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James Washington primed for a big year after a forgettable rookie season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 2:05pm

The 2018 second round draft pick has a year under his belt, and is primed to succeed with a new opportunity in front of him.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, and their fan base, had high hopes for James Washington in his rookie season, and why not? After he was selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, fans saw the next JuJu Smith-Schuster, also drafted in the second round, but of the 2017 draft.

What transpired was an extremely disappointing season for Washington. A year in which he hardly contributed, and some would argue was remembered more for his mistakes than plays made.

Either way, 2018 is gone, and Washington is a new man. Both figuratively, and literally. In the offseason Washington worked on getting faster, and by doing so meant he would have to lose weight. In total Washington dropped roughly 10 pounds, and it was a combination of hard work on his father’s farm, and training in Florida.

“I went home for the first two weeks, was putting in some hard work with my dad on the farm,” Washington told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “I was trying to cut down weight. Eat less. I went to Miami and worked in the sun. Worked on strength, strong hands, all the things receivers work on.

“I feel great. I feel lighter. I feel like I am a lot quicker off the ball. It was about 40 percent farm work and 60 percent field work. Last year at the end of the year I wrote down some goals. That was my top goal, to cut weight, to get faster. Not just for me, but for the team. That was my main goal.”

This is all well and good, but Washington also talked about the trials and tribulations which came from last year — none of which surrounded the drama that engulfed the Steelers locker room the entire year.

Washington was just struggling with his confidence.

“It was hard. I am not going to lie,” said Washington. “There were times I would go home, think to myself ways to get better and not let the team down. I was disappointed last year. I have high expectations for myself and this team has them for me.”

“I was thinking too much. Talking to Coach (Mike Tomlin), he gave me some encouragement. I talked to Ben (Roethlisberger) and that cleared up a lot of confusion with myself and my capabilities.

“I am more relaxed now when I am in the huddle with Ben. I am listening to him call the play. My mind is functioning more. It’s thinking about the entire play, the fine tuning of my route.

“Last year it wasn’t there because I was a different person. I feel like a different person. Ten times different. I feel like a veteran even though I am only in my second year. It feels a lot better.”

Washington feels like a better person, and the rabid Steelers fan base hopes he plays like a different person in 2018. Rookies have been known to get off to slow starts, but the Steelers will need Washington, and others, to step up in a big way with Antonio Brown now officially a member of the Oakland Raiders.

If the offseason proves anything, it should show fans Washington is not only a tireless worker, but someone who is determined to make his mark on the team, and possibly the NFL, in 2019.

Antonio Brown should learn not to look a gift horse in the mouth

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:05pm

Ben Roethlisberger's recent interview and apology has extended Antonio Brown the olive branch of peace and an unbelievable shot at redemption. Brown seems to be blissfully unaware.

My father used to say it takes two to tango. He was referring to the fact that in any relationship, whether they be professional or personal, there are no perfect individuals. Even in a situation that involves an obvious villain, there is always a victim. Some individuals prove to be perpetual victims.

I used to share a office with a work colleague who happened to be the father of two daughters. Both daughters had been married and divorced multiple times, with one daughter having achieved the trifecta. Needless to say, my work colleague loved to go on and on talking about how utterly worthless he felt each of his ex son-in-laws were in his opinion. It actually became quite uncomfortable for any listener, myself included.

On one particularly aggravating day filled with hostility and rancor, I finally asked my colleague a simply question after my father's words of wisdom came to mind. What was the common denominator in each situation? He seemed confused and asked me to clarify. I merely pointed out that his daughters were the one constant in each relationship. If each of these men were as despicable as he described, then why did his daughters keep on marrying that type of man? Though he seemed pretty distraught by my question, the good news was he never tried to discuss his daughters love interests in my presence ever again.

Ben Roethlisberger's one and only interview since last season's disappointing ending and drama filled off season recently aired preemptive to the first day of OTA's on Tuesday. In an obvious attempt to express his side of the story in a controlled setting and effectively close the book on all the drama, Ben took the opportunity to issue an apology and be the bigger man. In no way trying to play the victim, even though he was repeatedly attacked unfairly throughout Antonio Brown's insanity tour by the man himself and a multitude of national media, Ben accepted responsibility for his comments toward AB on his radio show and offered an apology. He even called AB a good friend and hoped they could put the whole situation behind them someday. Ben and I definitely have a different definition of what a good friend actually is.

Whether intentionally or not, Ben has provided Brown with a golden opportunity previously believed unthinkable. He has given Brown a road back in, an avenue to forgiveness if you will. After Brown burned every possible bridge around Pittsburgh, Ben has erected a temporary rope suspension bridge for Brown to cross back over. The sad part of it all is the fact that Brown seems oblivious to the possibility.

Steelers Nation is filled with individuals who would love nothing better than to welcome Brown back into the fold with open arms someday. Time has a way of healing old wounds, and forgiveness is often an option as we all enjoy a good redemption story.

That's what made Brown's obvious attempt to force a trade to a location where he could obtain the max contract he desired so puzzling. He didn't know when to quit when he was ahead. Similar to a mother of dragons, he couldn't just burn a few bridges, he had to burn the whole city. He exposed his true nature like Pee Wee Herman at a movie theater. There is just no coming back from some behavior.

Incredibly, Brown has been granted the ultimate second chance, all on a silver platter. All he has to do is accept Ben's apology and move on. Take responsibility for his own actions moving forward and let the healing power of time do the rest. Once the still fresh sting of betrayal has faded then a mutually beneficial dialog can commence. Antonio Brown can't allow this golden opportunity to pass him by, but it appears he will.

He seems determined to play the perpetual victim to the end. Brown has had conflict or issue with Ben, Tomlin, coaches, ex-players, local media, and fans across social media. What is the common denominator in each situation? Or should I say who?

JuJu Smith-Schuster embraces being a leader, believes ‘chemistry is on point’

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:45am

Still only 22-years-old- Smith-Schuster will be counted on to be one of the leaders on offense this year.

If the Pittsburgh Steelers are to successfully adjust to life without Antonio Brown, the efforts of JuJu Smith-Schuster will be critical to their cause in 2019. Tasked with being the team’s number one receiver, the young player will see coverages he has never had to contend with during his first two years in the league, while also having the responsibility of leading his position group.

For a player still only 22-years-old, that is an enormous weight to put on his shoulders, but it appears to be a challenge that Smith-Schuster is more than willing to accept. Speaking to reporters after practice on Wednesday, the former USC product dismissed his age as being a limiting factor in his ability to lead.

“Yeah, it is weird, being 22, but having that many games played, being a role model for that room, I’m pretty sure I can take on that challenge and that’s what I’ve been doing. You know, being the leader and just trying to, you know, contribute like everybody else.”

“With the experience that I’ve played at this point, age is just a number. I’ve played enough games under my belt where I’ll be able to take on this. It’s just another challenge that we’ve got to deal with.”

“I’m already vocal. I’m just vocal just in person, that’s how I am. There’s no need for me to go out of my way and yell at the guys. We’re all adults here. We all know what’s right from wrong. Everyone just works. Everyone has a voice in the room. It’s not just mine.”

“I like to have a little voice. Being a young guy in a room, being 22, I feel like my dog, a French bulldog, you know, just barking at everybody. But at the same time, they’ve got dogs too, so they can bark. I like that role.”

Well aware that he will see increased coverage during his third season in the league without Brown on the other side of the field, Smith-Schuster is sufficiently confident in the talent around him that he expects the team will still be able make plays even if he is covered.

