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Steelers Training Camp 2019: Live news and updates 8/4

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/04/2019 - 5:07pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and training-camp practices are underway! Follow along with BTSC as the players start to hone their skills and prepare for the 2019 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, and the rabid fans awaiting their chance to watch the Black-and-gold, are prepared for training camp, and that comes with the first day of actual practice. The Steelers are finally back to practicing, and Practice 9 of camp is here!

If you’re stuck at work, or at home, follow along with those on the scene at Saint Vincent College for the best pictures, video and news coming straight from the practice field in Latrobe, PA. Don't miss a minute of the action!

Today's practice is at 6:30 p.m. EST, and is open to the public. Take a look at the training camp schedule below and, as always, follow along with live updates in the Twitter feed below.

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Mike Hilton practicing at free safety could be a sign of things to come, for Cameron Sutton

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/04/2019 - 2:01pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers want to put as many playmakers on the field as possible, and this could be why Mike Hilton practicing at safety makes sense.

When Pittsburgh Steelers fans saw news of Mike Hilton practicing at safety, most who pay close attention to training camp news likely shrugged their shoulders and said, “What else is new.”

The reason for this thinking is that last year the Steelers deployed Hilton at safety more than once during training camp, but that was the extent of their experimentation. For most, Hilton was always viewed as a safety valve at the position in case something happened to either Sean Davis or Terrell Edmunds.

With such a lack of depth at safety heading into 2019, it makes sense for Hilton to bounce around in the defensive secondary. After all, the more you can do the better you make the team.

But this year is different. Since taking over the slot cornerback role in 2017, Hilton has never really had anyone truly challenge his position. That is, until now. Cameron Sutton has been with the team for two seasons now, but is having his best training camp to date, and if he can duplicate the coverage and ball skills he is showing in practice onto the preseason playing field, it will be difficult for the Steelers to keep him off the field.

But this also speaks about Hilton’s versatility. Hilton isn’t just flexing back to safety just for kicks, but according to teammates he can play the position well.

“Oh, he can play it,” strong safety Terrell Edmunds told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He’s a hard worker who puts everything on the line for his team. A guy who’s willing and able to do anything. He can play multiple positions.”

But maybe this isn’t about one or the other, but rather both. There is a very good chance the Steelers can use both Hilton and Sutton in their dime sub package, as well as any other defensive formation which would require another defensive back to enter the field, last year the Steelers referred to this as their “dollar” defense.

Hilton ended the season on a low note last year. Dealing with an injury, he seemed to be targeted more and more as the season progressed. It could have been viewed the opposition was looking for his matchup and exploiting it on a regular basis. But the team still has faith in their slot cornerback, even though Hilton didn’t get the long-term contract he desired prior to this season.

“He’s one of the best slot corners in the game,” wide receiver Donte Moncrief, and former Ole Miss teammate of Hilton, said.

Regardless, Hilton shows up to work every day with a chip on his shoulder, looking to get better in some way.

“I just go in every day with a chip on my shoulder,” Hilton said. “It’s a job. You don’t produce and they will find somebody else. So I have to focus on what I can do to get better and help this defense win games.

“It’s Year 3 for me. I had better have a better feel for the defense and feel more comfortable and have more confidence. That’s what will guide me.”

Fans will debate who could/should play at certain positions, but it is safe to say all fans can agree on the fact if both Hilton and Sutton can play at a high level, you can never have too many good defensive backs. That is a problem the Steelers haven’t had in the Mike Tomlin era.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for their first preseason game this Friday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to Heinz Field in Preseason Week 1.

Rookie TE Zach Gentry feeling the effects of the NFL learning curve

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/04/2019 - 11:17am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie tight end is learning how different the NFL game is compared to college.

The Pittsburgh Steelers needed help at the tight end position heading into the 2019 season, and they failed to make any significant moves in that department. They let Jesse James depart via free agency to the Detroit Lions, didn’t sign a free agent at the position and ignored tight end until they drafted Zach Gentry out of Michigan in the 5th round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Realistic fans understood the gravity of going into a season with Vance McDonald as your TE1 on the depth chart, Xavier Grimble as TE2 and an untested rookie as a possible TE3. But as Gentry is learning, his spot on the 53-man roster is anything but certain at this point. The learning curve from college football to the NFL is often steep.

“There’s obviously a learning curve when you’re first coming in, especially with a guy as tall as me,” Gentry told Hunter Homistek of DKPittsburghSports after Day 6 of training camp. “So I’ve really had to focus on getting my pad level down and firing out ... I know everybody always says the same thing, but it’s the speed and physicality. It’s just the next step up in every single way. People are not lying when they say that, for sure.”

However, despite the learning curve, Gentry feels as if he is getting better every day with the help of teammates and coaches. After all, for someone who is 6-feet 9-inches tall, getting your pad level low isn’t always the easiest task. Sure, this is something coaches and fans will say with confidence regarding how a player should play, but sometimes it is easier said than done.

“First couple practices, like I said, I needed to get my pads lower,” Gentry said. “I needed to kind of get used to getting down low and firing off a little harder. [But I’m] definitely getting better at that every day.”

For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume Gentry’s struggles result in him not making the team. Who would be the third tight end on the roster? Would they possibly go into the season with just two tight ends? Highly doubtful.

Kevin Rader
Christian Scotland-Williamson
Trevor Wood

Those are the other names of players who could fill the TE3 spot on the depth chart if Gentry fails to get the job done and make the team. Either way, Gentry’s struggles, or successes, don’t mitigate the team’s overall lack of depth at the position, and blatant unwillingness to address it this offseason.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the black-and-gold as they prepare for their first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field next Friday.

Is ‘Seven Shots’ the only drill the Steelers practice at training camp?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/04/2019 - 9:46am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Seven Shots drill. What is it, and why do the Steelers practice it so much at training camp?

When I was a wee little lad—we’re talking toddler age—and football was on the old television screen, I seriously thought those behemoths (well, for the mid-1970’s, anyway) played on a field that was infinite in length.

You couldn’t blame my little mind for that. After all, the only thing I could see on my screen (well, my mom’s screen, I didn’t have a job) was about 30 yards of field that just kept going and going like a conveyor belt. I didn’t know touchdowns. I didn’t know stadiums.

Thankfully, I soon grew up and realized that touchdowns existed, and they were the most glorious part of football.

As I heard stories of Steelers training camps from the 1980s, and the things that went on all the way out at mythical (at least to me at the time) Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., I actually believed all Chuck Noll did was make his players do the Oklahoma Drill over and over again. At least that’s what the highlights on the nightly sports report convinced me of. Two guys would knock heads on a simulated play until one of them was driven to the ground or the running back was knocked into next week. This often resulted in fights, with the players on the sidelines hooting and hollering because it wasn’t them. (Remember when players would fight at camp, and they didn’t have to convince everyone they were still cool with each other as if they were members of a boy band that was on the brink of breaking up?)

Fast-forward to today, 2019, and the now very popular training camp drill, Seven Shots. Is this the only drill the Steelers practice at camp? I ask this because that’s what Twitter tells me on a daily basis (multiple times each day, in fact).

True to its name, the drill consists of seven plays from the two-yard line. Whichever side—offense or defense—winds up with the most “wins” is declared the victor. I get to camp every other year or so, so I can’t remember if this is an actual goal line drill, where the defense has to worry about stopping the run, or if this is a different kind of deal, where the defenders must focus solely on the pass.

Since there is no touching of the quarterback at training camp, defenders can’t really stop him via the sack, so how does the defense ever win this drill?

