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10 players mentioned by Keith Butler so far in training camp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 07/27/2021 - 7:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With no press conference from Mike Tomlin on Monday due to a player’s day off, let’s see which players were discussed by the coordinators.

The 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers have four practices in the books at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. With no media session from head coach Mike Tomlin on Monday, let’s look back at the players mentioned by defensive coordinator Keith Butler and offensive coordinator Matt Canada who spoke to the media on Friday and Saturday respectively. With so many player who were discussed, this will be split into two articles with one occurring for each coordinator.

First up is Coach Butler and the defense from his press conference on Friday. Remember these are current players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period. Not every response has been included due to some repeat statements.

Stephon Tuitt

Sometimes life goes so far beyond football. With the tragic death of his brother in an automobile accident this offseason, Stephon Tuitt was rightfully granted permission by the Steelers to skip OTA’s as he attended to his family. Coming into training camp where Tuitt was eased into things based on his time away, Coach Butler was asked about his thoughts on Tuitt.

“He’s our starter. He always will be our starter. I feel bad for him in terms of what happened to his mother and him. I mean, that’s horrible. My brother died four years ago and it’s always tough to lose a member in your family. Stephon handled it probably like I’d handle it too. Very tough, very hard. He’s got to take care of his mom. She lost a son. I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried about him; I think he’ll be okay. When time comes to play, he’ll be ready to play.”

Coach Butler was asked an immediate follow-up question about what Tuitt is able to do right now.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. Can he go out there and play right now? I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see when we get in pads. All this stuff is based off what we see in pads. We’re running around in shorts right now. Everybody looks good in shorts.”

With one final follow up question, Coach Butler was asked how Tuitt is handling everything.

“Yeah, he’s handled it mentally and stuff like that. He wants to play ball. He’s getting along well with his teammates. He’s a good teammate, always has been a good teammate. I think he’ll be okay. When time comes to play, he’ll be ready to play”

Robert Spillane & Devin Bush

After speaking about the retirement of Vince Williams, Coach Butler was asked about how to replace him inside linebacker. His response specifically brought up both Robert Spillane and Devin Bush (55).

“I think we’ll be okay inside. We’ve got a couple of good guys right there. I think Spillane did a good job for us last year and he’ll continue to do a good job. 55 should be ready to play. So, we’re counting on him being ready to play and I think he’ll be ready to play. There’s a couple more guys that we drafted, some young guys that we want to see in pads before we make a decision. That position is determined so much by how they do in pads. What kind of personality do they have with the pads on and stuff like that. I’m a guy who likes to see people hit. If they’re not gonna hit, they’re gonna play for somebody else. That’s me.”

Melvin Ingram & Alex Highsmith

Coach Butler was asked a variety of questions dealing with his outside linebackers. Although he talked about “three guys,” this section is keeping it to specific questions dealing with Melvin Ingram and Alex Highsmith. As for T.J. Watt, he will have his own section next. The first question was if there was an open competition between Ingram and Highsmith.

“Well, you always want to have three guys that can play. We did last year. Alex came in and did a good job filling that role when Bud was here. So, we played all three of them quite a bit. We think we’ve got three now that are gonna be capable of playing for us. So, we can rest each other.”

The next question Coach Butler fielded about the outside linebackers is if he expects Alex Highsmith to maintain the starting role.

“I don’t know, we’ll see. I’m not going to expect anything, I’m just going to watch them. So, we’ll see.”

Coach Butler was then asked if they could have all three linebackers on the field at the same time and if it’s something they’re shooting for.

“Well, not if we got Tuitt, no. If we have Tuitt, I’d rather see a true four-man, two outside guys, two inside guys, like that. If you want to do that, it’s going to have to be a third and long situation. In different situations there’s a possibility you can do that. There always is. But right now, can we put all three of them on the field at the same time? Yeah, we’ve done that stuff before. Does it help us? Not in mixed downs. What I mean by mixed downs is first and seconds downs, third down maybe. Maybe.”

Finally, Coach Butler was asked if he planned on leaving Alex Highsmith on the right side of the defense.

“He played both sides last year. And Melvin played both sides. So, both have done that. I’m not worried about which is playing which. Both might be in there at the same time and they probably will because we’re going to rest T.J. some too. So, we feel like we’ve got three good players there and hopefully, that will help us in terms of keeping the same numbers in our pass rush in terms of sacks and stuff like that. Hopefully we’ll do that.”

Later in the interview, things circled back to Highsmith as Coach Butler was asked about him being one of the last players on the field during Friday’s practice.

“He’s not crazy, that’s what he is. That’s what he is. Last year, when we had him as a rookie, we’d tell him to do something one time and he did it. He was very easy to coach. He comes off the sideline, he doesn’t drop where he’s supposed to, so we tell him, “Okay, look at this and drop where you’re supposed to.” He does and he picks the pass off. He is easy to coach, real easy guy to coach, got a great attitude. I wish I had 11 like him.”

In a follow-up question, Coach Butler was asked about if he knew about Highsmith’s coachability before he was drafted.

“I didn’t. Maybe our scouts did, but I didn’t. I didn’t until he got here, and I talked to him and got a chance to teach him a little bit, stuff like that, how he learned more so than anything else.”

One final question for Coach Butler about Alex Highsmith was how he took to the signing of Melvin Ingram.

“Well, I think he understands what we did last year because he knew he was kind of a three-way guy last year. Meaning that he mingled in there with Bud and T.J. when those guys were tired. So, he knows that it’s very difficult to sit two outside linebackers out and let them play the entire game when they’re wrestling with guys that weight 300 pounds. You ever wrestled a 300-pounder? Those suckers are strong. You get tired doing that, you know what I mean? I was just trying to give the example that I wouldn’t.”

T.J. Watt & Cam Heyward

As promised, T.J. Watt is next on the list has Coach Butler was asked about his football IQ and if he expects to see him be better in year five that he was as a rookie.

“Oh, of course, he should be. But you saw Bud (Dupree) didn’t you? It takes awhile to learn. Even outside linebackers, I want them to know what everybody around them is doing because they know where the help is. And if they know where the help is, then they’ll apply pressure away from the help. And T.J. knows that now, and he’s learned it as he’s gone on for the four or five years, as Bud did. I expect him to improve as much as Bud did his fifth or sixth year. Hopefully he’ll be a good player for us. I think he will.”

To bring Camm Hayward into the mix, Coach Butler was asked about Watt’s role as a spokesman for the defense. In doing so, Coach Butler also brought up the other defensive captain in Heyward.

“I think he likes the role. I think he does. As long as he likes it, I’m fine with it. All of us will be fine with it because he’s a good player. He just doesn’t talk about it, he does it on the field. So, if he’s capable of doing it on the field, he’ll get a lot more respect from his teammates and the guys around him, and they kind of see that in him. It’s not something that he’s being assessed about or anything like that. He’s not. He’s a quiet guy. He’s a confident guy in terms of what he’s doing and stuff like that. He’ll be a good leader for us. So is Cam Heyward too.”

Antoine Brooks Jr.

One surprise to many Steelers fans is the emergence of Antoine Brooks in the nickel cornerback position. Coach Butler was asked if Brooks has been showing things similar to what they had in 2020 with Mike Hilton.

“Not yet. But we hope he does. He’s gotten better. He’s practiced better these last two practices, but we’ve been in shorts. Everybody looks good in shorts. So, we’ll see. We’ll see when he gets the pads on and he starts coming from outside and putting a little fear into the quarterback a little bit. I think he’ll be good at that.”

Coach Butler was asked a follow-up question about choosing Brooks for that role.

“Mike (Tomlin) has known him a long time. His son went to Maryland and he played at Maryland, so he knows of him. And so, he’s seen him play in games before we drafted him and stuff like that. He’s still got a lot to learn but we think he’s capable of doing it, capable of learning. We’re not gonna not be competitive with him. Meaning that we’re going to get somebody behind him that’s going to be competitive with him to push him a little bit. And we try to do that with everybody on our defense.”

Quincy Roche & Cassius Marsh

With Keith Butler also being the outside linebackers’ coach, it was only fitting he was asked about the rest of the depth chart with Quincy Roche and Cassius Marsh. Coach Butler was asked if the situation with these two players is down to being “two dogs, one bone.”

“Roche is still going to come on. He’s still a rookie. And we’re not forgetting about him either. We’re not forgetting about Cassius either. We’ve got some pretty good outside guys, we feel like, but they’ve still got a lot to learn. The reason Alex was as successful as he was is because he learned quickly, and we were confident enough to put him in there and let him play. So, we’re not worried about that. We like the competition level of what we got, and we’ll see what happens when we get in the preseason. The best thing about this year is we’ve got three preseason games where we can evaluate people. Last year, we didn’t have that. So, it’s going to be good for us to get that evaluation and make sure we’re right on the outside.”

It was a fitting tribute the Steelers practiced with zero centers on Maurkice Pouncey’s birthday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 07/27/2021 - 6:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I found it rather fitting and kind of ironic that the Steelers finished their practice session on Saturday with no healthy centers. Why? It was Maurkice Pouncey’s birthday. Perhaps it was a reminder that replacing him isn’t going to be as easy as some think.

I was doing hill sprints on Saturday (hill sprints are a great exercise that can burn fat...provided you eat right) when it suddenly occurred to me that it was former Steelers’ center Maurkice Pouncey’s birthday.

It is probably a little unsettling to anyone reading this that I would know such a thing. I mean, when you remember the birthday of your mom, your girlfriend or a child, that’s endearing and meaningful. But when you just happen to remember the special day of a football player who doesn’t know you’re alive (unless, of course, he’s reading this article, and if you are, Maurkice, I love you, man! Hey, PFF, y’all suck! — Ramon Foster), well, that’s just next-level living in your mom’s basement kind of stuff.