“We dealt with that against the Patriots last year. They doubled me and AB. It wasn’t anything new. This year it’s going to be the same thing. I am going to being getting the same coverages, the double. We’ve got guys like Moncrief, James (Washington), we have the new wide receiver, Diontae. We have so many guys who can make plays. I am not worried about that.”

And when asked for his thoughts about the additions to the wide receiver room this offseason, Smith-Schuster admitted he was impressed with what he had seen from some of the new recruits so far, as well as the other returning receivers.

On Diontae Johnson

“Today, he impressed me a lot today. He caught a couple of balls, Ben told him to come in and he made a couple of plays and he’s doing a good job.”

On James Washington’s progress from year one to year two

“Oh Huge, he’s not jumping every time he goes and catches the ball, he’s running through all his routes. Powerful, strong, his conditioning’s up there, yeah.”

Doing his best to deflect questions about Brown and the comments his former teammate had made this offseason, Smith-Schuster wished AB nothing but the best going forward. Choosing to focus on the players who remain in Pittsburgh, the young receiver believes there is already a better sense of camaraderie in the locker room this year.

“The chemistry is on point. We don’t really have, um, everyone is on the same page and everyone’s communicating. There’s really no, how you say? drama in our locker room.”

The full interview can be seen below:

JuJu Smith-Schuster discusses team chemistry, an expanded leadership role in 2019, and more following our second OTA. pic.twitter.com/ipOiEAftsO

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2019

Steelers fans should give Terrell Edmunds a break on the Antonio Brown Twitter “like”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 9:30am

By all accounts, Steelers second-year safety Terrell Edmunds is of great character. Therefore, it’s likely his “like” of Antonio Brown’s “Two face” Tweet on Monday was simply a lapse in judgement.

Just when you thought the Steelers drama was over, there was Terrell Edmunds, the second-year safety out of Virginia Tech, “liking” a Tweet from Antonio Brown that may or may not have been directed at quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

The Tweet was “Two face,” and Brown Tweeted this not long after some quotes from Bob Pompeani’s news-worthy interview with Roethlisberger were released to the public on Monday afternoon.

Monday night, when I was talking about this stuff with Bryan Anthony Davis on The Steelers Hangover, our weekly podcast, I wasn’t very happy about Brown’s Tweet; in fact, I took it as yet another slight at his former quarterback.

But then when I learned that Edmunds had “liked” the Tweet, I cringed. I mean, here we go again, right? However, since I want to like Edmunds, and since he seems like a really great young dude from a really awesome football family, I desperately wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Then I started poring over comments from some BTSC readers and even people on Twitter who were of the opinion that Brown’s Tweet, which, let’s be honest, was like the majority of his Tweets—cryptic and incoherent—may not have actually been directed at Roethlisberger. I say that because, around that same time, Brown threw out a bunch of other Tweets that seemed to be directed at his agent or the IRS or whomever.

Again, though, the timing of Brown’s “Two face” Tweet seemed fishy relative to when Roethlisberger’s interview quotes started to pop up on social media. OK, I’ll give you that. But does that mean Edmunds knew this Tweet was directed at Roethlisberger? As someone who reads Facebook comments all the time, mainly from articles involving the Steelers and pop culture, I can tell you that many readers comment on headlines without even taking the time to read said articles. It’s a knee-jerk thing. They’re on their phones. They see something. They react.

I’d like to believe this is what Edmunds was doing on Monday. I’d like to believe he was just showing loyalty to someone he likely looks up to, someone he likely idolizes, a football hero from his childhood. After all, it wasn’t long ago that Edmunds, along with many current Steelers players, was spotted on some beach somewhere hanging out with Brown.

It was only yesterday that Brown was the Big Man on Campus in the Steelers locker room. As much of a cancer as he likely was, Brown was also someone that most people really wanted to like. In fact, many Steelers players—including those that sided with Roethlisberger when all the mess finally hit the fan right after the conclusion of the 2018 regular season—expressed how much they really admired Brown—the guy they all affectionately called “AB.”

As a fan, I admired Brown for quite some time. I really loved the guy. I damn-near worshiped his football skills. Just the other day, I was watching someone’s “My favorite Steelers moments of all time” YouTube video (likely a young person, since most of these moments were from the 21st century), and Brown starred in a good many of these moments. I gotta be honest, I was a bit remorseful. In that moment, I once again found myself really wanting to like Brown—or at least wanting to appreciate what he did for the Steelers during his time here.

Worst case scenario with Edmunds’ “like” of the "Two face* Tweet: he knew or thought Brown directed it at Roethlisberger, and he “liked” it anyway. Is this something that should haunt him for the rest of his career—or even the 2019 season? Should he feel the wrath of the fans and the media? Should he hear boos? Should he receive nasty comments on his social media accounts? This isn’t on the same level of Brown “liking” multiple Tweets about Roethlisberger’s old rape allegations. This isn’t on the same level as some of the things Rashard Mendenhall and Josh Harris have Tweeted about Roethlisberger in the recent past.

As I alluded to earlier, Edmunds appears to be of great character. Nothing you’ve seen from the guy since he’s been in Pittsburgh would suggest he’s a bad person. Maybe he just got caught up in siding with someone he thinks is a really good friend of his. Maybe he simply needs to get to know his Hall of Fame quarterback. Maybe his Hall of Fame quarterback needs to show some leadership and get to know his young safety.

Hopefully, all of the leaders in the Steelers locker room—Cam Heyward, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster, Roethlisberger, etc.—will take Edmunds aside and make him realize how damaging even the simplest Twitter “like” can be.

At any rate, I think Steelers fans should have some mercy on Terrell Edmunds. We all make mistakes, and as far as those go, Edmunds’ lapse in judgement was a fairly minor one.

Former Steelers LB Jon Bostic signs with Washington

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 8:45am

It did not take the linebacker too long to find a new home after being released by Pittsburgh at the end of April

Released by the Pittsburgh Steelers just days after they had selected Devin Bush with the 10th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, it would appear that it has not taken Jon Bostic long to find a new home this offseason.

As per an official release by the team on Wednesday, Bostic signed has now signed with the Washington Redskins, just a day after presumed starter Reuben Foster suffered a season-ending ACL injury in practice.

ROSTER MOVES: #Redskins sign LB Jon Bostic and place LB Reuben Foster on IR.

: https://t.co/80dqVEgfpl pic.twitter.com/Pd0tOQpaBi

— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) May 22, 2019

Originally drafted by the Chicago Bears in the second-round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Bostic was signed by Pittsburgh during free agency in 2018 as a replacement for the injured Ryan Shazier. And while it might be unfair to say he played poorly last year, he struggled to perform at a level the Steelers needed from the position, finishing the season with an overall grade of just 59.6 from Pro Football Focus.

Proving to be something of a liability in coverage as the year progressed, Bostic would see his snap count decline significantly in the later stages of the season in favor of L.J. Fort. Set to cost the $2.5 million in 2019 if he had remained with the team, Pittsburgh saved $1.8 million with his release in April, while taking on $700,000 in dead money.

Steelers OTA Recap, Day 2: Donte Moncrief on Ben Roethlisberger “I think we’re gonna have a good year”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 7:53am

Time to check in on what went down at the UPMC Practice Facility for Organized Team Activities.

