked for an update on Devin Bush. It was funny, because since rookie minicamp and the first week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), we haven’t heard much about Bush.

Some might say that no news is good news, and I get that, but the Steelers made an aggressive move to draft Bush and fans want to know how the prized 2019 NFL Draft pick is doing — rightfully so.

Recently ESPN put out an article where all of their respective beat writers for all 32 NFL teams talked about how the top pick for each team is handling life in the NFL. For the Steelers, this meant Jeremy Fowler. See what he had to say about Bush’s short time in OTAs:

No. 10: Pittsburgh Steelers

ILB Devin Bush: The Steelers thrust Bush into the starting rotation right away, and his coverage skills have been on display. He has shown the ability to get into passing lanes with his quickness. The team wants to expedite his learning curve. Defensive end Cam Heyward said Bush needs more bass in his voice if he’s going to call plays. And he’ll need to improve his tackling angles in the running game at this level. But so far, he looks like he belongs among a linebacker group that includes veterans Vince Williams and Mark Barron.

Some might read this and suggest it is nothing more than the usual post-draft pomp and circumstance, but I read it and focus on one thing — “he looks like he belongs”

Bush is slightly undersized for his position, and his athleticism makes up for a lot, or it did in college. As Fowler points out there are things which he will have to improve upon before actually taking an official NFL snap, his pursuit angles against the run would fall into that category.

See the video below for an example of this:

Really like Trey Edmunds. He got around Devin Bush here. ⁦@TheAthleticPGHpic.twitter.com/AeTNw1E4ua

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) May 30, 2019

If you are someone who actually looked at this situation with a solid head on your shoulders, you didn’t expect perfection from Day 1. There will be bumps in the road, and while I do think Bush will play a lot his rookie season, he will also spend some time on the sideline watching Mark Barron and Vince Williams do their thing.

Since everyone loves to compare Bush to Ryan Shazier, remember that even though Shazier started as a rookie, many were calling him a bust and an injury-prone player by the end of his year one.

Be excited, but also be both realistic and patient. Let’s see what this young man can do when the pads go on and the real hitting starts to take place. As always, training camp will make or break a player’s shot at making the team. We know Bush will make the team, but what kind of impression he leaves on coaches, teammates and fans has yet to be seen.

Ola Adeniyi still feels he has a lot to prove to earn his roster spot in 2019

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 9:30am

Hoping to add to his pass rushing moves and improve on his coverage skills, the second-year linebacker is working hard this offseason.

While there might not be an opportunity for a new starter to emerge at outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019, with T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree expected to command the starting roles this year, limited depth at the position should theoretically provide plenty of chances for the reserve players to prove their worth this season.

A relatively inexperienced outside linebacker group relied almost exclusively on Watt and Dupree in 2018, with Anthony Chickillo the lone option on the bench for most of the season after Olasunkanmi Adeniyi began the year on the physically unable to perform list. But even when he did return in Week 13, the undrafted rookie would see just 10 snaps on defense over the remaining five games, all of them coming in one game the Los Angeles Chargers.

Heading into his second season, the former Toledo product is hoping to be much more involved on defense on game day; focused on improving his coverage skills and adding to his pass rushing moves in an effort to prove he deserves more playing time when speaking to reporters during OTAs.

“I feel like I’m definitely good off the edge, speed rushing, but also want to add some counters just in case the tackle oversets and I’ll be able to come back and do little things like that. Swatting the hands, spin moves, just things like that.”

And despite recording an interception during practice, the young linebacker believes he still has a lot of work to do when it comes to his pass coverage.

“I probably dropped to the flats maybe once or twice my junior year since I declared early. Definitely this offseason as well I was also trying to work on that aspect of my game, because I never really did that at college. And last year I didn't really have the opportunity to do that. So, I tried to work on that this offseason as well.”

.@Love_Ola_9 spoke about adding to his pass rush arsenal, working on coverage, position group competition and more. pic.twitter.com/V8j5cSDAjQ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 31, 2019

The Steelers decision to ignore his position in the early stages of the draft does not appear to have given Adeniyi any greater sense of security as a second-year player, regardless of the lack of other options at outside linebacker. Still feeling he has something to prove if he is to earn his roster spot again this year, Adeniyi is taking nothing for granted this offseason.

“I’m still considered a young guy, I don’t think I’ve earned that right to be called a vet yet, or anything such as that. So, I’m just gonna try and keep developing and hopefully as the time keeps going I develop into a better role and a better guy.”

“I was on IR for most of the season, so I don’t feel like I did anything at all. I’m trying to come in here and hopefully do the same thing I did last year, earn a spot.”

An impressive preseason in 2018 gave fans an indicator of what Adeniyi could do as a pass rusher, recording three sacks and nine tackles in the four games he played in. He also recorded two forced fumbles with two of those sacks. And if he can provide some help in coverage as well, the Steelers may yet another viable option at the position.

With all due respect to Heath Miller and Ben Roethlisberger, who cares if someone else wears No. 83?

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 8:11am

It’s totally admirable than Ben Roethlisberger wanted to honor his old teammate and good friend, Heath Miller, by asking rookie tight end Zach Gentry to not wear No. 83. However, with all due respect to Roethlisberger, Miller and any fan who agrees with the sentiment, Miller might not even be the greatest No. 83 in franchise history.

Now I see what Joey Porter meant when he said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger abuses his power and uses it for him.

It all seriousness, in news that’s pretty minor except for the fact that I have a problem with it, Zach Gentry, a tight end the Steelers just selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, said recently that he was asked by Roethlisberger to not wear his college number—No. 83—as a Steeler. This request by Roethlisberger was made as a little ‘shout out’ to Heath Miller, a good friend of Roethlisberger’s and arguably the greatest tight end in Steelers history.

In fairness to Roethlisberger, I’ve had actual conversations with people—both on social media and in person—who think the Steelers should unofficially retire Miller’s old number because they hold him in such high regard.

