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Mike Tomlin is looking forward to ‘proving some doubters wrong’ in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/15/2019 - 11:30am

The rallying cry for the Steelers this season is becoming increasingly clear

The motivation for Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin in 2019 has become increasingly clear over the past few days after some interviews with the local media in his hometown of Hampton, Virginia.

Returning home to take part in the annual Hampton Road Youth Foundation camp, Tomlin has also taken time to speak with reporters. But whenever Pittsburgh has come up in the conversation, his answers have shown a consistent theme. As highlighted by an interview with Megan Plain of WTKR News released on Saturday.

When asked for his thoughts about the upcoming season, the Steelers head coach once again made continual references to the questions surrounding his team coming from outside of the organization.

“I’m excited about meeting the challenges of the year. I like the questions surrounding us. I think our team does. We look forward to meeting them head on and maybe proving some doubters wrong. Our agenda never changes. We’re trying to be world champions this year and we’ll aggressively pursue it.”

Tomlin gave similar remarks in an interview with Bruce Rader of WAVY TV 10 on Friday, with the theme of proving the doubters wrong seemingly the rallying cry for the 2019 season.

While the loss of Antonio Brown will be a difficult obstacle to overcome, it would be fair to say that the loss of Le’Veon Bell is somewhat overblown given that he missed all of the 2018 season due to a holdout. And with both names playing their football elsewhere this season, it seems reasonable to believe there will be less drama emanating for the locker room.

The doubts surrounding the Steelers are not limited to the playing field, with a increasing number of fans and media experts questioning whether Tomlin is the right man to lead the Steelers. His recent 10th place ranking in the list of the NFL’s best coaches just another example of his tainted reputation as of late.

Still waiting for an extension as he heads into the final year of his current deal. it would appear that there are some within the organization who may have questions about Tomlin as well. A a deep run in the playoff or possibly a Championship the only sure fire way to prove all of the doubters wrong.

DeAngelo Williams was an important contributor during his short time with the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/15/2019 - 10:05am

Couldn’t ask for more than what running back DeAngelo Williams gave the Steelers during his short stay in Pittsburgh.

“If only the Steelers had a viable backup plan at running back!” many may have said the night Pittsburgh fell to the Ravens in an AFC wildcard game at Heinz Field that followed the 2014 campaign.

The final game of the 2014 regular season was also at Heinz Field. The Steelers outlasted the Bengals on Sunday Night Football to claim their first AFC North title in four years. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh’s playoff fate was sealed before its AFC North championship was even a certainty thanks to a hyperextended knee suffered by all-everything running back Le’Veon Bell, an injury that put him on ice for the aforementioned wildcard clash with Baltimore.

Without Bell, who amassed over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and was the focal point of Todd Haley’s weekly game-plan (especially down the stretch), the Steelers offense was helpless against an always stout Baltimore defense.

The Steelers answer for a backup plan was unknown Josh Harris and has-been Ben Tate, which led to a less than potent ground game in a 30-17 loss.

If only LeGarrette Blount were still around and not off with the Patriots helping them win yet another Super Bowl. If only Blount wasn’t a total unprofessional with the Steelers (in more ways than one) and hadn’t left the field early and disgusted due to his lack of carries in an important win over the Titans on Monday Night Football.

Blount was the Steelers original “Break Glass in Case of Emergency” backup plan in the event Bell was injured.

Too bad Blount was Blount and not the consummate professional as the veteran running back who was willing to accept his role as Bell’s backup when he signed with the Steelers in the spring of 2014.

As they went free agent shopping in the spring of 2015, the Steelers needed not just a quality backup running back, they needed someone who could begin the season as the starter and not have it totally cripple their offense. Why? Because Bell was facing a two-game suspension to start the year. This is where Blount may have come in handy. Unfortunately, he was complicit in Bell’s suspension thanks to the two of them getting pulled over and cited for marijuana possession the previous August.

Thankfully for Pittsburgh, the Panthers were set to part ways with DeAngelo Williams, who would enter the open market with nine years of experience and over 6,800 rushing yards on his resume.

The Steelers quickly snatched the 31-year old up and hoped that he would not only be the veteran backup who was accepting of his role, but that he would also have a lot of tread left on his tires.

Turns out, Williams was a lot of both.

Williams proved to be a sound investment right away by rushing for a combined 147 yards and scoring three touchdowns in the two games without Bell.

But it would be in the second half of the 2015 season when Williams really saved Pittsburgh’s bacon. Bell suffered a season-ending MCL tear in a Week 8 loss to the Bengals at Heinz Field, and Williams was thrust to the top of the running back depth chart.

Over the final eight games, Williams posted 900 yards from scrimmage—including 613 rushing and 287 receiving.

All-in-all, Williams rushed for 907 yards on the year and led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 11.

The offense didn’t miss a beat without Bell; Pittsburgh averaged over 30 points a game in the second half of the season, while posting a 6-2 record and just barely making the playoffs as the sixth seed.

Sadly, just like the season before, the Steelers lost their starting running back in the final regular season game—only this time, it was the backup to the starter—as Williams suffered a foot injury against the Browns.

While the Steelers unknown running backs represented themselves quite well with Jordan Todman and Fitzgerald Toussaint combining to rush for 123 yards in a thrilling wildcard win over the Bengals, the truly decimated offense finally wilted the following week in a divisional round loss to the eventual-champion Broncos (Antonio Brown had to miss that game due to a concussion suffered at the hands of the Bengals’ Vontaze Burfict).

I often wonder what would have happened had Williams been able to start against Denver. This is just my opinion, but it’s likely the Steelers, who pretty much dominated up until then, would have been up by more than one point (13-12) when Toussaint fumbled early in the fourth quarter.

Actually, maybe the score is still 13-12, but does Williams fumble at such a crucial moment? It’s doubtful—consummate professionals rarely make such mistakes.

Thanks to a second suspension for Bell (this time for three games), Williams once again began the 2016 season at the top of the running back depth chart, totaling 347 yards from scrimmage as Pittsburgh got off to a 2-1 start.

After serving his suspension—and the Steelers getting manhandled by the Eagles in Week 3—Bell took to social media to proclaim that the juice would in-fact be loose in Week 4.

Say what you want about Bell, but he was right in that regard, especially down the stretch of the 2016 campaign. The Steelers receiving corps was really thin thanks to various injuries, and Bell was the ultimate workhorse, carrying the Steelers all the way to the AFC North title.

Bell continued to shine in the postseason, setting the franchise single-game postseason rushing mark with 167 yards in a wildcard win over the Dolphins, before breaking that record the following week with 170 yards in a thrilling victory over the Chiefs in the divisional round.

Unfortunately, due to a groin injury, Bell was severely limited and mostly a non-factor the following week against the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

Fear not, the Steelers finally had a viable backup plan at running back!

Williams was okay against New England—he rushed for 34 yards and a score on the ground, while catching seven passes for 51 yards—but it wasn’t nearly enough in a 36-17 loss.

It was the last game Williams ever played in the NFL.

Williams only started 14 games in his two seasons with the Steelers, but he managed to gain a combined 1,735 yards from scrimmage—1,250 on the ground and 485 through the air—while scoring 17 touchdowns.

I’m sure Williams may have wanted to have more of a role in the offense even when Bell wasn’t injured or suspended. Thankfully, he never complained or tried to show his coach up through an act of defiance.

DeAngelo Williams was a consummate professional during his short time with the Steelers. He was also really, really good.

