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B.J. Finney to see extra reps as the Steelers extra TE with Chris Hubbard starting at RT

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:25pm

The suspension of Marcus Gilbert creates a ripple effect along the team’s offensive line depth.

When a starting right tackle like Marcus Gilbert is suspended for 4-games, it has a ripple effect along the offensive line. Chris Hubbard, who has been great this year spelling Gilbert throughout his hamstring injuries, will now replace Gilbert full-time, but this vacates Hubbard’s usual duties on game day.

Hubbard, who was also the team’s backup swing tackle, was also used primarily in those run-heavy packages where he acted as an extra tight end. With him being forced into the starting role, Mike Tomlin said, in his weekly press conference, B.J. Finney will be the next man up in Hubbard’s former role as extra tight end.

This is not new to Finney, who filled this role earlier this season, but Tomlin praised his work as a tight end, stating he might be equally as good as Hubbard in this capacity.

The one vacancy Finney, who is a backup interior lineman, cannot fill is the team’s backup swing tackle position. This duty will likely fall on the shoulders of either Matt Feiler, or Jerald Hawkins. Considering Hawkins has yet to be active for a regular season game in 2017, logic would state the team would move to Feiler as the ‘next man up’ if something were to happen to Hubbard or Alejandro Villanueva on their respective sides of the offensive line.

If fans are concerned about Hubbard not being the eligible receiver when the Steelers go into their ‘heavy’ sets, think again, the position is in good hands with Finney at the helm. However, as for the backup tackle position, well, let’s just all hope and pray nothing happens to the starters for the next four weeks.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on all things black-and-gold as they prepare for the Green Bay Packers in Week 12.

Tomlin: 'We will get their best' Videos - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:15pm
Coach Mike Tomlin wraps up the Titans game and looks ahead to the Packers.

Tomlin: 'We will get their best' Videos - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:15pm
Coach Mike Tomlin wraps up the Titans game and looks ahead to the Packers.

Mike Tomlin says backup Chris Hubbard will fill for suspended Marcus Gilbert - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 11:38am

Coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers will have to adjust to the loss of suspended right tackle Marcus Gilbert for four games, but the good news is backup Chris Hubbard has already started five games this season when Gilbert was injured.

Joe Starkey’s mailbag: Is Ryan Shazier the NFL Defensive Player of the Year? - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 11:18am

Welcome to Joe Starkey’s mailbag, where the Post-Gazette columnist and 93.7 The Fan radio host answers your questions about sports, life, Buffalo, Bob Dylan (who apparently now sings Frank Sinatra songs) and everything in between. If you want to ask Joe a question, tweet him @JoeStarkey1 or email him at On to the questions:

NFL Power Rankings Week 12: Steelers solidify themselves as a Top 3 team after big win

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 10:57am

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to rise up the rankings, but how long until they reach the pinnacle is anyone’s guess.

The Pittsburgh Steelers keep on winning, and with more wins comes more movement up the weekly NFL Power Rankings.

After the team’s 40-17 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football, Pittsburgh advanced their record to 8-2, as they entered a long break before facing the Green Bay Packers in Week 12 on Sunday Night Football.

We all, hopefully, realize Power Rankings are meaningless, but they are great fodder for discussion and debate. While the Steelers sit No. 3 in the league on almost all legitimate Power Rankings, you have to wonder what it will take for them to leap frog the Patriots or Eagles? Clearly a win over New England in Week 15 would do the trick, and an Eagles loss along the way will allow doubt to creep in, but the Steelers have to keep doing their job and keep “stacking wins” to climb to the top of the Power Rankings mountain.

Check out the latest Power Rankings below, and feel free to discuss, and debate, these rankings in the comment section below:


1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. New England Patriots
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
“The Steelers have held their opponents to 17 or fewer points in five straight games -- all wins. Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown might be the biggest stars in Pittsburgh, but the defense's return to prominence and third overall ranking in the Football Power Index is the biggest triumph for the Steelers this season.”
4. Minnesota Vikings
5. New Orleans Saints
6. Los Angeles Rams
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Seattle Seahawks

1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. New England Patriots
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
“Those guys running around in black and yellow tights the other night sure looked familiar. You know, they were scoring and making plays as if they were Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh topped 30 points for the first time this season on the strength of its stars, with no small assist from a once-trounced-upon secondary, at least, by the critics, anyway. That group sure looks deep. Impressive win.”
4. Minnesota Vikings
5. New Orleans Saints
6. Los Angeles Rams
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Detroit Lions

