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Xavier Grimble undergoes surgery on thumb/wrist putting more stress on Steelers TEs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/18/2018 - 2:29pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now ridiculously thin at the tight end position.

If you think about all the tight ends the Pittsburgh Steelers have gone through since fan favorite Heath Miller retired, it is quite the list.

The team drafted Jesse James, who remains on the roster, they added players like Ladarius Green, Xavier Grimble and now Vance McDonald. All in an attempt to find someone who could be the rock Miller was for the Steelers throughout his career.

Though they’ve tried, James is the only player who has been consistently available for the black-and-gold since Miller’s days at Heinz Field came to a close.

Coming into the 2018 season, it looked as if the Steelers’ tight end depth chart was essentially set. Jesse James, Vance McDonald and Xavier Grimble. However, after McDonald went down with a foot injury the first week of training camp, and hasn’t returned since, Grimble now finds himself out of the lineup for the near future.

This per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN:

Steelers TE Xavier Grimble underwent surgery to repair ligament in thumb/wrist area, per source. The hope is a Week 1 return but will be out a few weeks. Team already thin at TE with Vance McDonald nursing a foot injury.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 18, 2018

The surgery, combined with McDonald’s injury, severely handicaps the team’s depth for the final two weeks of the preseason. The team signed Bucky Hodges just over a week ago, and other than Pharoah McKever and Christian Scotland-Williamson, who has never played a game in the NFL as a former rugby player, the team might have to look for some tight end help sooner, rather than later.

While the Steelers going into a preseason game with James, McKever, Hodges and Scotland-Williamson doesn’t seem that bad, thinking of that being the depth for a regular season game is a recipe for disaster.

There is hope both Grimble and McDonald will return in time for the games that matter, but if they aren’t ready there is a good chance the talk about a tight end focused offense would go on the back burner until the depth returns at the position.

Steelers Injury Report: Ben Roethlisberger’s non-concussion diagnosis great news

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/18/2018 - 2:14pm

Injury news, or lack thereof, for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is great for Ben the human, as well as the Steelers organization.

It almost seemed as if it were a bad dream.

While following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ final training camp practice at Latrobe High School on Twitter...this came across and sent shock waves not only down my spine, but through the collective Steelers’ fan base:

Ben Roethlisberger is down. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 14, 2018

For a split second, everyone was wondering what the 2018 season would resemble. Sure, fans were excited to see what Mason Rudolph could do as a professional, but no one in their right mind thought he was ready to play now. Despite all the talent the Steelers possess on the offensive side of the football, Roethlisberger is the cornerstone.

The straw which stirs the drink.

Without No. 7, you can kiss the season goodbye.

As more news was brought to light regarding the situation, Roethlisberger didn’t suffer any structural damage, but was entered into the NFL’s concussion protocol. Immediately, fans were worried about the franchise quarterback’s health, considering he has a history of concussions throughout his 15-year career, but they may have been jumping to conclusions a bit.

As it turns out, Roethlisberger was evaluated for a concussion, but was deemed to not have suffered the injury many suggested. This per Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went through the protocol, and it was determined he did not have a concussion from the hit he suffered in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ final practice in advance of their preseason game Thursday against the Green Bay Packers.

Coach Mike Tomlin made the announcement before the game to sideline reporter Missi Matthews of Steelers.com.

Roethlisberger accompanied the team to Green Bay, although it was decided he would not play in the game before he was injured in practice Tuesday. Dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, Roethlisberger watched from the sideline.

While many might view this as old news, it should be repeated how tremendous this is for both Roethlisberger and the Steelers.

Roethlisberger has talked about brain injuries being a reason he is leaning towards retiring sooner, rather than later. Also, from a pure football standpoint, Roethlisberger being able to suit up and play in Week 3 of the preseason when the Tennessee Titans come to Heinz Field will help the team stay sharp as the regular season inches closer.

On Saturday, when the Titans come to town, the team should have almost their full allotment of stars of the field for the first time this preseason, if they are healthy. Expect Cameron Heyward, Roethlisberger and Joe Haden to all be on the field helping the Steelers iron out the wrinkles which plagued them in Week 2 vs. the Packers.

Those who might not be available due to injury would be:

Sean Davis (groin)
Vance McDonald (foot)
T.J. Watt (hamstring)
Antonio Brown (quad)

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes regarding the black-and-gold as they press on through the preseason prepping for the games which really count.

Pulling the JuJu Smith-Schuster fan endorsement

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/18/2018 - 11:49am

JuJu Smith-Schuster is having a little too much fun playing football, and this is why it’s time to endorse James Washington.

We here at Fan Inc., a fictional company which represents the fan base and how they feel, love to have fun as much as anyone else. But our fun usually involves winning, and this is why some recent news about Steelers young and fun-loving receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster, is a bit distressing.

It has come to our attention that, during a recent Steelers’ training camp session at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., Smith-Schuster ran some routes the wrong way and may have even dropped a few passes. These transgressions drew the ire of veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who questioned whether or not his young receiver’s head was into getting better, learning, winning, etc.

This made us at Fan Inc. begin to question if Smith-Schuster’s priorities, priorities that include elaborate touchdown celebrations, smiling, laughing, a high volume of social media activity, and playing the video game Fortnite, align with our more traditional values—again, we like to have fun, but only if you define that as winning.

We understand that roughly 94.5% of fans embrace JuJu’s idea of fun, but our own studies have revealed that 5.5% of fans just don’t like it because they feel that it is distracting him from winning football games. And that 5.5% is a huge concern to us at Fan Inc.

Therefore, after much thought and consideration, Fan Inc. has decided to sever ties with Smith-Schuster. We feel that Smith-Schuster’s idea of fun just doesn’t align with our idea of fun, which involves championships. We feel that Smith-Schuster’s brand and application of fun will never lead to a championship, as evidenced by the fact that his type of fun hasn’t produced one during his professional football career.

Fortunately, it is with great excitement that we here at Fan Inc. have decided to put our full support behind rookie receiver James Washington, the young man out of Oklahoma State. He does like to have fun, but our research has shown that his kind of fun involves fishing and staying humble. These types of endeavors and attributes will no-doubt keep him focused on football and getting better at football and winning football.

Think about the amount of time one has while fishing; for a young and humble man such as Washington, this will allow for countless mental reps, reps that will strengthen his on-field focus and lead to precise route running and sure hands.

Washington also enjoys working on the farm, an activity that we feel will make him stronger, while, at the same time, help him to remain humble. After all, while farming is fun, it’s not so much fun that it distracts one from the responsibilities of winning football games.

We don’t know Washington’s official position on touchdown celebrations at the professional level, but we hope his college custom of handing the football back to the officials will continue. We also don’t know his position on video games—including Fortnite—but we are still in the process of gathering information as we speak, and will make a decision if necessary.

As for right now, we here at Fan Inc. are comfortable that James Washington will bring us the kind of football-winning fun that is important to us in 2018.

Thank you and good day.

Steelers ranked 5th on ESPN’s preseason power rankings, which seems about right

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/18/2018 - 9:59am

The Steelers will be a strong contender this season, but they should not be considered the frontrunner.