You can’t ask for much more than that.

30 Predictions in 30 Days: Why Sean Davis will set career highs in interceptions and tackles in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/15/2019 - 8:31am

The Pittsburgh Steelers are approaching training camp, and we provide some potential predictions for 2019.

In case you didn’t know, the Pittsburgh Steelers will return to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA in exactly 10 days of this article being published. With that, I decided to revive an old series we used to do as a lead up to training camp.

30 predictions in 30 days.

Myself and Simon Chester are alternating days giving a prediction for the upcoming season. Some will be team oriented, while others will be specific to individual players. Either way, read on to see the reason why we think today’s prediction will come to fruition, and why it might not come true. Give your thoughts in the comment section below the article.

Training camp is almost here! Here We Go!

Prediction: Sean Davis will set career highs in interceptions and tackles in 2019.

Why it will happen: Sean Davis is a player I feel for when you look at the entire scope of his NFL career. His rookie season he was a player who played both slot cornerback and safety. After some early struggles they decided to have him focus on playing safety alongside Mike Mitchell.

When Mitchell was released, Davis switched positions when the team drafted Terrell Edmunds in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. In other words, Davis has never really had a chance to call a position home, and be given the time to get comfortable.

In 2019, with Edumunds a full year under his belt, Davis should be able to roam the deep secondary without having to worry about a rookie next to him. This general understanding, and comfort level, should increase his stats in two main categories — interceptions and tackles.

Davis has never had more than 3 interceptions in a season, and his 90 tackles in 2018 are a career high. While you don’t want your safeties with huge tackle numbers, I see Davis setting career marks in a contract year for the black-and-gold.

Why it won’t happen: The Steelers’ defense is a sub package defense, just like most of the defenses in the NFL, and this can cause the secondary to have different responsibilities than the usual 3-4 alignment. Nonetheless, it isn’t as if Davis will not have opportunities to make plays.

Maybe Davis just isn’t the type of player who is destined to be a big stat-getter in the deep secondary. Not to mention despite Edmunds playing a ton as a rookie, he still has a lot to prove before Davis might have to think twice about taking gambles in the back half without leaving the secondary vulnerable.

Davis has yet to show he can put up anything resembling 90+ tackles, or 3+ interceptions to date. Not much makes you think this will change in 2019, even when it is a contract season.

What are your thoughts on this prediction? Do you think it will happen? Or are we crazy? Let us know by voting in the poll, and letting your voice be heard in the comment section below!

BTSC Steelers Jeopardy: Conference Call

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/15/2019 - 6:51am

BTSC debuts their own version of black-and-gold Jeopardy for readers to test their Steeler intellect.

The show Jeopardy seems to have been gracing our television screens and testing our intellect forever. Actually the earliest inception of this iconic quiz show was from 1964 to 1975 on NBC with Art Fleming hosting. In 1984, Alex Trebek starred in the syndicated revival that has become an American institution ever since. The show has been featured countless times in pop culture. Weird Al Yankovic’s “I Lost on Jeopardy” is a parody of a popular 1983 Greg Kihn Band song and SNL’s lampooning of Alex Trebek and Celebrity Jeopardy over the years is absolutely classic. Trebek appeared on a famous 1990 episode of Cheers in which postman Cliff Clavin infamously botched Final Jeopardy by submitting “Who are 3 people who’ve never been in my kitchen?” to the answer of “Archibald Leach, Bernard Schwartz and Lucille LeSueur” and wagered “$22,000 Big Ones!”. Plus, Everybody hums the theme when a hard question is answered in every day life. Recently a contestant named James Holzhauer went on an epic 32-game win streak to make the show must-watch again and place him in the pantheon of show greats with Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

In that spirit, I created my own special version of the show by using the meme generator Imgflip to create (what I hope are) challenging Steeler answers that need questions. However, what I created is archaic and not an app that will do the work for you, so you have to do you’re own scoring. Sorry.

Lets take a look at today’s category. It’s...

Keep track and share your scores. A word of warning though, the correct responses are right after each individual wager in blue.

$200

Question: What is the Atlantic Coast Conference?

Crafton native Bill Cowher graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Education from North Carolina State University. The linebacker was a team captain, a MVP his senior year and ended up a UDFA signing of the Philadelphia Eagles. Following his graduation, NC State won the ACC Title. They haven’t won it since.

$400

Question: What is the Big East Conference?

Leon Searcy was Cowher’s first-ever draft pick as coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The OT played at “the U“ from 1988 to 1991, his senior season was Miami’s first as a member of the Big East Conference. The Hurricanes would go on to win nine titles in the conference that they called home until their defection to the ACC after the 2003 season.

$600

Question: What is the Big Ten Conference?

Kevin Colbert’s era as General Manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers began in 2000 with the selection of Plaxico Burress, the wide receiver from Michigan State University. Since then, the Steelers have chosen six other first-rounders from the Big Ten. Ohio State’s Santonio Holmes, Cam Heyward and Ryan Shazier came first in 2006, 2011 and 2014 respectively. The others include Running Back Rashard Mendenhall (Illinois-2008), Outside Linebacker T.J. Watt (Wisconsin-2016) and Inside Linebacker Devin Bush (Michigan-2018).

$800

What is the WAC?

The Steelers Linebacker was a member of the New Mexico Lobos when he was drafted 21st overall in the 1977 NFL Draft. New Mexico was a member of the Western Athletic Conference, better known as the WAC (pronounced whack), from 1962-1998. Cole spent eleven seasons for the Steelers, where he was named an All-Pro in 1984.

$1000

Question: What is Eleven?

Including Ben Roethlisberger from Miami (Ohio) and Kent State’s Roosevelt Nix, the Steelers have eleven members of their roster of 91 players that competed and matriculated at MAC (Mid-American Conference) schools. Seven of the twelve schools (would have been eight, but our Central Michigan player wanted traded) are represented, with three from the Toledo Rockets (WR Diontae Johnson and linebackers Tuzar Skipper and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi). The other six on the roster are DT Casey Sayles (Ohio University), LB JT Jones (Miami of Ohio), OT Chukwuma Okorafor and LB Robert Spillane (Western Michigan) and linebackers Sutton Smith (Northern Illinois) and Ulysses Gilbert III (Akron).

So, how did you do? Let us know your score in the comments section below and try to be honest. Nobody wants to be a “Daily Double” answer with the attached question...“Who is a cheater?”.

Podcast: 5 statistical categories the Steelers need to improve on in 2019 to contend

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/15/2019 - 5:30am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers season is over, but the news is just starting to heat up. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers, including a fun game of “True or False!”

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Key Steelers stats to watch in 2019
  • How do you define good drafting?
  • Steelers Questions
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

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

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

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

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

Black and Gold Links: Why an 18-game regular season is not the answer for the NFL

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 07/15/2019 - 4:29am

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

With all of the Steelers’ 2019 offseason workouts in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base has to suffer through the dog days of summer until the boys of fall return to the gridon. In the meantime, don’t think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over. As the team disperses for the summer, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until training camp!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the thought of an 18-game NFL regular season schedule is not the answer.

Let’s get to the news:

  • For some fans, the thought of an 18-game regular season schedule is enticing. More football is better, right? But not so fast...

John Steigerwald: NFL finds another way to give fans less for their money

By: John Steigerwald, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Eighteen games is straight baloney, either way you cut it.”

You wonder how many NFL players agree with that tweet from Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward on Saturday.