SB Nation

1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. New England Patriots
3. New Orleans Saints
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
5. Minnesota Vikings
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
7. Carolina Panthers
8. Los Angeles Rams
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Detroit Lions


1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. New England Patriots
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
“Ben Roethlisberger finally had his huge passing game thanks to an uptempo attack and long-awaited explosion from Antonio Brown. But late November, December and January are still built well for Le'Veon Bell and their fast defense.”
4. Minnesota Vikings
5. New Orleans Saints
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
7. Carolina Panthers
8. Los Angeles Rams
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Detroit Lions

Steelers activate Cameron Sutton for Packers game - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 9:45am

Cameron Sutton is ready to go.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, the future is now

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 9:34am

In the NFL, the opportunity to make a serious bid for the Lombardi Trophy is a rarity for any team. Pittsburgh’s prospect this season may be the strongest we’ll see for quite some time.

Life in the NFL is fraught with uncertainties; just ask the Steelers’ Week-12 opponent, the Green Bay Packers, or the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans, teams which have all lost their starting quarterbacks indefinitely. Undoubtedly, the greatest uncertainty currently hanging over the heads of the Steelers and their legion of fans is the availability of franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, for the 2018 regular season and beyond. Only Ben and perhaps a few top-level people in the Steelers’ organization know the answer to the $64,000 question of when he’ll decide to hang up his cleats to pursue his life’s work. This fact alone dictates a strong sense of urgency for the Black-and-gold as they prepare for the home stretch of their 2017 regular season.

But even when considering the Steelers’ team as a whole, there might not be any better prospect in the foreseeable future for Pittsburgh to claim its seventh league championship than the one presented in the current season. While the Steelers’ annual picks in the NFL Draft invariably are the subject of hot debate on BTSC and elsewhere, it’s pretty difficult to make the argument that Tomlin, Colbert and company have failed in any significant way to improve the team during the past five years.

Building the perfect beast?

The Steelers’ offense has been justly criticized this season for not performing up to its capabilities. But few observers would attribute this circumstance to a dearth of talent on the roster. Last Thursday night at Heinz Field, these capabilities were on prominent display, despite a few residual misfires mainly during the first half. The addition of Le’Veon Bell (second round, 2013) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (second round, 2017) provided an already potent offense with a full stable of thoroughbreds enabling today’s Steelers to compete offensively with the strongest teams in the league.

It’s on defense, however, where the sheer star-power of high draft picks has begun to reach its full potential on the gridiron. In the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh grabbed Ryan Shazier, the freakishly athletic linebacker who has become the centerpiece and stalwart of a young, outstanding LB corps also including first-rounders Bud Dupree (2015 No. 1 pick) and T.J. Watt (2017 No. 1 pick). And let’s not forget Pittsburgh’s 2013 sixth-round pick Vince Williams who plays like he should have been a first-rounder.

The Steelers’ defensive line is anchored by 2011 first-round pick Cameron Heyward and his younger sidekick Stephon Tuitt (second round, 2014). Nose tackle Javon Hargrave (third round, 2016) also appears to be rounding into the kind of player that Pittsburgh has missed at the position ever since the departure of former standout Casey Hampton.

Pittsburgh’s secondary had become the butt of jokes in previous years, either because of its poor coverage skills or its stone-handed interception attempts (which the late/great sportscaster Myron Cope might have characterized as “doinks”). If defensive doinks were counted as an official NFL stat, Pittsburgh might have led the league back in those days. But the 2016 NFL Draft addressed these issues when Pittsburgh selected cornerback Artie Burns and safety Sean Davis with their No. 1 and No. 2 picks respectively. When they signed veteran CB Joe Haden—himself a 2010 first-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns—at the start of this season, all of the pieces (including the surprising Mike Hilton) had been put in place for the development of the defensive backfield as a team strength. Furthermore, outstanding depth in the secondary provided by players like William Gay, Robert Golden and Coty Sensabaugh represents a valuable buffer against untimely injuries such as the one Haden suffered in Indianapolis recently.

All in all, and despite occasional lapses, the Steelers’ defense is more solid today than it’s been at any time since their last Super Bowl appearance on February 6, 2011. In fact, had the Steelers’ offense been more productive and supportive of its defensive brethren during the first half of this season, Pittsburgh might be undefeated now.

No time like the present

Interviewed on the field after the Steelers’ 40-17 win over Tennessee on Thursday night, Antonio Brown graciously and correctly attributed his outstanding performance mainly to No. 7, a player Brown described as a “Hall of Fame quarterback” while expressing gratitude for being one of those NFL receivers fortunate enough to have the opportunity to catch passes from Big Ben.