I get that, but much like Roethlisberger, fans are thinking with a “now” mentality with regards to Miller. Sure, he was a great tight end, as his 592 career receptions clearly illustrate, but I’m not so sure Miller was even the greatest No. 83 in team history.

For my money, that would be receiver Louis Lipps, a childhood hero of mine who the Steelers drafted in the first round of the 1984 NFL Draft. Like with “Heeeeeeeeathhhhh!” the fans soon began screaming “Louuuuuuuuuu!” whenever Lipps made a great play. That started pretty much in the first game of his rookie season, a season in-which Lipps would be named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Lipps was also voted a two-time All-Pro and appeared in two Pro Bowls during his eight years in Pittsburgh.

Lipps was a multi-faceted weapon who could score in a multitude of ways—including on special teams where he was an accomplished punt returner.

Lipps stat-line—358 receptions for 6018 yards—pales in comparison to Miller’s statistics (at least in receptions, anyway—Miller’s 592 receptions were slightly less efficient, as they led to 6,569 yards), but I think Lipps had a greater impact on the NFL during his prime years than Miller ever did.

No knock against Miller. I’m just being a fan. Same with Roethlisberger. Same with you.

A number of years ago, I wrote that Rod Woodson should have his No. 26 retired as a way to honor him as well as those great 1990s squads that came close several times but could never get over the hump and win a title.

Completely independent of those awesome Steelers teams, Woodson was an all-time great as a cornerback—we’re talking 75th Anniversary All-time Team and First ballot HOF great—and people were like, “Get out of here with that mess!”

Don’t forget, Le’Veon Bell, he of the 2,000 yards from scrimmage, was the No. 26 at the moment, a player fans actually embraced in those days.

So which Steelers players should have their numbers retired? At the moment, just two: Mean Joe Greene (No. 75) and Ernie Stautner (No. 70). Obviously, there are plenty of numbers that have been unofficially retired (you know them—no need for a list). Should Miller’s be one of them?

If you’re going to do that, you should tell David DeCastro to give up Alan Faneca’s No. 66.

While you’re at it, stop handing out No. 82 and No. 88 to any Tom, Dick or Harry that thinks he can catch a football.

Numbers, they mean something. But do they mean as much as the memories? Heath Miller gave us plenty of those, but let’s not go overboard with the reverence.

He was no Louis Lipps....says the 12-year old in me.

NFLPA warns players to prepare for a lockout while NFL floats idea of 18-game schedule again

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 6:48am

Contrary to initial reports detailing an amicable to start to negotiations, it is clear the league and the players union have a very long way to go to find common ground.

Despite bringing you news of positive meetings between the NFL and the NFLPA last week, it appears that both sides in the negotiation are intent on playing out much of their drama in the public eye over the coming 18 months.

Within hours of a New York Times report detailing productive discussions, reports began to emerge of an email sent out by the players union advising all members to save money in preparation of a potential work stoppage in 2021. A reminder of a similar warning they had given to players the year before and one that just happened to wind up in the hands of the media. As reported by Dan Graziano of ESPN, the email read:

“We are advising players to plan for a work stoppage of at least a year in length. We are also encouraging players to save 50% of their salary and bonuses and to save the entirety of their Performance Based Pay amounts they should earn over the next two regular seasons.”

And with the NFLPA more than willing to flex their strongest negotiating tactic in the press, the league office did not take long to come back with some flexing of their own via a report in the Washington post citing a mysterious unnamed high-ranking NFL official.

In an article that reiterated the league’s desire to expand to an 18-game schedule, the prospect of changing disciplinary rules and relaxing laws on marijuana were dangled as a carrot.

“Some owners who would like to expand the season” to 18 games, adding it’s not clear “if there is much support from the players on that. The commissioner discipline and marijuana policy will come up at some point, and I suspect the owners will be a little more flexible on both subjects.”

The players position on expanding to an 18-game schedule has already been made quite clear over the years, with many owners noticeably undecided about the proposal themselves when the discussing the subject publicly in the past. The suspicious timing and intent of the Washington Post report not going unnoticed by those with experience of the previous CBA negotiations either.

NFL back to CBA negotiating tactic used in 2011: float idea of 18-game schedule, get strong pushback from players (and media), then look reasonable backing off it while subtly gaining other concessions.

— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) May 30, 2019

With the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) not due to end until after the 2020 season, it is interesting to note how much the saga is already playing out in the press. But while both sides will do their best to elicit support from the fans over the coming months, it will be hard for many to relate to either side in this battle set to be waged between mostly millionaires and billionaires.

Podcast: The Steelers’ success will be gauged by them being able to stay healthy at key positions

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 5:30am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers season is over, but the news is just starting to heat up. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers, including a fun game of “True or False!”

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Health is by far the most important facot
  • Which positions require the most health?
  • Memorable Steelers games that caused your heart to stop
  • Steelers Questions
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: The new-look Steelers are aggressively preparing for the 2019 season

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 4:35am

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

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

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the Steelers are not just preparing with a new group of players for the 2019 season, but the way they go about their preparation has been different, and better.

Let’s get to the news:

  • It was this time last year when the Steelers lost two players with season-ending injuries, and Ben Roethlisberger made a decision to sit out of almost all Organized Team Activities (OTAs) which would only fester into a fiasco later in the season. This year things are different.

Roethlisberger checking off list at OTAs

By: Dale Lolley, DKPittsburghSports

As they head into the final week of their OTAs, the Steelers seem to have seemingly accomplished everything they set out to do.

Put the Antonio Brown saga in their rearview mirror? Check.

Acclimate rookie Devin Bush into the defense? Check.

Re-establish a firm leadership from within? Check.

The Steelers have been all business this offseason, something that has been punctuated by this OTA process. Attendance has been very good and the work has been crisp.

More importantly, unlike last year, when both Jerald Hawkins and tight end Jake McGee went down with what would be season-ending injuries, the Steelers have avoided anything of that magnitude.