That might be true about the living-in-mom’s-basement vibe I’m giving off, but you can’t help whose birthday you happen to remember, right? Anyway, after I got home from sprinting, I decided to Google Pouncey’s birthday just to confirm. Sure enough, it was the 32nd special day of the recently-retired and highly-decorated Steelers center.

After Googling that, I researched the Steelers’ news of the day, courtesy of Behind the Steel Curtain, of course. That’s when I learned that the team finished its padless practice session without any healthy centers. Kendrick Green, the rookie third-round pick from Illinois, was excused from the day’s activities due to personal reasons, while both B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer left with what was described by head coach Mike Tomlin as minor injuries.

What an unintentionally fitting tribute to Pouncey on his birthday and kind of eerie when you really think about it. It was sort of a reminder of how precarious the center position may be until proven otherwise.

Who will man the position, now that the nine-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro has decided to get on with his life’s work after 11 seasons? It’s assumed that Green will take up the mantle and carry on the team’s very rich tradition at center, but one never quite knows how these things will pan out.

I think what happened on Saturday should be a reminder that a certain segment of the football population—let’s call them fans and media members—either took Pouncey for granted or didn’t appreciate just how talented he really was as he held down one of the most vital positions along the offensive line (I believe Pro Football Focus has gone on record as saying July 24 is a very overrated birthday).

Pouncey wasn’t the perfect center, but he was really, really good, and he might actually get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. To paraphrase my mom when I complain about work (or BTSC editors), you should kiss the ground Pouncey walks on!

Happy belated birthday to Maurkice Pouncey! Replacing you at center will be harder than many people think.

Podcast: The (Steelers) kids are alright

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 07/27/2021 - 4:30am

In the latest podcast on the BTSC family of podcasts, we talk about some burning topics surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers

As per every training camp, a majority of fans and media types have their eyes fixated squarely on the rookies. All of the reviews are indeed positive, but is four days too early to determine if the players drafted will help the team in 2021? Join BTSC Deputy Editor Michael Beck on the latest edition of The Live Mike as he helps Steeler Nation navigate through the 2021 offseason and beyond.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • How positive rookie buzz early can help the Steelers.
  • and MUCH MORE!

Michael Beck of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the Men of Steel.

Check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

The Steelers current plan for Cam Sutton can change quickly

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/26/2021 - 2:00pm
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers gave Cam Sutton a new contract this offseason, and they are trying to develop a plan for his versatile skill set.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ secondary is anything but set in stone. Outside of Joe Haden playing on the outside, not much is settled on their depth chart. This offseason the team signed Cam Sutton to a new contract, and the expectation of Sutton is still up in the air.

Will Sutton play on the outside, replacing the released Steven Nelson, or will he be moved to the inside to fill his normal role in the dime sub package and help fill the role Mike Hilton occupied in the past?

When defensive assistant coach, and secondary coach, Teryl Austin met with media he knows one thing for sure, Sutton is a really good, and versatile, player.

“Cam is an extremely, extremely bright person. A bright football player,” said Austin. “He sees things that happen, and he’s really good in terms of route recognition. He’s another guy who has been steadily improving since I got here, and I’ve had a chance to be with him for a couple of years. You can really see the improvement. He’s going to be fine outside. He has great ball skills, a solid tackler, good quickness, great awareness, so he’s got the things you need to be able to play corner.”

What would need to take place for Sutton to move back to the inside? Would the emergence of someone like Justin Layne and/or James Pierre make the decision to move Sutton inside easier?

“That scenario is always there, because we want to put our best guys on the field,” said Austin. “Right now what we’re working with is we know Cam can play nickel, but he’s playing outside now as a starter. We don’t know what we have inside at nickel, so we want to make sure of what we have there. And we know if James Pierre really has an outstanding camp, or if Justin Layne, who has been doing well, continues to do well – if those guys play lights out in the preseason – whoever the five best are, those are the guys we want on the field.

“We know Cam Sutton can always play in there,” said Austin. “I don’t doubt Cam, but that’s not where we want Cam right now. I want to make sure we get those two guys (ready) and see if we can strengthen our team by having a guy in there.”

It is clear the Steelers want Sutton to be on the outside, which means they need to find someone who can fill the roles in both the nickel and dime sub packages. Antoine Brooks Jr. has been given the first shot at the slot, with Arthur Maulet awaiting his chance. Rookie Tre Norwood is someone who has been discussed as filling Sutton’s old role in the dime, but is there any type of deadline for these type of decisions to be made? Austin doesn’t think so.

“I don’t think there’s a date in mind,” said Austin about a possible deadline. “I think it’ll shake itself out. Those things usually do once you see them play a couple of preseason games and you see them in a competitive situation. One guy usually separates himself from the others. It’ll work itself out. I’m not worried about it, and I’m not worried if it doesn’t work out with either one of them and we have to move Cam back inside. I’m not worried about that. Cam can get himself ready for that with a week’s worth of repetitions.”

The Steelers valued Sutton enough to go out and sign him over Hilton, and his versatility and intelligence was a large reason why. In the meantime, unless the Steelers can develop someone to play the interior, Sutton could be seeing himself play multiple positions on the defense, again, in 2021.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.

The Steelers’ rookies are dazzling at training camp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/26/2021 - 12:30pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers need their rookies to step up in 2021 and they’ve been up to the task thus far

The Pittsburgh Steelers entered training camp with a number of holes remaining on their roster. A majority of these positions were addressed by the team during the 2021 NFL Draft. However, the Steelers’ history with playing their rookies right away is spotty at best. To put it simply, if you're a rookie, don't be prepared to play much in your first season. But with a salary cap crunch, and a roster needing to be re-tooled on the fly, the Steelers will be forced to call upon their first year players more than ever before.

5 from Steelers

1) Najee Harris is CONSTANTLY working. Noticeable the time he's spending—every down minute—with coaches. At 230, he's flashing as a receiver too.

2) TE Pat Freiermuth was a monster Saturday. Catches everything. The rookie's trending towards a real role.

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 25, 2021

This was reflected in the Steelers initial depth chart release. In it Najee Harris was listed as a starter, Kendrick Green, and Pat Freiermuth were listed as primary back-ups, and the rest of the class are competing with teammates for both playing time and a chance to climb the depth chart. Check out the entire chart at the link below.

Early reports from training camp state that a healthy Kendrick Green is receiving the bulk of the starting center snaps. Not to mention Pat Freiermuth has been the star of the early portion of camp, making several highlight real plays which caught the eye of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. Even Dan Moore Jr. has shown a nasty streak not previously seen before getting into spirited fights, which is to be expected this time of year. Even the retirement of Vince Williams has opened the door for another rookie in Buddy Johnson who could climb to be the Steelers primary backup at inside linebacker before the time training camp concludes.

3) Obviously, the big ? is on the OL, and rookies Dan Moore and Kendrick Green could well wind up being answers at C and LT.

4) Corner's another spot to be sorted out—But Cam Sutton's inside/out versatility will help, with Antoine Brooks and Arthur Maulet fighting for snaps.

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 25, 2021

Najee Harris is still of course the star of the show, where he has flashed his work-ethic, and freakish athletic ability. The rookie running back has been pulling off hand stands in stretching line, shown his ability to catch passes out of the backfield, and, once again, being reported to be studying the game like crazy when he’s off the field.

The Steelers need a huge effort from this rookie class to remain a contender in 2021 and maintain the Steelers’ usual level of success heading into the future. But early returns suggest the Steelers have acquired a very nice draft class for themselves. It wouldn't surprise me to see the majority of these players in some sort of difference making role before the 2021 regular season concludes.

But what do you think? How important is it for the Steelers to get a huge impact out of their rookies? Does the early positive news coming out of training camp give you any hope? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Ben Roethlisberger shoulders responsibility of teaching what it means to play for the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/26/2021 - 11:30am
handout photo

Entering Year 18, Ben Roethlisberger is doing more than just helping teammates with he X’s and O’s.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the early days of their 2021 training camp, and, as always, eyes are on the quarterback for the black and gold. Ben Roethlisberger has always been a focus of media and fans since he was drafted 11th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, but even as he enters year 18 of his career, the focus remains the same.

After the Steelers started out 11-0 in 2020, they stumbled in the month of December, limping into the playoffs and having another one-and-done postseason visit. It has made many declare how Roethlisberger needs to prove himself all over again. But Roethlisberger doesn’t agree with that sentiment.

“It’s not about proving anything,” Roethlisberger told Albert Breer of Monday Morning Quarterback. “It’s about a love of the game, and a love of this team and this city, and feeling like I still got it. I can’t really call it a job. I understand that it is, but I can’t call it a job because it’s what I love to do. It’s fun. That’s what keeps me coming back.”

When you consider Roethlisberger’s credentials, what else does he have to prove? What else is there to check off his to-do list? He has already outlasted all quarterbacks drafted with him in the ‘04 class, including Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, but what Roethlisberger wants, or needs, to do doesn’t have anything to do with on field performance.

It’s about his teammates.

“I think my goal in all this, in all the years and all the experiences I have, is to do the best I can to pass down Steeler tradition and Steeler history, what it means to wear the black-and-gold,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s what I try and do everyday, just let these guys know what it takes and what it means, and what’s expected of you when you put this jersey on every day.

“It’s something that I don’t know you can ever really put into words for the person that’s not here. But it means a lot. These fans bleed black-and-gold, so we need to bleed black-and-gold. And I do. I think a lot of guys on this field do. Young guys are still learning it. But I think as soon as they step on the field in Week 2 at Heinz Field, and the fans are going nuts, they’re gonna understand what it is to play for this team.”

If you can imagine what Roethlisberger felt as he walked into the team’s UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for mandatory minicamp this year, it was probably a lonely feeling.