The Pittsburgh Steelers exist in a perpetual state of contention. Under Mike Tomlin’s tutelage, they’ve won one Super Bowl, two AFC championships, and five AFC North titles. They also have a bunch of playoff appearances—they’ve made the postseason in each of the past four seasons—and have finished with a sub-.500 record precisely zero times. I’ve heard people accuse Pittsburgh of having the most entitled, spoiled fanbase in the universe, and while I’d first remind them that Boston still exists, I’m wont to agree: things are pretty good in these here parts.

With the very notable exception of Ryan Shazier, the 2018 Steelers will return the core components of a roster that finished 13-3 and, for the most part, looked every bit the Super Bowl frontrunner they were expected to be in 2017—the offense was characteristically prolific, the defense—particularly the secondary—showed flashes of fleeting but encouraging brilliance, and Chris Boswell, who the Steelers picked off the top of a pile to replace the dreaded Josh Scobee [A flaming Hellpit opens in my apartment’s kitchen, swallowing the dishwasher whole; the room is enveloped by cries of the damned. A demon emerges. “Josh Scohhhhh-BEEEE,” he roars. A swarm of locusts fly from his gaping maw.], nailed five game-winners, cementing himself as the coldest special teamer in the whole daggum AFC. ESPN therefore has the Steelers pegged as the league’s fifth-best team, which looks about right.

The four teams ranked ahead of Pittsburgh—Philadelphia, New England (duh), New Orleans, and Minnesota—are all loaded with top-end talent and quality depth players. Like, Philadelphia’s MVP-caliber quarterback blew his knee out last season weeks before the playoffs, and the Eagles managed to rally behind his backup and win the Super Bowl anyway. Nick Foles is fine, but that championship doesn’t happen without Philly’s stocked cabinet of offensive playmakers and their stellar defensive line that is legitimately eight-deep. The Saints—whose backfield of Mark Ingram (yawn) and Alvin Karmara (who is a blessing to the world and must be safeguarded at all costs) might actually be second-to-none in NFL history—were a fluke Hail Mary away from playing in the NFC title game last season, and the team responsible for said Fluke Mary, the Minnesota Vikings, started Case KeenumCase Keenum!—in a conference championship game. And Tom Brady is still breathing, so the Pats are the Pats.

Now, I’d argue that the Steelers have just as much superstar talent as any of the four teams ranked ahead of them, but I think they are objectively thinner. While every team has its deficiencies, the Steelers’ foremost concern—their pressing lack of middle linebacker depth—was plainly exposed against the Jacksonville Jaguars (who are confusingly ranked 7th in ESPN’s list, but that’s neither here nor there) in the AFC Playoffs. Until that whole thing become less opaque (perhaps Matthew Thomas or L.J. Fort can help; check out Nick’s article) I think putting the Steelers around 5th is fair.

Re-evaluation of punter position is long overdue for Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/18/2018 - 7:55am

After another inconsistent night from Jordan Berry against the Packers, it’s clear a conversation needs to take place about making a change at punter.

Mike Tomlin had a lot to sift through after the Pittsburgh Steelers lost their second game of the preseason to the Green Bay Packers by a score of 51-34, but it was interesting to note one of the issues he chose to highlight during his brief post-game press conference.

After listing several concerns from the game related to the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, it was something of a surprise to hear Tomlin question the performance of Jordan Berry. As he told the assembled reporters.

“I thought the punting wasn’t consistent enough”

While it would be fair to say that any criticism was well warranted, it’s not something we’ve heard very often in the past from Tomlin, even though it’s far from the first time this accusation could be leveled at the Steelers’ punter.

Despite one punt of 65 yards, Berry would end the night with a net average of just 31.8 yards from six punts. His first punt traveled only 30 yards before going out of bounds, giving the Packers the ball on Pittsburgh’s 40-yard line. His second boot was somewhat better, a 58-yarder that was returned 18 yards. The third punt was his 65-yard effort, but the 21-yard return that followed might not have happened if Berry hadn’t out-kicked the coverage team. Thankfully, that return was negated by a holding penalty, albeit one that only helped add a few more yards onto the end of the run.

His fourth punt only traveled 28 yards before going out of bounds and barely made it onto Green Bay’s half of the field, giving them the ball at their own 49-yard line. Berry’s fifth punt of the night might have been the best of the lot, a 56-yard effort with a hang-time of 4.97 seconds, according to the commentators. Unfortunately, the coverage was shockingly poor and a loss of outside containment resulted in a 41-yard return, helped by a pathetic attempt at a tackle by Berry allowing the punt-returner to gain an extra nine yards.

The last punt of the game was a 30-yard effort which was fair-caught at the Packers’ 14-yard line. In fairness, it wasn’t a terrible kick, but one that should have traveled at least another five yards to be considered decent.

With most teams in the league only having played one preseason game at the time of this writing, Berry’s net average of 33.7 yards through two games ranks him No. 43 out of 45 punters listed by NFL.com. An average of 43.6 yards on his kicks has him ranked 27th among his peers. Although punter Matt Wile was limited to kicking only field goals against the Packers, his 47.5-yard net average on two punts against the Philadelphia Eagles has him ranked second in the league.

A net average of 39.8 yards in 2017 for Berry during the regular season was good enough only to rank him 25th in the league last year, while an average length-of-kick of 43.2 yards was only better than one of the NFL’s starting punters. Berry was only marginally better in 2016 with a 40.2-yard net and 45.6-yard average, numbers that ranked 16th and 18th respectively. His debut season in 2015 was his worst, based on the numbers, after he recorded a net of 39.1-yards and an average of 42.6-yards, ranking him 25th and 32nd respectively.

If three years of watching Berry kick have taught us anything, it’s that inconsistency is the name of his game. Generally, he’s good for one or two decent punts per game, with the rest of his kicks in most contests typically being underwhelming. Directional punting has never been a strength of his game and it would be hard to argue that he helps his coverage team in most cases.

With Berry costing Pittsburgh $1.907 million against the cap this season, only 15 punters in the NFL take up more cap room than he will in 2018. And it would be fair to question how much value the Steelers are getting in return for their money. Wile would cost Pittsburgh just $555,000 in salary-cap space if they opted to keep him over Berry this year.

With two preseason games yet to play, it would seem sensible to give Wile a longer look at punter in the upcoming games. Bringing in some competition from outside the organization might not be a bad idea either. The final rounds of cuts across the league might yet place a viable alternative on the open market before the regular season begins, and it can only be hoped the Steelers will take a long, hard look any options that become available.

Either Berry needs to magically find the consistency that has eluded him the past three seasons — and quickly — or Pittsburgh needs to consider going in another direction at punter.

James Washington’s performance against Packers belies his rookie status

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/18/2018 - 6:44am

Two impressive touchdown receptions from the Steelers’ second-round draft pick on Thursday night were the highlight of the game against Green Bay.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were trying to pump the brakes on the hype surrounding James Washington coming out of training camp, after the former Oklahoma State University star logged a number of noteworthy days in practice. But it’ll be hard to temper the excitement of fans, given his performance against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.

While a stat line of five receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns with a 22.8-yards-per-catch average is impressive enough, it was the manner in which Washington made those plays that sets him apart from most of the rookie wide receivers we’ve seen around the league this preseason.