While we’ve already heard what sounds like some preemptive denial of the obvious fact that Roethlisberger’s departure will create a massive void on this team, it’s plain enough to observe what happens to NFL contenders that temporarily lose the services of their starting quarterbacks—let alone a future Hall of Fame inductee. Given the paramount importance of the quarterback position in today’s game, that’s strictly a back-to-the-drawing-board scenario for the Steelers.

In an NFL with newly-emerging powers such as the Philadelphia Eagles, who rode into town on Sunday night to mop the floor with the Dallas Cowboys in their own house, there simply are no guarantees beyond what Pittsburgh might be able to accomplish this season. Father Time is ticking, and we might never see this same gang together again making another run for glory. That’s why it’s never been more true that the future is now for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Post-Gazette stock watch: Julijana Vojinovic gives Pitt-Duquesne rivalry an edge - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 9:32am

Welcome to the Post-Gazette stock watch, a weekly look at who’s up and who’s down in the local sports scene. This week, a rivalry gets a boost and a suspension rocks the Steelers.

Steelers make it official and activate CB Cameron Sutton to the 53-man active roster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 9:31am

In an anticipated move, the Steelers have promoted rookie CB Cameron Sutton from injured reserve onto the team’s active 53-man roster.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have made it official. In the wake of Marcus Gilbert’s 4-game suspension Monday, the team has filled his spot on the 53-man roster with rookie third round pick, Cameron Sutton.

#Steelers announce rookie Cam Sutton has been activated from IR.

— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) November 21, 2017

Sutton, who spent most of training camp and the preseason injured, played well enough in the final two preseason games to show the coaches he is worthy of staying with the team. This would be why when he re-injured his hamstring in the final preseason game, the team placed him on injured reserve rather than parting ways with the former Tennessee defensive back.

The team had to make a decision on Sutton Tuesday, and with Gilbert’s suspension it made moving him to the 53-man active roster an easy decision. However, when Gilbert returns from his suspension the team will have to release someone to make room on the roster.

Sutton has impressed his teammates and coaches with his preparation and skills throughout the season, but his role on the team is anything but certain. Mike Hilton and William Gay are the sub package cornerbacks, and have been doing this job extremely well all season, but if the team wanted to throw out an extra defensive back in specific situations, or if someone gets injured, you can expect Sutton to be the next man up.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on this story, and others, surrounding the Black-and-Gold as the team prepares for the Green Bay Packers in Week 12.

Steelers activate Sutton from IR News - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 9:20am
Cameron Sutton will provide depth for the secondary.

Packers saddled with several key injuries heading into Week 12 vs. the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 8:00am

The Green Bay Packers will have some key injuries to keep an eye on as they prepare for the Steelers in Week 12.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off of a mini-bye week after their Week-11 win over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football. But their Week-12 opponent, the Green Bay Packers, are dealing with several key injuries after they were shut out at Lambeau Field by the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

According to the Packers’ official website:

The Packers finished Sunday’s game without two of their top play-makers on defense and perhaps their most versatile offensive lineman.

Linebacker Clay Matthews (groin), defensive tackle Kenny Clark (ankle) and offensive lineman Justin McCray (knee) all exited and didn’t return in Green Bay’s 23-0 loss to Baltimore.

Matthews was the first to drop out in the first half. His departure came shortly after sacking Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco for an 8-yard loss to halt Baltimore’s first offensive series.

“I think Clay had great energy when he was in there and sparked some good momentum for our team and definitely getting the defense going,” linebacker Vince Biegel said.

McCray, making his sixth start of the season, had moved into the starting spot at right tackle after Bryan Bulaga’s season-ending knee injury. Jason Spriggs, who was activated off injured reserve on Saturday, finished the game at right tackle.

Clark played a role in the Packers containing Baltimore to only 2.2 yards per carry on 26 attempts before going down with 10 minutes, 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter after Alex Collins’ 2-yard run on second-and-1.

The former first-round pick was carted to the locker room and immediately ruled out. He leads the Packers’ defensive line with 29 tackles in nine starts this season.

“He’s one of those guys that’s been phenomenal this year,” linebacker Blake Martinez said. “He’s one of our impact players and makes a lot of plays. Huge leader. He was the captain today and gave a speech before the game. He’s definitely a big component to our defense.”

The ankle injury to defensive linemen Kenny Clark has already ruled him out of the upcoming Sunday Night Football game, whereas the other key injuries will be evaluated throughout the week.