Gone is good friend Vance McDonald to retirement.

Gone is battery mate and friend Maurkice Pouncey to retirement.

Offensive linemen David DeCastro (released), Alejandro Villanueva (free agent departure) and Matt Feiler (free agent departure) are also gone.

Roethlisberger had to stop and look around the room and wonder where he was. Who were these young players? Nonetheless, head coach Mike Tomlin thinks Roethlisberger realizes how he needs to count on these young players. After all, if he wants to win a third Super Bowl before calling it a career, those young players will have to step up in a big way.

“I think he realizes there are a bunch of young people that we’re counting on,” Tomlin told Breer. “And so he’s just putting his hand in the pile in terms of helping them grow and understand. Assignments are one thing, this process of handling assignments. But the informal communication, the gaining of understanding, the communication from player to player, that provides the detail that really gives us the winning edge. He’s been on the job 18 years, he understands that.

“He realizes he’s going to need some of those guys to make plays, and so he’s trying to accelerate the maturation process.”

All of this talk is great, and is hardly new for the Steelers fans who cling to information every preseason. While fans will gawk over Roethlisberger’s intentions, his on field performance is ultimately what he will be judged by. It is the only criteria which truly matters. In September no one will talk about how Roethlisberger was helping young players understand what it means to be a part of the organization if the team starts out 1-3.

So, how does Roethlisberger feel heading into 2021? As it turns out, hindsight can be 20-20.

“I feel great,” he says. “You go two years ago, only playing a couple games, having elbow surgery, last year’s your first year back from a major surgery. I think if you ask anybody that’s had a major surgery, their first year back, no matter how far removed from it, it’s always a re-figure out, and getting to a comfort level with that part of your body. For me to feel more back to normal, I’m excited for that.

“It’s always interesting, because when asked last year how I felt, I would tell you I felt great. But then, one year removed, I look back on it, and I’m like, Man, maybe I wasn’t as good as I feel now.”

Roethlisberger admitted to feeling run down at the end of last season, and with a more regular offseason under his belt he should be better suited for a 17-game regular season. On-field performance aside, the Steelers quarterback recognizes where he is in his career, and is hoping to leave the Steelers organization, one day, the same way he found it. With players who understand how special the organization is, and the pride which accompanies it.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.

Podcast: Building the All-Personality Steelers Team

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/26/2021 - 11:00am

With the Steelers now in their off-season, it’s time to bring back an old favorite as we look back at Steeler tales from yesterday and today surrounding the black-and-gold.

They all say that personality goes a long way. While shining on the field is paramount, which Steelers shined with their demeanor of of it? This leads to the topic of the latest episode of the most unique member of BTSC’s family of podcasts. Join BTSC podcast producer Bryan Anthony Davis with the lighter side of the Men of Steel.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The top Steelers personalities of all time

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.

Part 1

Part 2

Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation after report of void years for Melvin Ingram

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/26/2021 - 10:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It has been reported Ingram’s deal has four void years at the end of his contract which lowers his 2021 cap hit for the Steelers

When Melvin Ingram III was officially signed to the Steelers last Tuesday, I did a salary cap update involving his reported $4 million salary. Within that update, I made sure I used the statement, “Assuming this is the salary cap number for Ingram and there is nothing else included in the deal (such as void years)...” It’s a good thing I did.

According to overthecap.com, Ingram’s $4 million deal for one season also includes four void years in order to reduce his salary cap number for 2021. Ingram will receive a base salary of $1.075 million along with a $2.925 million signing bonus. With the four void years, $585k will be applied to each of the five years (one year contract, plus for void years).

Based on these void years, Ingram’s salary cap number is no longer $4 million for 2021 but instead $1.66 million. In doing so, the Steelers saved another $2.34 million off the salary cap this year but will all be applied to next year’s salary cap.

While adding that money to next year salary cap may be frustrating to some, it does offer a lot of relief for 2021. Instead of Ingram’s salary adding more than $3.16 million towards the Steelers salary cap after displacement, it is now less than $1 million which was added on to the total. In other words, the Steelers now have $2.34 million more available in 2021 than previously reported.

Now where do the Steelers currently stand with the 2021 salary cap? Before free agency kicked off, the Steelers were little more than $6 million under the salary cap. Since then, the number has fluctuated due to various moves.

To determine how much each player changes the Steelers’ salary cap space, their cap number must be adjusted due to roster displacement. As a reminder, roster displacement is taking into account only the top 51 contracts for a team count towards the salary cap during the offseason. As a larger contract comes on the books, it bumps a smaller contract out of the top 51. Therefore, it’s only the difference in those contracts that increases the salary cap number.

Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space based on recent moves by my own calculations. The numbers are strictly the salary cap hit, or change from what it previously was, for each player in 2021.

Steelers salary cap space heading into free agency: Approximately $6 million

Ray-Ray McCloud: Reported $1 million salary; After displacement: -$0.34 million
B.J. Finney: Reported $987,500; After displacement: -$0.3275 million
Cam Sutton: New report of $1.7 million; After displacement: -$1.04 million
Zach Banner: Reported $2.875 million; After displacement: -$2.215 million
Vince Williams: Saved $4 million salary; After displacement: +$3.34 million
Chris Wormley: Reported $1.6 million; After displacement: -$0.94 million
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Reported $2.4 million; After displacement: -$1.74 million
Tyler Simmons: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Joe Haeg: Reported $1.5 million; After displacement: -$0.84 million
Miles Killebrew: Reported $987,500; After displacement: -$0.3275 million
Steven Nelson: Saved $8.25 million salary; After displacement: +$7.59 million
Cassius Marsh: Reported $950,000; After displacement: -$0.17 million
Eric Ebron: Reportedly saved $3.904; No roster displacement: +$3.904 million
Tyson Alualu: Reported $2.0375 million; After displacement: -$1.2575 million
Jordan Berry: Reported $950,000; After displacement: -$0.17 million
Kalen Ballage: Reported $920,000; After displacement: -$0.14 million
Rashaard Coward: Reported $850,000; After displacement: -$0.07 million
Matthew Sexton: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Jarvis Miller: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Jamir Jones: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
T.J. Carter: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Abdullah Anderson: Reported $780k; not in the top 51: -$0
Vince Williams: Reported $850,000; After displacement: -$0.07 million
Joshua Dobbs: Reported $900,000; After displacement: -$0.12 million
Mason Rudolph: Reported $2,193,066 cap number; After increase: -$0.945199 million
Dan Moore Jr: Reported $834,475; After displacement: -$0.054475 million
Buddy Johnson: Reported $784,836; After displacement: -$0.004836 million
Arthur Maulet: Reported $850,000; After displacement: -$0.067 million
Pat Friermuth: Reported $1,096,033; After displacement: -$0.311197 million
Najee Harris: Reported $2,372,263; After displacement: -$1.568887 million
Offseason Workouts: 90 players x $275/day x 32 days: -$0.792 million
David DeCastro: Saved $8.25 million salary; After displacement: +$7.946624 million
Trai Turner: Reported $3 million; After displacement: -$2.196624 million
*UPDATED* Melvin Ingram: Reported $1.66 million; After displacement: -$0.825525 million
Kendrick Green: Reported $886,502; After displacement: -$0.036502 million
Vince Williams: Saved $850,000; After displacement: -$0
Chaz Green: Reported $780,000; not in the top 51: -$0

Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $12.2 million

Note: Miles Killebrew was the final contract displacing a $660k salary. From Cassius Marsh on, the displacement is a $780k salary. Buddy Johnson was the final contract displacing a $780k salary, so from that point on the contracts varied which were displaced. Now the contracts are at $850k which would be displaced.

So where does this number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites?

According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $12,275,466 under the salary cap. OTC has accounted for all other Steelers’ moves and is extremely similar to mine.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $14,696,817 under the cap. It should be noted that Spotrac does not have contracts for Ingram or Chaz Green as well as the offseason workouts on the books at this time. Another discrepancy comes from where they are counting the prorated signing bonuses of players not in the top 51 toward the salary cap. One very big discrepancy is Spotrac has Trai Turner’s contract including four void years which has not been reported by any other outlet at this time. If adjusting for these things, their number is also about the same as mine.

Also, the Steelers will need about an additional $9.5 million come September when they need to account for all 53 players on the roster, sign their practice squad, and have some carryover in order to do business throughout the year. This number is dependent on the NFL going with a 16-man practice squad, and the exact players the Steelers release when they cut down their roster on August 31.

It’s important to remember that these numbers are based on the best information we have at this time. It is believed that Ingram‘s contract does include for void years while Trai Turner’s contract is not believed to include void based on the available information.

So what do the Steelers actually have to spend at the moment? Of course, they could spend all $12 million without being in any violation of NFL rules, but they would also have to find the space for the things they need come August 31. If wanting to keep that money available, the Steelers could sign a player whose salary cap number for 2021 was as much as $3.5 million (because of factoring in roster displacement) and they would still have the $9.5 million available in September.

Training Camp Recap, Day 4: Pat Freiermuth turning heads in early portions of camp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/26/2021 - 8:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back at Training Camp, and it is time to check out what went down during the latest practice!

It isn’t Saint Vincent College, but it hasn’t been Latrobe, PA since 2019. The Pittsburgh Steelers are taking in their 2021 Training Camp between Heinz Field and their UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the Southside of Pittsburgh.

What went down during the latest training camp practice? That is where this article comes in. Check out all that was said, as well as photos and videos from the day’s workouts.

Here we go...

The 2021 NFL Draft class for the Steelers has been talked about a lot in the early portions of camp, but one player has gotten the majority of talk. It just so happens that player isn’t Najee Harris, but second round pick Pat Freiermuth.

The former Penn State tight end has been turning heads from both the local and national media during the Steelers’ ramp up period of training camp.