I guess it can happen when the likes of Joshua Dobbs, Mason Rudolph, Diontae Johnson and Trey Griffey are involved (no offense to them), but how can anyone ever stop Ben Roethlisberger from completing a pass in Seven Shots? I’m sure it happens, but it’s got to be quite rare. Defenders have a tough enough time stopping him when they can actually wreak havoc on his person. But a Big Ben who can scramble without the worry of being hit? Yikes.

Obviously, I understand this isn’t the only drill the Steelers practice at Latrobe, but why has it become so popular? Is it the state of modern football, where stopping offenses from actually driving down the field is now so rare that teams must prepare for the inevitable: First and goal?

I guess it makes sense when you think of it in that regard.

An offense can drive up and down the field all afternoon, but if it has to settle for too many field goals, this could lead to questions about goal line efficiency (see Todd Haley’s many years as offensive coordinator).

As for the defense, Joe Haden can stop Drew Brees all afternoon long, but this doesn’t mean he and his mates won’t have to stop him again at the goal line (see those two darn pass interference penalties from Week 16 of last year).

I’m not gonna lie, I spent many years (even this one) thinking Seven Shots was what they were calling those seven on seven drills the Steelers also seem to practice ad nauseam.

At any rate, now that I’m aware of the popularity of Seven Shots, it will give me something to look for when the Steelers take on the Buccaneers in the first preseason game next Friday night at Heinz Field.

But Roethlisberger (okay, Dobbs and Rudolph—who are we kidding?) better beware.

The defenders will get to hit back in any goal line situation that arises, and the offense will only get four shots to “win.”

5 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin after the Steelers’ limited contact practice Saturday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/04/2019 - 8:30am
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Tomlin answered questions from the media following the Steelers’ eighth practice.

Following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ eighth training camp practice on Saturday, head coach Mike Tomlin briefly took questions from the media. While not dressing in full pads following the physical practice of Friday night lights, Coach Tomlin was still asked questions about specific players as well as some open ended questions based on position groups. This list isn’t to suggest these players were the only ones who stood out, but more so about how Tomlin answered the questions.

Ben Roethlisberger

#Steelers Ben Roethlisberger didn’t practice again today. Coach Tomlin said it was done to give the other QBs more work, specifically the two-minute drill.

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 3, 2019

After sitting out of practice Friday night, it was a surprise to see Ben Roethlisberger not participating for the second straight day. With 15 years in the NFL on his resume, it isn’t necessary for Roethlisberger to constantly practice this early in the preseason. In fact, it would be quite the surprise if Big Ben was in pads for either on the Steelers first two preseason games.

Coach Tomlin was asked about Roethlisberger missing two straight practices and if he was dealing with any sort of injury.

“Nah, we’re just creating more opportunities for guys like Mason and Josh, particularly with that 2-minute drill we did today. We’ve seen Ben in enough 2 minutes and he’s going to have an opportunity. But particularly when we push into preseason football, the guys that could be in position to execute Week 1 of the preseason or Week 2 of the preseason are the guys that need the reps.”

Anthony Chickillo

Vince Williams, Anthony Chickillo and Diontae Johnson (all banged up last night) here but not practicing today for Steelers.

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) August 3, 2019

It’s odd for the Pittsburgh media to ask abut a player who did not practice due to injury and not mention his current status. Regardless, Anthony Chickillo was brought up to Mike Tomlin after practice. Chickillo has been one of the biggest beneficiaries from T.J. Watt’s injury with him being with the first-team defense most of the time he takes the practice field.

Coach Tomlin was asked about if he has seen an improvement in Chickillo after he underwent a medical procedure on this foot earlier this offseason.

“I don’t want to make too much out of it. He’s highly conditioned, he’s worked really hard, he’s in great shape, and I attribute any rise in production or activity to that.”

Tomlin was asked a follow up question about the benefit of Chickillo getting a lot of reps with the first team defense.

“Big time. I think all these guys are searching for that and all will have the opportunity to get it at some point I’m sure.”

Derrek Thomas

New CB Thomas with a nifty 1-handed INT. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

There is not a lot of information out of camp about the newest Pittburgh Steeler signed Thursday after practice. Derrek Thomas apparently had an impressive interception Friday night in his first action in black and gold. The undrafted rookie cornerback out of Baylor is 6’ 3” 200lbs. so his size alone will have him stand out among the cornerbacks.

Coach Tomlin was asked if he had looked at anything specific about Thomas going into the draft and if he’s impressed with his size.

“I did not. Man, he’s an impressive looking dude, isn’t he? He looks the part. He made a play or two. We’ll just keep infusing him into the process. You've got to tip your cap to guys who get on the moving train and play catch-up. We work hard to create an environment that gives them an opportunity to do so, but it’s a daunting task nonetheless.”

Vance McDonald

Dobbs had consecutive completions of 14 yards to JuJu, 18 yards to McDonald and a 20-yard touchdown pass to JuJu when working the two-minute drill today. Took only three plays to drive 52 yards down the field. #Steelers

— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) August 4, 2019

To say the depth of the tight end position for the Steelers is a concern is a bit of an understatement. With Xavier Grimble sidelined Saturday with an undisclosed injury, the depth chart gets even shakier. While Vance McDonald continues to shine, he has not been a stellar example of health for the Steelers throughout his first two seasons with the team.

Coach Tomlin was asked about his thoughts on the tight end group and if anyone has stuck out to this point.

“Again, (it’s) early in the process. I like Vance McDonald, but you guys know that.”

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Dobbs leads a drill with 1:39 & 1 TO with passes to Juju then McDonald then a pretty deep TD to Juju over Nelson.

“That was a combat catch Johnny,” Tomlin said after. “Nice combat from both sides.”#Steelers #dkps

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

It’s no surprise to Steelers fans that JuJu Smith-Schuster is one of the most beloved players in training camp. Between pulling in passes, signing autographs which turn into tattoos, and helping with gender reveal‘s, JuJu’s attitude and youthful enthusiasm is contagious. On Saturday, he even had a special guest join him for training camp: his dog Boujee.

Just running routes with Boujee.@TeamJuJu | #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/pzAWLZxvnt

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

After Coach Tomlin surprisingly answered an open ended question about a particular position group, he was asked about his young receiving corp and if anyone is standing out.

“Again, I like JuJu Smith-Schuster. It was a pretty good catch down in the corner, wasn’t it? We like the pool of guys we’re working with. Some of their resume’s may be short, but we like the pool of guys. We like the trajectory of the group, and we look forward to those guys being big-time contributors to our efforts.”

Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here:

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following today's practice. https://t.co/cPhGInjMcF

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

Steelers 2019 Training Camp Recap: ‘Boring’ practice capped with two-minute drills

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/04/2019 - 7:16am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers were back on the gridiron for another training camp practice, and we’ve got the recap for you!

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had over a week of training camp practices under their belt now, and while there are times it is still considered “football in shorts”, the team has had plenty of news coming from these workouts.

After a very physical Friday night lights practice, Mike Tomlin and company decided to have the players not wear pads on Saturday. This caused the practice to seem slower, less intense and as Mike Tomlin called it ‘boring’ at times.

However, it wasn’t like there wasn’t news coming from Saint Vincent College as the players continue to work, and prepare, for their first preseason game next Friday at Heinz Field when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town.

The highlight of Saturday’s practice wasn’t the physicality of backs-on-backers, but the two minute drill. Ben Roethlisberger was given a second day off, and it wasn’t due to a nagging injury, but to give Joshua Dobbs, Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges more repetitions during practice.