According to Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, the owners are going to try to sell the players on an 18-game schedule that would include a rule limiting players to 16 games.

Everybody gets two weeks off.

Of course, when you have a monopoly, you can get away with offering your customers less for their money, kind of the way the NFL did several years ago when it decided to shorten games by running the clock sooner after out of bounds plays and penalties.

The customers were told they would get less football for their money, and most in the media congratulated the league for shortening games.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Steelers fans have gotten to know fans in a unique way on social media, and that is his ultimate goal.

Steelers’ Vince Williams strives to connect with fans on social media

By: Jonathan Bomboulie, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Vince Williams has a gift for forging a fun connection with his fans.

Like that time in 2017 when, after Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Chris Boswell were receiving acclaim as the team’s “Killer Bs,” he changed his Twitter name to Bince Williams and declared himself part of the group.

Or the time last year when he arrived for the first day of training camp in Latrobe dressed as Stone Cold Steve Austin, blaring the wrestler’s theme music from his truck.

In his introspective moments, though, Williams isn’t sure he still wants to share that gift with his 200,000-plus followers on Twitter and Instagram.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Steelers kept Ola Adeniyi around for a reason, and to those who know, he could have a big 2019 if given the chance.

Carter’s Classroom: Why the Steelers kept Adeniyi

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

For the majority of 2018, the Steelers had just three outside linebackers available: T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree and Anthony Chickillo. But kept hidden on injured reserve and later added to the roster was undrafted rookie Ola Adeniyi. He was the team’s darling of the 2018 preseason and was kept protected on injured reserve to prevent any team from stealing him from their practice squad.

But why did they go through all that for a player who saw all of nine defensive snaps last season? That’s what we look at today:

To read the full article, click HERE ($$)

  • Social Media Madness

Chickillo days until #SteelersKickoff.@Chickillo56 pic.twitter.com/eFYtryyhJW

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 14, 2019

Vote for @TheRealRandleEl's 43-yard touchdown pass to @mvp86hinesward in #SBXL as the Greatest Play in #SteelersHistory.

MORE: https://t.co/VwcqF0MjKY@PNCBank | @UPMC | @U_S_Steel pic.twitter.com/vDxAjLw9cv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 14, 2019

Chasing greatness. pic.twitter.com/kMNmDYukup

— James Conner (@JamesConner_) July 13, 2019

Built by Steel
@steelers pic.twitter.com/b8VjMsgfzW

— Brett Keisel (@bkeisel99) July 13, 2019

It's a different kind of Sunday‼️

Catch @CamHeyward & @DermonttiD on @FamilyFeudABC tonight at 8 p.m. pic.twitter.com/g6KxRnwcN1

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 14, 2019

Prepare Prepare Prepare Year2 pic.twitter.com/mN61BjfIeX

— Mason Rudolph (@Rudolph2Mason) July 14, 2019

Mike Tomlin ranked as 10th best head coach in NFL

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/14/2019 - 2:15pm

Despite the second-best record of any active coach in the league, the Steelers head coach did not receive much love in the latest CBS ranking.

Following a tough offseason that has far too frequently seen his abilities as a head coach questioned, it would be fair to say that the public perception of Mike Tomlin is perhaps lower than in has been in previous years. And heading into the final year of his contract, there is a growing number of Pittsburgh Steelers fans who like to see the team consider a different option in the future.

Once a consensus top five coach in the eyes of most media experts, even as recently as last year, it would appear that Tomlin’s reputation has been tarnished so much this year that he has taken a dive in the offseason rankings. As per the latest offering from Jared Dubin of CBS Sports, the Steelers coach is now barely managing to scrape into the top 10.

10. Mike Tomlin, Steelers

“Tomlin’s career regular season record of 125–66–1 is one of the best in NFL history. That .654 winning percentage is 16th-best all--time among qualified coaches, and among active coaches, only Bill Belichick’s percentage is better. The Steelers have been a regular playoff presence during Tomlin’s career, advancing to the postseason in eight of his 12 seasons and finishing with at least a .500 record every single year. Pittsburgh has been to two Super Bowls during his tenure, winning one, though they have not been the AFC’s Super Bowl representative since 2010.”

With the second-best winning percentage among active coaches, some might suggest that ranking Tomlin 10th on the list is absurdly low, while others will point to his lack of playoff success over recent seasons.

However, even the most ardent Tomlin haters must surely consider placing him behind names like Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills (9) and John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens (8) is rather ridiculous. Even if considering only the recent history of the past five seasons, Tomlin has far exceed the achievements of Harbaugh.

Baltimore have record only two double digit win seasons in each of the last five years compared to four for the Steelers, Tomlin has three divisions titles to Harbaugh’s one in that time frame and has won two more playoff games. Neither coach has been outstanding, but to suggest Tomlin has been worse is laughable.

It will come as no surprise to learn that Bill Belichick earns the top spot, while Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs comes in at No.2 and Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints comes in at No.3. While I have no issue with one and three, ranking Reid that high given his postseason record is a hard one to swallow.

Think Tank: Are running backs now expendable in the National Football League?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/14/2019 - 12:19pm

Today we debate whether the running back position has depreciated in today’s NFL.

In the latest episode of the BTSC ‘Think Tank’ I ponder the question whether the running back position in the National Football League is depreciating. Pittsburgh Steelers fans know about this debate all too well after Le’Veon Bell’s franchise tag contract situations.

Bell, the most complete back in the NFL at the time, wanted to be paid not just as a top running back, but also as a No. 2 wide receiver due to this tremendous ability to catch the football.

These issues eventually resulted in Bell refusing to sign his franchise tag, sitting out the entire 2018 season, and leaving for the New York Jets via free agency prior to the 2019 season. But it also equated in the emergence of James Conner. This type of success has many people feeling as if you can just draft a mid-round running back and get the same type of production as the high profile backs in the NFL.

Players like Kareem Hunt, Conner and Alvin Kamara are considered clear cut examples of this thought process. However, recently, Melvin Gordon, who said he wanted a new contract from the Chargers or a trade, suggested it isn’t so easy replacing a great back.

“Clearly, you seen what happened when Zeke was out. It was a completely different team,” Gordon said Saturday at SportsCon 2019 in Dallas. “You can replace average backs. Yeah, just plug them in. But a great back? You can’t just replace a great back. People think you can do that. You can’t. It will be a difference. It will be a difference, man. We do so much for people to even try to devalue us. We block. We’ve got to run the ball. We’ve got to pick up protections. We have to catch the ball. We have to do what receivers do. We have to do our thing. We have so much that goes through us.

“I tell people the hardest position outside of quarterback. . . .That’s the only position [that’s harder] because you have to know so much. Outside of that, running back is the next hardest position on the field, and we should get paid as such.”

What do you think? Do you feel as if running backs in today’s NFL are expendable? Or are there still backs in the league who can be viewed as franchise players? Players who a team should empty the bank account for?

The BTSC Think Tank is developed to be a discussion based article in the comment section below. So, let us know your thoughts!

30 predictions in 30 days: Xavier Grimble will have at least 350 yards receiving in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/14/2019 - 10:20am

The Pittsburgh Steelers are approaching training camp, and we provide some potential predictions for 2019.

With 11 days to go until the start of training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers, we continue our 30 predictions in 30 days series with another bold claim for 2019.