This from Mark Kaboly of The Athletic:

Steelers rookie TE Pat Freiermuth has been really good all summer including past 4 days of camp. He’s passed that test but a big one awaits next week when the pads come on.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 25, 2021

This from Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated:

5 from Steelers

1) Najee Harris is CONSTANTLY working. Noticeable the time he's spending—every down minute—with coaches. At 230, he's flashing as a receiver too.

2) TE Pat Freiermuth was a monster Saturday. Catches everything. The rookie's trending towards a real role.

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 25, 2021

Speaking of Sunday’s practice, there was one play which caught the eye of media, and it was a nifty toe-tapping touchdown grab in the back of the end zone.

One of the standout plays today — Pat Freiermuth ran a fade in to the back of end zone and made an impressive toe tapping grab.

When asked about his impressions of Freiermuth, Mike Tomlin says he’s been impressed and Freiermuth has been readily prepared each day.

— Nick Farabaugh (@Nick_Farabaugh) July 25, 2021

I mean, just look at this grab caught by the Steelers official photographer:

Look at @pat_fry5 pic.twitter.com/BGC6ul9tgt

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 25, 2021

Freiermuth is turning heads, but the real test awaits when the Steelers don pads for the first time. This will take place Wednesday, and will be the next challenge for Freiermuth. Everyone knows his ridiculous catch percentage in the red-zone. Everyone knows he is athletic and physical with the football. But can he block at the NFL level?

Only time will tell, but as for right now Freiermuth is putting his best foot forward.

Now time to get into the rest of the news which took place during the latest practice session...

Ben’s still got the arm

Remember in 2020 when everyone was critical of Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to throw the deep ball? It didn’t matter he had a complete elbow reconstruction the previous season and no preseason. He lost his deep ball. Well, when Teryl Austin met with media Sunday he was asked about Roethlisberger’s deep passes, his response was telling.

Steelers DB coach Terry Austin couldn’t help but be impressed by Ben Roethlisberger’s deep passing today. “Oh he’s still got an arm.”

— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) July 25, 2021

Sutton staying outside, for now

Speaking of Austin’s media session, he was asked about how they plan to deploy Cam Sutton. Keep him on the outside, or allow someone else to play outside and move Sutton back to the interior of the nickel and dime sub packages? As of right now, the plan is to keep Sutton on the outside, but that isn’t etched in stone.

Teryl Austin wants to keep Cam Sutton at outside corner for now and see how the slot position pans out with Brooks and Maulet. Didn't rule out a significant jump by Pierre or Layne changing those plans and putting Sutton inside.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 25, 2021

Injury Update

The Steelers were without J.C. Hassenauer Sunday, but B.J. Finney and Kendrick Green were all at practice and contributing.

The Steelers’ starting center* walking with head athletic trainer John Norwig at practice today

*-per the official depth chart pic.twitter.com/Y0f9vL3dm0

— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) July 25, 2021

The only other injury which took place was Antoine Brooks Jr. who left practice with something labeled as minor by head coach Mike Tomlin. Zach Banner, who hasn’t dressed yet this training camp, is expected to return to the team this week as he continues his road back from ACL surgery last season.

Mike Tomlin said Antoine Brooks leaving practice early today was nothing major. Also said that J.C. Hassenauer is day-to-day. I asked about Zach Banner not dressing the last three days, Tomlin hinted that could change when the pads come on. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) July 25, 2021

Be aggressive

Trai Turner wasn’t in Pittsburgh last season. He didn’t play for Randy Fichtner. He has nothing to compare this training camp to, but he likes one thing about Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm’s mindset — aggressive.

Trai Turner likes what he’s seeing out of an aggressive o-line so far pic.twitter.com/B86Bqzo1UZ

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 25, 2021

A new era along the offensive line

Turner, who met with media Sunday, talked about replacing David DeCastro, and he showed a tremendous amount of respect to the All-Pro guard, while also making his statement clear. He is here to help the Steelers win football games and help catapult him to his next contract. He isn’t there to replace DeCastro, he is there to play football. His style of football. The Steelers hope he returns to the form he showed when in Carolina.

Trai Turner on replacing David DeCastro: " I just look at it like it’s a new era, a different time, different places. Everything has an expiration date at some point.

"DeCastro is a great player, and I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m replacing him, I’m just the new right guard."

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 25, 2021

Nothing but respect

Most may not know this, but Turner came from LSU, and he knows all about another Bayou Bengal who is getting enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer. That would be none other than former Steelers guard Alan Faneca. Faneca was in the NFL well before Turner reached LSU, but Turner knew all about Faneca and hopes he can meet him at a Steelers game sometime this season.

New Steelers RG Trai Turner called Alan Faneca a “living legend” and hopes his fellow LSU Tiger will come see him play. “I have nothing but a ton of respect for Mr. Faneca. I admire his game. Been knowing about him since I got to LSU in 2011 … hopefully I can make him proud.” pic.twitter.com/RSp5skZM0b

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 25, 2021

Creativity on offense coming up

Maybe it was just one play, or maybe this is just one of the wrinkles Matt Canada is developing in his new offense. The never used Derek Watt was sent on a wheel route during practice Sunday, something which never would have happened under Fichtner. The play wasn’t completed, but the fact they are using Watt in unique ways is not just a sign of what’s to come, but a positive sign.

My favorite play today: Ben Roethlisberger hit Derek Watt on a fullback wheel route. Steelers offense doesn’t often utilize the fullback as a pass catching option.

Asked Tomlin if Matt Canada’s offense will feature fullbacks more often: “to be determined.”

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 25, 2021

Part 1 complete, pads coming up

The Steelers’ ramp up period is officially over, and now the team prepares for practice on Tuesday at Heinz Field after a day off Monday. Wednesday is the first practice with pads, and is the first live practice for fans at Heinz Field. Part 1 complete, with real football upcoming.

Steelers have concluded their first part of camp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. They will move the operation to Heinz Field starting Tuesday. First open practice will be Wednesday.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 25, 2021 BTSC Training Camp Recap Podcast VIDEO

.@missi_matthews & @DVEMike discuss #SteelersCamp at the South Side, the initial 2021 depth chart, and more. pic.twitter.com/xrooNp9X9s

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) July 25, 2021

Coach Tomlin talks about the work the team has done so far, moving #SteelersCamp to @heinzfield ​and more.

Full : https://t.co/Wvz6og64Af pic.twitter.com/YErkcfnktK

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 25, 2021

Big Ben throwing while chatting with the new OC pic.twitter.com/ssnW0E5nHZ

— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) July 25, 2021

.@_BigBen7 ➡️ @TeamJuJu pic.twitter.com/fy1jIL5E6G

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 25, 2021 PHOTOS

Coming through @MelvinIngram | #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/G5hEAvDZoj

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 25, 2021

Back out there #SteelersCamp @ChaseClaypool | @Ebron85 | @ohthatsNajee22 pic.twitter.com/iDsLyuN0wl

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 25, 2021

Steelers O-linemen, the healthy ones at least, go through individual drills Saturday morning at practice. pic.twitter.com/PiGAjcCGPG

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 25, 2021

8 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin following Day 4 of training camp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/26/2021 - 7:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking to the media again at training camp, the Steelers head coach answered many questions about specific players.

As the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers assembled together at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for the last time before moving to Heinz Field on Tuesday after their day off, we were also given the typical media session from head coach Mike Tomlin. Therefore, it’s time to look at the players mentioned by Coach Tomlin during his media time. Remember these are current players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.

Antoine Brooks Jr.

When a player leaves practice early due to injury, they are usually the topic of the first question asked if not addressed by Coach Tomlin in his opening statement. Since no players were mentioned during this specific press conference in his opening remarks, Coach Tomlin was asked if the injury to Antoine Brooks Jr., who left practice early on Sunday, was serious.

“It’s not.”

J.C. Hassenauer

Following a similar line of questioning, the next question came about J.C. Hassenauer who left practice early on Saturday and was not participating on Sunday. Coach Tomlin was asked about how Hassenauer was doing.

“We can characterize him as day-to-day. Ask me again tomorrow.”

Derek Watt

One thing many Steelers fans would like to see in 2021 is more inclusion of Steelers fullback Derek Watt. Coach Tomlin was asked about what a fullback offers in today’s NFL.

“I think when you’re talking about today’s fullback, I think it starts, additionally, with special teams because you use a lot of different personnel groups. They don’t play as much as they used to. That’s the hidden value of Derek Watt and that’s what’s not talked about enough regarding Derek Watt. He’s our fullback and we utilize him and we can talk about whether or not we choose to throw him the ball or use him on lead blocks and so forth, but he’s a core component of our special teams unit and I didn’t want to miss that point as well.”

Coach Tomlin was then asked a follow-up question about if Watt will see more opportunities in Matt Canada’s offense.

“To be determined.”

Trai Turner

While rookies get a lot of questions asked about them in training camp, so do players who have NFL experience but are new to the Steelers. Coach Tomlin was asked about guard Trai Turner and how he is getting acclimated to the Steelers.

“I think he fits in well. He’s a football lover. He’s the veteran guy of the group and I’ve asked him to provide that guidance for young people, if you will, even though he’s new to us. And he embraces that. We’re excited to have him.”

Coach Tomlin was asked a follow-up question about the importance of having another veteran player in Turner in the locker room.

“I just ask those guys to be themselves. He’s (Trai) a guy that brings seven years of pro experience, I think he’s a five-time Pro Bowler. It’d be selfish for him not to share that perspective.”

Zach Banner

Coming off a season-ending ACL injury in Week 1 of 2020, offensive tackle Zach Banner has not been a full go at practices so far in training camp. Coach Tomlin was asked if Banner has had any setbacks and if we will see more of him soon.