A reputation for winning contested catches during his college career preceded Washington and clearly was well deserved after he highlighted this ability on both of his touchdown receptions.

Contested catch TD by James Washington #NorrisNotes pic.twitter.com/BdsrzKNfXJ

— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 17, 2018

.@JamesWashington is a BEAST. #PITvsGB pic.twitter.com/uv6hrxLTkA

— NFL (@NFL) August 17, 2018

James Washington just destroys corners at the catch point pic.twitter.com/wiYPMf7usJ

— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) August 17, 2018

Despite his proven track record as a deep-ball threat in college, Washington still had detractors who questioned his vertical speed. But if not for an under-thrown ball by Joshua Dobbs in the third quarter, he might have added a 64-yard touchdown to his tally on the night, given the separation he created.

WOW! What a throw by @josh_dobbs1 to James Washington! Dobbs is on fire right now! pic.twitter.com/8GRrNdDVsm

— Josh Dobbs FanPage (@JoshuaDobbsFans) August 17, 2018

Praised by Mike Tomlin for his physical conditioning at the start of camp, Washington’s fitness levels have encouraged the coaching staff to give him more reps during practice, as Tomlin observed during a question and answer session for Steeler Nation Unite.

“James is doing really well, and I think the first thing that comes with him doing really well is that he’s in really good shape for a rookie. His level of conditioning can be compared to that of a veteran and that really allows them to really help themselves because he’s able to absorb the number of reps that’s gonna allow him to improve, to learn what to do, to show that he knows what he’s doing. He’s absorbing a lot of reps during our work right now, and he’s getting those reps because he’s in good shape. If he wasn’t in as good as condition, he wouldn’t be able to get those things.”

The benefit of those extra reps was clearly evident against the Packers, and it can only be imagined how far the young player will progress in his development by mid-season. Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster might be the unquestioned starters heading into the regular season, but it will be hard to keep Washington off the field as the 2018 campaign unfolds. With Opening Day still more than three weeks away, he’s already made an extremely strong claim to be considered the No. 3 receiver on the depth chart and the obvious player to add on the outside in three receiver sets.

James Washington led the way for the Steelers with a big time performance last night. pic.twitter.com/HTF0zZqYf9

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 17, 2018

A mere five months older than Smith-Schuster, Washington displays a level of maturity and understanding of the game that belies his rookie status. The lack of a touchdown celebration is also something of a rarity among players his age. Talking with reporters after the game, Washington is clearly a different sort of personality to many of the other wide receivers currently playing in the league.

James Washington pic.twitter.com/Cb7311DLzq

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) August 17, 2018

There can be little question that Washington still has a lot to learn about life in the NFL and there are unquestionably aspects of his game that require work, but it would appear the Steelers track record of unearthing receiving talent in the draft might be claiming another successful pick at the position by the time the 2018 season is over.

Podcast: Breaking down the Pittsburgh loss to Green Bay

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/18/2018 - 5:38am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the middle of the preseason, and with a surge of Steelers news finally here, it’s 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 Steelers Post-Game. On this show Jeff Hartman and Lance Williams break down all things Steelers, including a fun game of “True or False!”

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Translating the loss into regular-season outcomes?
  • Players who impressed?
  • Players who stunk?
  • 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 our BlogTalkRadio page. If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below. Be sure to follow us on iTunes by searching The Standard is the Standard.

The show is sponsored by Frank Walker Law, the top criminal defense firm to call in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia and home to one of the nation’s top-100 ranked trial attorneys in Frank Walker. For his PA office, call 412-212-3878 or to reach his WV office call 304-712-2089. You should also check out his website frankwalkerlaw.com to see how he can help you in your time of need. Frank Walker Law: Real Talk, Real Experience, Real Results.

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Preseason Edition, Vol. 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 5:35pm

The games don’t count, but there is still plenty to talk about!

Several people have asked if we could bring back the Friday Night Open Thread. I had moved the event to Saturday morning, but after minimal success, I decided to bring it back to Friday night — with a slight twist.

I liked the Saturday Six-Pack theme, so I decided to just take the six questions and move them to Friday night. Say hello to Friday Night Six-Pack of Steelers Questions and open thread!

The rules haven’t changed...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

  • I’ll ask at least four questions strictly related to the Steelers.
  • The rest of the questions could be about anything.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have fun talking about the Black-and-gold.

That’s it! With that out of the way, it’s time to get this party started. Hey, don’t act like you’ve never done a little Friday night drinking. Here goes:

1. If you could pick ONE PLAYER who stood out, in a good way, to you on Thursday night, who would that be?

2. On the flip side, who is the ONE PLAYER who absolutely looked horrible?

3. Damoun Patterson didn’t get much of a chance to show Week 1 wasn’t a fluke. But what do you think? Fluke performance vs. the Eagles? Or a sign of things to come?

4. I am expecting the Steelers to “ease” James Washington into the lineup, as they did to JuJu last year. I don’t agree with it, but can see that happening. Who do you think would be the receiver who would start over him, understanding JuJu and Antonio Brown would occupy the other two positions?

5. I asked this last week, and I’ll as it again: If there was ONE PLAYER you would cut right now, who would it be? And why?

6. It is the preseason, and everyone is talking about how the defense surrendered 51-points Thursday night. If you put credence into the defense allowing points, shouldn’t you put credence in the offense scoring 31 and 34-points? How do you handle the evaluation process during the preseason?

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Lastly, if you haven’t yet, sign up for the BTSC FanPulse!! You will receive an email a week asking you questions like “What is your confidence level of the Steelers vs. Browns game coming up?”. Those answers will then have the possibility to be used in our articles! Sign up below!

PODCASTS

None this week

Report Card: Grading the Steelers’ preseason Week-2 loss to the Packers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 12:36pm

Time to break out the red pen and grade the black-and-gold’s 51-34 loss to Green Bay.

The Steelers opened their preseason schedule on a high note last week with a 31-14 win over the Super Bowl Champion Eagles in Philadelphia. This week they scored more points, but the game was more disturbing than a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue featuring the cast of The Golden Girls. Of course these games don’t register in the regular season standings, but what happens during these contests is paramount in shaping the team. It also might be the difference between continuing one’s dream as an NFL player or having to start from scratch or perhaps begin the search for their life’s work.

Grading games like this is an extremely difficult task. Eight quarters of work is hardly enough to tell the story, but it’s starting to find a specific tone. While the coaches’ grades are what count the most, the media and fans evaluate as well.

Let’s take a look at BTSC’s early perceptions:

Offense

Mason Rudolph’s interception to start the game put the team in a whole early and set a negative tone. While No. 2 had a TD pass and looked promising with the first team, he fell apart with second-team protection. Now although he faced lesser competition, Josh Dobbs looked like the better QB tonight. But his pick-six put the game out of reach to start the third quarter. The offense gave up 14 points and just plain stunk. The two brightest spots of the night were most definitely were the Killer Jays...James Washington, JuJu Smith-Schuster and JamesConner. I’m not saying that there’s too much to fret over for the regular season, but tonight was nauseating.