The results of the two minute drill work varied depending on the quarterback.

This per Chris Carter of DKPittsburghSports:

Dobbs leads a drill with 1:39 & 1 TO with passes to Juju then McDonald then a pretty deep TD to Juju over Nelson.

“That was a combat catch Johnny,” Tomlin said after. “Nice combat from both sides.”#Steelers #dkps

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Rudolph’s 2 minute drill comes up short. Struggled early but caught on after a few completions. Had a turnover on downs 4 yards short of the goal line. #Steelers #dkps

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Let’s get to some other news which took place during Saturday’s practice:

No pads Saturday

Friday Night Lights at Latrobe High School stadium is a special occasion for everyone involved. The fans get the experience of watching their favorite NFL team under the lights, and the players get a flashback to their High School days. Add all of it together and it makes sense why the practice is usually one of the more physical practices of training camp.

Because of this, Saturday’s practice was non-padded, and slow, compared to previous workouts.

Steelers players beginning to make their way down to the field for practice. Today will be a non-padded practice after Friday night lights. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 3, 2019

Mike Tomlin after a Steelers practice that was BORING (slow, no pads, many stars sitting out, lotsa special teams) -- UNTIL the 2-min drills at the end.https://t.co/m8FEHNUQst

— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) August 3, 2019

Walking wounded update

The list of those dealing with nagging injuries isn’t necessarily growing, but is certainly fluctuating. Some are returning to practice, while others remain sidelined with their respective injuries.

Check the latest updates:

Still no TJ Watt or Chickillo practicing. Dupree is back. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 3, 2019

Diontae Johnson not doing individual passing drills after injuring his hip Friday night. pic.twitter.com/8tXZddG59Y

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) August 3, 2019

Roethlisberger not practicing today. Moncrief is back out there. Two days off in a row for Roethlisberger #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 3, 2019

Vince Williams and Artie Burns not practicing today #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 3, 2019

7 Shots

For those who are keeping tabs, the offense won again, and has yet to lose this drill to the defense. Great news for the prospects of another year with a good red-zone offense, or concerning about the state of the defense?

Shots for #Steelers camp goes to offense 4-3 today.

Rudolph goes 3-4 with TDs to Grimble, Snell and Juju and a coverage sack.

Hodges goes 1-3 with drops from Scotland-Williamson and Spencer. But a TD to Washington besting Allen won the day. #Dkps

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Sunday’s practice will be the Family Fest practice and will be held at Heinz Field at 6:30 p.m. ET. There is a small fee to attend the practice.

VIDEOS

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following today's practice. https://t.co/cPhGInjMcF

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

Jason Gildon talks about being back in Latrobe, his memories at #SteelersCamp, what to expect in our first preseason game and more. pic.twitter.com/a3cRd6kdxm

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 4, 2019

4️⃣8️⃣@Bud_Dupree pic.twitter.com/STzFu28ir7

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

Go get it. pic.twitter.com/Rm5Wl8IYoh

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

It's a perfect day for some @_Dbush11 | @__bELIeve17 pic.twitter.com/KFz8eRF3kg

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

Heading to practice like @TeamJuJu pic.twitter.com/M8UhjZYFuQ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

Just running routes with Boujee.@TeamJuJu | #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/pzAWLZxvnt

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019 PHOTOS

Making every rep count. #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/QjqQYxgyEQ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 4, 2019

They didn’t let Vince Williams participate in the first “Backs-on-‘Backers.” He dominated in the second. pic.twitter.com/5cHx3G9Y7i

— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) August 3, 2019

Ken Griffey Sr. was in town to check up on Trey Griffey, to chat with wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, and to play the role of proud grandfather. pic.twitter.com/0wVXpwK2Df

— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) August 3, 2019

A Letter from the BTSC Deputy Editor: Changing personnel, but running the same play

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/04/2019 - 6:07am
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A change in BTSC staff should still bring the same great Steelers content

In the offseason, seven months can seem like an eternity. While we are on the cusp of watching our beloved Steelers take the field against an opponent wearing a completely different colored jersey, it has been a long journey through a meaningless playoffs of winter, the “new life” to the team through the spring, and the hot grind of summer practices. The wait is almost over.

It was almost exactly seven months ago when I addressed the readers of Behind The Steel Curtain as the new community manager. Since then I have become a regular on The Steelers Preview podcast, filled in as needed on the other BTSC family of podcasts when needed, and last week had the debut of my own show: Steelers Stat Geek. Even though my first article was only published on September 1, 2018, I really felt that I had been quickly adopted into the BTSC family with all the benefits of being a part of such a passionate and well-informed community.

When I received a call from BTSC editor Jeff Hartman last week to inform me Simon Chester had accepted a position with Pro Football Focus, my first thought was about getting inside information to help with my statistics-driven articles. Little did I realize Jeff wanted to discuss with me the possibility of taking over the deputy editor duties. While it was a great honor to be offered the position, I knew how much work Simon put into Behind The Steel Curtain and the commitment it would take. After discussing the idea with my family, and making sure I could still attend several games each season, my wife helped to seal the deal when she told me, “You’re going to be doing Steelers’ stuff every free moment you have anyway, so you might as well have it be more of your job.”

In regards to the content on Behind The Steel Curtain, I want readers to first understand that I am not Simon Chester, nor will I ever be Simon Chester. If my goal is to simply become the next Simon, I will fail miserably. All I can do is be Dave Schofield and to, as Mike Tomlin would say, “jump on the moving train” and “get better along the journey.”

Our goal at BTSC is still give you the same great content. One thing you will see is an increase in the number of articles with my name on it, if you pay attention to those sorts of things. I am hoping to continue to do some statics articles each week. With at least 90% of the time associated with some of my former articles being devoted to research, I will have to be very selective with the topics I will have time to dive into on a regular basis.

One new feature I hope to bring each week during the regular season is a “BTSC Betting” article where I select several NFL games and have readers pick the game which they would like to place a hypothetical wager against the spread. Based of voting, imaginary bets will be placed of various amounts and results will be tracked for the season to see how the BTSC community would fare in the sports betting world.

I will also be bringing another giveaway during the season for a signed David DeCastro football. The details of the contest were supposed to be announced this past week on The Steelers Preview, but a delay due to technical difficulties has pushed the announcement back. Stay tuned to both the BTSC family of podcasts and an article to outline the details of the contest.

With the added responsibilities of the deputy editor position, I have decided to step down as community manager of BTSC. With the time it takes to produce the necessary content for the site, I was concerned with giving the proper attention to the responsibility of upholding the standards of the Behind The Steel Curtain community. Effective August 1, another BTSC moderator took over the community manager duties. Username “SNW” has been a very active moderator since I took over the job and will slide into the position with most users having no idea a change occurred.

The new community manager wants to remind all BTSC users they are the best moderators we have and to use the flag option to better serve us. Flagging a comment is a much better way to deal with issues than engaging in an argument as every flagged comment will be checked by a moderator. SNW has been reading nearly every comment for as long as he’s been a member, so the community manager position will just be a continuation of his already established membership.

On a final note, I am exited about my new role in helping deliver some of the best Steelers content available to fans. As Jeff Hartman says, “Behind The Steel Curtain is truly your one stop shop for all Pittsburgh Steelers news.”

Podcast: Why ESPN hates the Pittsburgh Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/04/2019 - 5:33am

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

We’ve all been there. You want to read about your beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. You log onto Behind the Steel Curtain and read all their articles. You then cruise over to a few other websites before foolishly thinking, “Wonder what ESPN has about the Steelers?”