Alternating daily between myself and BTSC Editor Jeff Hartman, we will offer our forecasts for the upcoming season. Some will be team oriented, while others will be specific to individual players. Posing an argument for and against our predictions, we invite you to weigh in on the debate as well.

Following on from Jeff’s claim that Mason Rudolph won’t just win the No. 2 quarterback job, but will play competitive snaps for the Steelers, I turn my attention toward the team’s backup tight end.

Prediction: Xavier Grimble will have at least 350 yards receiving in 2019.

Why it will happen: Given the current state of the depth chart at tight end two weeks away from the start of training camp, there should be little doubt that Xavier Grimble will secure the No.2 role at the position this year. Barring a signing from outside the organization, it is highly unlikely that one of the other names on the roster such as rookie Zach Gentry or International Pathway Program prospect Christian Scotland-Williamson will show enough to challenge him for the job.

Since entering the league in 2014, the most productive season Grimble has ever recorded came in 2016 when he finished the year with 11 receptions for 118 yards. But set to see a significantly increased role in 2019, a projection of at least 350 yards receiving seems like a credible target for the 26-year-old.

When Jesse James was manning the position, this was a number he eclipsed in two of the previous three years, finishing with 423 yards in 2018, 372 yards in 2017 and 338 yards in 2016. Hitting this target will likely require Grimble to record around 35 receptions, a figure very much in line with number of catches James made as the No.2.

Given the Steelers love of using two tight end formations, Grimble should also see his fair share of snaps. And if Vance McDonald struggles to stay healthy once again, the former USC product could find himself logging a significant amount of playing time.

With 104 receptions belonging to Antonio Brown and 30 receptions belonging to James to theoretically distribute throughout the offense now both targets are playing elsewhere, Grimble could figure to be one of more notable beneficiaries this year.

Why it won’t happen: With the arrival of Donte Moncrief via free agency and Diontae Johnson via the draft, Pittsburgh has brought in two receiving options who should figure to see a lot of the targets previously earmarked for Brown. Second-year wide receiver Jamas Washington will feature more offensively, as should the slot combination of Eli Rogers and Ryan Switzer.

Simply put, Ben Roethlisberger has perhaps more viable receiving options than he has had for some time and Grimble is likely to be way down the pecking order in 2019. And with the coaching staff reportedly hoping for an expanded role from McDonald this year, the No.2 tight end may not feature quite as much as he has done in the past. Suggesting Grimble can replicate the production of James merely because he has assumed the backup role might also be considered a disservice to the player who signed a lucrative free agent deal this offseason.

What are your thoughts on this prediction? Do you think it will happen? Or are we crazy? Let us know by voting in the poll, and letting your voice be heard in the comment section below!

A Letter From The Editor: How Bill Cowher completely changed the way I view a coach

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/14/2019 - 8:40am

Growing up with the 1990s ‘Blitzburgh’ Steelers, I found Bill Cowher refreshing, but also slightly disturbing.

I was born in February of 1983, so the first Pittsburgh Steelers teams I really remember were coached by Bill Cowher. I saw, and heard, plenty about the stoic Chuck Noll, but what I saw on the sideline during the “Cowher Power” era was something unlike I’d ever seen in my life.

Keep in mind this is through the eyes of a young boy whose only experience was with youth athletics. You know, the coaches, who are usually dads, aren’t all that concerned with the outcome, but that every player gets a chance to succeed.

As it should be in youth sports, but when I watched Cowher roam the sidelines, hunting down players with his chin protruding, spit dripping down onto his coaching shirt, headsets flying and fingers being jabbed into players’ chest plates, I was astounded.

In case you forgot:

or this...

As any Steelers fan who was alive for the Cowher era knows, there were plenty other moments like these when Cowher was at the helm.

While I was stunned by Cowher’s actions, I absolutely adored his authenticity. He wore his emotions on his sleeve, especially in his early years, and it was an absolute blast to watch. He reacted just like fans would have reacted. He hugged players, sometimes kissed them, when they made a great play, and berated them when they made a huge mistake. There was no stoicism in Bill Cowher, just pure, unfiltered emotion — and I loved him for that.

What I was learning as a young kid was how I appreciated Cowher’s candor while on the sideline, and this carried over into my own coaching career. My players never had to guess what was on coach’s mind — they knew. If they messed up, they heard about it. If they made a great play, they might have thought I was the one who made the play.

Quick sidebar. For those who don’t know, I never coached football, but was a head boys varsity lacrosse coach in the state of Maryland for 13 years. I hung up the whistle two years ago, but there is one game I’ll never forget. My team was trailing by 5 goals with 4:30 left in the contest. For those who don’t know lacrosse, it is one of the few sports where after a goal the opposition isn’t guaranteed the ball back. Nonetheless, my team scored 5 goals in that time span to send the game to overtime. In overtime we had a would-be game-winning goal called off for a crease violation. My reaction was similar’s to Cowher’s in the first video above. Still, the resiliency of my team was evident as we were still able to take the victory. When the ball hit the back of the net, you would have thought I scored the goal. I jumped, I yelled, I chest bumped...I was ecstatic.

Come to think of it, as a coach I was a lot like Bill Cowher. I was, and still am, an emotional being. And I’m not ashamed of that. I don’t shy away from tears, nor do I shy away from happiness and joy.

Bill Cowher changed the way I viewed a coach, and unbeknownst to me, molded me into the coach I became later in life. I guess you could say I had “Cowher Power” running through my veins as I patrolled the sidelines...as if I was searching for the ever elusive “one for the thumb”.

A Letter From The Editor: How Bill Cowher complete changed the way I view a coach

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/14/2019 - 8:40am

Growing up with the 1990s ‘Blitzburgh’ Steelers, I found Bill Cowher refreshing, but also slightly disturbing.

I was born in February of 1983, so the first Pittsburgh Steelers teams I really remember were coached by Bill Cowher. I saw, and heard, plenty about the stoic Chuck Noll, but what I saw on the sideline during the “Cowher Power” era was something unlike I’d ever seen in my life.

Keep in mind this is through the eyes of a young boy whose only experience was with youth athletics. You know, the coaches, who are usually dads, aren’t all that concerned with the outcome, but that every player gets a chance to succeed.

As it should be in youth sports, but when I watched Cowher roam the sidelines, hunting down players with his chin protruding, spit dripping down onto his coaching shirt, headsets flying and fingers being jabbed into players’ chest plates, I was astounded.

In case you forgot:

or this...

As any Steelers fan who was alive for the Cowher era knows, there were plenty other moments like these when Cowher was at the helm.

While I was stunned by Cowher’s actions, I absolutely adored his authenticity. He wore his emotions on his sleeve, especially in his early years, and it was an absolute blast to watch. He reacted just like fans would have reacted. He hugged players, sometimes kissed them, when they made a great play, and berated them when they made a huge mistake. There was no stoicism in Bill Cowher, just pure, unfiltered emotion — and I loved him for that.

What I was learning as a young kid was how I appreciated Cowher’s candor while on the sideline, and this carried over into my own coaching career. My players never had to guess what was on coach’s mind — they knew. If they messed up, they heard about it. If they made a great play, they might have thought I was the one who made the play.