Overall Offense Grade: D-

Honor Roll: James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington

Defense

Evaluating Keith Butler’s bunch at this point is tough. The full starting unit wasn’t on the field once again. While the offense gave up 14, these guys looked just as suspect. I thought Terrell Edmunds showed up better this week, but I’m hard-pressed to find a silver lining here. The team was torched again over the middle and desperately needs to upgrade at ILB. I’m just not sure how at this juncture. If I had to recognize a top defensive performer, it would be the homecoming performance of S Morgan Burnett. He showed good coverage skills, as well as pass rushing and defending prowess.

Overall Defense Grade: D

Honor Roll: Morgan Burnett

Special Teams

I wanted to see Quadree HendersonJ do more, but he just didn’t do much with the limited return opportunities he got. Danny Smith’s unit covered very poorly again and the Pack had multiple, significant returns. Jordan Berry was pretty bad as well. He’s not the same punter as he was three years ago.

Overall ST Grade: F

Honor Roll: Nobody

The first effort of the season was positive. This one was mind-numbing. Yes, I know it’s preseason. But the deficiencies on defense up-the-middle are sapping my optimism. I would have been better off spending the evening photoshopping the heads of Bea Arthur and Rue McLanahan’s heads on to the bodies of swimsuit models. A rebound at home against Tennessee is imperative.

Overall Team Grade: F

8 Takeaways from the Steelers’ loss to Green Bay

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 10:52am

The Steelers were embarrassed as the Packers kicked them out of Lambeau. What can be taken away from the mediocre showing?

After a good showing against the Eagles last week, the Steelers seemingly laid a giant egg as they traveled into Green Bay and were shellacked by the Packers. I don’t think they will be anywhere near this bad come the regular season, and we’ll likely see many more performances that are closer to the Eagles game.

Thus, we can still take away some conclusions through the first two preseason games. Some repeat performances deserve a raise of the brow, while others need another week to truly prove whether Week 2 was just an “off night” or not.

As such, here are eight conclusions that can be taken away from this loss.

Mason Rudolph still has a long way to go

I said last week that Rudolph had starter potential and I still firmly believe that, but he’s clearly not game ready now by any means. We saw many of the concerns from Rudolph’s college tape rear their ugly heads in Thursday night’s game.

While he showed good processing last week, this week it was the opposite. On his interception, Rudolph stared down Darrius Heyward-Bey and only went with his first read. Williams had a free and easy pick there. Rudolph has to learn to go through his progressions and do them much quicker. He was going through them at a snail’s pace, and it led to a few more sacks that shouldn’t have happened. He had some ball-placement issues when under pressure, so the pocket-presence issue is still there from last week. Anytime pressure got anywhere near him, errant passes were the only consistent thing happening.

There were some positives, though. He had a great throw in a tight window to JuJu Smith Schuster and showed lots of poise in that pocket on the play. On one play, where he stiff-armed a defender, Rudolph felt the rush and stepped up into the pocket and got out of there. That shows improved pocket presence and confirms he has it. Not everyone has that, but if he can gain more poise he’ll become much better as a whole. He reminds me of Jared Goff as a rookie, but Goff improved his poise in the pocket and made great strides last season. Rudolph thus can do the same.

Daniel McCullers is a much different player this year

The man known as “shade tree” inexplicably has had a fire lighted under him this season. Props to Karl Dunbar for that change in McCullers because he has been a monster in these first two preseason games. This game he started and was pushing the center back into the QBs and RBs multiple times. He ate up lots of space and clogged up running lanes the entire day.

However, I still have concerns with McCullers. For one, while he was doing that, he didn’t shed blocks well at all. His field vision isn’t particularly impressive and, while he ate up space, he has to learn to shed blocks and make plays for himself. Javon Hargrave has this same issue, they both need to learn to shed blocks and make plays for themselves for the sake of the linebackers.

The ILB situation is a complete disaster

Outside of Vince Williams, there is no starting caliber ILB on the team currently. I know many believe Jon Bostic had a good game last week, but I indeed did go back and watch the type, and my suspicions were confirmed. He was lost in coverage and got washed out in run plays. I will go more into detail when I release the film breakdown of his game. However, he was not particularly good this week. He was better than Matakevich, but that is not a great feat. Bostic has to be more disciplined in keeping his gaps in run defense, he can not just let himself get washed out of lanes.

I still vouch, that after watching this game, L.J. Fort is the best option for the team right now opposite of Vince Williams. If we see versus Eagles Bostic, it is likely Bostic. However, the Steelers need an athletic playmaker, and that is exactly what Fort did tonight. He still got beat in coverage and is not particularly good at that, but that athletic playmaking is what they need.

Matthew Thomas is what I would describe as an athletic lump of clay. His instincts are still very lacking as a whole and he bites on play action plays like it is his job, but his playmaking versus the run, and competent showing in coverage, warrant either a 53-man roster spot or at the very least, a practice squad spot. I’m starting to believe he will make the roster.

Matakevich had a repeat performance of last week, just much less blatant. In other words, he was a non-factor and did almost nothing to merit any consideration for the starting spot opposite of Vince Williams.

James Conner is better than ever

A great night for few players, James Conner was one of those people. He looks much leaner, as he did last week, and it means he can make more big plays than he did even at Pitt. The leaner version of Conner is not the only significant step forward that he has taken though.

Conner’s vision has improved dramatically. He is now seeing cutback lanes he did not see last year and coupled with an added burst to his game, Conner has the ability to break big gains. He has also regained his impeccable balance from his first few seasons at Pitt. Conner would just not go down tonight and his touchdown was an impressive run.

Conner and Bell are going to be a very, very fun backfield this season.

The Safeties are a concern

Morgan Burnett had a good game. Despite missing one tackle, he was very solid in coverage and run defense. He showed just why they picked him up in the run game too, when he made many sure tackles. I do have the concern of his athleticism, though. To me, he looked a bit slow, and if that is the case, and age has caught up to him, the secondary could be toast. I do not trust Sean Davis at all.

Terrell Edmunds is a different story. I thought that it was, perhaps, a solid pick in the first round. He was good in run defense, so that part of his tape has not changed. We did not get to see him much on deep passes, but he struggled on that a ton on his college tape. The real issue that he was drafted to deal with Tight Ends and yet got beat twice badly by Jimmy Graham and the 5th string TE. On the first play, Graham just turns him around, Edmunds got smoked. On the second play, he had good positioning, but he has to go up and bat that away, if he is to live up to that first round tag.

Sean Davis and Marcus Allen need to get out on the field, as they need to prove they can help the secondary and not hurt it more than it already is right now.

James Washington is a stud

No one had a better night than James Washington. He just proved every camp anecdote you have heard of and more. Washington is much more than just a deep threat, he is a receiver that will win most of the time in combat catches. He did that all tonight. That is something Martavis Bryant never did.

What is even better is Washington has great release off of the line. You saw it when he burnt a Green Bay defender deep and connected for a massive gain, but that allows him to win in routes over the middle too. Crossers are some of the favorite routes of Randy Fichtner, based off of his previous calling in the role, and Washington can excel on those.

Yet again, this might be a steal and the top three of the Steelers receiving core is sitting very, very pretty.