Boy, that was a mistake.

You immediately click out of the page, and go turn on the TV and turn it to ESPN. Hey! They are talking about the AFC North! And all they are talking about are the Cleveland Browns, Baker Mayfield and Okell Bekcham Jr.

What in the world is going on? Why does ESPN hate the Steelers?!

This is where the newest BTSC podcast “Yeah, I Said It” comes in. My co-host on ‘The Standard is the Standard’, Lance Williams tries to decipher why the Worldwide Leader in Sports despises the Steelers..

Time to deliver the goods on the latest show.

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

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: Ben Roethlisberger excited for the same ‘boring’ Steelers offense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/04/2019 - 4:35am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers returned to the gridiron this week when they reported back to training camp. With practices underway, the news surrounding the black-and-gold is just starting to heat up. As the team returns from their summer break, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until training camp starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Ben Roethlisberger is excited for the fact the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense isn’t going to change much this season. Or as he called it, the same old ‘boring’ Steelers offense.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Ben Roethlisberger is back, and so is Randy Fichtner. Naturally, the Steelers’ offense won’t be changing much, and that is just fine by the team’s star quarterback

Roethlisberger is happy that Steelers’ offense isn’t changing

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

With a rash of new offenses sweeping the league, the Pittsburgh Steelers are staying the course.

“We’re going to be the same, boring old Steelers,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told John Kryk of the Toronto Sun on Thursday. “There’s something to be said about not making big changes, and just getting better at what you already know.”

Within what the Steelers already know, there are plenty of unknowns. This will the first year without either Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell on the team since 2009, and it remains to be seen how defenses will approach the Pittsburgh offense.

Presumably, they’ll try to take away 2018 team MVP and new No. 1 receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster with two or more defenders. Can JuJu beat double coverage? If not, his numbers will reflect that.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Steelers’ Conner gives fan on breathing tube tour

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

James Conner didn’t know the young girl he spotted waving a Pittsburgh Steelers sign from an autograph line at training camp, but he was about to make her day anyway.

Conner recently selected a girl with a breathing tube to follow him past the roped-off area and to the Steelers’ locker room for an impromptu post-practice tour. A video of the girl with Conner -- who said she went by the nickname “Kay Kay” -- went viral through Conner’s social media account along with the message, “Love the joy this game brings people. Priceless moment.”

Conner told ESPN he was signing autographs on a step outside the practice field when he saw her and couldn’t resist.

”Obviously just looking at her, she has been through some things and she was dealing with some things with the braces she had on,” said Conner, who doesn’t know her condition. “So she appreciated it more than most of some other fans out here who want autographs for the wrong reasons.”

Conner liked how the girl dropped down for a pushups session with him and eagerly gave high-fives to teammates.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Steelers better watch out for that AAU team in Cleveland this year...I guess.

Training Camp Buzz: Beckham calls Browns ‘AAU team’

By: Adam Mya, NFL.com

Dynamic catches from one Odell Beckham have been a staple of Cleveland Browns training camp. OBJ and Mayfield are just getting started, of course.

”Everything takes time,” Beckham told reporters following Friday’s practice. “Everything that’s great comes with patience and takes time. We’re still developing. The best part about it it’s training camp. It’s not the real season right now. We’re just trying to all get on the same page, get everything down.”

Beckham likened the Browns’ offense and its many weapons to “being on an AAU team,” while noting he’s been inspired to make more plays as he watches his peers practice at a high level. He also shot down the idea that quarterback-wide receiver rapport is “overrated” but said he’s not one to direct Mayfield on how to work with him.

”I just tell him do what he does,” Beckham explained. “There’s a reason he was the first pick, there’s a reason he won the Heisman, there’s a reason he led Oklahoma to all those great seasons. I just let him tell me what he thinks I should do and I’m just going to do that, and he’s going to put it where it needs to be.”

Trust is a mark of a good relationship.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • There are certain occasions when the Antonio Brown saga just becomes almost laughable. As it turns out, the saga doesn’t involve the Steelers anymore, just Brown.

Trainer sues Antonio Brown for unpaid fees and expenses

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

Deceased Raiders owner Al Davis knew a thing or two about filing lawsuits. Current Raiders receiver Antonio Brown knows a thing or two about being on the wrong end of them.

Via TMZ.com, Brown has been sued by a trainer who claims that Brown stiffed the trainer out of more than $7,000 in fees and expenses.

Sean Pena claims that he provided Brown with a week of training in April, and that Brown failed to reimburse Pena for therapy and training service, expenses for hotels, airfare, rental car, and more.

Attorney Darren Heitner told TMZ.com that everything has been taken care of.

“Mr. Brown has already paid the Plaintiff everything that he was due,” Heitner said. “The Plaintiff has no foundation for coming after Mr. Brown, and we will ensure that this case disposed of quickly.”

Pena’s lawyer strenuously objects to that characterization.

“Antonio Brown and his attorney have intentionally chosen to ignore Pena’s claim for unpaid trainer services,” Michael D. Kolodzi told TMZ.com.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

Ken Griffey Sr. was in town to check up on Trey Griffey, to chat with wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, and to play the role of proud grandfather. pic.twitter.com/0wVXpwK2Df

— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) August 3, 2019

What a feeling to be embraced and loved by not only my amazing family but the amazing Steelers organization and Steelers Nation! Last night was a blessing to formally retire as a Pittsburgh Steeler! #Steeler4Life #SteelersNation #SteelerNation #DontCrossTheMoats pic.twitter.com/BVOYKTDZIe

— Arthur Moats (@dabody52) August 3, 2019

Teryl Austin teaching Steelers DBs creating interceptions goes beyond defensive philosophy

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/03/2019 - 4:01pm
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

For some, being in the right place at the right time is how interceptions happen, but Teryl Austin is preaching it is more than just that.

The Pittsburgh Steelers need to learn to take the football away more in 2019. Period. And to do that it comes down to some very fundamental aspects of the game of football. You have to know the defense well enough to be at the right place at the right time, but you also have to be able to physically make the play.

Since the Steelers hired defensive backs/assistant coach Teryl Austin, the defensive backs have been working on just that — catching the football. Austin requires all defensive backs to hit the JUGS machine at least once a day, no exceptions.

“That’s mandated by me,” Austin told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Every day we are going to be on the JUGS machine. We’re going to catch balls before or after practice. This is not a choice. You have a choice of time, but not a choice of whether you are going to do it.”

If you think about it, you can probably think of at least a half dozen plays in the past few seasons where passes were thrown and should have been interceptions, but were either knocked to the ground or flat out dropped.

Who could forget Sean Davis laying out Joe Haden against the Chargers last season only to have a near automatic interception turn into a touchdown? You could think of at least six Ike Taylor plays during his career where the ball hit him square in the hands, only to have it fall to the turf.

Austin isn’t about to have that be the new norm under his tutelage.

“We’re not there just to knock the ball down or bat it up in the air,” Austin said. “We want to try to catch it and turn it over because those are big in terms of helping our defense.”

How are things going so far? Pretty good, actually.

“Our guys are doing a good job of being in position to challenge,” Austin said. “The first thing you have to do is when they are doing things right, they usually are in position to get their hands on some balls and challenge. The next thing is we’ve got to finish every opportunity we can get.

“The last thing is make sure we clean up and not let any balls get over our head. If we can limit those big plays and still be aggressive at the ball and get our hands on the ball and turn it over, we’ve got a chance to really help our defense.”

