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Black and Gold Links: Tuzar Skipper making the most of his opportunities, but has he done enough?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 08/20/2019 - 4:31am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers returned to the gridiron with the NFL preseason upon us. With exhibition games underway, the news surrounding the black-and-gold is just starting to heat up. As the team prepares for the coming season, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the season starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at Tuzar Skipper, and if he has done enough to convince coaches to give him a spot on the 53-man roster.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Steelers signed some no-name player this offseason, and while no one knew his name, Tazar Skipper was determined to make a name for himself. He is doing that through two weeks of the preseason, but has it been enough?

Undrafted rookie Tuzar Skipper making most of opportunities with Steelers

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Through two games, only three Pittsburgh Steelers defensive players have been on the field for more snaps than Tuzar Skipper.

An undrafted rookie who made the team as a tryout at the rookie minicamp in May, Skipper is making the most of his opportunities.

Skipper has a sack in each of his two NFL games, displaying a pass-rushing skill that attracted the Steelers to the late bloomer out of Toledo.

Skipper has played a combined 75 defensive snaps over games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs. He has six tackles (four solo), two sacks and a fumble recovery.

Rookie draft picks Ulysees Gilbert (87 snaps) and Justin Layne (91) and veteran defensive back Cameron Sutton (94) are the lone Steelers to play more defensive snaps thus far. Skipper is by far the outside linebacker who has played the most.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Steelers are using Week 3 as a regular work week to get players acclimated to their new digs, and how things work in Pittsburgh.

Steelers get back to routine as they prep for 3rd preseason game

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Training camp at Saint Vincent gave way Monday to the Pittsburgh Steelers returning to their practice facility at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side.

The transition coincides with preparation for the third preseason game, otherwise known as the “dress rehearsal” for the regular-season opener.

It’s the game in which veterans such as Ben Roethlisberger, David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey will make their first — and likely only — appearance before the real thing in September.

Coach Mike Tomlin referred to it as “simulation week,” with players watching film Monday before practice. Players will get their customary day off Tuesday before returning for three days of practice in advance of the game Sunday night at the Tennessee Titans.

It’s the same routine the players enjoy in the regular season.

“It’s a good exercise for all of us — coaches and players,” Tomlin said.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers alumni are special to the fan base, but Rocky Belier has a special part in everyone’s hear.

Steelers’ Rocky Bleier continues to live his American dream

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

Rocky Bleier isn’t sure how his valiant story -- from Purple Heart honoree in the Vietnam War to four-time Super Bowl winner with the Pittsburgh Steelers -- would have played out had it happened this decade.

More media coverage, he figures. More opinions about the merits of war, thanks to social media.

And maybe even a Hollywood mega-star eager to portray him. “I probably could have gotten Dwayne Johnson to play me in a real movie,” Bleier joked.

But Bleier wouldn’t change a thing about a script he’s still writing.

On a lazy Sunday in August 2019, Bleier is looking energized. The 73-year-old is wearing a tan Hawaiian shirt and black sunglasses, sipping wheat ale in a downtown Pittsburgh restaurant and generously chatting up random fans who approach him. Save a few knee surgeries and wiry gray hair, Bleier moves and acts like a 50-year-old, telling stories with the pace of a dive play up the middle for a quick 10 yards.

Those who know him wouldn’t expect any less tenacity from a modest athlete who ascended from special-teams contributor to Franco Harris’ lead blocker to owner of a 1,000-yard season with Pittsburgh.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Mike Tomlin’s Post-Practice Press Conference

Coach Tomlin talks about being back at practice, preparing for our game against the Titans, team development and more. pic.twitter.com/fAzHIrBMm4

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 19, 2019
  • Hear from Cam Heyward inside the locker room

.@CamHeyward talks about getting into a rhythm, versatility of players, Bud Dupree & more. pic.twitter.com/6mhAegEATb

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 19, 2019
  • Social Media Madness

.@missi_matthews brings you a sideline report after today's practice, where we hear from Coach Tomlin, @MaurkicePouncey, and @Bud_Dupree. pic.twitter.com/M3RIdboYjz

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 19, 2019

The Steelers showed no visible lag in the first practice coming off training camp and two preseason games. Drills were spirited. pic.twitter.com/JQWteYpAus

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 19, 2019

#RockSteelersStyle returns to @Stage_AE on Friday, 10/4! Tickets are on sale now to see players & their families Take The Stage in a night of entertainment & fashion.

TICKETS: https://t.co/tVnjRPXyFH@PNCBank | @Frzy pic.twitter.com/Ey9Pt4iMaG

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 19, 2019

Back to work.