Throughout the offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers have been a very popular topic of conversation. Antonio Brown obviously led the way, in terms of attention, but the Steelers also added to their mix of receivers when Brown was shipped to the Oakland Raiders via trade.

Of course every likes the new, shiny toy fresh out of the box, and Diontae Johnson, third round pick out of Toledo, represents that for the black-and-gold. Fans are enamored with his similar skill set to Brown, and his versatility. Throughout all of that, many fans are forgetting another player signed to the team who is destined to make an impact on the roster — Donte Moncrief.

People love to point out his mediocre statistics throughout his career, but, as I’ve written before, look at who was throwing him passes. His rookie season he had Andrew Luck while with the Indianapolis Colts, but when Luck went down with an injured shoulder he relied on players like Curtis Painter, Jacoby Brisett and last year in Jacksonville, Blake Bortles.

Not really a who’s who among NFL signal callers. In other words, who knows what type of production Moncrief can put up with a quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger at the helm.

With just two days into the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Organized Team Activities (OTAs), Moncrief has already noticed a huge difference between who he previously caught passes from, and Roethlisberger.

He sat down with Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews after practice to talk about what it has been like coming to a new team, and how he feels he and Roethlisberger are destined to have a big year this year.

As they said at Ole Miss when Moncrief was there: “Feed Moncrief!”

Donte Moncrief sat down with Missi to talk about his role on the team, working with his new quarterback, and more. pic.twitter.com/nIhpzGYnN6

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 23, 2019
  • The media got their hands on JuJu Smith-Schuster for the first time in 2019, and while he was peppered with questions about being the new No. 1 receiver in town, Smith-Schuster batted them away like a pro. Not too shabby for a 22-year old.

JuJu Smith-Schuster discusses team chemistry, an expanded leadership role in 2019, and more following our second OTA. pic.twitter.com/ipOiEAftsO

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2019
  • The turnovers continue! Ben Roethlisberger’s first pass of OTAs was intercepted, and the defense got another turnover on Wednesday. Now, before alerting the national media, the Steelers defense will have to prove all this when it counts. In the meantime, Joe Haden realizes every little bit of practice helps.

Joe Haden is focused on creating more turnovers. pic.twitter.com/YOAarioL2F

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2019

VIDEOS/PHOTOS

Vance McDonald figures to play a crucial part for the #Steelers in 2019 — and it's a challenge he embraces both on and off the field.

Read the full story and watch the full interview from @HunterAHomistek at the Rooney Complex here: https://t.co/VBRWcUVJs5 pic.twitter.com/XG2ig00p80

— DK Pittsburgh Sports (@DKPghSports) May 22, 2019

JuJu Smith Schuster said no “Drama” this year. @KDKA pic.twitter.com/REtW4ydFvo

— Rich Walsh KDKA (@RichieWalsh) May 22, 2019

.@herbwaters6 with one of the nicest one-handers I've seen live in a good while. Got up, got around, stared, stabbed and brought it down. Beauty. #DKPS #Steelers pic.twitter.com/c3dILj6EIE

— Matt Sunday (@mattsunday) May 22, 2019

One, two, @CamSutton20's coming for you. #DKPS #Steelers pic.twitter.com/FOYE4vbwVi

— Matt Sunday (@mattsunday) May 22, 2019

Jordan Dangerfield to miss the Steelers’ Thursday OTA session to attend his graduation

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 6:46am

Six years after heading to the NFL, Dangerfield accomplishes goal of earning his college degree.

Steeler safety Jordan Dangerfield will be missing Thursday’s off-season training activities in order to attend his college graduation in Towson, MD. Since entering the NFL in 2013 as an undrafted rookie free agent for the Buffalo Bills, Dangerfield fought his way onto the Steelers practice squad in 2014 and 2015.

After spending the season on the Steelers 53-man roster in 2016, Dangerfield was injured for the first part of 2017 before landing back on the practice squad. He appeared in all 16 games for the Steelers in 2018, mainly as a contributor on special teams, logging over 300 snaps.

Steelers reporter Missy Matthews interviewed Dangerfield about his upcoming graduation and what it took to finish his degree since he entered the NFL.

#Steelers @Dangerfield__ is missing OTA #3 for a very good reason. He explained why after practice today... pic.twitter.com/szsNDdkM8N

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) May 22, 2019

While many view NFL athletes as millionaires who get paid to play a kids’ game, and this isn’t a fictional statement, it often goes unnoticed when a player goes back and finished his degree in college. More and more players are ensuring they go back and complete their education for one reason or another.

Maybe it is to have something to fall back on if they get injured, or maybe it is a promise to a relative. Either way, congratulations to Jordan Dangerfield as he walks across the stage in Towson as a college graduate.

Podcast: How can you gauge success at Steelers’ OTAs?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 5:30am

The Steelers are back to work with their third, and final, phase of OTAs. Many are wondering, how can you determine success?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back to work at the Rooney UPMC Practice Facility, and they are entering what I love to call the “tease phase” of offseason workouts. You know, they are playing football, but are not really playing football.

Football in shorts, as Mike Tomlin calls it.

But I’d rather talk about football in shorts, than no football at all. So as the Steelers began their Organized Team Activities (OTAs) Tuesday, many are wondering just how you can gauge success during these sessions.

It really is simple, and the answer can be as easy as 1, 2, 3...

Plenty has to be deciphered here, and I lay it all out there for the listeners in the latest show...

Check out the show below, and be sure to comment what you think in the comment section below!

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:

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

Black and Gold Links: Not to be overlooked, Vince Williams is showing the new ILBs the way

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 4:33am

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

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

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how although overlooked by many, Vince Williams is doing right by the new inside linebackers on the Steelers’ roster. The same players some have tabbed to potentially take his job in 2019.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Don’t ever say Vince Williams isn’t a team player. Williams bleeds black-and-gold like the rabid fan base who supports the team, and he isn’t about to let the fact the team drafted a linebacker in the first round deter him from helping the team. Williams could make Mark Barron and Devin Bush both learn on their own, but that isn’t his style.

Kevin Gorman: Vince Williams welcomes Steelers’ new inside linebackers

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

If you expected Vince Williams to sound insecure or insulted about the Pittsburgh Steelers signing a free-agent inside linebacker and selecting another inside linebacker with their top draft pick, you don’t know Vince Williams.

Williams never is at a loss for words, but he directed his vitriol toward what he termed a “tumultuous” offseason after selfishness led the Steelers to a second-place finish in the AFC North and missing the playoffs last season.

“We want to win, man,” Williams said Wednesday after a voluntary organized team activity on the South Side. “There ain’t no egos. No need be coy about it. We didn’t make the playoffs last year. We feel like we’re a championship-caliber unit. So everybody is embarrassed and (ticked) off.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Don’t look now, but the Steelers’ starting defense has taken the football away, via interception, twice now in the first two days of OTAs.

Another interception for Steelers 1st-team defense at OTAs

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

One of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ priorities for this season was to increase their takeaways.

It’s extremely early — but so far, so good in that department.

For the second consecutive day at organized team activities, the Steelers first-team defense intercepted Ben Roethlisberger during the “seven shots” drill that traditionally opens the team portion of every practice.

That means that among eight 2-point conversion-style plays between the first-team offense and first-team defense so far, two were intercepted. It was cornerback Joe Haden on Tuesday and safety Terrell Edmunds on Wednesday.

Not bad considering the Steelers intercepted just eight of their opponents’ 566 passes last season.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Despite Mike Hilton not currently being under contract, considering he hasn’t signed his free agent tender, he is still at OTAs and getting work done in hopes of getting a new deal before the start of the season.