“No, no setbacks. We’re excited about where he is and we’ll just keep moving forward with this process. Some of the guys that maybe you guys have had questions about regarding participation, it’ll pick up as we transition to the stadium.”

Pat Freiermuth & Najee Harris

As stated before, the rookies, particularly those taken high in the NFL draft, are always watched closely during training camp. Coach Tomlin was asked about his impressions of second-round draft pick Pat Freiermuth, and in his answer he also brought up first-round draft pick Najee Harris.

“He’s working hard. He’s on the details. But as are some others. I’m pleased with Najee (Harris) and what he’s doing as well. They’ll continue to write their stories. Obviously, football in shorts we don’t put a lot of stake in. As we put the pads on, we’re excited to see what they bring.”

Minkah Fitzpatrik

After answering a few questions about the Hall of Fame induction and former Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu, Coach Tomlin was asked if they were any similarities between current Steelers All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and the Hall of Famer.

“I don’t want to put that on Minkah. I’m not even starting that discussion. Minkah’s a really good emerging player. His resume reads that way. But I’m not getting into that.”

A portion of Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen below as well as a link to the full interview on the Steelers’ YouTube channel.

Coach Tomlin talks about the work the team has done so far, moving #SteelersCamp to @heinzfield ​and more.

Full : https://t.co/Wvz6og64Af pic.twitter.com/YErkcfnktK

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 25, 2021

The 10 best debuts in Steelers history

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/26/2021 - 6:00am
Set Number: X162913 TK1

From Swann to Fitzpatrick, take a trip down memory lane to relive the premier performances in a Steeler’s first game with the team

Every year, multiple Steelers players suit up in the black and gold for the first time. From draft picks to free agent signings to trade acquisitions, every new campaign provides a fresh look for athletes and fans alike.

Last season, Chase Claypool, Kevin Dotson and Eric Ebron headlined a group of Steelers making their franchise debuts; this season, that list includes Najee Harris, Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram and potentially more.

With training camp just days away, the start of Steelers football—and newcomers’ inaugural Steelers games—feels palpable. Thus, there’s no better time to count down the 10 best initial Pittsburgh performances in franchise history.

For context, I classified a “debut” as a player seeing notable playing time on his respective side of the ball—special teams action didn’t count. Also, a player didn’t necessarily have to start the game, as younger pros often aren’t called on immediately after kickoff.

If you feel that I left out any sensational Steelers entrances, feel free to let me know down below. But without further ado, here is my pantheon for the top opening acts to begin a Steelers career.

Photo by Jamie Mullen/NFLPhotoLibrary 10. Joey Porter (1999)

After being taken in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft, Porter had a solid preseason, leading the Steelers in tackles. However, that feat still wasn’t enough for him to earn a starting role in Week 1.

Nevertheless, Porter tallied a sack and a forced fumble in his first career game against the Browns, both of which came on one play. Such a strip sack occurred with the Steelers up 43-0 with just 1:55 left in the game, but it still proved to be a portentous start to eight years in Pittsburgh—a tenure that put him fifth all-time in franchise sacks.

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images 9. Antwaan Randle El (2002)

Despite the fact that the Steelers boasted star WR Hines Ward alongside solid wideout Plaxico Burress, Randle El was able to become involved in a number of facets during his earliest taste of NFL action.

Although the Steelers opened the 2002 season with a loss to the Patriots, Randle El accumulated 87 receiving yards on six catches. Moreover, he rushed for nine yards and was even involved on a passing play, a throw which he completed for five yards.

Not only did Randle El lead the Steelers’ position players in scrimmage yards in that game, but he also showcased his versatility—particularly his passing prowess, something which proved key in Super Bowl XL.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images 8. Eli Rogers (2016)

Rogers’ path to the NFL was sinuous at best: not only was he undrafted out of Louisville, but after finally inking a deal with the Steelers, he was inactive for his entire rookie campaign in 2015. In fact, Rogers likely would not have even started Pittsburgh’s first game of his second year if not for an injury to Markus Wheaton.

However, none of that fazed Rogers as he and the Steelers opened the 2016 season on Monday Night Football against the Washington Redskins. Rogers mustered six catches for 59 yards and a touchdown, proving to be a solid complement to Antonio Brown.

Rogers’ numbers weren’t earth-shattering, per se. But considering the circumstances he endured to reach his first career game—as well as the low expectations that most presumably had—he certainly rose to the moment.

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images 7. Joe Haden (2017)

Prior to 2017, the Steelers had largely been devoid of star power in their secondary—names like Artie Burns, Ross Cockrell and William Gay likely ring a somber bell. In fact, their subpar defensive backfield likely cost them at least one Super Bowl victory.

When Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert realized that the Browns had cut franchise cornerstone Haden, they pounced like a lion to secure a star CB.

Subsequent to signing a three-year, $27 million deal, Haden began his Pittsburgh career in his former stomping grounds: First Energy Stadium. With all eyes on him, Haden excelled by posting a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit, and six total tackles. More specifically, Haden’s sack in his first game with the Steelers has been his only sack in the Steel City thus far and just the third of his career.

Haden not only vindicated that his former team was wrong to let him go; he also undoubtedly set the tone for several phenomenal years to come in Pittsburgh.

SetNumber: X21063 6. Lynn Swann (1974)

In the 1974 NFL Draft, the Steelers posted the greatest corps of rookies arguably ever assembled by taking Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth and Mike Webster.

While all four technically initiated their careers against the Baltimore Colts, only one truly flourished: Swann.

On just two catches, Swann tallied 94 receiving yards and a touchdown, even without Terry Bradshaw (who had been benched). Swann’s incredible efficiency catalyzed the Steelers to a 30-0 win in a year in which they ultimately captured their first ever Lombardi Trophy.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images 5. Minkah Fitzpatrick (2019)

Just before Week 3 of the 2019 season, Fitzpatrick was traded from the Dolphins to the Steelers in a very surprising move: A), it was the first time that the Steelers would not have had a first-round pick in over 50 years, and B) Pittsburgh had just lost Ben Roethlisberger to an elbow injury and seemed very likely to garner a top-five selection.

When the Steelers acquired Fitzpatrick, they expected to receive a ball-hawking, rangy, young safety with elite cover skills. Of course, though, numerous individuals figured they were “buying” in a hapless season.

In his Steelers debut against the San Francisco 49ers, Fitzpatrick quickly put such pessimistic rumors to bed. The former Alabama star looked entirely worthy of his trade haul by accruing an interception, quarterback hit and forced fumble.

The craziest part? Fitzpatrick had yet to have learned the Steelers’ playbook, had never played with his nascent teammates or coaches and had to fly across the country on a whim (his prior game with the Dolphins was in Foxborough, Massachusetts against New England).

Fitzpatrick’s dominant showing and formidable presence helped keep Pittsburgh in the game, as it lost by just four points in Mason Rudolph’s first ever start.

More importantly, though, Fitzpatrick’s outing blossomed thoughts of a new star safety—possibly the Steelers’ best since Troy Polamalu.

Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images 4. Le’Veon Bell (2013)

Coming out of the 2013 Draft, Bell was not guaranteed the starting running back spot, but he seemed poised to earn it—that is, until a foot injury halted his progress.

Although Bell’s opening professional snaps were delayed, they were undoubtedly worth the wait.

Against the Minnesota Vikings in a Week 4 London clash, Bell shone like the revered Crystal Palace en route to 57 rushing yards, 27 receiving yards and two scores.

The Steelers ended up falling 34-27 to Minnesota, but Bell established himself as a grounded two-way back—the next Steelers RB that would go on to earn multiple Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections.

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images 3. DeAngelo Williams (2015)

Coming off of a marvelous 2014 season in which he was named FedEx Ground Player of the Year and a First-Team All-Pro, Bell was suspended for the initial two games of 2015. That created a serendipity for recent signee and former Panthers franchise back DeAngelo Williams.

Making his first start in nearly 10 months at age 32, Williams torched the Patriots for 127 rushing yards—his most since 2012—on 21 carries, good for over six YPC. Not only was Williams’ performance impressive considering that the Patriots finished ninth in Football Outsiders’ Rush DVOA that year, but he also matched Bell’s record-setting production.

Williams’ career in Pittsburgh is one that is often overlooked, possibly due to a long line of jarring comments and testy remarks. Yet overall, Williams usually performed above and beyond in place of Bell during his two years with the Steelers, and he certainly did so to begin 2015.

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images 2. T.J. Watt (2017)

Clashing with franchise icon and one of the most Herculean football players alive for a starting job is no simple task, yet Watt did just that before 2017, securing his role over James Harrison.

In his first official NFL game, Watt wasted zero time harassing quarterbacks. The Wisconsin alum and #30 overall pick dominated the Browns, forcing two sacks, an interception, two tackles for loss and a pass deflection. Believe it or not, Watt is the last Steeler to post 2+ sacks and 1+ interceptions in a game and one of five players to accomplish the feat since 2017.

Granted, the Browns were historically bad that year—they became the second team to ever go 0-16—but Watt put the league on notice as early as one can.

Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images 1. Louis Lipps (1984)

If you read my prior article, you know at what a ludicrous rate Lipps scored for the Steelers, especially in his first two seasons. That mantra of early production is particularly relevant to his starting point in Pittsburgh.

To begin his career against the Chiefs in 1984, Lipps dazzled with a gaudy six catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Lipps’ receiving yards mark is the most ever by a Steeler in their debut game.

It’s also worth noting that Lipps was working with David Woodley, a quarterback who was also new to Pittsburgh and who hadn’t donned a uniform since Week 5 of the prior campaign.

Lipps’ rookie season was one to behold—his 11 total touchdowns are tied for a franchise record—and he also holds the honor of my vote for the best inaugural performance as a Steeler.

Podcast: Have we learned anything about the Steelers so far in camp?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/26/2021 - 4:30am

BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman presents his AM studio show to the BTSC family of podcasts with the Monday episode of “Let’s Ride“.