: https://t.co/FvEWzQO9xa pic.twitter.com/8YdenVKqFR

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 19, 2019

.@steelers @_BigBen7 back to work on the south side with offensive lineman David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey as they get ready to see action against the Titans Sunday. pic.twitter.com/gxtYtGHFDO

— Charles Palla (@ChazPalla) August 19, 2019

How the Steelers’ 53-man roster can turn into a 60-man roster in the drop of a hat

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/19/2019 - 2:27pm
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mike Tomlin values position versatility more than most, and he details how this flexibility can expand a roster from the 53-man to almost a 60-man roster.

Before getting into the meat of this article, it should be known how the headline was not meant to be deceiving. No, the NFL and NFLPA aren’t close on turning the team’s weekly roster from 53 players to 60. It also doesn’t mean the Steelers have received some type of special increase to their roster number compared to other teams.

No, this is all about position flexibility. Or position versatility, as Mike Tomlin says.

While I can’t speak for the other 31 NFL franchises, the Pittsburgh Steelers put a ton of emphasis on this flexibility. You have seen it predominantly along the offensive line. Players like Chris Hubbard, B.J. Finney and Matt Feiler who are/were all competent at multiple positions along the line. Having this flexibility means the team can keep an extra player or two at another position since they have players who can cover multiple positions in case of an injury.

This trend is leaving the offensive line, and starting to bleed into the Steelers’ defense. Mainly in their defensive backfield. During his post-game press conference after the Steelers’ 17-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 of the NFL Preseason, Mike Tomlin referenced this trend within the organization when talking about both Cameron Sutton and Mike Hilton.

“I think the versatility of all the guys. That’s just one snapshot. We’ve been doing similar things on the other side of the football with tackles, for example. Position flexibility has to be an element, particularly you’re talking about adding quality depth. You can turn the 53 men into 60 if you’ve got good position flexibility. And that’s what we strive to have.”

Couldn’t have said it any better myself. It points directly to the onus on the flexibility of many members of the team.

When looking at a situation with Hilton and Sutton, Hilton’s ability to flex back and play safety could help with the team’s depth at the safety position. Not only is it quality depth, and a player with a genuine knowledge of the defense, but also would allow the team to carry one less pure safety and keep a player like Ulysees Gilbert III, or Tazar Skipper.

If you take a step backwards and start to see the projected 53-man roster in this way, you will see the many options the Steelers have at their disposal. You look at players like Sutton, Hilton, and all those aforementioned linemen and you can cover a lot of ground without having to keep extra ‘baggage’ on your roster.

The question now becomes, is someone like Hilton actually considered quality depth at safety, or just a stop-gap if needed in a pinch? Only time will deliver that answer, but time is running out with only two weeks left in the Preseason for the coaches and players to filter the 91 players down to 53.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for Week 3 of the Preseason in Tennessee to play the Titans.

A possible theory behind Ola Adeniyi’s recent surgical procedure

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/19/2019 - 11:35am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have yet to officially acknowledge Adeniyi’s injury, so the details of his surgery are speculative

On Friday morning, it was reported that Steelers’ outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi underwent an undisclosed surgery. In a social media post which was quickly removed, Adeniyi thanked the Steelers organization for showing him so much support.

It appears that Steelers outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi is recovering from surgery this morning (though his social media posts have been deleted) https://t.co/UknewougIf pic.twitter.com/2TdPRTWgVM

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) August 16, 2019

With no acknowledgement from the Steelers as to the extent of Adeniyi’s injury or a timetable to return, there is a lot of room for speculation with little room for facts. Although it has been reported it was a procedure for a torn meniscus with a time frame to return of two to four weeks at best, no other credible information has emerged about the situation.

Where there is a lack of information, questions usually begin to multiply. Was this an immediate need? Without surgery, would Adeniyi’s long-term health be at risk? Will he have to go on injured reserve? How long has Ola known he would need surgery? What was the cause for the specific timing of the procedure?

Until we get answers, all Steelers fans can do is guess. So let’s take a guess! I’m going to offer one possible THEORY behind the circumstances dealing with the timing of Adeniyi’s surgery. Please remember that I have no more inside information than any of you reading this article, but this is a hypothesis I formed based in the limited information given at the time. I’m going to have to outline a few things in order to shape this theory, but I’ll do my best to explain it thoroughly.

So here we go...