Ola Adeniyi has been better than Anthony Chickillo

I thought that Adeniyi would be more than productive enough to make the 53-man roster and I still stand by that. But I never expected him to play at this level so quickly. Adeniyi was a source of constant pressure throughout the game and held his edge very well in run defense. Very rarely did anything get outside of him tonight. He had a very rare over-pursuit from him, but I love that he worked his way back into the play. Great job by L.T. Walton on that play to cut off all lanes. His bend and block shedding continue to show themselves as valuable components. He was by far the best OLB tonight as a whole in the pass rush.

Anthony Chickillo, meanwhile, was a source of pressure, but he missed a sack, and missed four tackles, by my count, tonight. Two against the run, one on a would be sack, and another on special teams. His edge was battered tonight with runs that were more productive than ever. He and Coty Sensabaugh both deserve blame on that, but it was not exactly a good showing by Chickillo.

Chickillo might need to watch out, or Adeniyi could get snaps over him. The Steelers will not hesitate to use a source of pressure if they have it, and if Chickillo is not it, then Adeniyi might get more snaps, especially since he looked solid in coverage today.

Brian Allen should be the one covering Tight Ends

One of the projects from last season, Brian Allen needed to show progression so he could have not only a bigger role this season, but also a roster spot. Allen’s length proves to be a big reason why he was kept on the roster and not on the practice squad, but the progression he has shown this season is fantastic.

It is not in run defense or general coverage either. Allen did not necessarily show off well in those areas. He was beaten on an out route that went for a touchdown and did not do much of note in the run game to really be much of a positive factor there. While he did look decent in coverage for the most part, his coverage of tight ends tonight was key.

Allen locked down all tight ends he faced against the Packers and did it better than Terrell Edmunds did all game. Brian Allen should get the nod to possibly be the one who covers the tight ends. The progression in that aspect of his game, has been key and he should get a shot to prove himself as a viable player there.

Steelers’ backups stumble as the Packers bounce them out of Lambeau

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 9:19am

As promising as the first preseason game in Philly was for some of the Steelers’ depth players, that’s how disappointing their 51-34 thrashing was Thursday night in Green Bay.

Interviewed on the field by Missi Matthews of the Steelers’ official website right before the start of the second half, Head Coach Mike Tomlin said he was disappointed in the tentative, first-half performance by his team. Tomlin ascribed the poor showing of his backup players to the fact that they seemed too concerned about making mistakes, instead of simply cutting loose and playing with confidence. But whatever the reason, only a few Steelers were standouts in the House of Cheese, while many more woke up Friday morning smelling like Limburger.

Offense

Perhaps the biggest disappointment, at least in terms of the pre-game expectations, was the play of quarterback Mason Rudolph. On the first offensive play of the game, Rudolph telegraphed a short pass intended for a closely covered Darrius Heyward-Bey and threw a room-service pick-6, putting his team immediately in the hole. While Rudolph promptly made amends, bouncing back with a couple of scoring drives in the first quarter, he was ineffective throughout the second quarter, either throwing off-target to his receivers or taking sacks (three for minus 20 yards) by holding onto the ball too long in the pocket. While Rudolph did throw a pretty TD pass to JuJu Smith Schuster, his overall effort was indicative of a rookie QB still having a lot to learn. While not exactly disastrous, Rudolph’s 47 passing yards and 3.9-yard average certainly wasn’t the kind of effort that would cause even Landry Jones to lose any sleep.

Undoubtedly, the star of this otherwise forgettable game for the Black-and-gold was rookie receiver James Washington (five receptions for 114 yards) who snatched two TD passes out of defenders’ clutches and beat his man deep for another 54-yard reception. Based on what we’ve seen from Washington so far, it seems unlikely that anyone is going to stop this kid from claiming a starting role and making Steelers Nation forget all about Martavis Bryant. It’s exciting to ponder the possibilities when Ben Roethliberger is targeting No. 13 during the regular season.

Joshua Dobbs also threw a pick-6, lobbing a pass to a well-covered Damoun Patterson on a short out-route in the third quarter. But as the game wore on during the second half, Dobbs wound up turning in a considerably better overall performance than Rudolph — completing 12 of 18 passes for 192 yards. The offensive line play also was a bright spot, regardless of who was manning the line positions during the game. For the most part, Rudolph and Dobbs had adequate time to throw the ball throughout the game.

Running back James Conner was impressive again, rambling for 57 yards on only five carries, including a 26-yd TD jaunt. Given the prowess of the Steelers’ offensive line, Conner appears to be the kind of back who can fill in capably for Le’Veon Bell when needed, and also be in a position to assume the No. 1 RB duties in the likely event that Bell takes his talents elsewhere in 2019.

Defense

The rash of missed tackles which has plagued the Steelers for some time continued unabated in Green Bay. With the exception of Vince Williams and a sack by Bud Dupree, the Steelers’ linebacker play was mediocre at best. In particular, the play of Anthony Chickillo and Jon Bostic left much to be desired and raises legitimate questions about their ability to succeed when facing top-flight competition during the regular season. Bostic seemed especially suspect in pass coverage, while Chickillo totally whiffed on a tackle in punt coverage and was mediocre in run support.

Equally troubling was the secondary play, with Packers’ Wide Receiver Jake Kumerow (three catches for 114 yards and one 82-yard TD) gashing the Steelers’ defensive backfield for big plays. But perhaps most worrisome of all was the uneven play of first-round draft pick Terrell Edmunds. While Edmunds made a nice special-teams play, forcing a fumble and then recovering it on a Steelers’ kickoff — and also defended an Aaron Rodgers pass into the end zone in the first quarter — he also was beaten twice by tight ends for TDs. The first TD was on a first-quarter pass from Rodgers to Packers’ Tight End Jimmy Graham. In the second quarter, Edmunds was beaten again on another TD pass from Hundley to Tight End Robert Tonyan.

The most troubling aspect of these plays was that Edmunds appears not to possess the physical size necessary to defend the huge, talented tight ends, of which there are quite a few in the NFL today. Granted it’s still early but, until he proves otherwise, it seems Edmunds is going to have lots of trouble being boxed-out or simply out-jumped by those larger bodies (Graham is 6’7” and Tonyan is 6’5”) on throws to the end zone. He also missed an open-field tackle late in the first quarter which resulted in a big play for the Packers.

The Steelers’ pass rush was unable to generate much pressure throughout the game and, in the second quarter, Packers’ backup QB Brett Hundley was able to escape the pocket and run the ball in for a TD, despite being surrounded by a host of onrushing Steelers’ defenders.

Odds and ends
  • The Steelers gave up a 41-yard punt return to the Packers’ Josh Jackson.
  • Safety Nat Berhe failed to contain Kumerow on his 82-yard catch and run for a TD.
  • Cam Sutton continues to look like he might develop into a starter one of these days.
  • Jordan Berry continues to be inconsistent, and that’s a real problem with your punter.

All in all, not much to write home about on the visit to Cheese Land. While there’s not much reason to worry about the offense come Opening Day, the defense is another story entirely. It still seems there are too many unfilled holes in this defense as we move ever-closer to the start of the 2018 regular season. And with the exception of a few players, nobody wearing black-and-gold seemed to make any real strides during this outing. But a number of them likely have made the Turk’s unpleasant job much easier.