Sure, guys have been missing from practice here and there, but the issues have been minor.

Perhaps the biggest thing has been Ben Roethlisberger’s full engagement in the process. Roethlisberger attended only the initial OTA last year and then spent the rest of the process with his family, something that had long-lasting, unintended consequences.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That saying could be true for the current offense of the Pittsburgh Steelers, as they use competition to fuel them for a big 2019 season.

Give me 10 push-ups! Competition fuels post-A.B. Steelers offense

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

Pittsburgh’s post-Brown offense will prioritize versatility, creativity and an equal opportunity approach. JuJu Smith-Schuster is the obvious primary option for Roethlisberger and will most likely post big numbers. Behind him is depth and intrigue but a lack of star power.

The Steelers believe they have at least nine viable pass-catching options which Roethlisberger will surely utilize. In a two-game stretch without Brown in late 2017, Roethlisberger completed passes to nine other Steelers, with four players catching at least four balls.

Jobs aren’t promised. Competition is driving each OTA session.

”Everybody’s pushing each other -- you got a drop, you’ve got 10 push-ups,” free-agent addition Donte Moncrief said. “Everybody’s trying to bring energy ... Make plays, don’t come out here lagging ... I feel like everybody’ going to be able to help. Everyone’s ready to play. Everybody knows JuJu is going to get a lot of attention. We have to be able to help him out, take some double-teams away and beat man so the defense has to cover everybody.”

Moncrief is crucial to that competition because of newness and pedigree.

The Steelers mostly know what they have from their supporting skill guys.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Expect James Conner to be arrogant about his starting role in the 2019 offense? Think again...

James Conner’s 2019 approach: ‘I haven’t earned anything’

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

Conner was tasked with replacing an All-Pro and friend while handling a new set of expectations on the fly. The result was a Pro Bowl campaign, and now a tone-setting leadership presence that became fairly obvious Tuesday.

Instead of declaring himself the Steelers’ top back, Conner cut in the open field. “I haven’t earned anything,” Conner said. “That’s what training camp and everything is for.”

Asked whether a wild offseason that included wide receiver Antonio Brown’s departure motivated the team, Conner said without hesitation, “We’re just motivated by a Super Bowl.”

”From the outside looking in people might think it’s like some chaos or something,” said Conner, addressing the aftermath of the Brown and Bell sagas that tested the team’s resolve. “Really we’re a tight-knit group. That locker room is incredible. With all the guys in there, the camaraderie, everybody loves each other, really. People might think it’s chaos, but it’s not like that at all.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Big Snack. Big play.

9️⃣8️⃣ days away. pic.twitter.com/bK4vx6Z4fZ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 2, 2019

What an AWESOME night for all of the WPIAL Hall of Fame Inductees. Glad to be a part of 2019 Hall of Fame Class. #WpialHOF pic.twitter.com/TzBQQPv0fE

— Charlie Batch (@CharlieBatch16) June 2, 2019

We're excited for Watt's to come from T.J.

@_TJWatt pic.twitter.com/bz9TIOACbv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 2, 2019

.@catcenter66 talks about how the offensive line is progressing and about how Coach Sarrett is settling into his new role. pic.twitter.com/Y62YBlVAlb

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 1, 2019

JuJu Smith-Schuster attends local prom as replacement for cancelled date

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 2:00pm

And then a day later was at Kennywood Park serving up Heinz Ketchup

The students at local Chartiers Valley High School near Pittsburgh had a surprise guest at their prom on Friday night in JuJu Smith-Schuster, attending as a guest of Anthony Molinaro after the young man’s date for the evening had cancelled on him, as per WPXI.com.

View this post on Instagram

This why I’m a fan of JuJu, a fan asked JuJu to go to prom with him. JuJu was down. Litty! | MORE THAN FOOTBALL| #juju #teamjuju #jujusmithschuster

A post shared by jujudaily (@jujudagod19) on May 31, 2019 at 6:14pm PDT

View this post on Instagram

Thank you @juju for coming to prom with me. It was honestly one of the best nights of my life and I have to thank you as well as all of these other great people. Keep being yourself, stay humble, and the city will love you

A post shared by Anthony Molinaro (@anthony_m099) on Jun 2, 2019 at 8:50am PDT

Wearing matching green velvet tuxedos, Smith-Schuster would take a limousine to the event with Molinaro and his friends, quickly fitting in with the rest of teenagers in attendance from the moment he arrived.

View this post on Instagram

More pics of JuJu with fans at prom last night in Pittsburgh | #juju #jujusmithschuster #teamjuju

A post shared by jujudaily (@jujudagod19) on Jun 1, 2019 at 9:55am PDT

And keen to show off his moves on the dance floor.

View this post on Instagram

JuJu getting lit at prom last night | #teamjuju #jujusmithschuster #juju

A post shared by jujudaily (@jujudagod19) on Jun 1, 2019 at 3:51am PDT

The crowd participation getting rather boisterous at times. Warning, the guests dancing with Smith-Schuster in this next video are using profanity.

JuJu Smith-Schuster Went to a High School Prom with a Guy and Had the Crowd Chanting F*ck AB https://t.co/7jJES9Eknl pic.twitter.com/fYTndtsUdO

— SportsGossip.com (@sportsgossip) June 1, 2019

The following day, Smith-Schuster was seen at nearby Kennywood Park, home of the world only Steelers’ themed roller coaster, handing out servings of Heinz Ketchup. Clearly his own version of a protest to the park’s controversial decision to stock Hunts Ketchup instead of the more popular local brand.

#PITTSBURGH DOESN'T DESERVE JUJU! The day after going to a local high school prom, @TeamJuJu helped guests at @Kenny_Kangaroo by serving up @HeinzKetchup_US https://t.co/K543Q5nfsF

— KDKA (@KDKA) June 2, 2019

A Letter From The Editor: Two Pittsburgh Steelers games that nearly ended my life

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 11:56am

I have been watching the Pittsburgh Steelers for as long as I can remember. As a young child it was me just peaking in to see how they were doing as my father yelled at the TV. As I got older, I started to learn the players and have a vested interest in the outcome of the contest. That interest turned into an obsession, and with each game I hung onto every play praying for the desired outcome.