The NFL life of the Undrafted Free Agent

Although Adeniyi was on the Steelers roster in 2018 after returning from the Injured Reserve list, his status for 2019 was anything but guaranteed. Almost all undrafted players come in to each season having to earn their spot on the roster. Once an undrafted player has proven their worth over several seasons and earned a second contract, then their status with the team is more secure. This can also be true with many drafted players, but is not necessarily at the same level.

Let’s look at Ramon Foster as an example. Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2009, Foster earned his spot on the team. Battling for a starting position in 2010, if Foster would have been unavailable during training camp, there is no guarantee the Steelers would have kept him on the team. In 2012 Foster received a one-year restricted free agent tender, followed by signing a three-year deal in 2013.

Not playing nearly as often as Foster did his rookie season, Adeniyi needed to earn his way onto the Steelers roster for 2019. Had Ola not been available throughout the preseason, he would have run the risk of being waived/injured. There were other options the Steelers could have used such as the PUP list, but an unproven player may not want to run the risk of finding themselves out of the league.

Considering the uncertainty of his future with the Steelers entering training camp, Adeniyi made have been fully aware surgery was in his future at some point. Not wanting to miss his chance in the NFL, Ola may have chose to play through the pain in order to help secure his roster position with the Steelers.

The best time to miss

Having a good training camp and first preseason game, if Adeniyi had made the Steelers aware of his meniscus they may have suggested getting the surgery now. If he is to miss four weeks, the time frame for his return would be just before the home opener at Heinz Field against Seattle in Week 2. By missing most of the preseason games, Adeniyi could avoid going on IR to start the season like he did last year. Had he waited until the Week 4 preseason game, Ola would run the risk of going through the “designated to return” process and miss at least half of the season.

If the timing of the surgery was deliberate, Adeniyi was able to showcase his skills through most of training camp and one preseason game while hopefully missing minimal regular season games.

Open and honest communication

While we as fans want this from the team, the best open communication needs to occur between the player and the organization. If Adeniyi made the team aware he was playing through injury and would need surgery sometime in the future, the Steelers could help in making the decision for the player. In turn, if the Steelers were open and honest about Adeniyi’s future with the team, the decision to get the surgery now rather than have a lingering problem could be made much easier.

If the Steelers left Adeniyi in the dark in regards to their plans for him in 2019, the only way he would have the surgery is if he couldn’t put it off any longer. So either Adeniyi had to get the surgery now due to recent events, or he and the team came to an agreement that now was the best time.

The theory in a nutshell

Here’s the simple version of what I believe could have been the way things played out with Adeniyi having his surgery last Friday:

  • He knew he would eventually need surgery, but Andeiyi needed to earn a roster spot in training camp
  • Adeniyi made the Steelers aware of the need for surgery at some point, but was playing through it the best he could
  • After Week 1 of the preseason, the Steelers had seen enough to know they wanted Ola for 2019
  • The Steelers and Adeniyi agreed for him to get the problem fixed now so the impact of time missed during the regular season would be minimal

I’m sure this theory could turn out to be way off, but when Ola thanked the Steelers’ coaches for being so supportive it gives an indication the decision for surgery was a mutual decision. For all we know, Adeniyi could have hurt his knee last week making all of these speculations invalid. Hopefully we’ll know more of the story sometime soon. But until then, feel free to give your thoughts in the comments below.

James Washington’s versatility was on display for the Steelers vs. the Chiefs in Preseason Week 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/19/2019 - 9:55am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger breaks down James Washington’s tremendous game in Week 2 of the NFL preseason.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a knack for drafting good wide receivers. Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, JuJu Smith-Schuster and many others have been the reason why so many people call Pittsburgh a wide receiver factory.

Who is the next up in line? Could it possibly be James Washington?

Drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State, Washington has the look of a player who is ready to make the huge jump from Year 1 to Year 2. Throughout the 2019 NFL Preseason, Washington has been a man possessed.

Granted, it is the preseason, but Washington has showed a tremendous amount of potential for the Steelers’ offense looking for an answer to the question of who will fill the vacant spot left by Brown, who is now a member of the Raiders.

Potential is one thing, versatility is another. NFL Network’s analyst Brian Baldinger dove into the tape of the Steelers vs. Chiefs Week 2 Preseason game, but especially the play of Washington. He dives into how the Steelers utilize Washington, and how his skill set seems to be a perfect fit for what the Steelers want to do offensively in 2019.