The Steelers have been in camp for four days now, but have we learned anything at all yet? This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the flagship morning show in the BTSC family of podcasts. Join BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman for this and more on “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Have we learned anything about the Steelers so far in camp?
  • and Much More!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/25/2021 - 2:34pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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

BTSC continues their recap of the past week’s events for our readers. But where they went wrong was asking the one narcissistic writer that would put a bizarre spin on it to do it. So let’s all take a look at a BAD week in the Burgh together.

Sunday 7/18
  • Jason La Canfora reported that the Steelers remain on the hunt for pass rush help and that the team’s interest in Justin Houston was not reciprocated. I immediately had flashbacks to Junior Prom, the casting department of Up With People and Mrs. BAD just last week before she put her sleep mask on.
  • Left for summer camp to spend a week in the mountains as the Scoutmaster for 18 scouts. Pray for my sanity.
Monday 7/19
  • ESPN’s Josina Anderson posted on Insagram that she spoke with Melvin Ingram by phone

“I just did the deal not too long ago and just got to the airport. It’s definitely a dope organization and environment; so I definitely feel like it’s the place for me. I met with coach (Mike) Tomlin. You can tell he’s very involved and a players coach. That’s what stood out to me. He wants to win and that is what I am on. My role is role. He just told me to come in and be me. Everyone knows how I play.”

Tuesday 7/20
  • The deal with Ingram was worth $4 million for one season. The Steelers also signed OT Chaz Green, To make room on the 90-man roster, the Men of Steel released OT Jarron Jones & LB Calvin Bundage. When I want to make room for a second Beef and Cheddar at Arby’s, the only thing that I release is my belt.
  • Kendrick Green finally signed his rookie deal. I was so inspired that I decided to return my VHS copy of Ernest Goes to Camp. Upon finding out that the only remaining Blockbuster is in Bend, Oregon...I decided that returning the great Jim Varney will have to wait. Guess what I’m watching later.
  • An errant report came out that the Steelers and Steven Nelson were close to a deal for the corner to return to the Steel City. Nelson shut that down in a hurry. In related news, my daughter reported that I was going to buy her a pony. Like that of Nelson Island, BAD Island shut that rumor down as well.
Wednesday 7/21
  • The Steelers reported to Training Camp Today. I, in turn, reported to the chow line for seconds at camp. It’s good stuff, but no Beef and Cheddar from Arby’s.
  • Gerry Dulac reported the good news that ILB Devin Bush has recovered so nicely from his ACL tear and is expected to be cleared to fully practice right away.
  • In a surprising turn of events, Mark Kaboly reported that Vince Williams retired after a splendid eight-year career as a Steeler. VinnyVidiVici will be missed. Man, for the second time in 2021 I lament buying his jersey.
  • An incident broke out in my camp when one of my Scouts threw an orange at the other over which was better Samsung or Apple. Otherwise, it was a calm week.
Thursday 7/22
  • Steelers have re-signed Calvin Bundage to replace Vince Williams on the roster. The linebacker was released two days earlier.
  • Tom Pellisaro posted that the NFL just informed clubs that if a game cannot be rescheduled during the 18-week season in 2021 due to a COVID outbreak among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak will forfeit and be credited with a loss for playoff seeding, per sources. One might ask, where was that last year?
Friday 7/23
  • Melvin Ingram, who wore No. 54 as a Charger and No. 44 in high school, will be donning the No. 8 jersey in Pittsburgh as a tribute to Kobe Bryant. I could buy Ingram’s replica. Imagine the numeral eight on a black background on round me. I’d look like a magic eight ball.
  • I heard major rustling outside me tent at 2:39 this morning. I hope it’s not Big Foot. I shouldn’t be too afraid, I dated a woman named “The Yeti” in college and survived.
Saturday 7/24
  • Like the orange incident, the Steelers had one of their own. As reported by Brooke Pryor, the first fight of training camp broke out when Dan Moore Jr. got into it on consecutive plays with Isaiah Buggs and Cam Heyward. My theory that the fracas had to do with the last piece of pizza or the dancing ability of Sapphire at the Beehive was incorrect. Even the great’s get it wrong sometimes.
  • Robert Spillane, bucking for that Buck Linebacker starting nod, was reported to having a one-handed pick of a Ben Roethlisberger pass in drills. That’s huge. I predict a huge year from the legacy.
  • The Steelers released their first depth chart of 2021. No major surprises except that BTSC Editor Dave Schofield was not listed at kicker.

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

Steelers 2021 Training Camp: Tracking Day 4 Practice

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/25/2021 - 1:28pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are hitting the field at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex again on Sunday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now in full swing in regards to 2021 training camp as they are back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for 2021 training camp on Sunday.

It has been reported that the Steelers will be holding practice each day through today with a day off on Monday. We also know the first padded practice at Heinz Field where fans can be in attendance is scheduled for next Wednesday, July 28. When the Steelers are on the field, we will be compiling as much information as to what is going on with the Steelers at practice as we possibly can.

Check out the information below as the players continue their preparation for the 2021 season. If any additional information or reports become available, they will be updated below.

Not photoshopped

More : https://t.co/oSyFfL49Xi pic.twitter.com/x28sjee7XC

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 25, 2021

Steelers O-linemen, the healthy ones at least, go through individual drills Saturday morning at practice. pic.twitter.com/PiGAjcCGPG

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) July 25, 2021

Back out there #SteelersCamp @ChaseClaypool | @Ebron85 | @ohthatsNajee22 pic.twitter.com/iDsLyuN0wl

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 25, 2021

Injury update: Antoine Brooks left practice early, but Mike Tomlin said it’s not characterized as a serious injury.

C JC Hassenauer, who left practice early yesterday, was in a knee/leg brace today and didn’t participate. Tomlin characterized him as day to day.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 25, 2021

should clarify a little here - he hit Watt, but Watt couldn't come down with the pass. Still, a play the Steelers aren't exactly known for. https://t.co/VWOFJ3JGHy

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 25, 2021

Steelers DB coach Terry Austin couldn’t help but be impressed by Ben Roethlisberger’s deep passing today. “Oh he’s still got an arm.”

— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) July 25, 2021

Trai Turner likes what he’s seeing out of an aggressive o-line so far pic.twitter.com/B86Bqzo1UZ

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 25, 2021

Teryl Austin wants to keep Cam Sutton at outside corner for now and see how the slot position pans out with Brooks and Maulet. Didn't rule out a significant jump by Pierre or Layne changing those plans and putting Sutton inside.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 25, 2021

Steelers have concluded their first part of camp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. They will move the operation to Heinz Field starting Tuesday. First open practice will be Wednesday.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 25, 2021

Coming through @MelvinIngram | #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/G5hEAvDZoj

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 25, 2021

Trai Turner on replacing David DeCastro: " I just look at it like it’s a new era, a different time, different places. Everything has an expiration date at some point.

"DeCastro is a great player, and I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m replacing him, I’m just the new right guard."

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 25, 2021

.@_BigBen7 ➡️ @TeamJuJu pic.twitter.com/fy1jIL5E6G

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 25, 2021

Matt Canada details the Steelers QB hierarchy in the early stages of training camp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/25/2021 - 11:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers new offensive coordinator continues to get a feel for the quarterbacks on the 2021 roster.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ new offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, has his work cut out for him during training camp and the preseason. No, not at the starting position, but when it comes to who will back up Ben Roethlisberger is something to keep an eye on.

Will the Steelers keep three quarterbacks? If they do, and most believe they will, who will be the odd man out? Matt Canada spoke with the media Saturday, and he talked about the Steelers quarterback hierarchy.

He was specifically asked about if he can learn more about these quarterbacks when Roethlisberger has a light workload day, or a day off. Of course, with more repetitions, the more you learn about the other quarterbacks.

“Sure, obviously. We’ve got three of them going and all three of them are guys who have been around and played.” Canada said. “Ben’s had this schedule, from my understanding, for seven or eight years. You guys would know better than I would, you’ve been here longer. To the previous questions, this schedule allows Mason to get reps with the ones, for Dwayne [Haskins] to go with the twos, Josh [Dobbs] and Dwayne twos and threes. The more reps the better. And obviously, this is the schedule that Ben’s had for a long time and been very productive with.”

Canada was then asked specifically about some of the quarterbacks, and with Mason Rudolph getting the starting reps on Saturday, he was the first player on the docket.

“I can’t tell you details about today, but Mason’s working hard. Obviously, he’s got a high expectation of himself and I think he, like everyone three days in, is having good days and bad days, good plays and bad plays. We’re happy with where Mason’s at. Got to keep getting better.

“We have confidence in everybody. We have to get everybody ready to go. And obviously, the beauty of the Hall of Fame game for us is we get extra time to work, extra time to practice. Like I said, we’re installing at a nice pace because we have time to do it and guys are getting reps. We feel good about where we are.”

One of the most polarizing players for the Steelers’ global fan base is Dwayne Haskins. Some think he isn’t worth a roster spot, while some view him as a future franchise quarterback. Either way, Canada spoke about how Haskins has done so far this offseason, and in the early stages of training camp.

“We’re happy with where Dwayne’s at as far as the way he’s working.” Canada said of the former first round pick. “I think he’s come in and really worked very hard to learn our system. He’s spent a lot of time studying what we do, how we do it, what Ben’s done. In our offense, obviously we’re making some changes, some not. But I think he’s doing everything he can. His work ethic, his time in the office has been awesome so really happy with where he’s at and got to keep getting better, like we all do.”

For all of these quarterbacks, from Roethlisberger to Joshua Dobbs, they are learning a brand new system. All new terminology, and that can be a challenge. It hasn’t always been easy, but Canada believes the quarterbacks are making some real progress in camp.