This coming from a team already without Aaron Rodgers and several other key pieces to their collective puzzle. But it isn’t as if the Steelers don’t have their own issues. Marcus Gilbert was just suspended four games for breaking the NFL’s PED policy, Joe Haden has a fractured fibula and several other key players are questionable to return for the game this Sunday.

At this point in the season, the healthier team likely will be victorious, and in this case you have to believe the Steelers are the healthier of the two football teams.

Stay tuned to BTSC as Mike Tomlin updates the injuries for the Steelers at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Joe Haden working his way back to the Steelers’ lineup

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 7:39am

The veteran cornerback is already setting his sights on his return to the Steelers’ lineup.

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost Joe Haden for an unknown amount of time during the Week-10 game vs. the Colts, but the veteran cornerback is gradually working his way back to the lineup.

Haden took to social media to show fans he’s now riding a stationary bike. A far cry from defending elite receivers in the NFL, but certainly an upgrade over the crutches he was on just days ago.

Joe Haden is riding a bike! #Steelers

— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) November 20, 2017

After fracturing his fibula, experts predicted approximately a 3- to 4-week recovery and a 6- to 8-week time frame for his return to the lineup. If Haden were on the shorter end of these estimations there’s the potential for him to be in the lineup vs. the New England Patriots when the Steelers host their AFC rivals in Week 15.

This might be considered wishful thinking but, at the same time, fans should trust the team’s depth with Coty Sensabaugh and possibly Cameron Sutton to get the job done if Haden is out for longer than expected.

But most experts don’t believe Haden’s season is over, and he should be able to return to the team for the playoffs, at the latest. Stay tuned to BTSC for all the latest injury updates and news surrounding the Black-and-gold as they prepare for the Green Bay Packers in Week 12.

NFL Odds: Packers open as two-score underdogs vs. the Steelers in Week 12

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 6:38am

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heavy favorites vs. the Packers on Sunday Night Football in Week 12.

Here we go again.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the Green Bay Packers in Week-12 action on Sunday Night Football, the paranoid Steelers faithful will become uneasy with the notion their team is a heavy Las Vegas favorite to win. How heavy a favorite are they? According to BookMaker, the Steelers are 13.5-point favorites in prime-time at Heinz Field this Sunday, but some Vegas Sport Books have Green Bay as 14-point underdogs.

If Steelers fans need something to calm their nerves, there are two factors which will help the Black-and-gold followers get some sleep at night.

First, the Steelers, and mainly Ben Roethlisberger, are playing in prime-time at home. This has been a recipe for success the past few seasons, and it was again just last week when the team beat the Titans 40-17 on Thursday Night Football. Secondly, the Steelers are playing a team with a .500 record. We all know the team’s record against teams with a sub-.500 record, but being at home against a 5-5 Green Bay team certainly will help silence this narrative, at least for another week.

If, and this is a big ‘if’, the Steelers can continue their success built in Week 11, there is no reason this team should lose to Brett Hundley and a banged up Packers group. Nonetheless, there are reasons why they play the game, and merely because the Steelers should win, doesn’t mean they will.

It should be worth noting that Green Bay is an underdog by 13 or more points for the first time since 2010. The only game since 1994 where the Packers were 13+ dogs was 12/19/10 at New England.

If anything has been learned throughout this 2017 regular season, it’s the fact that anything is possible.

Check out some other odds for the upcoming slate of NFL action:

NFL Week 12 Opening Odds

Vikings at Lions (PK, 44.5)

Chargers at Cowboys (OFF)

Giants at Redskins (-7.5, 44.5)

Browns at Bengals (-9, 38)

Bears at Eagles (OFF)

Dolphins at Patriots (-17, 47)

Bills at Chiefs (OFF)

Buccaneers at Falcons (OFF)

Panthers at Jets (+4, 39.5)

Titans at Colts (OFF)

Seahawks at 49ers (OFF)

Saints at Rams (-2.5, 53.5)

Jaguars at Cardinals (+5, 38)

Broncos at Raiders (-5, 44)

Packers at Steelers (-13.5, 41.5)

Texans at Ravens (-7, 38)

Asked and Answered: Nov. 21 News - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 5:00am
Another installment of Bob Labriola answering your questions about the Steelers and the NFL.

Steelers News: Martavis Bryant still a work-in-progress

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 4:35am

The freakishly talented Martavis Bryant is continuing to work his way back after a year away due to suspension.

The Pittsburgh Steelers want to have the best offense in the NFL, and they certainly can do that, if they get everyone on the field and on the same page. You know, not taking to social media following a game to bash a teammate, or getting suspended for a year due to multiple failed drug tests.