Check out the breakdown in the video below, and ask yourself if you agree, or disagree, with Baldinger’s analysis. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

.@steelers @JamesWashington @CowboyFB is going to be the next WR to step up and be a factor with the #Steelers. The name of his game is COMPETE, in the quietest manner possible. No noise from #13, only production. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/Oj99PFB53s

— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) August 18, 2019

The Steelers’ defense was the most encouraging part of the preseason win over the Chiefs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/19/2019 - 8:46am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers defense has been a question mark for quite some time. It will continue to be a question mark in the immediate future. However, that doesn’t mean its dominant performance in a 17-7 preseason victory against the Chiefs on Saturday night wasn’t a sign of great things to come.

Yes, it was a sloppy affair, the Steelers 17-7 victory over the Chiefs at Heinz Field in the second preseason game of the summer on Saturday night.

And, yes, it was only preseason, but, unlike a week earlier, more starters played, especially on defense. Devin Bush, Cam Heyward, Joe Haden and Vince Williams didn’t get any action, but the rest of the starters did.

And they looked good. In-fact, Bud Dupree may have had the best night of his professional football career. He spent his time in the game, playing like a guy who has finally figured out that taking the scenic route to the quarterback isn’t the way to go if you actually want to get to him enough times to earn a really huge payday. Taking a more direct approach, Dupree had two quarterback sacks, three quarterback hits and one pass defensed on a play in-which T.J. Watt, the guy now in charge of the “We Ride” pre-game chant, just barely missed getting a sack of his own. Watt didn’t record any sacks, but he looked dominant enough while engaging with the people trying to block him, it’s safe to assume he would have eventually done something really disruptive had he played a full sixty minutes.

How about that Artie Burns, the 2016 first-round pick that spent his first two-plus seasons regressing so badly, he wasn’t even a factor in the secondary by the end of 2018? Burns started for Haden on Saturday and actually performed really well in pass coverage. He also performed well in run support, forcing a fumble on a first-quarter tackle. Does this mean Burns is back? Hardly. But it may be an encouraging sign for his immediately future, as well as the depth at cornerback.

Not everyone played well. Not everyone tackled well. Not everyone covered well. But most seemed to. Patrick Mahomes didn’t look like the unstoppable force he was the last time Pittsburgh faced him in a Week 2 match-up at Heinz Field. Sure, that Week 2 match-up counted, while this one obviously did not. But how would you feel about the defense today had Mahomes victimized it with a condensed version of his 2018 performance on Saturday night?

The defense recovered three fumbles against the Chiefs on Saturday after recovering one against the Buccaneers in the first preseason game. No, there haven’t been any interceptions so far this summer for a defense that only recorded eight in 2018. But the amount of fumbles the unit is forcing and recovering tells me the emphasis the team has placed on taking the football away may actually be working.

After being a liability a year ago, inside linebacker could be a strength this season, with Mark Barron and Bush adding some lightning to Vince Williams’ thunder. And if he keeps doing that thing where he’s all over the field, Ulysees Gilbert III, the sixth-round pick out of Akron, may actually make the roster and be good enough to warrant playing-time outside of his presumed special teams duties.

And if he doesn’t watch himself, Ola Adeniyi, a 2018 undrafted free agent outside linebacker from Toledo, might be upstaged by Tuzar Skipper, a 2019 undrafted free agent outside linebacker from Toledo.

All-in-all, it was a great performance by Keith Butler’s unit on Saturday. Yes, it was only preseason. Yes, 17-7 scores are common in football games that are played in August (especially when quarterbacks named Chad Henne are still a part of them).

But that doesn’t mean its performance on Saturday wasn’t a preview of bigger and better things to come for the Steelers defense in 2019.

Predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 53-man roster after Preseason Week 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/19/2019 - 7:32am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

With half the preseason games under our belt, it’s time to update our predictions for the Steelers 53-man roster.

Preseason Week 2 is in the books. Now that most most players have taken the field to show they are worthy of making the cut, let’s re-visit our 53-man offseason roster prediction. Did anything change? Who do we have projected to make the team, and who will be looking for employment in a few weeks?

As always, we welcome you to join the conversation in our comment section below this article. Let your voice be heard and join in the black-and-gold conversation!

Offense

Quarterback (3)

Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Joshua Dobbs

Changes: None

Analysis: Many believe Rudolph’s consistency gives him the advantage over Dobbs. Even though Devlin Hodges continues to impress, I can’t make the jump to QB3 just yet. But I’m getting closer.

Running Back (3)

James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell Jr.

Changes: None

Analysis: Conner looked solid Saturday night in his first action, and I thought Samuels was looking great before he scored due to his blitz pickups. Snell is still fine as long as he keeps up the quality work on special teams.

Fullback (1)

Roosevelt Nix

Changes: None

Analysis: It’s the most secure position group on the team.