“I feel like they’ve grasped the changes very well.” Canada stated. “Again, I look at Ben and the time he’s played and all the time he’s had to put in, knowing his system. The tweaks on the run game and things are there and he’s done a great job and worked really hard and (has) been a great leader for the young guys too. It’s been great.”

It might seem like so far, so good for the Steelers’ quarterbacks, but we all will know more about the depth at the position, as well as Canada’s offense, in just a few weeks when games start being played.

In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.

Podcast: The Steelers and their “walk year wonders”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/25/2021 - 11:00am

Check out our latest weekly venture with an international flavor. Put another shrimp on the barbie and check out Steelers Touchdown Under with two blokes from Australia, Matty Peverell and Mark Davison.

Training Camp is in full swing and the Hall of Fame game around the corner, the offseason is almost at a close and the preseason ready to kick off. So as Steelers fans continue to make their way through the ‘dog days’ of July, what can we expect from the Steelers’ players that are in the final year of their contract?

Join the Matty Peverell and Mark Davison from the future, as they bring a global perspective to the Steelers’ 2021 offseason and what needs to be done for the team to have a successful 2021 chase for their 7th Lombardi.

This is what will be discussed on the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts that’s now moved over to its live YouTube home.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • ‘Slingin’ the Slang’
  • A deep-dive into Steelers players in the final year of their contract who will slip, surprise or star:
  1. Melvin Ingram
  2. Miles Killebrew
  3. Ray-Ray McCloud
  4. Rashard Coward
  5. JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • Loads of audience Q&A
  • Plus MUCH MUCH MORE!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out the YouTube clip here, and be sure to subscribe to our channel by clicking HERE:

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.

Part 1:

Part 2:

,

Steelers Fact or Fiction: Comings and Goings edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/25/2021 - 10:00am
Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

BTSC takes five burning questions regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers and labels them as fact or fiction.

There’s always so much to talk about when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the inquiries surrounding the black and gold are definitely ever-evolving, especially this week with one star edge rusher possibly spurning the Steelers’ advances, another accepting an invitation to the Steel City, Vince Williams’ sudden retirement and the start of Training Camp 2021. It seems like the musical selection that best fits this week’s Fact or Fiction could be Live’s Lightning Crashes.

Here’s a sample...

Lightning crashes

A new mother cries

Her placenta falls to the floor

The angel opens her eyes

The confusion sets in

Before the doctor can even close the door

Lightning crashes

An old mother dies

Her intentions fall to the floor

The angel closes her eyes

The confusion that was hers

Belongs now, to the baby down the hall

Oh, now feel it coming back again

Like a rolling thunder chasing the wind

Forces pulling from the center of the Earth again

I can feel it

You can ponder the significance or wonder whether these lyrics are really related here. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to listen to some 90’s Alt Rock. But anyhow, there is surely a lot to wonder about. BTSC tries to answer some of the poignant wonderings ahead of time. Take a listen to some bold statements on this and more as we label them as fact or fiction.

Are we on point? Only time will tell.

Vince Williams’ retirement is bad timing for the Steelers Fiction

Typically a starter retiring right before the start of training camp would be most inopportune. However, Vince Williams’ sudden departure is lessened due to the presence of Robert Spillane. “Mick” started a majority of the 2020 season for Devin Bush and was expected to battle Williams for the RILB spot. While not having the great VinnyVidiVici in Pittsburgh anymore is depressing, solace could be taken with No. 41 jumping in.

T.J. Watt’s contract status is something to be concerned about Fiction

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on signing pass rusher TJ Watt to a new contract: “I’m sure that process will run its course and we’ll have something to announce.” That’s typically a stock answer and it’s one that Coach T did utter when talking about Lev Bell years ago. But Bell had a much different level of dedication. Watt seems dedicated to being a lifelong Steeler and the team allegedly sees him as a foundation player. So Tomlin is right. The process will run its course, we just have to wait for it patiently.

Benny Snell Jr. is as good as gone to the Los Angeles Rams Fiction

When Cam Akers went down with a devastating injury last week, there was a lot of thought that the Steelers could ship Benny Snell to Los Angeles due to their depth at the running back position. BSJ could be the odd-man out in Pittsburgh now that Najee Harris and Anthony McFarland Jr. are expected to be featured more in Matt Canada’s offense. Cam Akers’ absence looms large in Los Angeles, but Darrell Henderson had more yards-per-carry and rushing touchdowns with less carries than Akers in 2020. With the presence of Henderson, the Rams may not need to spend draft capital on an extra back right away. It could happen, but I expect Snell to finish camp in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers 2021 depth chart is not indicative of who the Week One starters will be Fact

The first depth charts of the year are typically known commodities and veteran-laden. Look at the center position as a prime example. J.C. Hassenhauer is listed as the initial starter, but rookie Kendrick Green is the man in waiting. If the Illinois third rounder is impressive in camp, he will seize the top spot. Teams usually make the younger players earn it and not just hand them the job. A contradiction to my point is Najee Harris though. He was drafted to be inserted right away and needs to get top priority and seasoning.

Trai Turner and Melvin Ingram are merely one-year rentals Fact

Wow, the Steelers really love former Chargers players, At $4 million and $3 million respectively, Ingram and Turner only have one-year deals. These are window and audition contracts, If the Steelers end up liking said “Bolt Buddies”, they could be offered a new deal. Should the new Steelers enjoy their time in the Burgh, they may opt to stay as well in 2022.

Check out the Fact or Fiction podcast to learn even more about these topics every single week and listen for more on the player below.

Training Camp Recap, Day 3: Let the camp scuffles begin

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/25/2021 - 8:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back at Training Camp, and it is time to check out what went down during the latest practice!

It isn’t Saint Vincent College, but it hasn’t been Latrobe, PA since 2019. The Pittsburgh Steelers are taking in their 2021 Training Camp between Heinz Field and their UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the Southside of Pittsburgh.

What went down during the latest training camp practice? That is where this article comes in. Check out all that was said, as well as photos and videos from the day’s workouts.

Here we go...

Every year, in every training camp location, there are camp scuffles. Some might be more scuffles, while others are full blown fights. Those who have been Pittsburgh Steelers fans long enough remember the fights between a young Antonio Brown and veteran Ike Taylor.

How long would it take for the fights to break out in this 2021 training camp? As it turns out, three practices.

During Saturday’s workout, it was a rookie trying to make a name for himself. Fourth round draft pick Dan Moore Jr. got into multiple scuffles with defensive linemen. This from Brooke Pryor of ESPN:

Had our first training camp scuffle today. Rookie tackle Dan Moore Jr. got into it with Isaiah Buggs and Cam Heyward on consecutive plays.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 24, 2021

Outside of the fact Moore might want to find someone other than Heyward to engage with, if anything it shows the rookie from Texas A&M is willing to put up a fight.

Now let’s get to more news from the Saturday practice...

Spillane can do more than hit

As expected, Robert Spillane is now the starting ILB next to Devin Bush, and while many think of him as just a thumper in the run game, Spillane showed off some hands with a nice one-handed interception of Mason Rudolph. This isn’t the first time Spillane got his hands on a football, last season it was Spillane’s pick-six of Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens which sparked the defense to a victory.

Standout play of the day: ILB Robert Spillane intercepted Mason Rudolph with a one-handed snag on a pass intended for Ray Ray McCloud

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 24, 2021

Beat up Offensive Line

It is early in camp, but never a good thing when all your centers are not available. Kendrick Green was given the day off for personal reasons, and both B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer left practice on their own power. Green is expected to be back for Sunday’s practice.

Coach Tomlin said they were thin at OL today because Kendrick Green had the day off for a personal matter (back tomorrow) and BJ Finney and JC Hassenauer left under their own power.

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) July 24, 2021

Get out the pitchforks and torches

Some Steelers fans absolutely hate when Ben Roethlisberger gets a day off. Well, if that is you, you might want to go get your pitchforks and torches and storm the Steelers’ UPMC Rooney Sports Complex after Roethlisberger had the day off.

Ben Roethlisberger was off today, giving Steelers another extended look at Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins and Josh Dobbs. pic.twitter.com/bcFmLpfCuL

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 24, 2021

Not only do the Steelers typically follow this plan with Roethlisberger, but the team wants to get an extended look at Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins and Joshua Dobbs.

Ben Roethlisberger had the day off today. That is typical for him. For years now they've had him go one day full, one day half and then a full day off during camp. Today was the third day.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) July 24, 2021

Ingram being used in multiple ways

The Steelers have a very versatile weapon in their newest defensive addition, Melvin Ingram. Ingram is showing he is capable of not just rushing from the outside, but also playing some on the interior of the defense in an almost inside linebacker look. As Mike Tomlin always says, the more you can do the better.

Melvin Ingram was lining up at multiple spots today on the defense. Both are outside rusher and as a standup rusher over the B and the A gap.

Ingram says the Steelers have asked him to do it, and he’ll do it frequently.

— Nick Farabaugh (@Nick_Farabaugh) July 24, 2021

Kevin Dotson injury minor

Many fans are concerned about Kevin Dotson. The second year guard hasn’t been able to practice yet, but he was seen doing some individual work during Saturday’s practice. It seems the injury is minor, as Dotson is the starting left guard on the team’s first depth chart.

Kevin Dotson still didnt practice in team drills today, but he had a helmet for the first time this camp — a sign the tweak isn’t a major issue. He’s listed as starting LG on the initial roster ahead of BJ Finney. pic.twitter.com/4hh4mDBa6c

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 24, 2021

Not just 100%...

When the Steelers signed Melvin Ingram, there were a lot of questions about Ingram’s health. In front of reporters, Ingram said he is not just over his injury from 2020, but he is 100%. Actually, he said he is 200%...I’m not sure how that’s possible.