This would be a huge boost for the Steelers defense, and could actually catapult them into the top echelon of NFL defenses. The unit can already get after the quarterback with the best of them, and throw in the fact they can take the football away in the back end and the Steelers defense could return to its once formidable self in 2019.

Steelers Training Camp 2019: Live news and updates 8/3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/03/2019 - 1:30pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and training-camp practices are underway! Follow along with BTSC as the players start to hone their skills and prepare for the 2019 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, and the rabid fans awaiting their chance to watch the Black-and-gold, are prepared for training camp, and that comes with the first day of actual practice. The Steelers are finally back to practicing, and Practice 8 of camp is here!

If you’re stuck at work, or at home, follow along with those on the scene at Saint Vincent College for the best pictures, video and news coming straight from the practice field in Latrobe, PA. Don't miss a minute of the action!

Today's practice is at 2:55 p.m. EST, and is open to the public. Take a look at the training camp schedule below and, as always, follow along with live updates in the Twitter feed below.

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JuJu Smith-Schuster currently 10-to-1 odds to lead the NFL in receiving yards in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/03/2019 - 12:05pm
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

According to BetOnline, Smith-Schuster is tied for the fifth best chance from all NFL receivers to accumulate the most yards

As the 2019 regular season approaches, a wide variety of betting odds are available for those wishing to place a wager for the upcoming season. Super Bowl champions, win totals, yardage leaders, playoff teams, and Week 1 games against the spread are just a few of the categories odds makers have determined. While not everyone is interested in placing their hard-earned cash on the line, many football fans do look at the odds in order get a better grip on how certain players or teams are expected to perform in the upcoming season.

With JuJu Smith-Schuster taking over the number one receiver role for the Steelers in 2019, he is Pittsburgh’s greatest possibility to lead the league in receiving yards. Using the odds provided by BetOnline, Smith-Schuster is currently at a 10-to-1 chance to have the most regular season receiving yards, placing him tied for fifth on the list. Leading the way is the Atlanta Falcon’s Julio Jones currently at 6-to-1 followed by DeAndre Hopkins at 15-to-2.

Here is a list of the top 15 players according to BetOnline:

There are many interesting comparisons which can be drawn between several players on this list and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Here are a few to consider:

Odell Beckham Jr.: The newest Cleveland Brown has the best chance of leading the NFL in receiving yards out of all the receivers in the AFC North. It’s unclear how Beckham will transfer his production he saw with the New York Giants. The biggest factor for Beckham may be going from a three-time Prowl Bowl and two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback to a second year player with only thirteen career starts. Beckham and Smith-Schuster will be on the same field twice in 2019.

Tyreek Hill: Now that Hill isn’t looking at a suspension, his 2019 projected totals are a little more predictable. With Hill and JuJu both playing in the AFC and having identical odds, it speaks to the level of confidence the odds makers have in Smith-Schuster’s ability to take on the number one receiver role. Hill was All Pro for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018 and had 53 more receiving yard than JuJu (1,479 yards and 1,426 yards respectively) on 24 less receptions (87 receptions to 111 receptions). Placing Hill and Smith-Schuster on equal ground should be a welcomed site to Steelers’ fans if Hill can have a similar season to 2018.

Antonio Brown: The former number one receiver for the Steelers, Brown has less of a chance to lead the league in receiving yards than his former teammate. Already capturing the honor twice in his carrer (2014 and 2017), Brown’s placement on the list could be more of issue with the person throwing him the ball than it is with him catching it. Oakland Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr is currently at 35-to-1 odds to win the passing title while Ben Roethlisberger is at 8-to-1. It remains to be seen if Brown will help Carr elevate his game or if he’ll miss catching passes from a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Even though he is projected to be one of the top receivers with a chance to put up the most yards in 2019, JuJu Smith-Schuster does have one major factor holding him back from achieving this award: it’s not his goal. Sure, leading the NFL in receiving yards for the season looks great on a player’s resume. But JuJu has already stated that winning games is more important than his personal statistics. And I, for one, take him at his word. While individual awards along the way are welcomed, JuJu Smith-Schuster needs to remain focused on the team goal of bringing home a seventh Lombardi Trophy back to the city of Pittsburgh.

Can we please stop with the Steelers autograph tattoos already?!

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/03/2019 - 10:47am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Getting an athlete to sign your skin and immortalize it with ink may be bizarre, but copying it is unoriginal.

Last week, a fan asked JuJu Smith-Schuster to sign an autograph for him. A pretty normal request, right? But this wasn’t the typical signing meant exclusively to be on display 24/7 in a fan cave. It wasn’t on an 8x10 glossy, a Pittsburgh Steelers helmet or scribbled across numbers on a JuJu replica jersey. This request actually answered Myron Cope’s long-standing question to callers on his radio show back in the day...”What’s on your cranium?”. Yes, my friends, Joel Schock of Lancaster, has the Steelers’ standout, third-year receiver’s penmanship emblazoned on his noggin forever.

With media later in the day, No. 19 recalled the memorable exchange.

“He had the Steelers logo like tattooed in his head, so he had a mohawk,” Smith-Schuster said. “And he was like, Can you sign my helmet?’, I’m like, ‘What helmet? What are you talking about?’ I signed his head, like his actual head. Sharpie, all that. I don’t think he’s gonna shower for the next week.”

When a reporter suggested that the fan could possibly immortalize JuJu’s “John Hancock” on his mohawked melon with a tattoo, an inspired Smith-Schuster replied, “He might, honestly. If he does, that’s lit. If he gets that tattooed on his head, I’ll get him any tickets to any game so if he’s out there watching this ... yes.”

I guess you could call this a perfect case of “Schock-value” because after the fan returned home and had his tattoo artist permanently seal the signature into his skull, JuJu held up more than his end of the bargain. Schock didn’t just receive tickets to any game, he got tickets to every game in the form of season tickets.

The headline to this article might be somewhat deceiving because I’m not going to bash or belittle this particular fan experience at all. I have no problem with it. I personally wouldn’t do it, but I’m not going to belittle a person for even the most extreme passionate display of one’s fandom, as long as it is not harmful to others. In fact, I have a Steelers tattoo on my person. The difference is that you won’t see it unless you’re at a pool with me or you are a peeping tom and are checking me out as I exit the shower. I’m also an avid collector of Steeler autographs, but I’d rather put them on the wall for show and not be the display case. Sure it is a great conversation piece, but not ideal for church or job interviews. Plus it limits one’s modeling options. I’d also rather pay the steep price of season tickets should I choose by whipping out plastic or cold, hard cash than with my flesh. I’m 47 and my mother, wife and daughter objected over my recently growing a beard, head-ink would only get me grief.

So if I’m cold with it, why the headline? I respect Joel Schock’s originality. I’m even okay with the fact that the Lancasterinan will be a face of extreme Steeler fandom. Do I think it’s worthy of season tickets, not really. But JuJu does and the act was original. What I do have a problem with is copycats coming out of the woodwork like cockroaches to an old sandwich. And yes, it has already happened. Another fan had James Conner sign his name high on her chest and below her shoulder. She, too, made it forever with a tattoo. I don’t believe that this particular fan was compensated with tickets or memorabilia. But jumping on the bandwagon and following suit with a crazy stunt for possible reward or brief media civerage is disconcerting to me.

Will this attention-seeking continue? My bet is that it is highly likely. Will it grow tired fast? Yes, it already has. Be a crazy Steeler fan for all I care. Just do something different. If you’ll now excuse me, my number has been called to get my Ramon Foster tramp stamp and the media is waiting.