While the praying might have ceased a bit as I grow older, I have always said the Pittsburgh Steelers will one day end my life. I see myself sitting there watching the black-and-gold at 90, and screaming at a stupid turnover, or a missed sack — and that’s it.

Lights out.

That’s all she wrote.

There have been a ton of moments which have caused by blood pressure to go way above normal, but two games always come to mind when I think about those contests which truly tested every ounce of my fanhood.

It just so happens both of these games were against the Indianapolis Colts, only about 10 years apart. At this point the average Steelers fans knows the two games I am talking about.

First, 1995 when Jim Harbaugh and the underdog Colts came to Three Rivers Stadium and almost had one of the most remarkable comebacks in playoff history. For those who have never seen the game, you can see the highlights below in a classic edition of ESPN’s NFL Primetime, the Steelers vs. Colts game leads off the show.

Want to watch the full game? Check it out below:

Watching that Hail Mary pass bounce around, and looking like it landed directly into the arms of the Colts receiver — my heart stopped. I know I wasn’t alone, and after watching the heart-wrenching defeat to the Chargers in 1994, I thought it happened all over again. The joy lasted a couple weeks before that quarterback who shall not be named but wore No. 14 ruined the Steelers’ hopes of upsetting the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl 30.

The other game which took years off my life was non other than the 2005 AFC Divisional Game vs. Peyton Manning and the Colts. Yes, the Jerome Bettis fumble and Ben Roethlisberger tackle game.

In case you forgot...

First, the highlights:

The full game:

For the rest of my days I will never forget who I was with, where I was and our overall reaction to that game. Sitting on the couch and watching Joey Porter come off the edge and sack Peyton Manning to, what we thought, seal the game, equated in complete jubilation. My father, my brother and a slew of others crammed into a tiny Shepherdstown, WV apartment experienced complete jubilation.

When Bettis fumbled, those tears of joy turned to tears of sadness. As we all know, it worked out in the end, and I am still bitter about that game. Not because of the fumble, but for the Troy Polamalu interception which was overturned giving the Colts new life.

The Steelers are amazing. They can both frustrate and annoy, but we all live for these moments. Moments like those above when our hearts stop for a second. It might end our lives earlier than expected, but isn’t it worth it?

That’s a debate for another day...

What were some of the most heart-wrenching games you remember? Let us know in the comment section below!

Now healthy, Marcus Allen is ready to show the Steelers what he can do

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 10:12am

The former Penn State product is healthy now, and ready to show the Steelers what he can bring to the safety position.

The Pittsburgh Steelers took a hard-hitting safety named Marcus Allen out of Penn State in the 2018 NFL Draft, but there was very little hitting being done by the former Nittany Lion. As it turns out, Allen’s inactive status throughout 2018 was more due to injury than an inability, or incapability, to play the game at the NFL level.

Fast forward to 2019 and the second year player is not only healthy, but making plays in Organized Team Activities (OTAs). Yes, it is nothing more than ‘football in shorts’, but for Allen it is much more than that. It is a chance for him to prove what he is capable of.

“It feels good to get back to work,” Allen told Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Last year, I wasn’t out here for OTAs so it was like being on the outside looking in and getting the feel of it.”

When reflecting back to last season, Allen felt plenty of frustration with the hamstring injury which held him out all of rookie minicamp, OTAs and even a large portion of training camp.

“It bothered me a lot. I got here, got drafted and had high expectations for myself. Being not ready and able to go out there and show what I can do was disappointing. I wanted to show what I can do. Now that I’m all good and healthy it feels like I’m back at home.”

If there was a positive spin to take away from Allen’s inactivity last year it was his ability to learn the playbook front-to-back. Now, back on the field, he can move with a speed and ferocity which got him drafted in the first place.

“It feels second nature now, honestly, just going out there and performing,” Allen said. “I know our plays and got it down pat.”

So, what should fans expect from Allen in 2019? No one really knows for sure, but Allen is ready to put his best foot forward and make plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I expect better things completely this year,” Allen said, “but just being out there last year, fulfilling my dream, was incredible. Just walking out the gates and looking at the stadium with everyone roaring was crazy.

“Every game is motivation, to be honest. Just not being out there and looking on the sideline, I knew my time was coming.”

When it comes to his position, there is certainly a spot to be had on the roster. Outside of Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds, the Steelers are looking for depth at safety, and while fans love pointing to undrafted rookies like P.J. Locke and Dravon Askew-Henry, it seems you shouldn’t forget about Allen and his potential to be the answer to the question of depth at the strong safety position.

It’s June, Steelers fans, and the light’s at the end of the tunnel

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 8:31am

It’s June, which means it’s getting close to July. You know what that means, Steelers fans? The NFL off season is almost over.

It seems like I write one of these “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, Steelers fans” articles every year, and there’s a reason for that: I have a weekly quota.

But, also, I hate the NFL off-season. And not because of the drama—I actually like that from a writer’s perspective. Not because of all the draft talk and mock drafts, either—again, a necessity for a writer who must come up with a few commentary pieces each and every week. No, the reason I hate the NFL off-season is right there in the name—it’s the off-season.

What respectable NFL fan enjoys the off-season? It’s so gosh darn long and arduous. However, I will say this about being a writer who also does a weekly podcast—two tasks that require the Googling of “Steelers news” on a daily or every other day basis: It makes the off-season just fly by.

Why, it seems like only yesterday that I was writing articles about how people absolutely, positively had to find a way to work through whatever chasm existed between receiver Antonio Brown (gratuitous click bait AB reference) and the organization—including the boss, head coach and quarterback with an owner’s mentality.

I wrote that on New Year’s Day. It’s now June 1 as I write this filler piece that has nothing to do with anything other than I was sitting around on Memorial Day and thought to myself, “Wow, the NFL off-season just flew by.”