More from Melvin Ingram: “I love football. My body feels great. I had an injury last year, but that’s part of the game. It’s a physical sport. Right now I’m 100…200% healthy.”

— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) July 24, 2021

Here is video of Ingram talking about his health:

When he was 30, Melvin Ingram said he felt like he was 21. Today, I asked him how old he felt at 32 after another injury.

Turns out he’s Benjamin Button.

“I feel like I’m 18, actually. … I feel 100, 200 percent healthy.” pic.twitter.com/5t9AQHOFn9

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 24, 2021

Not Deebo, Melvin

Want to compare Melvin Ingram to James Harrison? Think again...

Question: "You've got a James Harrison build - "

Melvin Ingram: "Nah, I gotta Melvin build."

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 24, 2021

Ingram on why he is wearing No. 8

We noted how Ingram wanted to wear the No. 8 when he came to the Steelers, he wore No. 54 with the Chargers, and he said it was a combination of his High School number, but also to honor the late Kobe Bryant.

Melvin Ingram says he definitely has his burst back, he fell in love w the city on his visit, and he took no. 8 bc he was 44 in high school (4+4=8) and bc of Kobe.
I like this guy. #NFLdude

— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) July 24, 2021 BTSC Training Camp Recap Podcast VIDEO

The squad brought the for media days!@budlight | #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/sV2TwDjtiZ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 25, 2021

Great to be at a football practice today and I got a lot more from the @Steelers coming. But here’s one thing for now—Najee Harris is as advertised. pic.twitter.com/VPayXzh7Sc

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 25, 2021

Holding on tight, @ohthatsNajee22. pic.twitter.com/Oz7flkj9PN

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) July 25, 2021

. @ohthatsNajee22 makes it look easy every time. pic.twitter.com/T9TNYFzvgX

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) July 24, 2021

Another day of @steelers football. It doesn’t get any better. pic.twitter.com/g66RSm6IdH

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) July 25, 2021 PHOTOS

I’m just doing what they ask me to do…just trying to help out. Coaches will tell me what my role is…I still got a left in me. - @MelvinIngram #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/xg7RyUzzFC

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) July 24, 2021

Pics from practice @Ebron85 | @TwanDoee | More: https://t.co/8vCKGm4SJj pic.twitter.com/eX8EbqGUvj

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 24, 2021

7 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin following Day 3 of training camp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/25/2021 - 7:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking to the media again at training camp, the Steelers head coach answered many questions about specific players.

As the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers assembled together at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for their first weekend of training camp, we were also given the typical media session from head coach Mike Tomlin. Therefore, it’s time to look at the players mentioned by Coach Tomlin during his media time. Remember these are current players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period, although I’m giving a bonus quote about two players mentioned in the opening statement.

Anthony Coyle

The Steelers were extra-thin at center on Saturday (which will be explained later) which led to the question about a fourth player being ready to snap the ball. Coach Tomlin was asked who else could be called on to play center if needs be and Anthony Coyle was the player Tomlin specifically discussed.

“We use Coyle also. We’ve always got little projects going on on the side. We’ve got guys prepared to play. If you’re not working four or five snappers you’re less than professional.”

Dan Moore Jr.

The Steelers reportedly had their first scuffle of training camp with multiple incidents involving 2021 fourth-round draft pick Dan Moore Jr. Coach Tomlin was asked about any message he would have for a younger player when they get into a battle like they did on Saturday.

“I’m not interested in coaching that, to be honest with you. We work our tails off to compete but keep it professional. We acknowledge sometimes tempers are going to flare and those things are going to happen, but we’re not wasting one iota of our time coaching it. We’re putting together a rough and tumble football group, not an MMA squad, so we’re not coaching it.”

Robert Spillane

With the recent retirement of Vince Williams, it is assumed linebacker Robert Spillane will be the next man up for the Steelers defense. Coach Tomlin was asked about what he has seen from Spillane and if he is going to be the guy who is the starter.

“I’m not assuming that he’s stepping in. We’re here competing to divide the labor up and our work is going to determine what happens. But Rob is a guy that ascended over the course of last year and had an opportunity to make some plays for us. Hopefully, that’s a springboard for him to continue to do some of the things that you saw him do today and beyond. I like his attitude. He came ready to go.”

Calvin Bundage

The most recent roster edition for the Steelers was the re-signing of linebacker Calvin Bundage after being released two days prior. Coach Tomlin was asked what he liked about Bundage’s game.

“He’s a high energy guy. He’s got great urgency. Other than that, I don’t know a lot about him. Just a lot of teaching and learning, as is the case for a lot of these guys when they’re really young and we’re just getting to know them.”

Kendrick Green

Despite addressing the issue in his opening statement, Coach Tomlin was asked about the absence of Kendrick Green from Saturday’s practice.

“Yeah, he was excused by me.”

B.J. Finney & J.C. Hassenauer

Since there needs to be some clarity to the statement about Kendrick Green, I decided to give an added bonus and include two more players coach Tomlin also addressed specifically during his opening statement. Other than Green, the two players were B.J. Finney and J.C. Hanneauer.

“We were running a little thin at the offensive line. Kendrick Green - I gave the day off for a personal matter, he’ll be back tomorrow. But also, within that, and that’s usually the case, we had a few guys go down and they’re being evaluated. I don’t know the nature of those injuries, don’t expect it to be significant. B.J. Finney left under his own power and J.C. (Hassenaur) did as well. So it created some challenges for those that remained, but that’s the nature of this thing. It kind of exemplifies the battles and the challenges that the season provides us. So just a small sample size of that. I thought the offensive line largely did a nice job of adjusting and allowing us to finish the work and just really appreciative of that.”

A portion of Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen below as well as a link to the full interview on the Steelers’ YouTube channel.

Coach Tomlin talks about today's practice, the offensive line and more.

Full : https://t.co/m387PCQbeP pic.twitter.com/0cvuSFs9eB

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 24, 2021

The 2021 NFL COVID-19 principles will not keep games from being rescheduled

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/25/2021 - 6:00am
Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

If Steelers fans think what happened to the team in 2020 due to Covid outbreaks is now different, think again.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 NFL season still has several clouds floating over it among fans. The 11-game win streak to start the season has been pushed out by the oncoming cold front and overcast skies of losing five of six games, including the playoffs. to finish the season. Another cloud which still hangs over Pittsburgh was the shuffling of the 2020 schedule in which the Steelers lost both of their bye week and their “mini-bye week” due to COVID-19 outbreaks going on with their opponents.

On Thursday, the NFL released a memo which got a lot of people’s attention. In the memo, it outlines how the NFL will use forfeits of games that are not played in the 2021 season, and the clubs who will be responsible for those forfeits. Many people, not just Steelers fans, looked at the headlines based on said memo without diving into the finer details.

To sum it up: The games that were moved during the 2020 season, both those that included the Steelers and those that did not, would all happen again in 2021 if the situation arises.

That’s right folks, even if the 2021 rules were applied to last season, the Steelers would have played the Tennessee Titans in Week 7 and the Baltimore Ravens on a Wednesday afternoon in December rather than Thanksgiving night.

When it comes to the memo, it seems that the devil is in the details. But really it’s not. There is a phrase that was used multiple times in the memo:

If a game cannot be rescheduled within the current 18-week schedule...

What this means is it the NFL will still move games around in order to make sure they are played. Whether it be switching the time, date, or even week of these games in order to make sure they are played is something they will continue to do. The biggest difference in 2021 is they have already ruled out adding a week to the end of the season before the playoffs in order to play any games which weren’t able to be held during the regular season.

But the NFL didn’t have to do that in 2020.

The other thing which was outlined in the memo is how a forfeit would work. It lays out which team would be held responsible, how these games would affect team’s records, and how players would not be paid their weekly salary because the game is not played.

So to recap, what’s new for 2021 in the memo that was sent out Thursday is that there will not be an extra week added to the end of the season to reschedule games, and teams will be held responsible if forced to forfeit. Neither one of these items happened in 2020, so the NFL is just being proactive about what they are doing going into this season.

If you still don’t believe this is what the memo meant, you can read it for yourself here courtesy of NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:

Here’s more from today’s memo, which also says the team responsible for a canceled game because of an outbreak among unvaccinated players/staff will be responsible for financial losses and subject to potential discipline from the commissioner. Wow. pic.twitter.com/Q86a2WcG1K

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 22, 2021

If you really don’t feel like churning through the four-page document, you could listen to additional breakdown on NFL Network courtesy of Mike Garafolo which lays out how games can still be moved:

From NFL Now on @nflnetwork on the league’s updated policies on COVID-19 affecting the scheduling of games. pic.twitter.com/StfP4HsMLW

— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 22, 2021

Another issue which came up in 2020 and will continue in 2021 is rescheduling a game simply because certain players are not available. One example fro 2020 is the Denver Broncos not having any of their quarterbacks available which ultimately was not a reason to postpone the game. This will also be the case for 2021.

What isn’t laid out is exactly what would classify a team needing to have a game postponed, rescheduled, or forfeited. In 2020, it came down to if a team was experiencing an outbreak and if playing the game would cause a greater spread. Exactly what that would take in 2021 remains to be seen, hence why the memo specifically says:

Postponements will only occur if required by government authorities, medical experts, or the Commissioner’s discretion.

The key here is “the Commissioner’s discretion” which most NFL fans realize is the league’s way of being able to do whatever they want if they need to play this card.

This wasn’t meant to bring up the issue of whether or not the players fall in the vaccinated or unvaccinated category or things of that nature. Instead, this was simply trying to get the correct information out to Steelers fans so we don’t have to hear “they should have to forfeit” much like we did last season. The NFL has laid it out and said that they will use forfeits, but everything that happened to the Steelers last year didn’t fit the criteria then, and still won’t fit the criteria now.

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