When seemingly nothing went right, Ryan Shazier gave Steelers fans something to smile about

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 7:38am

The Pittsburgh Steelers fell flat on their faces in Green Bay when playing the Packers, but all was not lost thanks to Ryan Shazier.

There is no denying just how bad the Pittsburgh Steelers’ performance was vs. the Green Bay Packers in Week 2 of the NFL Preseason.

It was awful.

But on a night when the defense surrendered over 50-points for the first time in a preseason game of the Super Bowl era, and the offense contributed 14 of those 51-points allowed due to interceptions returned for touchdowns, all was not lost.

After the game, as media members shuffled their way to the locker room to hear from Mike Tomlin, James Washington and other players, a video put out by the Steelers’ official Twitter page did more than lift a few spirits.

That video was none other than Ryan Shazier, who has traveled with the team the past two weeks, walking off the field.

We’ve seen this before, but not like this. No cane. No assistance, and a gait which looks phenomenal compared to where he was during the 2018 NFL Draft when announcing the Steelers’ top pick.

Check it out:

You continue to inspire us, @RyanShazier. #SHALIEVE pic.twitter.com/QpPvlmfrbQ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2018

Yes, the Steelers lost a meaningless preseason game, and they looked horrific in their efforts, but this sure does make things a little brighter the day after such a dreary defeat.

Keep SHALIEVING!!

3 Winners and a ton of Losers in the Steelers’ Preseason loss to the Packers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 6:40am

The Pittsburgh Steelers took several steps backwards in preseason Week 2 with their loss to the Packers.

Die-hard fans might read the headline and wonder how we can possibly have any ‘winners’ after the Steelers’ horrible Week-2 preseason game vs. the Packers. For those who think that, you underestimate me!

While the outcome of these games is truly meaningless, it doesn’t mean there wasn’t meaning in the contest for players fighting for a roster spot. Players put it all on the field and, while some played well, a lot left plenty to be desired.

I decided to take it easy and pick one winner and plenty of losers from their loss to the Packers in Green Bay.

Here we go...

Winners

James Washington

If you watched the game, or went to training camp, you know what James Washington is capable of. He finished with a ridiculous stat line of 5 receptions, 114 yards and two touchdowns. On a night when few showed up, Washington showed up in a big way.

James Conner

He only played on a few drives but, when he got the ball, he made the best of his opportunities. Conner won’t begin the season as the starter, but he’s proven throughout camp and this preseason that he’s ready to be the top backup behind Le’Veon Bell. Five carries for 57 yards and a touchdown is one heck of a night.

Starting OL

The Steelers’ starting offensive line was intact, and it showed. The holes were there for Conner, and there was time to throw. While Ramon Foster remains injured, this line still has the look of one of the best in the league when they are all together.

Losers

Mason Rudolph

His first NFL action was promising. His second, and first start, was a dud. Rudolph’s first pass was intercepted for a pick-six, but he just looked afraid to pull the trigger on too many occasions. Ball security remains an issue, but the Steelers won’t be giving up on Rudolph anytime soon. While he might not be as ready as some had hoped, one bad game doesn’t end a career.

Starting Defense

What else can you say? Missed tackles, blown assignments and a lack of preparedness describes the Steelers’ defense. On a night when the starters who were dressed played well into the second quarter, this performance won’t be much fun to watch again with coaches this week.

Jordan Berry

Mike Tomlin started his post-game press conference criticizing the punting in the game. Ouch. And Berry should be criticized. He looked awful last season, and again this preseason. Might be time to make a phone call to a punter looking for a shot.

Overall Performance

I could go on-and-on with poor performances, but this game was just awful from the start. Sure, when Conner single-handedly took the offense down the field for a score, and Terrell Edmunds caused a fumble and recovered it on the next kickoff, things were looking up. Other than that, this game was dreadful. Not much went right, and that was on a night when the offense somehow managed to score 34 points. At a time when fans were hoping for more answers, we are all left with more questions than anything else.

Members of the Steelers and Mike Tomlin react to the team’s performance vs. Green Bay

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/17/2018 - 5:44am

Check out the sideline and post-game interviews from the players who were a part of the Week-2 preseason loss.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week-2 preseason performance was bad. So bad some might suggest it was borderline embarrassing. Nonetheless, as deflating as the loss was, the Steelers can find some solace knowing this was nothing more than a meaningless preseason game.

However, there were still questions to be answered, and Steelers’ official website sideline reporter Missi Matthews was on the field to talk to several players, and coaches, regarding the game and what they thought of the overall performance of the Black-and-gold.

Check out interviews by JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mike Tomlin’s halftime interview and James Conner’s post-game discussion below:

From the sideline: Smith-Schuster https://t.co/PocO5WFEl6

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 17, 2018

Coach Tomlin gives his thoughts on our performance in the first half vs. Green Bay. pic.twitter.com/hzVbkIQaS4

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2018

James Conner recaps his performance tonight, his preparation for year 2 and more. pic.twitter.com/jcLU8qtpMC

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2018

James Washington pic.twitter.com/Cb7311DLzq

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) August 17, 2018

Mike Tomlin. @TheAthleticPGH pic.twitter.com/J0k5i0fHHm

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) August 17, 2018

Knee Jerk Reactions from the Steelers loss in to the Packers in Green Bay

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 10:46pm

One BTSC writer shares his real-time, initial thoughts of the Steelers preseason visit to legendary Lambeau Field.

A knee jerk reaction is common for most people, especially Steelers fans. Of course, I like to shoot first and apologize later. In this series, I like to record my immediate emotional reaction, which I have often.

I know you in Steeler Nation do too.

After we have a chance to review things, we tend to alter our mindset. While watching the 51-34 exhibition game loss by the Steelers to the Packers, I recorded my initial thoughts in real time with no time to reconsider them. Take these in.

As always, I welcome you to weigh in.