Wide Receiver (6)

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer

Changes: Switzer in, Johnny Holton out

Analysis: I think the top four are locks, and four main guys are fighting for two spots. Rogers and Switzer get the nod for now, but Diontae Spencer‘s return ability and Johnny Holton’s special teams versatility keep them in the mix. But they haven’t shown enough yet for me to feel confident in moving them onto the roster.

Tight End (3)

Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Zach Gentry

Changes: None

Analysis: If there was any position group who needed help via free agency or trade, it’s this one.

Offensive Line (9)

Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor, B.J. Finney, Fred Johnson, Zach Banner

Changes: None

Analysis: It’s hard to let Jerald Hawkins go, but there just isn’t room for 10 guys.

Total Offense: 25 Defense

Defensive Line (6)

Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs, Daniel McCullers

Changes: McCullers in, Lavon Hooks out

Analysis: It’s starting to feel like McCullers hangs around yet again. Someone has to take the spot, and I just haven’t seen it.

Outside Linebacker (5)

T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Tuzar Skipper

Changes: Skipper in

Analysis: This is difficult with Ola having surgery this past Friday. If he’s only going to miss a week or two, they may try to get by with four. For now, Skipper gets the extra spot until the Adeniyi situation gets more clarity.

Inside Linebacker (5)

Vince Williams, Mark Barron, Devin Bush, Ulysees Gilbert III, Tyler Matakevich

Changes: None

Analysis: Gilbert is the better linebacker, but Matakevich has so much special teams value. That’s the only reason I’m keeping them both.

Cornerback (6)

Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Justin Layne, Artie Burns

Changes: None

Analysis: Burns showed on Saturday he’s still got some fight in him. Brian Allen seems to be the odd man out.

Safety (3)

Sean Davis, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield

Changes: Kam Kelly out

Analysis: Needing an extra spot at linebacker for the time being, they could try to go with three for now since Hilton and Sutton could fill in if the situation arises. Look for Marcus Allen to make a push in the next coupe of weeks.

Total Defense: 25 Special Teams

Specialists (3)

Chris Boswell, Kameron Canaday, Free Agent Signing

Changes: Unknown player in, Jordan Berry out

Analysis: Neither punter looks great. There will be better options on the open market after cut-downs.

Total Team: 53

Five questions surrounding the Steelers that remain unanswered after Week 2 of preseason

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/19/2019 - 6:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-0 in meaningless games this preseason, but there are still questions which have yet to be answered.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 2 preseason win over the Kansas City Chiefs brought a few things into focus but has left other questions unanswered.

Let’s dive into some of those qusetions...

Who is the No. 2 wide receiver?

James Washington had another monster long reception while Donte Moncrief had a bad fumble. Washington had a big preseason in 2018 and a forgettable regular season and Moncrief was brought in to start or compete for the role. Moncrief has missed a chunk of training camp with a broken ring finger. His absence has allowed Washington to get extra reps with the first team in practice and early playing time in the first preseason game.

Who shines in the next two games to grab the brass ring? Washington has had a good rapport with Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs but they are not the quarterback who will throw passes in the regular season. That man is Ben Roethlisberger, and he is the one Washington struggled to bond with last season.

Why is Matthew Wright still on the roster?

Rumblings out of training camp have reported Wright has struggled with hitting field goals over 50 yards. No surprise as his collegiate career-long was 50 while converting 77.5 percent of attempts.

Why does Mike Tomlin keep this sham of a kicking competition alive, taking away important opportunities for Chris Boswell to bounce back from his disastrous 2018 season? Would Tomlin rather kick a 53-yard field goal with Wright on a Hail Mary to win against New England in Week 1 of the regular season?

What are the Steelers going to do with the No. 2 TE position?

Xavier Grimble hauled in one of three passes for 13 yards but had a brutal drop. I and other fans have been on his case since the Denver game last year. I just keep going back to thinking how the team will fill those 562 snaps that former tight end Jesse James had last year? While others opine about Jaylen Samuels or Roosevelt Nix playing some tight end, do you really want to see either block out of the position? No? Then Pittsburgh would tip their hand right?

Zach Gentry played well in the first week caught all three targets for a touchdown but can a player with 12 reps on the bench at the combine make holes at the end of the line or pass protect? He is very raw and not even guaranteed of making the final roster.

Is the pressure mounting on general manager Kevin Colbert to go out and secure a true No. 2 tight end? How do the Steelers make cap space to do such a move?

Should Steelers fans should be concerned about the swing tackle position?