Quick sidebar. For those who don’t know, I never coached football, but was a head boys varsity lacrosse coach in the state of Maryland for 13 years. I hung up the whistle two years ago, but there is one game I’ll never forget. My team was trailing by 5 goals with 4:30 left in the contest. For those who don’t know lacrosse, it is one of the few sports where after a goal the opposition isn’t guaranteed the ball back. Nonetheless, my team scored 5 goals in that time span to send the game to overtime. In overtime we had a would-be game-winning goal called off for a crease violation. My reaction was similar’s to Cowher’s in the first video above. Still, the resiliency of my team was evident as we were still able to take the victory. When the ball hit the back of the net, you would have thought I scored the goal. I jumped, I yelled, I chest bumped...I was ecstatic.

Come to think of it, as a coach I was a lot like Bill Cowher. I was, and still am, an emotional being. And I’m not ashamed of that. I don’t shy away from tears, nor do I shy away from happiness and joy.

Bill Cowher changed the way I viewed a coach, and unbeknownst to me, molded me into the coach I became later in life. I guess you could say I had “Cowher Power” running through my veins as I patrolled the sidelines...as if I was searching for the ever elusive “one for the thumb”.

BTSC Pittsburgh Steelers Jeopardy: Pop Culture

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/14/2019 - 6:37am

Test your Pittsburgh Steelers knowledge in the BTSC Steelers Jeopardy game!

With Pittsburgh Steelers training camp just a couple weeks away, we thought it would be good to get everyone thinking about the black-and-gold leading up to the annual return to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

This is where Steelers Jeopardy was started. I put my black-and-gold mind to work and came up with 5 Steelers “answers” from one specific Steelers category. You will be charged with trying to guess the responses in the comment section below.

Remember to always phase your response in the form of a question, and if you don’t know it, you can simply skip it. Keep track and share your scores. A word of warning though, the correct responses are right after each individual wager in blue. Consider this something fun to pass the time until the real news starts!!

Category: Steelers Pop Culture

$200

Question: Who is Rocky Bleier?

Rocky Bleier was drafted to fight in Vietnam after his rookie season with the Steelers. A bullet injured his thigh in battle, but a grenade blew off part of his foot when he was down. While in recovery, Rocky received a postcard that read, “Rock, the team’s not doing well. We need you. Art Rooney”. After extensive rehab, Bleier eventually returned and was a important cog in the machine that won four Super Bowls.

$400

Question: What is “This is Us”?

The critically acclaimed drama on NBC it’s a story about a Pittsburgh-based couple expecting triplets. In the story, the children were conceived in the restroom at Froggys during halftime of Super Bowl XIV. The opening scene shows Ventamiglia’s character wearing only his birthday gift of a Myron Original over his birthday suit on his birthday. There are so many ties to the Steelers throughout the series.

$600

Question: What is “Lay your hands on a Pittsburgh Steelers Fan”?

The group that hit it big with “The Devil went down to Georgia” released this song as a reaction to problems facing the United States in the 70s. It was written as an anthem with the premise of America sticking together to overcome obstacles and return to greatness. The Pittsburgh Steeler Fans were referenced because Charlie Daniels felt the blue collar toughness of the Steel City citizens represented the strength of America.

$800

Question: What is “Evening Shade”?

Burt Reynolds requested that his character on the show be a former Steeler, because that was his favorite team. The show ran from 1990-1994.

$1000

Question: What is “Heaven Can Wait”?

This 1978 film with a complicated plot was nominated for several Academy Awards. Set in Los Angeles, a quarterback for the Rams was taken to Heaven by accident but his body was already cremated. So, they put him in a body of a millionaire who bought the Rams so he could play quarterback. It gets more confusing from there, so just watch it. It’s a fun film.

So, how did you do? Let us know your score in the comments section below and try to be honest.

Black and Gold Links: Steelers, and other Pittsburgh athletes, doing their diligence to avoid social media pitfalls

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/14/2019 - 5:05am

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

With all of the Steelers’ 2019 offseason workouts in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base has to suffer through the dog days of summer until the boys of fall return to the gridon. In the meantime, don’t think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over. As the team disperses for the summer, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until training camp!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the Pittsburgh Steelers, and other Pittsburgh athletes, are doing their homework on how to avoid social media pitfalls.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Fans today want to hate on players and their social media use, but it is still so infantile compared to the years before social media. Could you imagine Joey Porter with a Twitter account?! The Steelers, and other Pittsburgh teams, are trying their best to avoid social media pitfalls.

Pittsburgh athletes trying to find ways to avoid social media messes

By: Jonathan Bombulie

In the era of social media, every professional athlete’s phone has the potential to cause a worldwide firestorm with a few swipes of a finger.

The Pittsburgh Steelers found out as much during a tumultuous 2018 season. Other teams have learned the same. The social media platforms that have brought fans closer to athletes than ever also have created more than their fair share of problems for teams and their players.

Before delving into what organizations are doing to avoid social media missteps, it’s important to examine why athletes are drawn to this particular form of communication in the first place.

The first reason is chemistry.

According to multiple scientific studies, every time a person receives a “like” or positive comment on social media, it triggers a release of a chemical called dopamine in the reward pathways of the brain. It is the same neurotransmitter associated with the response to things like food, exercise, sex and drugs.

To say athletes are addicted to social media is not an exaggeration.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Defensive lineman Lavon Hooks has been with the Steelers for a while now, but never on the 53-man roster. This year he want to avoid the Steelers’ practice squad.

At 27, Steelers DL Lavon Hooks works to avoid practice squad

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

He’s the most experienced inexperienced player on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster.

Because he has not appeared in a regular-season game or spent a day on the regular-season roster, Lavon Hooks is considered a first-year player.

Funny, because four prior NFL training camps and 15 preseason games suggest he’s anything but that.

Hooks will be closer to 28 years old than 27 by the time he reports to Saint Vincent for the fourth time July 25. His SEC background (two seasons at Ole Miss) and size (6-foot-3, 310 pounds) are NFL-caliber.

But four consecutive years, when it’s come to cut-down day the first Sunday in September, Hooks has been an odd man out.

There’s reason to believe this time will be different.

“It’s a weird spot,” Hooks said after a minicamp session at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex last month, “but I still feel confident, very confident, this year as far as earning a spot on the team.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Bud Dupree hasn’t lived up to the fans’ expectations as a first round draft pick, and he is hoping to change all that in 2019.

Dupree’s scary power: ‘He actually broke the punching shield’

By: Hunter Homistek, DKPittsburghSports

You don’t wanna catch hands from Bud Dupree.

”He actually broke the punching shield we were using. It literally exploded.”

That little nugget comes from Rich Cantolina, Dupree’s personal boxing trainer here in Pittsburgh since Dupree arrived on the scene in 2015. After being selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Dupree generated massive buzz around the city, with fans eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next great Steelers outside linebacker.

Cantolina was among those interested.

”The day we drafted him in the first round, like a typical Yinzer, I immediately went to his social media to see what the buzz was around this guy,” Cantolina was telling me. “I stumbled across a video of him hitting a heavy bag. So I commented on that video saying, ‘When you get to Pittsburgh message, me and we can work on those hands.’ “

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

Chasing greatness. pic.twitter.com/kMNmDYukup

— James Conner (@JamesConner_) July 13, 2019

What is the greatest play in #SteelersHistory?

Vote now & help us determine just that. You could win a pair of season tickets while you’re at it.

MORE: https://t.co/VwcqF0MjKY@PNCBank | @UPMC | @U_S_Steel pic.twitter.com/uYZmfiBP6Y

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 13, 2019

All about . pic.twitter.com/u6tcQ0JWeg

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 13, 2019

James Conner loved the Pro Bowl so much he vows to return each year

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/13/2019 - 2:00pm

The Steelers star running back had such a good time at the Pro Bowl he is focused on returning every year

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner recently sat down for a lengthy interview with hip-hop artist Mike Stud to discuss a variety of topics ranging from his battle with cancer to his experiences in the NFL.