Its true that there are still close to two months to go before the Steelers take up residence in Latrobe, Pa. There are also over three months to go until Mike Tomlin has his troops ready to open up the regular season against your World Champion New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. This will obviously happen two weeks before he won’t have them ready to play against the 49ers on Sunday Afternoon Football.

But getting to June for an NFL junkie such as myself is the equivalent of boarding a plane to go to a tropical destination. Sure, you still have a long flight ahead of you, but the planning is over, the packing is done and the money is already spent.

All you have to do now is get to your tropical destination. Once there, you get to spend the rest of your vacation on autopilot.

That’s how the NFL season is for me once the Steelers get to training camp. The stories come at you more organically. You don’t have to pen contrived pieces such as, “Yay, it’s June!”

It’s just so much better.

For me, personally, I get to comment on things I kind of know about such as football, and I no longer have to worry about faking my way through all of that draft stuff (“Yeah, I agree, his hips are stiff.”). (Seriously, I spent the first 38 years of my life enjoying football just fine. People thought I knew what I was talking about. “You know your football!” they would all say. Then, I started writing for this site, and suddenly, people were like, “You don’t know how to diagnose a defense, you fraud!”.)

At any rate, I know you’re not supposed to wish your life away, and I plan on thoroughly enjoying my summer. However, I will do so while also looking ahead to the fall and the first cool, crisp Sunday afternoon when I’m sitting around watching a 1 p.m. game in my living room recliner.

Yay, it’s June, Steelers fans!

Steelers articles I can only (barely) get away with in the offseason: Celebrity Fan edition

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 7:08am

In the offseason, sometimes anything goes. Join one BTSC writer not afraid to step outside the lines and explore different areas of Steeler fandom. If you want in-depth team analysis, this might not be for you.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have fans everywhere. You can’t swing a cat without getting it entangled with a Terrible Towel, no matter your locale. With Calvin Broadus Jr. (aka Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop Lion, aka DJ Snoopadelic, aka Nemo Hoes, aka Snoopzilla and one I shan’t mention) speaking up recently about the Steelers’ possible fortunes without the departed Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, I realized there are a lot of famous fans out there that passionately don the black and gold.

Some hail from the Steel City or points nearby, so the Steelers are their birthright. While others like the aforementioned California, hip-hop superstar from the LBC, become fans because of the history, the legacy and the identity of the team throughout the years. In Snoop’s case, he used to watch Steeler games with his grandfather growing up. No matter the reason, there are a number of celebrity Steeler fans out there. A few big fans like Verne Troyer (Mini Me), Mac Miller and Arnold Palmer have since passed away. Here’s a few besides Snoop that probably light up when “Renegade” starts blaring from the speakers.

Wiz Khalifa

Although he correctly convinced tons of fans that “Black and Yellow” are the official colors of his hometown team in his iconic No. 1 chart debut, the Taylor Allderdice alum realized his goal of writing an anthem-of-sorts for his favorite team.

Michael Keaton

Born in Coraopolis, Mr. Mom, Beetlejuice and Batman has always been an outspoken supporter of his hometown teams and frequently attends games in Heinz Field and Steeler Super Bowls. Keaton started his career working as a WQED crew member for “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” in 1975. At that same time, the Steelers had started their championship ways and Keaton pledged loyalty to the team. On an episode of Seth Myer’s talk show, Keaton questioned the New Hampshire native’s allegience to the Steelers and presented him with a Steelers hat.

Seth Myers

As mentioned above, the SNL alum and NBC late-night, talk show host is a Steeler fan from Patriot real estate. Myers’ father, a Pittsburgh native, raised his children to root for the Steelers and his son celebrates victories and laments losses passionately on his show. Myers, in a rare skit appearance on SNL in 2005, portrayed a Steeler fan at a bar and uttered the phrase “Cowher Power” in yinzer fashion.

Kurt Angle

The 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist and professional wrestling legend was born in Mount Lebanon and has always prided himself as a big fan of the black and gold.

Rush Limbaugh

The conservative political commentator has been a Steeler fan for nearly 45 years. Coming from St. Louis, Limbaugh had very little to cheer for in the football Cardinals, His arrival in Pittsburgh (as a deejay for KQV named Jeff Christie) coincided with the Steelers ascension into a dynasty.

Paul Rudd

Known well as of late as a fan of his hometown Kansas City Chiefs, Ant-Man visited Pittsburgh frequently as a kid and claims that the Steelers were what he cared about the most as a kid.

January Jones

The “Mad Men” and “Last Man on Earth” star grew up in South Dakota, but is a proud Steelers fan. Betty Draper reportedly takes the game seriously and likes to sit and absorb the games in quiet.

Joe Manganeillo

The three-sport star at Mount Lebanon High (football, volleyball and basketball) turned more seriously to acting after tearing a MCL returning a kick. Initially not getting selected for the drama department at Carnegie Mellon, Manganiello enrolled at Pitt only to become a Tartan and pursue his acting dreams soon after. The Magic Mike star later produced and directed a short film about Steeler fans meeting in an LA bar called Diehardz. Married to Sofia Vegara of “Modern Family”, the diehard Steeler fan has converted his famous wife to his manic fandom. Ironically, Vegara’s television husband is portrayed by Ed O’Neill, a final cut of the Steelers in 1969.

Hank Williams Jr.

Born in the same hospital as a wannabe country singer named Terry Bradshaw, the country music icon has been a Steeler fan for a long time and claims to have worn Steeler paraphernalia in arenas all over the globe.

Billy Gardell

The talented comedian and former star of “Mike and Molly” on CBS was born in Swissvale, but grew up in the state of Florida. However, Gardell remains a card-carrying yinzer and has led the Terrible Towel wave on numerous occasions at Heinz Field.

Jeff Goldblum

While he doesn’t seem like a yinzer, the iconic actor hails from West Homestead and claims a passion for his hometown team.