5 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin after the Steelers’ Friday night lights practice

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/03/2019 - 9:24am
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Tomlin answered questions from the media following the Steelers’ seventh practice.

Following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Friday night lights practice at Latrobe High School, head coach Mike Tomlin briefly took questions from the media. Although the emphasis was on the atmosphere of the night, Coach Tomlin was asked questions about specific players. This list isn’t to suggest these players were the only ones who stood out, but more so about how Tomlin answered the questions.

Vince Williams & Roosevelt Nix

Nix vs. Williams draws fireworks. Williams puts Nix on his back the first time, but Nix flips him over like a judo move. Then Nix holds him up the 2nd Time. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Sometimes veteran players are held out of parts, or even all of practices in order to allow other players to get an extended look. Ben Roethlisberger was held out of practice Friday Night for the second time within the week. When it comes to the “backs on backers” sessions, Vince Williams has been observing more often than he has participated. Considered to be the most experienced player involved in the drill which already gives the defense the advantage, Williams went up against the most experienced running back on the Steelers roster: Roosevelt Nix.

Coach Tomlin was asked about holding Williams out of the first session of “backs on backers” and then matching him up against Nix.

“Because there’s no question Vince understands that drill. The tempo of that drill. His techniques are seasoned and so forth. I thought I’d get some young people to get that drill under them before I infused him into it. I limit the snaps of veteran players all the time. Not only in an effort to protect them, but to provide other opportunities to other people. So removing Vince isn’t necessarily about Vince. In that first set, it was about getting more additional reps for you guys like 55 (Devin Bush). And so the second time though we infused him back in to get the necessary work he needs as well.”

Tomlin was then asked a follow up question about the heavyweight match up between Williams and Nix.

“If you stay out here long enough, you’re going to see everybody verses everybody. So I wouldn’t read too much into the match ups.”

Benny Snell Jr & Devin Bush

“There you go Benny Snell,” Mike Toon says after the rookie RB wins a backs vs. ‘backers rep against Devin Bush. Bush mostly for the better of him in a skewed drill, but he and Snell kept getting paired together. No accidents there.

— Jacob Klinger (@Jacob_Klinger_) August 3, 2019

For the second day in a row, Mike Tomlin addressed his rookie linebacker and running back. Since Benny Snell, Jr and Devin Bush keep facing off against each other repeatedly during camp, it’s only natural for the competition to draw the attention of those in attendance.

Coach Tomlin was asked about specifically matching up Bush and Snell seven times in drills.

“They’re young guys in the same state of their careers. You know, they’re tremendously competitive. We expect those guys to be contributors. They lack in experience. So it’s a fair match up.”

Devlin Hodges

He’s a long shot to make the roster, but QB Devlin Hodges has really shown out in the opportunities he’s getting.

— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) August 3, 2019

There aren’t many opportunities for the fourth-string quarterback to get a lot reps in training camp. Even when Ben Roethlisberger is not participating in practice, Devlin Hodges still has yet to get a crack at “seven shots.” But with only three quarterbacks in pads Friday night, Hodges was given possibly his most snaps in the full team session to date.

Coach Tomlin was asked about his evaluation of Hodges after he received some additional work.

“I like some of the things I’ve seen from him. He’ll continue to get more opportunities. Obviously the in stadium play at that position is significant.”

Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here:

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following Friday Night Lights at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. https://t.co/XmWdvkFFN3

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

Steelers 2019 Training Camp Recap: Friday Night Lights means the return of ‘backs on backers’

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/03/2019 - 8:12am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers were back on the gridiron for another training camp practice, and we’ve got the recap for you!

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had over a week of training camp practices under their belt now, and while there are times it is still considered “football in shorts”, the team has had plenty of news coming from these workouts.

Friday night saw the team heading over to Latrobe High School field for their annual Friday Night Lights practice. What does this always mean? Try the return of the ‘backs on backers’ drill, which is always a fan favorite.

How did it go? Well, let former Behind the Steel Curtain staff writer and friend of the site, Chris Carter, now of DKPittsburghSports.com, tell you:

Tomlin immediately calls out Samuels to face Williams on backs on backers. Samuels holds his own. #Steelers #dkps

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Snell vs Bush. Bush runs over Snell the first time drawing ooos. Snell rebounds and wins the next by forcing him around. #Steelers #dkps

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Gilbert loses his first rep against Malik Williams. Tomlin says “ULY! Not enough quickness. Be quicker.”

Next rep Gilbert puts on a nice move and wins the matchup. #Steelers #dkps

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Ola continues to dominate backs on backers. Puts on a sweet stutter step to work around Scotland Williamson. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Williams against Samuels again. Williams keeps winning but this is literally his drill. He lives for this. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Bush vs. Snell again. First is won by Bush with a nifty spin move and insanely quick feet. Snell holds him off the second time. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Grimble pancakes Spillane. Was told to be patient and he won his spot. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Scotland-Williamson is athletic and big, but it takes more than that to have the feet to be a good blocker. He’s engaging with his hands and not chopping his feet enough. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Ola wins 2 vs Trevor Wood. He’s good at mixing his power with a variety of quick moves. As soon as the blocker commits to his strength Ola swims or rips around. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Nix vs. Williams draws fireworks. Williams puts Nix on his back the first time, but Nix flips him over like a judo move. Then Nix holds him up the 2nd Time. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Snell vs Bush again. Bush winning with his quickness both times. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Last rep is another rematch between Snell vs Bush. This time Snell gets his feet chopping early and is ready for Bush’s move. Snell won and the drill ends. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Lets get to the other news from Training Camp...

Seven Shots

For those keeping score at home, the Steelers won their 7 Shots period, again. Ben Roethlisberger was given the day off, and won 4-3. Here is a breakdown of how it went down,

As for #Steelers 7 shots. No Ben but offense wins 4-3.

Dobbs goes 2-4 with TD to Conner and a QB draw. Williams has a sack & Alualu tips a pass at line for a Bush 1-handed INT.

Rudolph goes 2-3 to Webb & Switzer in the flat for TDs. Illegal touching cancels last play. #dkps

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Backup QB Update

With Roethlisberger given the day off, it was a chance to get a closer look at Mason Rudolph, Delvin Hodges and Joshua Dobbs. There was some good, and some bad.

Dobbs throws a perfect backshoulder 30 yard(ish) pass to Tevin Jones with the new CB Thomas in coverage and the safety coming. Best throw from Dobbs all camp. Great catch by Jones too. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Rudolph looking great in 11 on 11s. 4-4 on passes so far with underneath reads and well timed throws. Washington with an impressive sideline grab and a catch and run he took for 60. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Hodges throws pass behind Washington and it’s intercepted by Askew-Henry. @mattsunday was excited. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Dobbs threads the needle between 2 DBs for a TD on a slant to Washington. Then he breaks the pocket and finds Conner in the corner for a score. Having his best practice so far. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 3, 2019

Walking wounded update

For an update on those who were given the day off, as well as those who missed practice due to injury. The Steelers continue to give players time to heal before inserting them into the lineup. This early in the process it is never a bad thing to do.

Ben Roethlisberger, Al Villanueva, and Maurkice Pouncey are getting the night off. #FridayNightLights

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 2, 2019

Bud Dupree is practicing tonight. No Sutton Smith or Kam Canaday. Still no T.J. Watt.

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 2, 2019

Here we go again...