Among some of the more interesting football revelations from the conversation that lasted just over an hour was the obvious excitement that Conner had clearly felt when he was voted to his first Pro Bowl in 2018. An experience that he is hoping to repeat for the foreseeable future, as he would tell Stud.

“Went to the Pro Bowl, that experience was crazy. I remember being with my boys back in the day, sitting on the couch, watching the Pro Bowl, watching the stars. Just like ‘the Pro Bowl is the best of the best.’ ... Just the fact that I’m there”

“But just seeing men like Hopkins, Von Miller, Mahomes, all of them. Just getting tight with them, getting to know them as dudes, rather than just saying ‘good game’ after the game. Getting to know them, drinking with them, doing all that mess, the experience was great. I’ve gotta go back every year now and I’m going to go back every year. Every year I start, I’m going to the Pro Bowl.”

Those who might question the chances of Conner making an endless succession of Pro Bowl appearances might want to watch the interview in full to get a better sense of the young running backs unwavering conviction and self-belief. Speaking with a maturity that belies his age, it is clear the 24-year-old is extremely focused on achieving his goals. And given the obstacles he has overcome just to reach the point he is at now, only a fool would bet against him.

Conner goes on to speak at length about the uncertainty that surrounded his first game as a starter while he waited for Le’Veon Bell to return, as well as talking about how much it meant to hear his name called on draft day.

While some of the language is not necessarily safe for a younger audience, the interview is well worth a watch if you have a spare hour.

Mike Tomlin likes ‘the fact Steeler Nation is pissed off’ heading into 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/13/2019 - 12:00pm

Back in his hometown to host his annual Hampton Roads Youth Foundation Football Camp, the Steelers coach spoke with local reporters about the upcoming season.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was back in his hometown of Hampton, Virginia this week for the annual Hampton Roads Youth Foundation Football camp. And as he has done at this event he has hosted for the past 11 years, he also took some time to talk with the local media.

Speaking to Bruce Rader of WAVY TV 10, Tomlin discussed the pressures that comes with his job when asked about the expectations associated with being the head coach of the Steelers.

“I love that. To be honest with you, that’s what I love most about the job. I embrace the high expectations associated with the job. I like the fact that Steeler Nation is pissed off, you know, as am I and we are. And so we’re excited about meeting the challenges of 2019 and answering some of those questions that are out there about us.”

Acknowledging there might be less drama in the locker room following the loss of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, Tomlin was also quick to point out the production the team would miss, while also noting the opportunities their departure would create for the younger players on the roster.

“There’s going to be plays that need to be made as well and those two guys that you mentioned made a lot of plays. But also, we had a couple of Pro Bowlers at that position a year ago that are still on our team, guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner. So, there’ll be opportunities for young emerging stars to continue to do that - emerge and star and wear the responsibility of that. Really excited about the questions surrounding us.”

And with his veteran quarterback set to return for his 16th season, Tomlin is already looking forward to the upcoming season.

“Man, he’s unbelievable player. He needs no endorsement from me. I’ve enjoyed his talents for 13 years and I look forward to enjoying them in 2019. He’s wired much like I’m wired. We’re excited about meeting the challenges of 2019 and answering some of those questions about us”.

Perhaps the most noticeable remarks from Tomlin during this interview were his continual references to the questions that surround his team. For someone who claims not to pay much attention to the noise outside of the building, it is clear that the coach has heard what the so-called “experts” have been saying about Pittsburgh as of late.

For a team that has often appeared to play better when they are seen as the underdogs, it will be interesting to note how Tomlin harnesses this negativity to inspire the Steelers to greater heights in 2019.

Are player “demands” ruining professional sports?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/13/2019 - 10:36am

Professional sports have changed, and it is really for the better?

While I don’t follow other professional sports leagues as close as I do the NFL, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, I do hear the latest news and notes surrounding leagues like the NBA, NHL and MLB.

I learned about the trade between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets sending Russell Westbrook to the Rockets while Chris Paul and a slew of draft picks went to OKC. This after Westbrook requested a trade.

Steelers fans know all too well about how Antonio Brown got his wish, and forced his way out of Pittsburgh to the Oakland Raiders. A trade which many viewed as highway robbery.

The most recent news, Los Angeles Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is now suggesting he won’t be showing up to training camp unless he gets a new contract — or he wants a trade.

This isn’t about ‘super’ teams, like in the NBA, but about players taking their leverage and using it to the greatest of their individual abilities. My question is if this behavior is good for professional sports? Or is it showing the ugly side of the player vs. owner power struggle which happens across the board in every professional league.

While Steelers fans despise Brown for his antics and him ultimately getting what he wants, can you really blame an aging player from trying to reach one last huge pay day while in the prime of his career?

Can you blame Westbrook for wanting out of OKC after they allow superstar after superstar to leave? Leaving no one but Westbrook there to fend for himself?

I can’t speak for everyone reading this article, but I don’t blame the players solely in this situation. Fans love to side with the owners, because the owners represent the institutions which are the teams we respectively root for. But the players who are on the field, court or rink on game days are the ones putting their health and livelihood on the line to help make the organization what it has become.

Are these player “demands” good for professional sports? Or is it just another sign of greed by either the player or organization? Let us know what you think by commenting in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2019 regular season in just a few short weeks at Saint Vincent College.

30 Predictions in 30 Days: Mason Rudolph won’t just win the No. 2 QB job, but will play competitive snaps for the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/13/2019 - 8:35am

The Pittsburgh Steelers are approaching training camp, and we provide some potential predictions for 2019.

In case you didn’t know, the Pittsburgh Steelers will return to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA in exactly 12 days of this article being published. With that, I decided to revive an old series we used to do as a lead up to training camp.

30 predictions in 30 days.

Myself and Simon Chester are alternating days giving a prediction for the upcoming season. Some will be team oriented, while others will be specific to individual players. Either way, read on to see the reason why we think today’s prediction will come to fruition, and why it might not come true. Give your thoughts in the comment section below the article.

Training camp is almost here! Here We Go!

Prediction: Mason Rudolph won’t just win the backup QB job, but will play meaningful snaps in 2019.

Why it will happen: This scenario is unique because it is a two-part scenario. First, Rudolph would have to beat out Joshua Dobbs for the backup quarterback role. Second, Rudolph would have to find his way onto the field.

In my opinion, both of these parts are realistic. Rudolph was drafted for a reason, and most are expecting Rudolph to come into training camp and prove he is the next in line behind Ben Roethlisberger. While I am not wishing injury to No. 7, the reality is there are more seasons where he misses time than those where he didn’t miss any.

Last season Dobbs saw meaningful action in two games: vs. the Baltimore Ravens and again vs. the Oakland Raiders. Not significant playing time, but significant snaps nonetheless.

My hope is not only that Rudolph proves he is the QB2 on the depth chart, but might get lucky and play in some blowout wins, or even a game at the end of the season which means nothing. Still competitive snaps, although they might lack in meaning. To me, this is a very realistic scenario for the black-and-gold quarterbacks in 2019.