YES! Chukwuma Okorafor had another subpar game Saturday night after a two hurry, two penalty game in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While starting at right tackle with regular starting right tackle Matt Feiler playing right tackle, Okorafor surrendered two quarterback pressures and a sack. (According to my charting in the first half.)

Offensive tackle was seen as having tremendous depth heading into training camp but after two games questions about the depth are bubbling to the surface.

Did the quarterback battle solidify?

Well, sorta. Rudolph was 10 of 15 (With two drops) for 77 yards. Twenty-two of those yards came on a solid strike to Washington over the middle. Besides that chunk play, Rudolph rarely challenged the Chiefs’ first couple of defensive strings. One play that bugged me was about midway through the second quarter and Rudolph does a fine job of scrambling out of the pocket just to throw to the end zone for Eli Rogers with a host of Chiefs lurking in the vicinity. The game was a mixed bag for Rudolph as the offense was stagnant even with most of the starters playing the entire first half. One touchdown in six drives is alarming.

Dobbs entered the game with just over a minute left in the first half and promptly tossed a 40-yard pass to Washington. For the second week in a row, Washington got loose and hauled in an under thrown ball from Dobbs. But the drive stalled out. One play after the Chiefs fumbled in their own territory Dobbs had the ball on the Chiefs six-yard line with first and goal with 21 seconds remaining. An errant throw from Dobbs dashed any hopes of securing points to break the tied game.

Dobbs accounted for a field goal on one of his three drives. On that drive, a controversial passing touchdown was called back because of offensive pass interference.

Dobbs finished 6 of 11 (Did not chart drops.) for 95 yards. Effective at times against depth players, the interception is one of those inexcusable plays in a close game knocking on the goal line.

Fans were disappointed (As was I) that Devlin Hodges had limited opportunities after a successful game against Tampa Bay. Hodges went 2 of 4 for 38 yards and a touchdown on his two drives. The touchdown to Dontae Johnson was a 24-yard toss that Johnson made a solid adjustment to snag. (Chiefs fans may complain that it was not a reception, but who knows what a catch is anyway?)

...

Maybe I was part of the group of Steelers fans who thought Pittsburgh brought in Moncrief to start but I think that is on thin ice. I believe that debate may be shelved until next week when Big Ben shows who he has chemistry with. How much Roethlisberger plays will determine how much the other quarterbacks play. Could, and I say could with a huge question mark, Hodges see playing time over Dobbs? Unfortunately, the backup tight end duties are as worrisome as many suspected but unfortunately, the swing tackle has also cropped up to become unsettling. And none of us wants to see Boswell coming out of the preseason with just two field-goal attempts and a handful of extra-point tires after an atrocious 2018 season.

Will fans have answers to these questions after the Tennessee Titans game next Sunday?

What questions do you have that have not been answered so far in preseason? Please post those questions in the comments section below.

Podcast: Do we place too much value into the Steelers’ preseason?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/19/2019 - 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 2019 season is just starting, and the news is really 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!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • A look back at Week 2 of the preseason
  • Do we place too much stock into the preseason?
  • Steelers Q&A
  • 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: Mason Rudolph had a solid performance, but his Steelers teammates didn’t help much

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/19/2019 - 4:30am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers returned to the gridiron 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 prepares for the coming season, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the season starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at

Let’s get to the news:

  • The battle for the QB2 spot on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ depth chart is anything but certain. Mason Rudolph played well in Week 2 vs. the Chiefs, but he didn’t get much help from those around him either.

Tim Benz: Steelers’ Mason Rudolph gets little support in 1st home start

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Thanks for the support, fellas.

In Mason Rudolph’s first start for the Steelers at Heinz Field — a 17-7 preseason victory Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs — Xavier Grimble dropped what could’ve been a first down.

Donte Moncrief fumbled after a completion on the first play of a drive.

James Conner bobbled a ball he eventually caught that could’ve gone for a bigger play.

Neither Maurkice Pouncey nor David DeCastro started on the offensive line.

Rudolph got sacked and had to elude pressure often. The offense committed three penalties.

Then, the second-year quarterback got benched before he was allowed to run the hurry-up offense with 1 minute, 4 seconds left in the first half.

So if you were waiting to see what kind of picture Rudolph could paint when it comes to life without Ben Roethlisberger, he wasn’t exactly given the best canvas.

“We kind of hurt ourselves early on,” Rudolph said after the game. “Maybe I wasn’t aggressive enough. But we worked through it.

“There were just some miscues, self-inflicted. But once we got out of our own way, we moved the ball well.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • I think this could be summed up into one sentence: “This is for Drake.”