1st Quarter
  • Ouch! Mason looked his receiver all the way on that pick-six.
  • The best thing to do here is to let Rudolph throw after the pick-six. See what kind of intestinal fortitude he has.
  • Nice to see the defensive pressure from Vince Williams.
  • Teams are going to exploit the middle of the field on the pass. It’s not gonna stop.
  • Scratch that compliment about defensive pressure.
  • Look at Terrell Edmunds battling for the ball.
  • Jimmy Graham is a good example of what the defense needs to stop.
  • I’m having flashbacks to Super Bowl XLV.
  • Why is the yinzer in the bumblebee jersey joining in on the Lambeau Leap kudos?
  • I like the patience of James Conner.
  • I really like the battling ability of No. 30 as well.
  • Conner’s ypc has got to be off the charts.
  • It’s rare that a one minute drive of 73-yards with only runs occur.
  • Edmunds is really showing up so far. He forced and recovered that fumble.
  • Really impressive comeback by Rudolph.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster is like a WR1-A.
  • Check out JuJu with the “Yinzer Leap”.
  • I have no problem with the PI on Bostic. I have issue with the horrendous coverage that led to the PI.
  • Morgan Burnett has a case of the tackles. I hope it proves contagious.
  • I don’t understand the need for Fitz Toussaint to return kicks. I know what he can do. I want to see Quadree Henderson.
  • However, Fitz looks lean and is running mean. He’s fighting for his football life. A good RB is going to be looking for a new opportunity come Labor Day.
  • Did Chuks just clothesline a guy?
  • Stiff-arm by No. 2. This guy’s a gamer.
  • Dont go for a FG. You need to test your young QB.
  • No place for the Steelers to go on fourth down. I like the guts though.
  • That “lowering the head” rule is going to be my source of a cardiac arrest.
  • Burnett needs to tutor his young rookie compadre (Edmunds) on his tackling technique.
2nd Quarter
  • Big Dan is playing for his career and it kind of shows.
  • First-team guys on defense looked second-rate on Brett Hundley’s TD run.
  • Burnett has shown good coverage skills as well.
  • Blind-Side Bud. That sack was sweet.
  • Cam Sutton flies around out there like crazy.
  • Jesse James could’ve helped his QB on that play.
  • I’m not sure if the Steelers wouldn’t be better off keeping both Adenyi and Keion Adams over Anthony Chickillo. I’m not seeing enough out of the veteran.
  • Did Sensabaugh get away with one there?
  • Adenyi’s first step is impressive. Deebo Jr. anyone?
  • Mason isn’t lighting the world on fire, but he played a lot better with the starting O-Line. He’s getting crushed.
  • It might be time for Jordan Berry to go back to the late shift at McDonalds. He’s not the same punter that arrived three years ago.
  • Body-wise, Lavon Hooks looks like LeVon Kirkland.
  • That was good coverage by Brian Allen. Don’t want to be a homer, but crappy PI call.
  • Edmunds tried to get his hands up on the TD, put that play was too tall all the way around.
  • Some ugly balls are coming out of Mason’s arm, but he’s facing massive pressure.
  • That was an ugly second
3rd Quarter
  • Wait. Pittsburgh Dad has commercials. I get the familiarity, but when are people going to realize that this guy isn’t that funny?
  • I want to see newly-acquired OT Zach Banner play. He could answer the depth problems for Munchak’s group.
  • Dobbs with a pick-six. Maybe those out-routes aren’t that great of an idea. I wish I drank.
  • James Washington with the combat-catch again. This guy reminds me of JuJu from a year ago. That stable of receivers will be special.
  • I must say I like parts of Dobbs’ game. The TD pass was nice and his running on the 2PC was sweet as well, but he’s merely in there to boost his trade value (if any) at this point.
  • Brian Allen went for the pick. I have no problem with that. But No. 31 Nat Behre was pathetic on the Kumerow TD.
  • Wow! Matthew Thomas showed major speed in pursuit on that play.
  • Jaylen Samuels has some skills. I see him as a future third down weapon.
  • I know I’m not overly critical usually, but even the Special Teams suck tonight.
  • Banner got in there and looked effective.
4th Quarter
  • Once again, the middle of the field was wide open. Fort couldn’t stay with the big TE.
  • Matthew Thomas is showing some ability. I’d like to see him get a long look.
  • Cam Sutton is actually looking suspect in this quarter.
  • If I didn’t know any background, I’d think Dobbs was the front runner for QB3.
  • James Washington is the real deal, not just as deep guy.
  • Damoun Patterson hasn’t lost too much luster from Week 1 to Week 2.
  • A Griffey sighting. I always wanted to see that name on a Pittsburgh uni. Too bad, wrong sport.
  • The police officer that took down a half-naked drunk guy had one of the best tackles of the night.
  • Washington again. Flash back to the draft when you complained about this pick. There were a lot of naysayers.
  • If it wasn’t for two pick-sixes, this could be a 37-35 game.
  • Thomas might be the best coverage-ILB on the team right now.
  • Quadree Henderson is getting some return chances, but hasn’t done anything to shine.
  • Do I smell comeback? Just kidding.
  • Why am I still watching?
  • Not going to grade this well, but still some positives.

Now I will analyze the replay of the game and my opinions may alter some. Where am I spot on and way off? I’m sure you’ll let me know.

Steelers fall flat in 51-34 loss to the Packers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 10:25pm

Steelers get lambasted at Lambeau Field in Week 2 of the preseason.

The 2018 NFL Preseason continued on Thursday, and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers squared off at fabled Lambeau Field and plenty of starters were missing from the lineup.

Without Ben Roethlisberger starting for Pittsburgh, it was Mason Rudolph who got the start, and it was a forgettable start. After Roosevelt Nix returned the kickoff, Rudolph’s first snap, and pass, resulted in a pick-six to Tremon Williams. After the Mason Crosby point-after the Packers held an early 7-0 lead.

Unfortunately, Rudolph’s next series was equally uneventful and ended with a 3-and-out, forcing Jordan Berry onto the field for his first punt of the contest. Berry’s punt traveled just 30-yards, giving Aaron Rodgers the football at the Pittsburgh 40-yard line.

On second down, Rodgers hit Devonte Adams on a quick slant for a big gain of 27, moving Green Bay into the red-zone with ease. On 3rd-and-5, Rodgers hit Jimmy Graham for the Green Bay touchdown to extend their early lead. Another Crosby point-after put Green Bay up 14-0 with 11:53 left in the opening frame.

For Pittsburgh’s next possession, it was all James Conner to start. Two big runs, aided by a personal foul face mask penalty, quickly moved the offense into Green Bay territory.

The run that set it up. pic.twitter.com/rlxDx29vp9

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2018

Conner single-handedly got the Steelers on the board in just over a minute after he plunged into the end-zone to put Pittsburgh on the field.

Good luck stopping @JamesConner_ #PITvsGB pic.twitter.com/Khjpe7x3ig

— NFL (@NFL) August 17, 2018

Backup kicker Matt Wile tacked on the extra point, making the score 14-7.

On the ensuing kickoff rookie Terrell Edmunds forced a fumble, and recovered the football, giving Pittsburgh the ball just outside the red-zone.

Then @rell_island6 stole the kickoff back for the good guys. pic.twitter.com/URcsuZs6VJ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2018

A Rudolph pass to Jesse James, then a touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster and just like that the game was tied, 14-14.

First NFL career TD pass for @Rudolph2Mason
First Lambeau Leap for @TeamJuJu

PIT 14 | GB 14 pic.twitter.com/ncYEjgCxRK

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2018

Rudolph’s next drive featured a lot of Fitzgerald Toussaint, but on the cusp of field goal range Mike Tomlin elected to go for it on 4th-and-5, but Rudolph’s completed pass to James Washington was short of the sticks and gave Green Bay the football. After an extremely questionable ‘targeting’ personal foul on the Steelers, Brett Hundley was able to scamper around, elude pressure, and run the ball in for a 10-yard touchdown. The score gave Green Bay a 24-14 lead with 14:16 left in the second quarter.

After another Jordan Berry punt, Green Bay continued to move the football on the Steelers’ defense who was missing only Joe Haden, Cameron Heyward and Sean Davis. However, when Hundley moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory a Bud Dupree blind-side sack forced Green Bay to settle for another Mason Crosby field goal, making the score 27-14.

While it took almost an entire half, the Steelers defense finally forced a Green Bay punt, but Rudolph was under siege every drop back and after two sacks Pittsburgh was forced to punt yet again.