CB Mike Hilton unsigned but present at Steelers OTAs

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

After Wednesday’s session at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, Hilton confirmed both that he has yet to sign the exclusive-rights free agent tender the Steelers have presented him with and that he was taking OTA reps at the nickel inside cornerback. This is Hilton’s fourth NFL preseason, his third with the Steelers and his second since establishing himself as the Steelers’ No. 1 option to cover receivers in the slot.

But after two seasons, 31 games, five sacks, three interceptions and 14 passes defended for the Steelers in that role, Hilton has to this point politely declined to accept the relatively-paltry (by NFL standards) salary associated with an ERFA tender.

“No, not yet,” Hilton said of signing it. “But that’s why I am here. I want to be here and I want to show them I want to be part of this group for as long as possible. So, when that (contract) time comes around, hopefully things work out.”

To read the full article, click HERE

McDonald welcomes ‘hard’ challenge of replacing AB

By: Hunter Homistek, DKPittsburghSports

Vance McDonald is primed for a breakout year with the Steelers.

Last season, McDonald caught 50 passes for 610 yards and four touchdowns with a 69.4 percent catch rate. Those were career bests for McDonald, who spent the first five years of his NFL career with the 49ers.

Now, with Antonio Brown and Jesse James gone, McDonald figures to be in an even better position to succeed. It’s a point he recognizes well.

”[I’m focused on] just maintaining my health and just consistency with [Ben Roethlisberger],” McDonald was telling me at the Rooney Complex after Day 2 of Steelers OTAs. ”I think at the end of the day, you can both be tremendous athletes but if you’re not thinking, breathing on the same [page] — that’s really what I’m trying to go for this offseason. It’s just, ‘How much closer can I get with Ben?’ Because at the end of the day, like I said, I think it’s about relationships, so thinking the same, on the same page, and I think you’ll connect a lot more.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Back at it ✊ pic.twitter.com/i62dSpnzCL

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2019

https://t.co/TBgOt0IquW pic.twitter.com/rBYztPWhQe

— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) May 22, 2019

Landry Jones is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. A man of great faith. I’ll always cheer for him.

— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) May 23, 2019

I just wanna hit QBs like Josh Bell hits baseballs.

— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) May 23, 2019

We would so watch a Titanic remake starring @TeamJuJu and @Switz pic.twitter.com/JfOOgMH59E

— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 22, 2019

Ramon Foster and Cam Heyward reject suggestions that Steelers need to be reigned in

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 1:30pm

In a rousing endorsement of Mike Tomlin during OTAs on Monday, Ramon Foster made it clear that it was on the players to police themselves this season.

If you had listened to all the noise coming from outside the Pittsburgh Steelers organization this offseason, you would assume that the Steelers are on the verge of collapse having said goodbye to Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell this year. But for those players that remain, the perspective from inside the locker room is markedly different.

When not blaming Ben Roethlisberger or Kevin Colbert for the dysfunction that has seemingly plagued the Steelers as of late, Mike Tomlin is the one who has often come in for the most criticism. Accused of being too close to his players and lacking in discipline, the actions of Brown and Bell have landed at the feet of a coach labelled an enabler, while the behavior of the individuals concerned has largely been given a free pass.

But while outsiders may expect Tomlin to adjust his coaching style in 2019, that does not match with the expectations of veteran leaders like Ramon Foster and Cameron Heyward. When speaking to reporters during practice on the first day of OTAs, both players made it very clear that there was no need for Tomlin to change the way he manages his team.

“Coach T has been handling us the same way for years. He gives guys an environment where they can develop themselves, and in that development of themselves, you get certain things out of it, whether good or bad and we’ve always found a way to deal with it. So, I don’t think he going to rein guys in or switch it up. The guys who understand how to work do that because of the amount of respect with have for him and how he allows us to be men, first and foremost. So, I don’t think you’ll see somebody whipping the whip to just do this and do that.”

“I always refer to him as the Uncle you just don’t want to piss off. You know you can be who you want to be, but you step out of line, and you guys have seen him in his element, the element that you don’t see. He can be a real problem if you take him down that lane. It’s just certain stuff you know. You're allowed to be yourself.”

Asked about Tomlin’s reputation for being too much of a players coach and the reins being too lose, Foster scoffed at the suggestion from the reporter.

“I’ve heard it all and I’m sure if you ask all 1200 players in this league who would they rather play for, he’s at the top of the list. And that’s because they know how he deals with people, they know how you're able to develop yourself. He’s not going to carry you on a leash and say “hey, you gotta do this, you gotta do that”. People who are mature enough and professional enough know how to handle that type of thing.”

“How has the development of this team been? Has he been one of the most consistent coaches in the league? Has he won games? Has he ever been a guy that you were scared that this was going to happen? No. Coach T is a guy that you want to work for, a guy that you want to play for, you give you all for, because you know at the end of the day, the mutual respect that he has for you is not seen around this league like that.”

If there is to be less talk coming from the locker room this season, it appears that directive might not necessarily be coming from the head coach, with Foster clearly suggesting it was the responsibility of the players to police that sort of thing.

“Wouldn’t it?[come from the players] Would you agree that it should? He don’t have to say much. Like I said, he’s that guy that you don’t want to piss off. So, with that being said, it has to be self-policed.”

Sentiments Cam Heyward would echo when asked if he expected Tomlin to attempt to rein the team in this season.

“What needs to be reined in? We’re talking about the few. We’re not talking about the many. We’ve got a great group of guys that are hard-nosed and just trying to get better. Coach T’s going to coach it like he wants to. I don’t make that decision. But I also don’t expect that decision. It‘s definitely not going to be stagnant.”

With Brown and Bell no longer on the roster, it seems safe to assume that the Steelers will be far less dramatic in 2019, but should there be a repeat of last season from someone else, you can be sure the fingers will be pointing at Tomlin.

Cameron Heyward and Ramon Foster talk about Coach Tomlin, Devin Bush and rebounding from last season. pic.twitter.com/RDssjfwfrI

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2019

Ramon Foster and Cam Heyward reject suggestions that Steelers need to be reigned in

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 1:30pm

In a rousing endorsement of Mike Tomlin during OTAs on Monday, Ramon Foster made it clear that it was on the players to police themselves this season.

If you had listened to all the noise coming from outside the Pittsburgh Steelers organization this offseason, you would assume that the Steelers are on the verge of collapse having said goodbye to Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell this year. But for those players that remain, the perspective from inside the locker room is markedly different.

When not blaming Ben Roethlisberger or Kevin Colbert for the dysfunction that has seemingly plagued the Steelers as of late, Mike Tomlin is the one who has often come in for the most criticism. Accused of being too close to his players and lacking in discipline, the actions of Brown and Bell have landed at the feet of a coach labelled an enabler, while the behavior of the individuals concerned has largely been given a free pass.

But while outsiders may expect Tomlin to adjust his coaching style in 2019, that does not match with the expectations of veteran leaders like Ramon Foster and Cameron Heyward. When speaking to reporters during practice on the first day of OTAs, both players made it very clear that there was no need for Tomlin to change the way he manages his team.

“Coach T has been handling us the same way for years. He gives guys an environment where they can develop themselves, and in that development of themselves, you get certain things out of it, whether good or bad and we’ve always found a way to deal with it. So, I don’t think he going to reign guys in or switch it up. The guys who understand how to work do that because of the amount of respect with have for him and how he allows us to be men, first and foremost. So, I don’t think you’ll see somebody whipping the whip to just do this and do that.”