Why it won’t happen: While Rudolph has a strong following among the Pittsburgh Steelers faithful, the fact he didn’t beat out Dobbs last year should speak volumes. This isn’t to cut on Dobbs and his capabilities, but mainly just to point out nothing is guaranteed for Rudolph to ascend the depth chart to QB2. While a safe assumption might be Roethlisberger, Dobbs and Rudolph rounding out the QB depth chart, putting Rudolph as the next man up might be premature.

On top of that, Roethlisberger has been staying healthy behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. If the Steelers have another season like they did in 2018, where there are few blowouts or meaningless games, neither Dobbs or Rudolph will see competitive snaps.

It might be fun to think about what the future might hold with Rudolph at the helm, but 2020 is more likely his chance to climb the depth chart, not in 2019.

What are your thoughts on this prediction? Do you think it will happen? Or are we crazy? Let us know by voting in the poll, and letting your voice be heard in the comment section below!

Steelers articles I can only (barely) get away with in the offseason: Steelers movie mock draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/13/2019 - 6:30am

In the offseason, sometimes anything goes. Join one BTSC writer not afraid to step outside the lines and explore different areas of Steeler fandom. If you want in-depth team analysis, this might not be for you.

In less than two weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be knee-deep in the heat of training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. At BTSC, we will be posting breaking news as it happens. But in the meantime, there’s only so much one could write about what possibly could happen, what the major camp battles are, etc. So, I am following the fantasy route of who the Steelers would select if there was a draft of movie and television players. I tried to think of an actual draft and not pick all superstars. Sadly, just like exactly 50 years ago in camp, Al Bundy still didn’t make the team. Have fun with this in the comments, unless you hate the idea...don’t rain on our parade of fun and nonsense. While there is 0% validity to this whole exercise, it’s fun to imagine some of these guys vying for spots on the 53MR. Lets take a look.

Round 1 WR Rod Tidwell - Arizona State/Arizona Cardinals

Played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in “Jerry McGuire” - 1996

The Steelers scored an epic talent by selecting the dynamic and extravagant Wide Receiver from Arizona State and the Cardinals. However, they also replaced the titanic ego of Antonio Brown with one very much the equal. On the field, Tidwell is quite possibly AB’s equivalent with similar numbers and should prosper with Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback and new “minister of kwan”. Things should be fine initially, but it remains to be seen how the man that coined the phrase “show me the money” will fare at contract time and while sharing the spotlight with JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Round 2 DE/LB Charles Jefferson - Ridgemont (HS) Wolves

Played by Forest Whitaker in “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” - 1982

Charles Jefferson is a combination of Ryan Shazier’s speed, Levon Kirkland’s size and Greg Lloyd’s nastiness. The Ridgemont High star can go sideline-to-sideline to punish ball carriers, as well as penetrate past the highest quality of protectors to opposing quarterbacks. In the Homecoming showcase against California-prep rival Lincoln, Jefferson viciously and mercilessly punished the team that allegedly vandalized and destroyed his Camaro Z-28 a mere days before the contest. Jefferson was alleged to have accepted the car as a gift from boosters, thus causing this once-in-a-lifetime talent to slip to the Steelers in the second round.

Round 3 DB Petey Jones - T.C. Williams (HS) Titans

Played by Donald Faison in “Remember The Titans” - 2000

Petey Jones was an important cog in the machine that was the newly-integrated T.C. Williams Titans in their epic Virginia State Championship victory for Coach Herman Boone. A running back that converted to the defensive backfield, the hard-hitting Jones has the ball skills as well to play both safety and corner for Pittsburgh.

Note: The character in the movie was a portrayal of the real-life Petey Jones who played fullback for that 1971 Titans team. Sadly, Jones passed away on July 1, 2019.

Round 4 RB Julian Washington - Miami Sharks

Played by LL Cool J in “Any Given Sunday” - 1999

Washington is a very talented and physical rusher with All-Pro skills. But he has gained the reputation as a me-first mercenary (labeled that by Sharks Coach Tony D’Amato) that cares less about the concept of team and is more concerned about the prospect of getting paid. He did, however, exhibit timely selfless acts during Miami’s most re ent playoff run. After just enduring the Le’Veon Bell contract drama, Pittsburgh’s Washington could be a huge risk, even though his on-field play offers great reward.

Round 5 TE Brian Murphy

Played by David Denman in “The Replacements” - 2000

The Tight End that matriculated at Gallaudet would have been a surefire first rounder had he not been born deaf. However Murphy, whose game resembles that of Travis Kelce, is an ideal receiver and blocker to take the reigns should Vance McDonald not resign with Pittsburgh. Expect Ben Roethlisberger to schedule offseason workouts with Murphy and take classes to learn sign language. This was a great value-pick.

Round 6 T Bud Kaminski - ESU Timberwolves

Played by Abraham Benrubi in “The Program” - 2003

In this round, the Steelers select the man known as Bud-Lite from Eastern State University. Kaminski known for crooning “Git along, Little dogies” at the line was tasked with protecting the T-Wolves Heisman candidate, Joe Kane. At 6’7”, Kaminski is an imposing figure but needs to add to his 270 pounds. Bud may have to rope dogies on the practice squad if he can’t work his way past Jerald Hawkins at the Tackle position.

Round 7 QB Stan Gable - Adams College

Played by Ted McGinley in “Revenge Of The Nerds” - 1984

Gable, the multiple-time All American from the Adams Atoms, has that perfect quarterback look and persona. However, he is just under 6’ and doesn’t possess the size that pro scouts crave, but neither did Drew Brees...a quarterback Stan has been often compared to. A campus and team leader at Adams, Gable ran into some on-campus housing problems and faced discipline. But if the new blonde bomber can turn some heads in Latrobe, he has the quality arm to make the 53.

Undrafted Free Agents KR Forrest Gump - University of Alabama

Played by Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump” - 1994

The Alabama enigma has extraordinary straight-line speed that dwarfs any time combine clocks have ever seen, However, the well-traveled All-American from Greenbow, Alabama could pretty much be considered a one-trick pony and could struggle at the higher levels. The emphasis on the kickoff is waning in the NFL, but Gump could provide short fields and electricity for the Steelers in the mean time.

CB Stefan Djordjavic - Ampipe (HS) Bulldogs

Played by Tom Cruise in “All The Right Moves” - 1983

The Steeltown kid from Ampipe, PA grew up with dreams of playing for the Steelers. The Cal Poly alum was an Academic All-American at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he played under his prep coach Burt Nickerson. The knock on Stef is his size and a tendency to let his temper get the best of him, but Nickerson found a way to reel the latter in during college. Djordjavic could be a Practice Squad player and would have to make his name on Special Teams. He surely has the heart and intensity to do so.

QB Reno Hightower - Taft (HS) Rockets

Played by Kurt Russell in “The Best Of Times” - 1986

Legend has it that Hightower threw seven touchdowns against Porterville, but the modest Taft QB disputes that number. In all actuality, Reno was one of the all-time great high school passers. With a livewire arm, Hightower has skill and a keen mind to match...but has a long road in a crowded quarterback room.

C Laikai Manumana - Texas State Armadillos

Played by Peter Tuiasosopo in “Necessary Roughness” - 1991

Legendary Armadillos play-by-play man, Chuck Neiderman, labeled the gentleman lineman from Texas State “Manumanu the Slender”. With great size and agility, the center cemented his legacy when he laid-out All-American Harlan “Flattop” Meyers of the then No. 1 Texas Colts freeing QB Paul Blake to throw the winning score in the epic upset to end their freshman season. Manumanu has a good shot at winning the backup job to Maurkice Pouncey.