Toby Keith

The blue collar and hard hat persona of Pittsburghers is what drew the country star to the Steelers. He once mentioned in an interview that the city seemed to adopt him as one of their own and he identifies himself as a “Terrible Towel Waving Cat” and a lifelong Steelers fan.

Roy Jones Jr.

The legendary boxing champ grew up among a slew of Dallas Cowboy fans, but gravitated towards the rival Steelers because of an admiration for Lynn Swann, Franco Harris and Terry Bradshaw. But Jones once told Steelers.com that his fanhood was cemented when his godmother asked him who his favorite team was and he selected Pittsburgh because of their colors. She sent him a Steelers belt buckle and RJJ became attached to the Steelers ever since.

Bret Michaels

Poison’s epic front man and the winner of 2010’s Celebrity Apprentice was born in Butler and raised in Mechanicsburg as a Steeler diehard. Michaels identifies as a “Lambert Lunatic” and proudly boasts his fandom by owning a Steeler-themed guitar.

Chris Kirkpatrick

The *NSYNC singer from Clarion, PA is so much of a fan that his son was wrapped in a Terrible Towel hours after his birth (my two got the same treatment ten minutes into their lives) and announced on social media as the newest member of Steeler Nation.

Christina Aguilera

The pop diva was raised in Wexford and sung the National Anthem at Pirates, Penguins and Steeler games. As a superstar, she reprised the anthem before the Steelers’ Super Bowl XLV loss to Green Bay, a mistake-filled performance for both the team and the singer.

Reggie Jackson

The legendary “Mr. October” played in cities in 1970s and 80s that had notable football successes like Oakland, Baltimore and Anaheim. Then there was New York. But Reggie’s football fandom coincided with his Franco Harris friendship and never subsided.

John Grisham

The best-selling author is a “son of the south”, but his love of Pittsburgh sports started with fandom of Franco Harris and Roberto Clemente. Grisham set “The Associate” in the Steel City.

Corey Graves

The WWE commentator has become one of the best and most entertaining voices in professional wrestling today. A proud yinzer, Graves celebrates his Pittsburgh heritage and love for Pittsburgh sports frequently on WWE programming.

Jimmie Johnson

The legendary NASCAR champion isn’t a lifelong fan, but he first became a supporter while playing as the Steelers against his friends in Madden. Johnson completely pledged his allegiance to Steeler Nation leading up to their Super Bowl XLIII victory.

Did I miss a celebrity Steeler supporter? Who is your favorite of the bunch? Be heard in the comment section below.

Black and Gold Links: James Conner remains humble as he approaches 2019 as the starter

Sun, 06/02/2019 - 5:32am

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

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

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how running back James Conner is approaching this 2019 season, his first as the feature back, with a rare humility.

Let’s get to the news:

  • James Conner enters 2019 different than any other year of his Steelers career. As a rookie, he just wanted to make the team and make an impact. In 2018 he entered training camp just trying to keep Le’Veon Bell’s seat warm until he arrived. But this year he is the feature back — period.

James Conner’s 2019 approach: ‘I haven’t earned anything’

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

James Conner’s experience showed during a media session after Tuesday’s organized team activities, which shouldn’t surprise given his battle-tested first two NFL seasons.

The Steelers running back entered his rookie year in 2017 with much fanfare but admittedly left it humbled. Conner’s sophomore breakout coincided with the biggest storyline of the NFL season as Le’Veon Bell challenged the system with a yearlong holdout on the franchise tag.

Conner was tasked with replacing an All-Pro and friend while handling a new set of expectations on the fly. The result was a Pro Bowl campaign, and now a tone-setting leadership presence that became fairly obvious Tuesday.

Instead of declaring himself the Steelers’ top back, Conner cut in the open field. “I haven’t earned anything,” Conner said. “That’s what training camp and everything is for.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The Steelers are excited to be back to work, and they are showing it during OTAs.

‘It’s really good to be a Steeler right now’

By: Mike Prisuta, Steelers.com

Whatever the Steelers have been doing the past two weeks, they’ve been doing it with enthusiasm.

That isn’t a revelation, but for a team coming off a non-playoff season and an off-season of high-profile turnover and tumult, it’s been a welcome respite from what had been an unenviable norm.

“Man, it’s just a good feeling to get back out here,” cornerback Joe Haden announced. “When you start putting helmets on, when you start going against the offense, that’s just what it’s really about.”

Added quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: “This is kinda the first football thing. To be able to come out here and put a helmet on and get under center and get snaps and throw to guys and go against the defense, it’s kinda turned back to football again, it’s fun.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Don’t ask Maurkice Pouncey about the media’s criticism, and portrayal, of his quarterback Ben Roethlisberer — he doesn’t take too kindly to that.

Maurkice Pouncey: “No point” in talking about “absolutely” unfair criticism of Ben Roethlisberger

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

The periodic criticism of Steelers quarterback Mr. Ben Roethlisberger continues, with former Steelers linebacker and former Steelers assistant coach Joey Porter becoming the latest former coworker to sound off. Current teammate Maurkice Pouncey isn’t interested in getting into a back-and-forth over it.

“I said what I said,” Pouncey told reporters on Wednesday regarding his part support of the team’s quarterback, via Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Everybody knows I support him. There’s no point in even talking about it.”

Pouncey called the criticism of Roethlisberger “absolutely” unfair, and he said again that there is “no point in asking that question.”

The drama and dysfunction that have enveloped the team in recent months has had a positive impact, as Pouncey explained it.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

We're excited for Watt's to come from T.J.

@_TJWatt pic.twitter.com/bz9TIOACbv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 2, 2019

So many stories. So much #SteelersHistory in 1️⃣ room.