“I always refer to him as the Uncle you just don’t want to piss off. You know you can be who you want to be, but you step out of line, and you guys have seen him in his element, the element that you don’t see. He can be a real problem if you take him down that lane. It’s just certain stuff you know. You're allowed to be yourself.”

Asked about Tomlin’s reputation for being too much of a players coach and the reigns being too lose, Foster scoffed at the suggestion from the reporter.

“I’ve heard it all and I’m sure if you ask all 1200 players in this league who would they rather play for, he’s at the top of the list. And that’s because they know how he deals with people, they know how you're able to develop yourself. He’s not going to carry you on a leash and say “hey, you gotta do this, you gotta do that”. People who are mature enough and professional enough know how to handle that type of thing.”

“How has the development of this team been? Has he been one of the most consistent coaches in the league? Has he won games? Has he ever been a guy that you were scared that this was going to happen? No. Coach T is a guy that you want to work for, a guy that you want to play for, you give you all for, because you know at the end of the day, the mutual respect that he has for you is not seen around this league like that.”

If there is to be less talk coming from the locker room this season, it appears that directive might not necessarily be coming from the head coach, with Foster clearly suggesting it was the responsibility of the players to police that sort of thing.

“Wouldn’t it?[come from the players] Would you agree that it should? He don’t have to say much. Like I said, he’s that guy that you don’t want to piss off. So, with that being said, it has to be self-policed.”

Sentiments Cam Heyward would echo when asked if he expected Tomlin to attempt to reign the team in this season.

“What needs to be reined in? We’re talking about the few. We’re not talking about the many. We’ve got a great group of guys that are hard-nosed and just trying to get better. Coach T’s going to coach it like he wants to. I don’t make that decision. But I also don’t expect that decision. It‘s definitely not going to be stagnant.”

With Brown and Bell no longer on the roster, it seems safe to assume that the Steelers will be far less dramatic in 2019, but should there be a repeat of last season from someone else, you can be sure the fingers will be pointing at Tomlin.

Cameron Heyward and Ramon Foster talk about Coach Tomlin, Devin Bush and rebounding from last season. pic.twitter.com/RDssjfwfrI

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2019

Why the Steelers might have to choose between Donte Moncrief or a 2020 3rd Round Pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 11:50am

If getting a compensatory pick in 2020 requires the Steelers releasing Moncrief, what should the Steelers do?

Which would you rather have: WR Donte Moncrief in 2019, or a 2020 3rd round compensatory draft pick?

It seems crazy to be asking such a question, but there is at least a possibility the Steelers could be faced with this dilemma. I wouldn’t say it’s a probability, but there is a scenario where the Steelers could be out a compensatory pick all together for 2020. How is this the case?

We’ll start with a super-quick recap of the compensatory process and where the Steelers currently stand. Each team either gains or loses Compensatory Free Agents (CFA‘s) during the off-season. In order to receive any compensatory picks, a team must lose more players than gained. After the second Tuesday following the NFL draft, the period for free agents gained or lost affecting the compensatory formula is over. The biggest factor left is a player’s value being adjusted due to playing time (or lack thereof) and postseason awards. I have already published article about these factors a few weeks ago which can be viewed here. But there is one other factor we have yet to cover: players being released.

I also want to add that the compensatory process is so involved it seems like every time I research the subject I learn something new. According to an article on overthecap.com earlier this month, players who are cut by team prior to Week 10 of the NFL season will no longer affect both the previous team’s or current team’s compensatory formula. So while the Steelers are still in line for the seventh of the nine third-round compensatory picks projected for 2020, if one of the players who they lost this past off-season is released prior to Week 10 they would no longer have a net loss and would not have any compensatory consideration.

Ouch.

So is this a possibility and what can the Steelers do to prevent it? Here is the scenario and how the Steelers could go from a third round pick to nothing, and it is completely out of their hands. Across the state, the Philadelphia Eagles have a very interesting situation when it comes to compensatory picks. They already hold the top compensatory pick for 2020 due to the loss of Nick Foles, and they also have a fourth round pick lined up for losing Golden Tate. Currently their fourth round pick for Jordan Hicks and their seventh round pick for Jordan Matthews are canceled by seventh round pick-ups L.J. Fort and Andrew Sendejo.

Due to the nature of the compensatory formula where players cancel out even if they are not in equal rounds, the Eagles could gain an additional fourth round compensatory pick by simply cutting either Fort or Sendejo. Would it be to their benefit to cut either player? Sendejo has a one-year contract for $1.3 million with $500k guaranteed. So releasing him would only carry the $500k in dead money. Fort signed a 3 year deal for about $5.5M. If he were to be released after June 1, the Eagles would only be saving about $90k in 2019 but would have two more years of almost $300k a season in dead money. So if the Eagles wanted to pick up an additional fourth round pick, cutting Sendejo makes a lot more sense from a numbers perspective. But if Fort gets banged up in the preseason and isn’t available while Sendejo plays well, it still isn’t out of the realm of possibility for Fort to be on the chopping block.

Just to be thorough, if Jesse James were to be released by Detroit it would cause the same problem. But James’ cap hit of less than $2.3M in 2019 would more than double if he were to be cut, plus he would carry dead money through 2023. Add in the fact releasing James would not add any picks to the Lions since they currently have six CFA’s gained with none lost, it’s pretty certain he’s not going anywhere.

So if L.J. Fort would be released by the Eagles, is there anything the Steelers can do to save their third round compensatory pick? There is, but it’s not a very desirable option. Just to clarify, it is my understanding Fort signing back with the Steelers (or with any other team) would not affect the compensatory formula at all if he would be released. The only other option remaining for the Steelers would be to release one of the two CFA’s they signed this past off-season.

If this were the route they would choose to go, the Steelers would be faced with either releasing Steven Nelson or Donte Moncrief. Nelson would carry $2.5M in dead money over each of the next three years while Moncrief would have $1.75M the next two seasons. Both players would save the Steelers $1.5M towards the 2019 salary cap. Purely from a numbers standpoint, it would make much more sense to release Donte Moncrief.

So what should the Steelers do if this scenario plays out? Is having Moncrief on the roster for 2019 more important than the 2020 third round pick they could receive?

I think my answer is how most people will choose to respond: let’s wait and see. If Moncrief is living up to his potential when he had a serviceable quarterback throwing him the ball, he could be a fantastic pick up for the Steelers. On the flip side, the Steelers could be faced with another scenario where a decent player just didn’t fit quite right. Depending on training camp and the preseason, Moncrief’s value could range from being the player who takes the pressure off of JuJu Smith–Schuster to fighting to be active each week much like Justin Hunter last season before he was injured.

If I were to guess right now, I would be the eternal optimist and say Moncrief is worth more than a third round pick for the Steelers. But rather than worry about this, I’m just praying L.J. Fort comes through for the Eagles so none of this even matters.

Steelers Burning Questions: Will the Steelers take a ‘Running Back By Committee’ approach in 2019?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 10:47am

We ask the questions, you give the answers.

Last week I was incorrect in thinking that BTSC member Hombe de Acero was the originator of the 5 Burning Questions. In fact, it was MaryRose (Tim Gleason) that started the article. My apologies, and thanks Hombre de Acero for correcting that and for stopping in.

I also want to thank everyone for joining in on the conversation.