Nonetheless, while Martavis Bryant remains an enigma to the fan base, it’s worth remembering that he remains a work-in-progress as he continues to get assimilated back to life in the NFL, as well as finding his niche on this football team.

“I think the main part with me was, I wanted to come back in and have instant success but it didn’t work out like that,” Bryant acknowledged to Mike Prisuta of “Now, it’s about being patient and just going out and having fun with it, and just let everything fall into place.”

“You can’t fight the process,” Bryant said. “You just have to be willing to get better. Me and ‘Coach T’ had talks about not fighting the process. He knows that I’m not going to fight the process. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy for me.

“It’s all about being on the same page, working hard and going out and executing.”

Consecutive games that earned quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s approval haven’t taken the pressure off, Bryant said, mostly because he insisted he wasn’t feeling any.

“I don’t have any pressure,” he said. “All I want to do is win. As long as we’re winning, we’re having fun doing it, what pressure do I have?

“Our season is defined by the Super Bowl. We want to win the Super Bowl. The individual stuff will come later but right now I want to win a Super Bowl. Everybody else in here wants to win a Super Bowl. We want to do it for Mr. Rooney.”

Time to check on other news surrounding the Black-and-gold outside the walls of BTSC:

One 40-point game can do wonders for your scoring average. In one fell swoop Thursday night the Steelers went from 20th in the NFL in scoring up to 13th. It was the long-awaited breakout game for the Steelers, and the players said afterward they hoped it would be the start of a new trend.

But is their 22.7 points-per-game average enough to win a Super Bowl? History suggests it would be difficult, although not impossible, to accomplish. In fact, if the Steelers maintain their current pace (22.7 points per game) and standing in the league (13th) and went on to win the Super Bowl, they would be one of the worst offenses in NFL history to raise the Lombardi trophy.

Coincidentally, the 2008 Steelers are the worst scoring offense to win a Super Bowl. The 2008 Steelers ranked 20th in the NFL in scoring, averaging 21.7 points per game. That Steelers team narrowly beats out the 2015 Denver Broncos, who were 19th in the league in scoring, averaging 22.2 points per game.

Since the 1970 merger, only the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (18th), 1990 N.Y. Giants (15th), 2007 Giants (14th), and 2000 Baltimore Ravens (14th) won the Super Bowl with offenses ranked lower than 13th in the league.

Senquez Golson made the news Wednesday, signing as a practice-squad player with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You are familiar with his sad Steelers story, right? A No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft, he never played a down here because of a long list of injuries. The team finally released him in early September.

Mike Hilton made a different kind of news Thursday night in the Steelers’ 40-17 win against the Tennessee Titans. He had his second interception of the season and was credited with five tackles. After going undrafted in 2016, failing tryouts with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots and being out of football for three months, he was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad in December. He has been their top nickel back since day one this season and has emerged as a top playmaker.

Golson and Hilton were teammates at Mississippi where Golson had 10 interceptions as a senior and was a unanimous All-America choice.

Hilton is doing with the Steelers what Golson was drafted to do.

Several years ago, the NFL opened up a real-time fiber line from the league office to every game site, in order to permit assistance and consultation with the replay review process. The league has since expanded the use of the pipeline to include matters relating to game administration.

Here’s the rule, as it’s currently written: “The Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating Department at the League office may consult with the on-field officials to provide information on the correct application of playing rules, including appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock.”

On Thursday night, the game officials, the replay officials, and senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron failed to apply the proper when Steelers receiver Antonio Brown fumbled the ball forward from the 40 to the 31, where it was recovered by Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant. The ball should have been placed back at the 40. Four plays later, the Steelers extended their lead from 13-7 to 16-7 via a 50-yard field goal just before halftime.

During a Monday media briefing, NFL spokesman Michael Signora explained that the league office had “no disagreement” with the explanation provided during the NBC broadcast regarding the failure to spot the ball in the right place.

But to the extent that the game officials are catching the bulk of the blame for this, the truth is that the accountability extends more broadly. Yes, the officials should have noticed the situation and fixed it. The on-site replay official also should have noticed the situation and fixed it. And Riveron should have noticed the situation and fixed it.

Heyward: 'We have to fight tougher' News - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 5:20pm
Cameron Heyward knows the defense still has work to do.

Steelers defense wants even more Videos - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 5:00pm
The Steelers defense is hungry to improve on their performance against the Titans.

Steelers defense wants even more Videos - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 5:00pm
The Steelers defense is hungry to improve on their performance against the Titans.


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