Is it just me, or does every training camp practice have a play being made by Devin Bush in coverage? This isn’t a bad thing, in fact it is a tremendous thing, but goodness this young man is making a name for himself early in the process. If you think he won’t be starting Week 1, you might be reading different reports than I am.

Good start to practice for Devin Bush. A pick off a tipped pass — Diontae Johnson forced him to fumble but the D recovered. Then had several impressive rushes in backs on backers working against — and thru — Snell #dkps #Steelers

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 3, 2019 VIDEOS

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following Friday Night Lights at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. https://t.co/XmWdvkFFN3

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

#LIVE: Missi, Bob & Charlie Batch take you to #SteelersCamp at Latrobe Memorial Stadium & talk about the history of ‘Friday Night Lights’. https://t.co/qDMbE1Kmzv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 2, 2019

Thank you for making tonight AMAZING, #SteelersNation‼️@JamesConner_ | #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/3qg154QVQm

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

He'll take that @__bELIeve17 pic.twitter.com/yFoeav1Z2M

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

When the sun goes down, we shine. @joehaden23 | @Nelson_Island pic.twitter.com/ibnSoonAPw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

.@TeamJuJu autograph session pic.twitter.com/Xo8BXUhRFz

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 2, 2019 PHOTOS

Steelers are back in Latrobe Memorial for some Friday night lights. T.J. Watt signs autographs for fans who showed up in the rain. pic.twitter.com/IPTebkT7B8

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 2, 2019

pic.twitter.com/ZnMfRgKuHU

— Jacob Klinger (@Jacob_Klinger_) August 2, 2019

JuJu Smith-Schuster has been serious about becoming a great receiver all along

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/03/2019 - 7:19am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Based on his performance at this training camp and his first two seasons in the NFL, Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has always been serious about his job.

The optics, those are very important in 2019, even in the entertainment world of professional football.

How does something look to the fans and media? What message does it send?

By arriving at training camp quietly and through a side door last Thursday, Steelers newly-minted number one receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster, showed the fans and media that he’s dead serious about his profession this season.

Judging by his first two seasons in the NFL, Smith-Schuster could very-well have shown up at camp on a tricycle while juggling children. But his entrance didn’t include pomp and circumstance. It didn’t include a wacky vehicle (that’s probably a good thing, since he only learned how to drive two years ago). Ever since last Thursday, the third-year receiver has been universally praised for his “all business” arrival. Never mind the reports out of Saint Vincent College that Smith-Schuster has been his same old, fun-loving self. Forget the fact that he’s still making silly gestures and clowning around with the little kids as he reports to the hot and muggy practice fields every afternoon for work, for business. Never mind that, less than a week into training camp, Smith-Schuster has already participated in a gender reveal for an adoring fan and signed another’s head. Forget the fact that Smith-Schuster challenged said autograph seeker to get this signature permanently tattooed on his head and then proceeded to buy him season tickets after the challenge was accepted.

Gosh darn it, Smith-Schuster arrived at training camp sans clown car, and that’s a good sign the 22-year old has matured and is very serious about being a great wide receiver.

With all due respect to you, a fan or media member who cares about the optics of a training camp arrival, shouldn’t Smith-Schuster’s seriousness be judged by his play on the football field?

Judging by the reports of his performance at training camp, Smith-Schuster has been more than serious about his job so far. He’s running crisp routes. He’s developing great chemistry with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He’s winning more than his share of battles with his cornerback teammates—including the highly-respected Joe Haden. He made a meal out of rookie cornerback Justin Layne in a blocking drill.

Does Smith-Schuster appear to be all business in 2019, or what?

Again, with all due respect, what about Smith-Schuster’s current training camp performance is any different than what he’s been doing since arriving at Latrobe, Pa. two summers ago? Isn’t this the same Smith-Schuster everyone began to fall in love with the second things started to click for him early in his rookie season?

I don’t know about the crispness of his route-running beings that I’m no expert in that area, but the chemistry he has with Roethlisberger has been apparent since his rookie season when Smith-Schuster caught 58 passes for 975 yards and seven touchdowns. The chemistry with his quarterback seemed to explode off the screen last season when Smith-Schuster caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s obviously been winning his share of battles with cornerbacks all around the league—including against teammates and opponents. As for Smith-Schuster’s penchant for blocking defenders into next week? You may actually have a t-shirt of him doing that to the hated Vontaze Burfict two Decembers ago.

Optics are nice, but what happens on a football field is even nicer. Based on performance and production, Smith-Schuster is a true professional. The only question in 2019: can he do it without Antonio Brown drawing double and triple teams?

We’ll have to find out, but if all a receiver needs is for AB to draw coverage away from him, why didn’t that work very well for James Washington last year? Why didn’t it work for Justin Hunter the last two seasons? Nothing against those guys, especially Washington, who I think is going to make a big leap from his rookie year, but it’s not necessarily that easy to shine as a receiver in the NFL.

By all indications, Smith-Schuster has every essential weapon in his arsenal to be a number one receiver.

Smith-Schuster came into the NFL with a great reputation as a high-character guy who worked hard, and nothing he’s done since becoming a Steeler tells me that reputation was unwarranted.

Yes, the optics of Smith-Schuster’s training camp entrance were important to the fans and media.

But the optics of JuJu Smith-Schuster’s on-field performance—both at this training camp and during his first two seasons in the NFL—are even more important.

His silly and zany nature, aside, they tell me he has been serious about becoming a great receiver all along.

An updated look at the Steelers 91-man training camp roster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/03/2019 - 6:07am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Another roster move on Thursday created the second change for the Steelers in 2019

As training camp continues, there may be some names who are unfamiliar to some Steelers fans. As a guide, here is a breakdown of the Steelers entire roster by position. With the Steelers receiving an international exemption, 91 players can be carried into training camp. The number of players kept (in parentheses) on the Steelers initial 53-man roster in 2018 have been noted for reference.

(Editor’s Note: Every time the team makes a transaction, we will update the roster to keep you up-to-date on who is still on the 91-man roster.)

Offense

Quarterback (3)

  1. Ben Roethlisberger
  2. Joshua Dobbs
  3. Mason Rudolph
  4. Delvin Hodges

Running Back (3)

  1. James Conner
  2. Jaylen Samuels
  3. Benny Snell Jr
  4. Trey Edmunds
  5. Ralph Webb
  6. Malik Williams
  7. Travon McMillian

Fullback (1):

  1. Roosevelt Nix

Wide Receiver (6)

  1. JuJu Smith-Schuster
  2. Donte Moncrief
  3. James Washington
  4. Diontae Johnson
  5. Eli Rogers
  6. Ryan Switzer
  7. Trey Griffey
  8. Johnny Holton
  9. Tevin Jones
  10. Diontae Spencer
  11. Brandon Reilly

Tight End (3)

  1. Vance McDonald
  2. Xavier Grimble
  3. Zach Gentry
  4. Kevin Rader
  5. Christian Scotland-Williamson
  6. Trevor Wood (also LS)

Offensive Line (9)

  1. Maurkice Pouncey
  2. David DeCastro
  3. Ramon Foster
  4. Alejandro Villanueva
  5. Matt Feiler
  6. Chukwuma Okorafor
  7. Jerald Hawkins
  8. B.J. Finney
  9. Zach Banner
  10. Derwin Gray
  11. Damian Prince
  12. Patrick Morris
  13. J.C. Hassenauer
  14. Garrett Brumfield
  15. Fred Johnson
Defense

Defensive Line (6)