Let’s get to it!!!

Running Back by Committee

I can’t remember Coach Mike Tomlin, or any of his Offensive Coordinators employing this approach in any part of his tenure in Pittsburgh. I can see to an extent of going with who brought you to the dance, especially in terms of Le’Veon Bell, despite how things ended I wouldn’t have kept the talented back on the sideline for long myself.

In 2018 James Conner was having a tremendous season until his injury, but I felt like Jaylen Samuels filled in nicely for him for the last several games. So why draft another running back? I know there are some that feel the Steelers should have went in a different direction with that pick. Everyone by now should know how I feel about Benny Snell, but what does that say about the Steelers’ approach going into 2109?

Will the Steelers use the New England Patriots method of getting the entire stable of backs involved in the weekly game plans?

Replacing Darrius Heyward-Bey on Special Teams

We know the redemption story on Hey-Bey, and I’ll admit I was a fan of his. I appreciate his time with the Black and Gold, but that has ended — as of now anyway. Finding the next capable gunner on Special Teams will take place in the next couple of months in OTA’s and Training Camp. My money is on the not yet signed third round draft pick out of Michigan State, Justin Layne.

What are your predictions for the vacant spot?

What is the hold up with Layne signing his rookie deal?

Jordan Leggett

Jordan Leggett was released by the New York Jets on Monday. He was a fifth round draft choice in 2017 out of Clemson. The Steelers met and had dinner with Leggett, so there was interest in him.

Would the Steelers still have interest in him?

(Editor’s Note: At the time of this being written, it was unknown the Steelers had made a waiver claim for Leggett, and failed.)

At this point the question should be are the Steelers going to continue to be active for a tight end up until the season? Like when they traded for Vance McDonald prior to the 2017 season? If you believe they should, who should they target?

Alright, have at it and GO STEELERS!!!!!!!

Report: Steelers made a waiver claim for former Jets TE Jordan Leggett

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 9:15am

The Steelers were one of four teams who lost out on the opportunity to claim the former Jets tight end off waivers to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday

With the Pittsburgh Steelers depth at tight end still looking relatively light as the team begins the third phase of their offseason training program, it should perhaps come as no surprise to learn that the front office made an attempt to upgrade their talent at the position on Monday.

As per Field Yates of ESPN, the Steelers were one of five teams who placed a waiver claim on recently released New York Jets tight end Jordan Leggett, ultimately losing out to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who had the highest priority on the waiver wire.

Source: the Buccaneers, Bills, Packers, Steelers and Titans all placed a claim on former Jets TE Jordan Leggett. Tampa Bay landed Leggett because it had highest waiver wire order priority.

— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 22, 2019

Leggett has been on the team’s radar before, a player they were potentially considering in 2017 after they met with him at the NFL Scouting Combine and then took him out to dinner when visiting Clemson to watch him perform at his pro day. Selected by the Jets in the fifth round of the draft with the 150th overall pick, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN surmised at the time that Leggett might well have been the target for the Steelers with their fifth round pick (173 overall).

The former Clemson product missed his entire rookie season after injuring his knee and ending up on injured reserve, but appeared in 15 games last year, including four as a starter. He would finish the season with 14 receptions for 114-yards and a touchdown. Given the tight ends the Steelers currently have on the roster, Leggett would have figured to be competing for a backup position as the third choice option, possibly challenging Xavier Grimble for the No.2 role with a strong training camp. He will now be forced to attempt to restart his career in Tampa Bay instead.

Devin Bush splits time with Mark Barron running with 1st team at OTAs Tuesday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 7:54am

The Steelers rookie linebacker saw a significant amount of practice time with the starters during the opening day of OTAs

The Pittsburgh Steelers wasted very little time getting Devin Bush acclimated to the first-team defense on the opening day of Organized Team Activities on Tuesday, reportedly including him in a three man rotation at inside linebacker with veterans Mark Barron and Vince Williams.

As per Mike Prisuta of WDVE Radio and Steelers.com, while Bush was not in there for the first snap of the day, it appears that he saw a significant amount of time with the starting unit on day one of OTAs, seemingly being given every opportunity to show the coaching staff what he can do from the outset.

Devin Bush wasn’t with No. 1s on first snap of OTA No. 1. Mark Barron lined up at ILB with Vince Williams. “Yeah, I did,” Barron said. The rest of the time, “We had a (3-man) rotation going,” Barron said. It wasn’t base or sub-package driven. Barron: “It was a pure rotation.” pic.twitter.com/gt2Mm8buZH

— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) May 21, 2019

The ability of the young rookie to be able communicate with the rest of the defense will be key to his development in the early stages of his career, especially if he is to be charged with the task of calling the plays in the huddle. A learning curve that Williams and Cam Heyward are helping him with in their own different ways.

Steelers rookie LB Devin Bush says he's learned a lot from Vince Williams already.

"Vince leads a lot by example. He shows you how to communicate, how to conduct an NFL defense, what to look for in checks and just how to play the full game."

— Sarah K. Spencer (@sarah_k_spence) May 21, 2019

Cam Heyward on Devin Bush rotating in with the No. 1s: “It’s kinda weird cheering for a Michigan guy now but I’m going to be his biggest advocate. We were already kidding him about when he was calling the play that he’s gotta get some bass in his voice. But he’s gonna be good.” pic.twitter.com/Nvng8xaUH9

— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) May 21, 2019

When speaking to the media after practice, Heyward was understandably reluctant to get too excited about the rookie’s performance after only one day of training out of pads. But also made it clear that he would do what he could to help the former Michigan product adjust to life in the NFL, despite the obvious college rivalry. As reported by Sarah Spencer of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

“It’s the first day, we got to get the jitters out. It’s kind of weird cheering for a Michigan guy now, but I’m going to be his biggest advocate and biggest supporter, so it’s a good starting point. It’s the first day to get him used to us. We were already kidding about when he was calling the plays, he’s got to get some bass in his voice. But that’s just us messing around. He’s going to be good, and we’ll break him in.”

And while Barron might be his rival for the starting role, the offseason free agent signing had nothing put positive things to say about his young rival when talking to reporters.

“I’ve only been around him briefly, but I like his style of play from what I’ve seen. He’s really aggressive, really tenacious, a speedy guy. He gets to the ball, and that’s kind of similar to the way I play. I get to the ball. I like that; anytime I see somebody that gets to the ball and plays with a certain attitude, I like it.”

Of all of the position battles set to be fought this offseason, the one between Barron and Bush could well be the most interesting to watch. But it perhaps worth acknowledging the relative unimportance of who runs with which unit at this stage in the year. If Bush is dominating the first team snaps counts when the team gets to Latrobe, that will be the time to really take notice.

OTA Recap, Day 1: Ben Roethlisberger, and the Steelers, move on to the 2019 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 6:48am

Time to check in on what went down at the UPMC Practice Facility for Organized Team Activities.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had one heck of an offseason, and shockingly enough none of it had anything to do with the team’s 9-6-1 record and missing the playoffs. No, it all surrounding the drama between Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger and even Le’Veon Bell threw his name in the mix periodically.

The drama couldn’t come to an end soon enough, and the Steelers turned the page from 2018 to 2019, officially, with the first day of Phase 3 of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) starting Tuesday. This meant the first day with the rookies and veterans together, the first time it could be offense vs. defense and the first time the Steelers can finally put the saga behind them that was the 2018 season.