Jordan Berry’s pitiful night continued with a 28-yard punt, and DeShone Kizer moved Green Bay easily down the field for the eventual one-yard touchdown pass to Robert Tonyan to give Green Bay 34 first half points, and a 34-14 lead.

The second half started without much fan fare, at least for the Steelers. After the Pittsburgh defense forced a punt on the opening drive, Joshua Dobbs followed Mason Rudolph’s script to start and threw a pick-six to extend Green Bay’s lead 41-14 early in the 3rd quarter.

Dobbs bounced back nicely from his rough start, and was able to hit rookie James Washington for a high-pointing touchdown grab to cap off a nice drive.

Whoa. pic.twitter.com/0VyVngy9qp

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2018

After the score, Mike Tomlin elected to go for two, and Dobbs was able to run the football in on a read option to make the score 41-22 about midway through the third quarter.

When you thought things might settle down for the Steelers’ defense, the team surrendered an 82-yard catch-and-run touchdown to Jake Kumerow, again extending the Green Bay lead 48-22 with over 9-minutes remaining in the third quarter.

After several punts were exchanged, Dobbs finally was able to lead the Steelers down to score, but this time it was a rushing touchdown by rookie Jaylen Samuels. Pittsburgh would again go for the two-point conversion, but fail, making the score 48-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

After another Green Bay field goal, it was James Washington who continued to impress. While the rest of the team seemed to mail it in, Washington was showcasing his ability to make difficult catches. In the fourth quarter Joshua Dobbs threw Washington’s way from the 22-yard line and Washington was able to wrestle the ball away from the defender, for his second touchdown of the game.

5 catches
114 yards
2 TD

@JamesWashington pic.twitter.com/x5bNdp3PSm

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2018

The Steelers went for the two-point conversion, again, but failed, making the score 51-34. That score would hold for the final.

The Steelers’ 2018 preseason record is now 1-1, and they will host the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field next Saturday in Week 3. Expect the Steelers to have many of their starters, including Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, back on the field for the game many consider the ‘final dress rehearsal’ leading up to the regular season.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they approach the games which really count in September.

Steelers vs. Packers Preseason Week 2: 3rd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 9:43pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

2nd Quarter In-Game Update

The second half started without much fan fare, at least for the Steelers. After the Pittsburgh defense forced a punt on the opening drive, Joshua Dobbs followed Mason Rudolph’s script to start and threw a pick-six to extend Green Bay’s lead 41-14 early in the 3rd quarter.

Dobbs bounced back nicely from his rough start, and was able to hit rookie James Washington for a high-pointing touchdown grab to cap off a nice drive.

Whoa. pic.twitter.com/0VyVngy9qp

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2018

After the score, Mike Tomlin elected to go for two, and Dobbs was able to run the football in on a read option to make the score 41-22 about midway through the third quarter.

When you thought things might settle down for the Steelers’ defense, the team surrendered an 82-yard catch-and-run touchdown to Jake Kumerow, again extending the Green Bay lead 48-22 with over 9-minutes remaining in the third quarter.

After several punts were exchanged, Dobbs finally was able to lead the Steelers down to score, but this time it was a rushing touchdown by rookie Jaylen Samuels. Pittsburgh would again go for the two-point conversion, but fail, making the score 48-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

Steelers vs. Packers: Second-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 8:48pm

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2018 preseason is here with the Steelers and Packers locking horns in Week 2. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field for the second time in 2018 as they prepare to face off against the Green Bay Packers in Week 2 of the preseason.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Steelers vs. Packers Preseason Week 2: 2nd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 8:40pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

Starting the second quarter in the red-zone, Brett Hundley was able to elude pressure and ran the ball into the end zone from 10-yards out to extend the Green Bay lead, 24-14.

After another Jordan Berry punt, Green Bay continued to move the football on the Steelers’ defense who was missing only Joe Haden, Cameron Heyward and Sean Davis. However, when Hundley moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory a Bud Dupree blind-side sack forced Green Bay to settle for another Mason Crosby field goal, making the score 27-14.

While it took almost an entire half, the Steelers defense finally forced a Green Bay punt, but Rudolph was under siege every drop back and after two sacks Pittsburgh was forced to punt yet again.

Jordan Berry’s pitiful night continued with a 28-yard punt, and DeShone Kizer moved Green Bay easily down the field for the eventual one-yard touchdown pass to Robert Tonyan to give Green Bay 34 first half points, and a 34-14 lead.

The 34-14 score would hold heading into halftime.

Steelers vs. Packers Preseason Week 2: 1st quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/16/2018 - 7:55pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

The 2018 NFL Preseason continued on Thursday, and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers squared off at fabled Lambeau Field and plenty of starters were missing from the lineup.

Without Ben Roethlisberger starting for Pittsburgh, it was Mason Rudolph who got the start, and it was a forgettable start. After Roosevelt Nix returned the kickoff, Rudolph’s first snap, and pass, resulted in a pick-six to Tremon Williams. After the Mason Crosby point-after the Packers held an early 7-0 lead.

Unfortunately, Rudolph’s next series was equally uneventful and ended with a 3-and-out, forcing Jordan Berry onto the field for his first punt of the contest. Berry’s punt traveled just 30-yards, giving Aaron Rodgers the football at the Pittsburgh 40-yard line.

On second down, Rodgers hit Devonte Adams on a quick slant for a big gain of 27, moving Green Bay into the red-zone with ease. On 3rd-and-5, Rodgers hit Jimmy Graham for the Green Bay touchdown to extend their early lead. Another Crosby point-after put Green Bay up 14-0 with 11:53 left in the opening frame.

For Pittsburgh’s next possession, it was all James Conner to start. Two big runs, aided by a personal foul face mask penalty, quickly moved the offense into Green Bay territory.

The run that set it up. pic.twitter.com/rlxDx29vp9

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2018

Conner single-handedly got the Steelers on the board in just over a minute after he plunged into the end-zone to put Pittsburgh on the field.

Good luck stopping @JamesConner_ #PITvsGB pic.twitter.com/Khjpe7x3ig

— NFL (@NFL) August 17, 2018

Backup kicker Matt Wile tacked on the extra point, making the score 14-7.

On the ensuing kickoff rookie Terrell Edmunds forced a fumble, and recovered the football, giving Pittsburgh the ball just outside the red-zone.

Then @rell_island6 stole the kickoff back for the good guys. pic.twitter.com/URcsuZs6VJ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2018

A Rudolph pass to Jesse James, then a touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster and just like that the game was tied, 14-14.

First NFL career TD pass for @Rudolph2Mason
First Lambeau Leap for @TeamJuJu

PIT 14 | GB 14 pic.twitter.com/ncYEjgCxRK

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2018

Brett Hundley entered the game for Aaron Rodgers on the next drive, and Hundley, aided by a Jon Bostic pass interference penalty, moved the Packers into Pittsburgh territory, but had to settle with a Mason Crosby field goal to give the Packers the slim lead 17-14 with 4:30 left in the first quarter.

Rudolph’s next drive featured a lot of Fitzgerald Toussaint, but on the cusp of field goal range Mike Tomlin elected to go for it on 4th-and-5, but Rudolph’s completed pass to James Washington was short of the sticks and gave Green Bay the football.

The Packers have the ball in the red-zone at the end of the first quarter.

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