Kevin Gorman: Young Steelers receivers shut out noise, deliver for Darryl Drake

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers warmed up at Heinz Field wearing black hoodies with “SHUT OUT THE NOISE” in gold, adopting the words of Darryl Drake as their motto.

Drake’s death last Sunday became a dark cloud that hovered over the final week of Steelers training camp at Saint Vincent, especially in the wide receivers room.

The receivers lost in their position coach a man devoted to faith, family and football, one who made a profound impact in a short time as much for his lessons on life as his teaching of the game.

“Because Coach Drake’s not here anymore, we can’t worry about what everybody says on the outside,” said Diontae Johnson, the rookie receiver who Drake convinced the Steelers to draft in the third round this past spring. “We’re just shutting out the noise, trying to play football and win games.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • NFL linemen have to have a certain body build for them to do their job effectively. Often times many have to eat an excessive amount of calories just to keep weight on. Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva is one of those linemen.

Alejandro Villanueva on eating his way to 335 pounds: “You feel gross”

By: Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk

Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva was listed at 277 pounds when he first entered the NFL after a college football career at Army followed by three tours of duty in Afghanistan. That’s not big enough to be an NFL left tackle.

So Villanueva has a problem many people only wish they could have: He has to eat all the time just to get his body to stay at his desired weight. Villanueva said he’s currently working on getting up to 335 pounds, where he thinks he’s most effective, and has about five pounds to go.

It’s terrible,” Villanueva told ESPN. “I would say it’s harder than losing weight because you feel gross.”

Villanueva said he’s not even sure if he needs to eat so much to really be able to block NFL defensive linemen, but he feels more confident at a higher weight.

“I’m self-conscious about my weight, so I feel I need to be at 335,” Villanueva said. “If I feel I’m too light, I feel I’ll get lifted off the ground. With a solid 335, I can take on bull-rushes. But in reality, everything I just told you is not scientifically proven whatsoever and might have absolutely no effect on the game. It’s just a matter of confidence.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Oh that Antonio Brown...that saga is still ongoing out in Oakland.

AB’s new helmet fails NFL safety test

By: Taylor Haase, DKPittsburghSports

The Antonio Brown helmet saga continues.

In case you missed any of the previous episodes of Helmets of Our Lives, here’s a recap:

The Antonio Brown helmet saga continues.

In case you missed any of the previous episodes of Helmets of Our Lives, here’s a recap:

• The specific helmet Brown has worn throughout his entire career, a Schutt AiR Advantage, is no longer certified because it is older than 10 years. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment does not certify equipment older than 10 years.

• Brown is given approved helmets to try. He doesn’t like them, saying they obstruct his vision.

• The Steelers, at the request of the Raiders, send Brown his old helmet. Brown has it painted in Raiders-esque colors and tries to sneak it onto the field in OTAs, gets caught, and is told to get rid of it.

• Brown has a two-hour conference call with the NFL during training camp to argue why he should wear the helmet he prefers instead of one the league requires.

• The NFL reiterates their stance on the helmet, and an arbitrator rules against Brown’s grievance.

• Brown tweets that he is looking for Schutt AiR Advantage helmets manufactured within the approved window of 2010 or later.

Got it? Good.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

Hear from James Washington, Jaylen Samuels, Mike Hilton and others following our win against the Chiefs.

: @HeinzKetchup_US pic.twitter.com/FpHDE3c5hN

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 18, 2019

pic.twitter.com/mFWQih5tuL

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 18, 2019

I’m incredibly excited to announce that I’ve partnered with @Represent to get you all custom “Ryan Switzer apparel” including shirts, sweatshirts, etc. I’m also proud to say that 100% of my shares from this apparel will go directly to the oncology program @ChildrensPgh! pic.twitter.com/vKNfA6sqMy

— Ryan Switzer (@Switz) August 18, 2019

The playground is OFFICIALLY open! #SteelersHuddlefor100 pic.twitter.com/iByrfrEUFs

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 18, 2019

Post-Game Sound: Hear from Steelers coaches and players after their 17-7 preseason win

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 2:41pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were victorious in Week 2 of the NFL Preseason. Take a look and listen to what was said after the game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were winners in Week 2 of NFL Preseason action with their 17-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday night. Several players had big days for the black-and-gold, including Diontae Johnson, Bud Dupree, and James Washington...among others.

After the game, there was plenty of video/audio to take in from inside the locker room and down at field level. Here at BTSC we try to gather as much information as possible for those fans who might not be on social media and see this on a weekly basis.