As for Ben Roethlisberger, he certainly had a lot to deal with this offseason, and his quotes from his media session sure were noteworthy. Read the full quote below from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, and check out the video courtesy of the Steelers official Twitter page:

Ben Roethlisberger on how he processed the messy divorce with Antonio Brown: He never gave me the chance to apologize. pic.twitter.com/2DiRQJ3cWW

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 21, 2019

Ben Roethlisberger spoke about being back on the field, working with new members of the team, and more after today's OTA. pic.twitter.com/yWj06M2V6s

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 21, 2019

Roethlisberger claims to be re-focused, but that he also heard the criticism of him as a leader and is making adjustments. Where to start? Try showing up to more OTA workouts than usual.

This per Will Graves of the Associated Press:

Ben added he plans to be around at OTAs more this year than last year in part because of new faces. Said it was tough to hear his character questioned by media, former players etc.

— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) May 21, 2019

The Steelers want to move on, and this is a sentiment you will hear echoed throughout the rest of OTAs, at least early on. But now we turn our focus to all of the different storylines and notes which took place on Day 1 of OTAs:

  • Cam Heyward Speaks

Heyward is a defensive captatin for a reason, when he speaks people listen. Read, and watch, what he had to say when it came to getting back to work and putting 2018 in the rear view mirror:

Cam Heyward's message to the young fellows on the team: "If you want to get recognized then get recognized for the right reasons and that just means performing on the field and in the community." @TheAthleticPGH

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) May 21, 2019

Cam Heyward on Devin Bush in the first-team defensive huddle at OTA 1: "We were already kidding him when he was calling the plays that he has to get some bass in his voice. That's just us messing around." @TheAthleticPGH

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) May 21, 2019

Cam Heyward when asked if expects Tomlin to rein things in this year: "We are talking about the few, we aren't talking about the many." @TheAthleticPGH

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) May 21, 2019

"That's last year."

Cam Heyward talks Devin Bush, moving on from drama, his role as a leader and much more following Day 1 of Steelers OTAs at the Rooney Complex. #Steelers #DKPS pic.twitter.com/4fg64uHtI0

— DK Pittsburgh Sports (@DKPghSports) May 21, 2019

When was the last time you heard a veteran so excited just for OTAs? Oh yeah, one who felt like they’ve just been put through the ringer this past offseason.

Ramon Foster is excited for football — and he's excited about the group of guys beside him on game day.

DK with the video from the Rooney Complex. #dkps #Steelers pic.twitter.com/cNJTK1kGba

— DK Pittsburgh Sports (@DKPghSports) May 21, 2019
  • Turnovers are key

Joe Haden knows the Steelers’ defense didn’t live up to the standard they set for themselves last season, and he also knows he is a part of those failures. The goal is to take the ball away more in 2019...and it started Tuesday.

"We're excited about the defense that we have."

Joe Haden loves what he sees from this year's Steelers squad — and it showed during Day 1 of OTAs at the Rooney Complex. #dkps #steelers pic.twitter.com/EMdhQWzBX5

— DK Pittsburgh Sports (@DKPghSports) May 21, 2019
  • The new guy gets a taste of what it is like being the black-and-gold

Steven Nelson was brought in to assist the defense in taking the ball away, but first he has to get acclimated to his new surroundings. Nelson talks to DKPittsburghSports about the transition.

"Everybody's in tune with each other. Everybody's ready to practice every day."

Steven Nelson is loving his early interactions with Pittsburgh — on the football field and beyond. #dkps #steelers pic.twitter.com/Kt8yVeyTQ6

— DK Pittsburgh Sports (@DKPghSports) May 21, 2019
  • Diontae Johnson knows

The rookie wide receiver from Toledo knows who everyone compares him to — Antonio Brown. But he doesn’t shy away from those comparisons. Johnson talks about how he has studied Brown and feels they have a lot in common when it comes to his overall game.

"I feel like my releases are just as similar as his, and my route-running also."

Speaking with Hunter Homistek at the Rooney Complex, Diontae Johnson acknowledges football-based comparisons to Antonio Brown. #dkps #steelers pic.twitter.com/aErR0FKZfZ

— DK Pittsburgh Sports (@DKPghSports) May 21, 2019

VIDEO/PHOTOS

On the first day of Steelers OTAs, JuJu Smith-Schuster catches a Ben Roethlisberger pass with one hand. pic.twitter.com/sSi29tsDXc

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 21, 2019

CLIMB THE LADDER!

James Washington (closer to camera, corner endzone) And JuJu Smith-Schuster go up for the grabs during a drill at the Rooney Complex. #Steelers #DKPS pic.twitter.com/v3UVmQTczz

— Hunter Alek Homistek (@HunterAHomistek) May 21, 2019

made its return to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex today. OTA #1 is in the ! pic.twitter.com/qP2BK2PFni

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) May 21, 2019

.@steelers @_BigBen7 throws during OTA practice on the south side in Pittsburgh. pic.twitter.com/JclS2bP8Ha

— Charles Palla (@ChazPalla) May 21, 2019

"Crief," as @_BigBen7 yells to @drm_12, finally in a Steelers jersey for the first OTA of the new season. #DKPS #Steelers pic.twitter.com/DfhRaUb3xu

— Matt Sunday (@mattsunday) May 21, 2019

Suddenly REALLY want @Chickillo56 to play for the Penguins. #DKPS #Steelers pic.twitter.com/3xLdVVR1QJ

— Matt Sunday (@mattsunday) May 21, 2019

Podcast: Why Ben Roethlisberger should have taken the middle road

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 5:35am

In a brand new show titled ‘Yeah, I said it’, we talk about some burning topics surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

At this point you heave heard, or read, Ben Roethlisberger’s one-on-one interview with KDKA TV in Pittsburgh. Maybe you watched the interview and thought, “Ah, Ben took the high road.” Or maybe you watched and thought, “What the heck? Why doesn’t Ben blast Antonio Brown like Brown blasted him while leaving town?!”

Either way, the high road or the low road, the best course of action should have been the middle road.

Not sure what the middle road would be in this situation?

This is where the newest BTSC podcast “Yeah, I Said It” comes in. My co-host on ‘The Standard is the Standard’, Lance Williams, talks about how Roethlisberger should have made a statement, but without making a scene.

Lance is the perfect man for the job, and delivers the goods in the latest show.

Check out the audio below:

Feel free to give us your thoughts on the topic in the comment section below, and don’t forget to follow us on all our audio platforms by following the links below:

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

Black and Gold Links: The reversing of the Steelers’ turnover trend started Tuesday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 4:34am

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

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

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how it is well known the Steelers need to produce more turnovers, but getting those is a different story altogether. On Tuesday, the first day of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), Joe Haden and company began a turnover quest.

Let’s get to the news:

  • More turnovers for the Steelers defense? Yes, please.

Joe Haden takes first step toward turnover turnaround for Steelers defense

By: Jonathan Bombulie, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

On the very first play of the seven shots two-point conversion style drill on the very first day of organized team activities Tuesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, cornerback Joe Haden joined the conversation.

Haden stepped in front of tight end Vance McDonald in the flat and intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass to the delight of his defensive teammates.

“It was me and Vance out there on an island,” Haden said. “He ran an outside release, so I thought it was going to be a fade. Then when he sunk his hips down to run a comeback, I just undercut it. And then I looked back and the ball was there, so I had to pick it off.”