  1. Cameron Heyward
  2. Stephon Tuitt
  3. Javon Hargrave
  4. Tyson Alualu
  5. Daniel McCullers
  6. Isaiah Buggs
  7. Lavon Hooks
  8. Conor Sheehy
  9. Winston Craig
  10. Casey Sayles
  11. Greg Gilmore
  12. Henry Mondeaux

Outside Linebacker (3)

  1. T.J. Watt
  2. Bud Dupree
  3. Anthony Chickillo
  4. Olasunkanmi Adeniyi
  5. Sutton Smith
  6. JT Jones
  7. Tuzar Skipper

Inside Linebacker (5)

  1. Vince Williams
  2. Mark Barron
  3. Devin Bush
  4. Tyler Matakevich
  5. Ulysees Gilbert III
  6. Robert Spillane
  7. Tegray Scales
  8. Ryan Shazier (PUP)

Cornerback (5)

  1. Joe Haden
  2. Steven Nelson
  3. Mike Hilton
  4. Artie Burns
  5. Cameron Sutton
  6. Justin Layne
  7. Brian Allen
  8. Marcelis Branch
  9. Derrek Thomas

Safety (6)

  1. Sean Davis
  2. Terrell Edmunds
  3. Jordan Dangerfield
  4. Marcus Allen
  5. Kam Kelly
  6. Dravon Askew-Henry
  7. P.J. Locke
Specialists

Placekicker (1)

  1. Chris Boswell
  2. Mathew Wright

Punter (1)

  1. Jordan Berry
  2. Ian Berryman

Long Snapper (1)

  1. Kameron Canaday
  2. Trevor Wood

Offense: 44

Defense: 42 (not including Shazier)

Specialists: 5 (not including Wood)

Total: 91

Black and Gold Links: Everyone, even the Steelers, are getting used to the new NFL rules

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/03/2019 - 5:00am
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers returned to the gridiron this week when they reported back to training camp. With practices underway, the news surrounding the black-and-gold is just starting to heat up. As the team returns from their summer break, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until training camp starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the Steelers had special guests at practice Thursday, NFL officials, and the hope was to get everyone, players and coaches alike, accustomed to the new NFL rules.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Thought NFL rules were confusing before? Juts wait until the 2019 season when pass interference calls are now subject to review.

Steelers get summer lesson on NFL rule changes, reviewable pass interference

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The rule change was initiated after the controversial non-call near the end of the NFC championship game that would have extended a potential game-winning drive by the New Orleans Saints, who lost in overtime to the Los Angeles Rams.

Making pass interference reviewable — and the groundwork for enforcement — generated much debating heading into the NFL annual meeting when ownership approved the change. For instance, the replay official has the power to not only overturn a defensive pass interference call, he can rule in favor of offensive pass interference — and vice versa.

“We want clarity on how they are going to call it,” said Teryl Austin, the Steelers senior defensive assistant who coaches the secondary. “We want to have some clarity so we can teach our guys and coach our guys to stay out of those situations.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • If you paid attention to the NFL Network’s Top 100 list, you might have noticed a lack of linemen on the list...and the Steelers weren’t happy about it.

Lack of Steelers offensive linemen on Top 100 list has teammates up in arms

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback loves to talk about his linemen. He credits much of his success to the five men assigned to protect him on a weekly basis. He can recite their accomplishments, preach their importance to the offensive scheme and speak glowingly about how his career has been extended because of their pass protection.

But mention the NFL Network Top 100 rankings that didn’t include a single Steelers lineman — notably center Maurkice Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro — and Roethlisberger is reluctant to offer more than a few terse words.

“It’s such a joke,” Roethlisberger said Thursday morning.

The 10-day runoff of players who comprised the top 100 concluded Wednesday night. The Steelers had five players make the list that is voted on by their NFL peers, but none in the top 40.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Steelers fans haven’t heard much on TE Zach Gentry this training camp. Turns out the growing pains are real.

Growing pains? Yep, Gentry’s feeling them

By: Hunter Homistek, DKPittsburghSports

At 6-foot-8, 262 pounds, Steelers rookie tight end Zach Gentry wasn’t expected to light defenses on fire with blazing speed. That’s not what he was drafted to do, and it’s not a skill set he’s suddenly going to add at the pro level.

That said, Gentry is expected to catch some passes. He’s expected to block, to get that massive frame low and control NFL-level defenders. On those fronts, Gentry admits the NFL has presented its challenges in the early going.

”There’s obviously a learning curve when you’re first coming in, especially with a guy as tall as me,” Gentry was telling me after Day 6 of training camp at Saint Vincent College. “So I’ve really had to focus on getting my pad level down and firing out ... I know everybody always says the same thing, but it’s the speed and physicality. It’s just the next step up in every single way. People are not lying when they say that, for sure.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Big Al for mayor? Villanueva provides powerful moment

By: Hunter Homistek, DKPittsburghSports

He’s a 6-foot-9 starting left tackle in the NFL on one of the league’s top offensive lines. He was a long shot to ever even make a final 53-man roster, let alone to ascend to the Pro Bowl level he currently occupies.

He earned a Bronze Star as an Army Ranger, where he served three tours of duty in Afghanistan and now he’s dropping knowledge and an intimate understanding of his current home of Pittsburgh.

”It is cool to sort of drive around when you’re in the buses and you load up and you get to the stadium, and you see the houses and you see how much they [fans] love the Steelers,” Villanueva was saying. “To me personally, it goes back to Pittsburgh, to how, sort of, it became the city that it was.”

And while Villanueva admits he’s “focused on practice,” it’s clear he’s taken the time to truly understand his new home and to appreciate the strides it’s making as a city.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

Lights are ‼️ pic.twitter.com/4NxPiYR4SH

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 3, 2019

.@TeamJuJu autograph session pic.twitter.com/Xo8BXUhRFz

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 2, 2019

Let’s do this!

Latrobe Memorial Stadium for Friday Night Lights pic.twitter.com/AeiPFZJV8H

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 2, 2019

Great to see you, #SteelersNation‼️@JamesConner_ | #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/fpidhpVVh1

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 2, 2019

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions: Training Camp Edition, Vol. 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 5:53pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There is plenty to talk about regarding all things black-and-gold!

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

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

The rules haven’t changed...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

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

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

1. The Steelers are have one week at training camp under their belt...who are you most excited to watch next week vs. Tampa Bay in Preseason Week 1??

2. When it comes to Kevin Colbert wanting to go “year-to-year” with his contract status, is this a sign of him leaving, or just plain honesty?

3. How would you utilize Ola Adeniyi in the team’s defense this season?

4. So you are going to buy a rookie’s jersey, which player would you choose (excluding Devin Bush from the question because that is too easy)??

5. After one week of practices, who is your new favorite for the Isaac Redman Award?

6. Caption the photo below:

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

Steelers Training Camp 2019: Live news and updates 8/2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/02/2019 - 5:31pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and training-camp practices are underway! Follow along with BTSC as the players start to hone their skills and prepare for the 2019 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the rabid fans awaiting their first glimpse of the Black-and-gold are prepared for training camp, and that comes with the first day of actual practice. The Steelers are finally back to practicing, and Day 6 of camp is here!

If you’re stuck at work, or at home, follow along with those on the scene at Saint Vincent College for the best pictures, video and news coming straight from the practice field in Latrobe, PA. Don't miss a minute of the action!

Today's practice is the Friday night practice which starts at 7:00 p.m. EST, and is open to the public. Take a look at the training camp schedule below and, as always, follow along with live updates in the Twitter feed below.

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