RB James “Boobie” Miles - Permian (HS) Panthers

Played by Derek Luke in “Friday Night Lights” - 2004

Pre-knee injury, Miles echoed memories of Marcus Dupree as possibly the most sensational prep running back in history. But afterwards, the physical specimen known as “Boobie” could never get back on the gridiron. The confident Miles who once quipped, “You want to win, put Boobie in”, is hungry for a comeback and well worth the flier for the Steelers.

FB Tim Riggins - West Dillon (HS) Panthers

Played by Taylor Kitsch in “Friday Night Lights-TV” - 2006-2011

Riggins is a hard-scrabbled runner that can convert the hard yards for a first down or catch the ball well out of the backfield. Not afraid to play hurt, the Texas prep runner continually sacrificed his body for Coach Eric Taylor’s West Dillon Panthers. But he also sacrificed his freedom by taking the fall for his brother’s illegal chop shop, thus going to prison. Riggins is loyal, tough and passionate, but doesn’t always make the best decisions. With Rosie Nix fully in place at FB, Riggins shot to make the team is on Danny Smith Jr’s Special Teams unit.

K Landry Clarke - East Dillon (HS) Lions

Played by Jesse Plemons in “Friday Night Lights-TV” - 2006-2011

Kevin Colbert considered bringing in Nigel Gruff, the Welsh soccer player with the big leg, but concerns over his tendency to smoke cigarettes on the field and his having a troubling history with gambling and mobsters nixed that plan. Fast forward to the baby-faced, red-haired Texan whose worst transgression was taking part in a murder in high school to impress/defend a female classmate. Clarke, a two-time state champ for two separate programs, offers camp competition to fellow Texan Chris Boswell. Wow, where do they find these guys?

WR Charlie Tweeder - West Canaan (HS) Coyotes

Played by Scott Caan in “Varsity Blues” - 2000

Another Texas schoolboy, the 5’5” Tweeder makes up for his lack of size by playing (and living) with reckless abandon and speed. The Steelers have a crowded stable of wide receivers, but if Tweeder can outshine players of similar style like Eli Rogers and Ryan Switzer, he could make the team. A huge concern for Mike Tomlin would be the fact that Charlie helped his high school teammates organize a coup against their legendary coach, Bud Kilmer.

TE Cheeseburger Eddy - Mean Machine

Played by Terry Crews in “The Longest Yard” - 2005

Little is known about Eddy’s background except for a long prison stint and his passion for the culinary delight known as the cheeseburger. However, Eddy has shown dual-threat ability for his position as both a blocker and a receiver, plus boasts an incredible physique. Eddy could add even more toughness and an intimidation factor to the Steelers on Special Teams and to a TE stable that doesn’t boast much depth. But he also could very well shank somebody.

RB Darnell Jefferson - ESU Timberwolves

Played by Omar Epps in “The Program” - 1993

Darnell Jefferson is a talented runner who is fleet of foot and catches the ball ably out of the backfield, but had trouble academically and holding onto the ball early in his collegiate career. Mike Tomlin has commented that every time he looks at Jefferson it feels like he’s looking in the mirror. It’s kind of scary.

So there you have it. We’ll see what happens and how this shakes out in Latrobe. Actually, we won’t. Remember this was merely a fun, fantasy piece. For those of you commenting on Facebook what a waste of time this was, remember...you clicked on it. And camp opens in less than two weeks.

Black and Gold Links: Pair of Steelers rookie offensive linemen share unique bond

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/13/2019 - 5:02am

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

With all of the Steelers’ 2019 offseason workouts in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base has to suffer through the dog days of summer until the boys of fall return to the gridon. In the meantime, don’t think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over. As the team disperses for the summer, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until training camp!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at a pair of University of Maryland Terrapins who have a unique bond before being reunited with the Steelers in the NFL.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Derwin Gray in the 7th round of the 2019 NFL Draft. What they didn’t know is they would be getting another player who is uniquely tight with Gray.

Steelers rookie linemen Derwin Gray, Damian Prince share lifelong bond

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Damian Prince was doing his first one-on-one interview as a professional football player from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex locker room last month, baring his emotions in discussing how he considered quitting football before the Pittsburgh Steelers called to offer him a spot at their rookie minicamp.

And then, in an instant, Prince went from serious and introspective to bursting out laughing.

“He’s always playing around,” the offensive tackle said of his longtime buddy, Derwin Gray, who came over to bust Prince’s chops when he was spotted talking with a reporter.

Gray feigned being a media member, asking Prince a mock question. Prince laughed but ignored Gray’s question and didn’t miss a beat with the reporter. He greeted Gray with an enthusiastic slap-handshake, and the two agreed to head to lunch after the interview.

“We have known each other for a long time,” Prince said of Gray, “so I don’t even pay attention to him anymore when he’s clowning like that.

“It’s really nice to be here with him, though.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers’ TE depth chart is really thin. How thin? How about After Xavier Grimble there isn’t anyone with any real NFL experience.

Steelers’ TE crowd thins after top 2 Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Allowing Jesse James to leave via free agency, the conventional narrative goes, was an easy decision for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even if James was a starting-caliber NFL tight end, the Steelers already had one of those in Vance McDonald, and it would be a salary-cap faux pas to pay two tight ends more than $5 million annually apiece.

So the Steelers justifiably feel comfortable with McDonald as their No. 1 tight end. And the consensus is Xavier Grimble is a capable No. 2 after a three-year apprenticeship as the No. 3.

But what happens after that? The Steelers always have dressed three tight ends and many times use subpackages that utilize all three.

With James gone and Grimble playing a bigger role, where are the Steelers turning next?

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Ever wonder what life as a long snapper is like? Me neither, but we all can learn more about the Steelers’ long snapper.

Canaday overcame the challenge

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

Who is your football mentor or inspiration?

Pat Tilman.

What motivates you?

To win a championship.

What scares you?

Snakes do.

Biggest challenge you had to overcome?

Getting released by the Cardinals and challenging myself to come back and prove I can do my job. It was hard. It was multiple challenges. Not just getting released but getting my mind right to prevail after that.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

Let's go for a ride @Kenny_Kangaroo | #SteelCurtainKickoff pic.twitter.com/rhqNSU8wG0

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 12, 2019

day at the #SteelCurtainKickoff!!@Kenny_Kangaroo | #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/rHa3xsz7im

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 12, 2019

Kennywood for #SteelCurtainKickoff‼️

: https://t.co/77OI3ZuCAK@CamHeyward | @Kenny_Kangaroo pic.twitter.com/BfCVWt0GLl

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 12, 2019

5️⃣8️⃣ days. #SteelersKickoff pic.twitter.com/3LjNXwDzzS

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 12, 2019

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Edition, Vol. 28

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/12/2019 - 5:46pm

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. If you were to pick ONE player who could be traded before the start of the regular season, who would it be, and why?

2. Who is your favorite, and least favorite, national play-by-play announcer for NFL games?

3. Give me your Offensive Line depth chart before Week 1 of the 2019 regular season.

4. This past week on the ‘Steelers Preview’ podcast we talked about who is better at drafting, the Steelers or Patriots? How do you define draft success? A player getting a second contract with the team? Starting right away? Something else? Please explain!

5. Who is your least favorite, and least favorite, national color commentator for NFL games?

6. You have the following desserts to choose from, what are you choosing and why?

a.) Cookies
b.) Cake

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

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