What an awesome evening hearing from some of our alumni at Men's Fantasy Camp presented by @budlightpic.twitter.com/aJ6gyKf6ok

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 2, 2019

.@catcenter66 talks about how the offensive line is progressing and about how Coach Sarrett is settling into his new role. pic.twitter.com/Y62YBlVAlb

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 1, 2019

We had a very special visitor at @UPMCHillmanCC today! @JamesConner_ thanks for brightening our patients’ days! pic.twitter.com/yRNwWMkyrG

— UPMC (@UPMC) May 31, 2019

.@missi_matthews spoke with Coach Fichtner about the 2018 season, Ben's new deal, the growth of young players and more. pic.twitter.com/CB3rEIWA4H

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 1, 2019

I’ll agree with Haloti Ngata, the night he broke Ben Roethlisberger’s nose was special

Sat, 06/01/2019 - 2:35pm

It's rare that a Steelers fan would agree with a Raven. But the night Haloti Ngata broke Ben Roethlisberger's nose really was special.

Former Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata retired this week, and did so as a member of the team he began his career with.

During his retirement press-conference, Ngata cited as his career highlight the time he “accidentally” broke Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s nose during a late-season game way back in 2010.

In fairness to Ngata, I probably shouldn’t have implied that he broke Roethlisberger’s nose on purpose while smacking it with his huge mitt during a sack, but it sure was a crime he didn’t called for a penalty on the play.

Given the nature and history of the Steelers/Ravens rivalry, it’s perhaps no surprise that Ngata would cite breaking the nose of the best quarterback in the AFC North over the past 15 years as his favorite memory. This is what rivalries are all about. Besides, if Ngata made a few thousand Steelers fans irate with his retirement speech, all the better.

But you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t look back at the night of December 5, 2010 with much disdain. You see, it was a fantastic game—one of several between the two franchises over the past decade-plus—and one that was vital to AFC North supremacy, as per usual.

The stuff with Roethlisberger suffering physical damage on a play in-which the perpetrator wasn’t penalized? By that point in No. 7’s career, I think he and every Steeler fan were pretty much used to it.

“Why didn’t you call that, you always throw flags when stuff happens to Tom Brady,” asked the fan.

“Yeah, but it’s Tom Brady,” said the official. “He tells us when to throw a flag. Besides, Big Ben is just so big—it’s right there in his name.”

“Yeah, but Peyton Manning is big, and he gets calls.”

“Yeah, but he’s Peyton Manning. Besides, his commercials slay me.”

Anyway, after coming back from his four-game suspension to start the season due to conduct detrimental the the league, it appeared that Roethlisberger’s punishment continued during games, as he seemed to take extra shot after extra shot without receiving his fair share of calls from the officials.

To his credit, Roethlisberger took his beatings and just kept quiet.

As for the Ravens, despite their usual scoring habits that mostly involved field goals, safeties and the occasional punt return, many people were high on them in 2010, especially with Roethlisberger set to miss the first month of the season.

And to their credit, the Ravens came into Heinz Field in Week 4 against a 3-0 Pittsburgh team led by Charlie Batch and eked out a last-second victory. This loss wasn’t exactly crippling to the Steelers playoff chances the rest of the season, but with both teams coming into the December 5 rematch at M&T Bank Stadium with identical 8-3 records, it essentially made it a must-win game for Pittsburgh in-order to keep an AFC North title (and a bye) a realistic goal.

Unfortunately, the rematch was on Sunday Night Football, which meant Baltimore was extra fired up.

I won’t go into heavy detail about this game, but let’s just say the Ravens took it to Pittsburgh for the better part of 60 minutes. Following their usual script, they entered the fourth quarter with a 10-3 lead and needed basically one more score or stop on defense to seal the deal.

By this point in the game, Roethlisberger had already suffered his broken nose at the hands of Ngata, an injury that was quite visible for all the world to see as the big, giant quarterback was being examined on the bench.

After a field goal by new-comer Shaun Suisham cut the deficit to four, the Ravens had the football at their own 43 with just 3:22 left in the game. Another first down or two, and Pittsburgh’s AFC North prospects would officially have to go on life-support (remember, head-to-head is the first divisional tiebreaker, so even though the Steelers would have been just a game behind in the standings, they would have really been two...and with just four weeks remaining).

But like he usually did in those days—particularly against the Ravens—legendary safety Troy Polamalu came through when it mattered, timing a second-down blitz just right and stripping Joe Flacco of the football just as he was about to pass it. LaMarr Woodley scooped up the fumble and kind of scampered 19 yards to the Baltimore nine-yard line.

Three plays later, Roethlisberger found former fan-favorite running back Isaac Redman, who was split out wide to the left, on a short pass, and to his credit, Redman ran through several Ravens defenders on the way to the end zone to give the Steelers a 13-10 lead with 2:58 remaining.

Despite the Ravens’ fondness for field goals, the Steelers prevented them from even attempting one on a last-gasp drive, thus preserving a very critical win. Pittsburgh took a one-game lead into the final month of the season and ultimately hung on to secure an AFC North crown and an all-important bye.

I realize this wasn't even the most important victory over the Ravens that season--that would come weeks later in a divisional round rubber-match at Heinz Field. I also understand Pittsburgh didn't win Super Bowl XLV--it merely just made an appearance.

But I think this little victory late in the 2010 season is a forgotten gem that may not have received the attention it deserved had it not been for Ngata reminding us of it.

Thank you, Haloti Ngata, we (you and Steelers fans) finally agree on something.

Josh Dobbs tries his hand at being a weatherman after dabbling as a pilot

Sat, 06/01/2019 - 11:55am

It has been a busy and varied offseason for the Steelers backup quarterback in 2019

Having left the University of Tennessee with a degree in aerospace engineering, it is fair to say that Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Joshua Dobbs would have had a number of attractive career option available to him had he not chosen to focus on football. And while keeping the backup job behind Ben Roethlisberger and one day becoming a starter in the NFL is his primary goal right now, it seems likely that Dobbs’ life after football will be no less interesting.