Haden was aware of the obvious glass half-empty interpretation of the play. His quarterback, who led the league with 16 interceptions thrown last season, began OTAs with another one.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • While most might think the Steelers could have had their locker room split after the Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell saga, the opposite is true. The team is closer now than ever.

Steelers veteran Ramon Foster says team is closer than ever

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“I feel like we are closer now than we ever have been,” the 11th-year offensive lineman said while walking off the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex fields Tuesday.

Foster, who signed his fourth Steelers multiyear contract in March, called the previous 4 1/2 months “one of the longest-shortest offseasons ever.” Of course, the Steelers navigated through the loss of Le’Veon Bell in free agency and the eventually granted trade demand from Antonio Brown after Brown effectively left the team during Week 17.

Brown and Bell had critical comments about the team in between – and national media, former players and others piled on, too, mostly toward Ben Roethlisberger.

Foster defended his quarterback Tuesday, and he said all the drama around the Steelers has made team unity even stronger.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Did Ben Roethlisberger’s one-on-one interview leave a sour taste in your mouth? You aren’t alone...

Kevin Gorman’s Take 5: Ben Roethlisberger misses mark in interview

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

What KDKA billed as “The Interview: Ben Roethlisberger” was a pre-emptive move by Big Ben to share his side of the story before the Steelers open voluntary organized team activities on Tuesday morning at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side.

Bob Pompeani went one-on-one with Roethlisberger, with the first part of the interview airing during Monday’s 6 p.m. newscast and focusing on his relationship with Antonio Brown.

The All-Pro wide receiver took shots at Roethlisberger in talking his way into a trade to the Oakland Raiders – saying on HBO that Roethlisberger “feels like he’s the owner” – but Pompeani said Brown didn’t respond to KDKA’s requests for an interview.

The second part is expected to focus on the two-year contract extension worth $68 million, with a $37.5 million signing bonus, that Roethlisberger signed last month.

Big Ben missed the mark, only causing more questions.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Somehow, some way, Ben Roethlisberger took the blame for the Antonio Brown garbage this offseason.

Roethlisberger: AB ‘made me who I am’

By: Dale Lolley, DKPittsburghSports

Ben Roethlisberger has been quiet throughout the offseason, despite a pretty public divorce between the Steelers and Antonio Brown in which the star receiver said comments by the quarterback led to Brown wanting out of Pittsburgh.

But with the Steelers set to open Phase 3 of their OTAs Tuesday, Roethlisberger spoke with KDKA-TV’s Bob Pompeani and expressed regret over everything that happened.

“I took some heat and deservedly so for some of the comments on that show and especially towards him,” Roethlisberger said, referring to comments made on his weekly radio show on KDKA-FM. “I genuinely feel bad about that and I’m sorry. Did I go too far after that Denver game? Probably.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

I need another one pic.twitter.com/dOAIz5C5al

— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) May 21, 2019

Two MVPs no cap pic.twitter.com/g41KBHOqMH

— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) May 21, 2019

Shinin' #NFLPARookiePremiere pic.twitter.com/PCiGX02pKS

— Diontae Johnson (@Juiceup__3) May 20, 2019

Phase 3️⃣. #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/xQ1XBeqlSj

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 21, 2019

Ben Roethlisberger vows to be at more OTAs this year while two former Steelers miss workouts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 2:17pm

Ben Roethlisberger was painted as a poor leader, but this poor leader will be spending a lot of time at OTAs getting accustomed to his new team.

Sometimes things are just funny. Maybe it is the way some people go about their business, or in this case it is how some people speak out of both sides of their mouth.

What I’m referring to would be the comments made by Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell, while they both departed the 412 area code this offseason for new teams. Brown to the Oakland Raiders via trade, and Bell to the New York Jets via free agency.

Brown called Roethlisberger a horrible teammate and a bad leader. Said he never cared and wished he had the work ethic to match his own. While no one is questioning Brown’s work ethic, which is on clear display on a multitude of platforms, you do have to find it funny when the man who was calling Roethlisberger a poor leader/teammate is the one who is absent from Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on the west coast.

Antonio Brown not out here for first day of OTAs #Raiders

— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) May 21, 2019

When it comes to former Steelers, and their whereabouts during OTAs, Le’Veon Bell also decided to not show up and spend time with his new team. You know, the teams they both were so excited to join.

Meanwhile, back with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger declared he will be spending more time with the team during OTAs, mainly because of the amount of new faces on the team.

Ben added he plans to be around at OTAs more this year than last year in part because of new faces. Said it was tough to hear his character questioned by media, former players etc.

— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) May 21, 2019

So, for those who thought the criticism Brown, Bell and many others threw at Roethlisberger’s leadership and character would go out one ear and out the other — think again.

While this story is hardly breaking news, Roethlisberger is showing he is willing to change to help the team win — even at this stage of his career. It would be easy for him to sit back as a 15 year veteran and just say it is his way or the highway, but instead he heard the criticism, and is making changes.

Meanwhile, Bell and Brown have yet to be seen at the facilities of their new teams...

Ben Roethlisberger said what he had to say to end the saga with Antonio Brown

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 12:35pm

Many fans were upset Ben Roethlisberger didn’t continue the war of words with Antonio Brown, but Roethlisberger said what he had to say to end the saga.

Well, I fell for it.

And I’m sure many of you reading this article fell for it too.

When KDKA news started to promote Bob Pompeani’s one-on-one interview with Ben Roethlisberger, I was excited to hear what the Pittsburgh Steelers’ franchise quarterback had to say after Antonio Brown, and a myriad of others, bashed his name, legacy and integrity this offseason.

The interview would be broken down into two parts. One at 6 p.m. ET, and one at 11 p.m. ET. I watched both, and was left with a, “What did I just watch?” feeling.

I fell for the bait, hook, line and sinker, and watched every second of the interview waiting for Roethlisberger to say something which resembled what the fan base felt as they witnessed their former All-Pro receiver talk his way out of town running over as many as he could before heading to the Oakland Raiders.

I wanted to see Roethlisberger talk about being angry, upset and frustrated.

I wanted to hear Roethlisberger’s side of the story.

I wanted Roethlisberger to say something other than, “I’m sorry.”

But that is the difference between myself and Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger saw the big picture, while I was staring directly in front of me. I wanted the immediate reaction, while Roethlisberger understood his actions would benefit the team more than bashing Brown would.

With Roethlisberger taking the high road, many have voiced how Roethlisberger missed a golden opportunity to clear his name. But what Roethlisberger did was attempt everything he could to finally put an end to this whole Antonio Brown saga. If Roethlisberger were to go on the air with Bob Pompeani and talk about how Brown was a horrible teammate, and give several different examples, then this feud would continue to fester and be a toxic poison for the Steelers moving forward.

He avoided all that by just saying he was sorry. He apologized to Brown for his comments made during his radio show, for anything which might have offended him and hopes the two of them could continue to be friends.

Needless to say, Brown took to social media with a tweet which just said two words:

Two Face.

And this just cements the reasoning behind Roethlisberger’s words/actions.

Rather than turn defensive, Roethlisberger stuck to his game plan and allowed Brown to say whatever he wants. As he was talking, the page was turning to the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers season. And with Organized Team Activities (OTAs) starting Tuesday it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Was this prepared? You bet.

Was it planned? No doubt. But the timing of everything was impeccable.

Say what you want about Roethlisberger, his leadership and his most recent comments, but he has essentially closed the book on the Brown and Ben saga once and for all. I think I speak for all of us what I say, “About time!”

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