The offseason is a chance for most players to relax or spend time with their families, but for Dobbs it has always seemed to be a time when he devoted himself to working with charitable organizations or pursuing other interests. Earlier in the year, Dobbs spent some time working with NASA as part of an externship program and in April spent time with the U.S Air Force Thunderbirds fulling a life-long dream.

Thankful for the opportunity to fulfill one of my lifelong dreams to fly w/ @AFThunderbirds! S/O to my pilot, Maj. Jason Markzon (#8) & the entire crew. Thank you for your service & representing our country! Hope to fly again soon. Watch out...Astro coming to a sky near you! pic.twitter.com/fGrQUDIJ3u

— Josh Dobbs (@josh_dobbs1) April 7, 2019

Archives! @AFThunderbirds pic.twitter.com/tFrp6hpwIj

— Josh Dobbs (@josh_dobbs1) May 15, 2019

Ever want to fly an F-16 fighter jet? Steelers QB @josh_dobbs1 had the chance to do just that with the @AFThunderbirds.

Watch Dobbs take flight on @watch_SITV: https://t.co/svKwRTvr45 pic.twitter.com/X3EokEmDzz

— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 28, 2019

Brains and brawn: As an aerospace engineer, Steelers QB @josh_dobbs1 proves you can have both. And this past April, he flew an F-16 fighter jet with the @AFThunderbirds.

Watch Dobbs's full flight and learn his story on @watch_SITV: https://t.co/svKwRTN2sF pic.twitter.com/QpP1OneLz5

— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 28, 2019

But if Dobbs is looking to follow a less hazardous career path when his playing days are over, it seems he may yet have potential as a weatherman for a local cable news station.

Returning to Tennessee last week as the special guest at the third annual Knox News Sports Awards on Wednesday night, Dobbs also made an appearance on WATE-TV to try his hand at being a meteorologist.

.@josh_dobbs1 said he'd be a weatherman if he worked in news...we gave him an audition.

He MAAAAY wanna stick to football. #Vols pic.twitter.com/wEvWJbkB7i

— WATE Sports (@WATESports) May 31, 2019

Contrary to the ribbing from the network, Dobbs did not do a bad job, and considering his popularity in the state, would be an excellent addition to their broadcast team.

Wow @Hinkmologist, I can’t believe you put me out there like that! You have to say it was at least a 7 for a first timer? Let’s see if my forecast for today is correct. If so, it should go up to an 8. Thanks for for the fun!! https://t.co/Vp9vp4D0Za

— Josh Dobbs (@josh_dobbs1) June 1, 2019

The busy schedule for Dobbs continues on Saturday when he hosts his youth football camp in Knoxville, Tennessee; presumably returning to Pittsburgh for the third week of OTAs beginning on June 3 and then mandatory minicamp starting on June 11.

Ok Knoxville, tomorrow is Camp Day! We are preparing an exciting day of instruction & competition for about 300 campers. We appreciate ALL of our sponsors, volunteers & campers for your support! Be sure to hydrate campers & get ready to work!!
pic.twitter.com/DkS2wlnGhh

— Josh Dobbs (@josh_dobbs1) May 31, 2019

Ramon Foster highlights the play of two undrafted offensive lineman during OTAs

Sat, 06/01/2019 - 9:45am

The veteran was also impressed with first-round draft pick Devin Bush and third round selection Diontae Johnson

As an 11-year NFL veteran, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster has seen his fair share of names come through the Steel City, enough that he has developed something of an eye for talent when evaluating the younger players on the roster. And when sitting down for an interview with Mike Prisuta of Steelers.com at practice, Foster was keen to highlight two offensive lineman who had caught his attention during OTAs this offseason.

In previous years, Foster had noted the prospects of under the radar options like Mike Hilton and Jaylan Samuels ahead of productive debuts season. On Friday, it was young undrafted offensive lineman Fred Johnson and Garrett Brumfield who received an initial seal of approval from the veteran guard.

“I’m going with a couple of linemen this year. Fred, the kid from Florida is a guy that I’ve got my eye on, also Brumfield, he’s an undrafted guy out of LSU. First and foremost, all our young guys, mentally they have it way better than we did in terms of learning the playbook. But as far as them being able to bring it to the field too, those two guys have really stuck out to me.”

But before you rush out to buy you customized Johnson or Brumfield jerseys, Foster’s was quick to note that his evaluation of the two players was still ongoing, with his official check mark still pending.

“Not yet, because they’re in my group. And they’re both undrafted too which is kinda cool so I of course have an eye for those type of guys right now.”

Ramon Foster sat down with Mike Prisuta to talk about the new faces on the team, expectations for 2019 and more. pic.twitter.com/AisygJJU8u

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 31, 2019

And for those wondering how Foster rated some of the more notable names added in the draft this offseason, the veteran lineman has clearly been impressed by the talents of Devin Bush.

“Devin, you can tell he was first-round for a reason. The guy moves flawlessly, man. He’s a guy that knows what he’s going and you can tell our defensive coordinators, our defensive coaches and some of the older guys are pushing him also to get it down.”

As well as Diontae Johnson, while conveniently failing to mention Antonio Brown by name when comparing the young receiver to past players.

“Our third-round receiver, he has some tools. And there was a comparison out there to a guy that came in a year after me that they were like, he’s really looking advanced. He has an opportunity ... He’s a guy that I’m really looking forward to seeing”.

Entering his second year, it would appear that James Washington has also impressed Foster during the early stages of OTAs.

James Washington, you can tell a difference in him this year. I’m excited for that kid, very excited for him.”

“He lit it up on just raw talent [as a rookie at OTAs], now he’s fully thinking about it. You see his technique come into it. He’s gotta be one of the highest, quickest jumpers I’ve ever seen and he just has a sense of calm over him. And that’s what it took for me, it was about a year before I actually got comfortable and he looks like he’s getting comfortable with what he’s doing.”

If Foster continues to excel as a talent evaluator, he may yet have another career in professional football ahead of him in the personnel department. However given his obvious ease in front of camera, it would not be a surprise if he made a move into media once his playing days were over.

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