Therefore, in the post-game sound article you will hear from head coach Mike Tomlin, Jaylen Samuels, and a myriad of other players as the Steelers official Twitter account goes around the room to hear from all who participated on Friday night.

Enjoy the content and be sure to stay with BTSC for all things black-and-gold as they prepare for the Tennessee Titans in Week 3 preseason action on Sunday night.

Around the Locker Room

Hear from James Washington, Jaylen Samuels, Mike Hilton and others following our win against the Chiefs.

: @HeinzKetchup_US pic.twitter.com/FpHDE3c5hN

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 18, 2019

Jaylen Samuels

Got the W.@JaySam1k pic.twitter.com/PngHYgrF1q

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 18, 2019

James Conner & Roosevelt Nix

.@JamesConner_ & @Dat_Dude_Nix talk to @missi_matthews about being back on the field, Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels and more.

: @PlanetFitness pic.twitter.com/z3PASM8stV

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 18, 2019

Mike Tomlin’s Halftime Comments

Coach Tomlin at the half. pic.twitter.com/aK4BKPwfY8

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 18, 2019

Mike Tomlin Press Conference

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following our win against the Chiefs. https://t.co/et9hGze59j

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 18, 2019

Steelers debut ‘DD’ sticker on their helmets vs. the Chiefs in honor of the late Darryl Drake

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 12:37pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers honored Darryl Drake Saturday night with a helmet decal.

This week was one to forget for the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. One week ago the team found out the news that wide receivers coach Darryl Drake had died overnight at Saint Vincent College, but the week that followed was anything but routine.

The team altered their practice plans, and the weather wreaked havoc on the final week of training camp in Latrobe, PA. Nonetheless, the Steelers still took the field Saturday, albeit delayed by an hour, to play host to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 of the NFL Preseason. But when they did their helmets had some new life to them.

The Steelers wore a new ‘DD’ sticker on the back of their helmets in honor of the late coach Drake, and you can see what the decal looked like in the image below, courtesy of Ian Smith of KDKA:

#Steelers honoring wide receivers coach Darryl Drake with a special DD sticker on their helmets. Drake passed away this past Sunday at age 62. @KDKA pic.twitter.com/Lc6dv7UBRE

— Ian Smith (@ismithKDKA) August 17, 2019

It is not known whether the Steelers will wear these decals all season, or just for a few weeks. The NFL must approve any sticker or decal a team wears on their helmet, but it seems as if this would be a case where the NFL deems the sticker to be acceptable.

In the past the Steelers have worn patches on their jerseys for owners Art Rooney and Dan Rooney after their deaths, and the helmet decal seems to be a suitable fit to remember a coach who impacted many while in Pittsburgh.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2019 NFL season.

6 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin in Saturday’s post game press conference

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 11:05am
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Coach Tomlin addressed the media and answered questions following the Steelers win over the Chiefs

In his press conference following their Week 2 preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the media and briefly answered questions. Coach Tomlin was asked about specific players in regards to their in-stadium play, or lack thereof, on Saturday night. This list isn’t to suggest these players were the only ones who stood out, but highlights players about whom Tomlin was asked questions.

Zach Gentry

Vance McDonald also in uniform, but it looks like rookie TE Zach Gentry is down

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) August 17, 2019

In the Steelers first preseason game, Zach Gentry caught three passes for 17 yards and a touchdown. Unfortnately, Gentry failed to practice most of the past week and was held out of the game Saturday night. With tight end depth a definite concern, Gentry’s long-term health could become a problem the Steelers may have to consider in terms of additional roster moves.

After specifically addressing the situation with Devin Bush not playing, Coach Tomlin was asked about the status of Gentry.

“He’s out out with injury.”

Mason Rudolph

Josh Dobbs in at QB. Mason Rudolph goes 10-15 for 77 yards. And one TD scoring drive. #Steelers

— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) August 18, 2019

Much like last year, Mason Rudolph got the start for Week 2 of the preseason. Dealing with a delay to start the game due to weather, both the Steelers and Chiefs sputtered offensively in the first quarter. As for the first opportunity of the second quarter, Rudolph led a 14-play touchdown drive which was capped off with a Jaylen Samuels 14-yard scamper into the end zone. During the drive, Rudolph converted two different third and eleven plays, throwing a 22-yard pass to James Washington and a 13-yard completion to Xavier Grimble.

Coach Tomlin was asked if Rudolph has separated himself from the other quarterbacks who played on Saturday.

“Not as we sit here right now.”

Bud Dupree & T.J. Watt

Watt and Dupree having very solid nights. Pressure, coverage, in their spots, everything. #Steelers #DKPS

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 18, 2019

Not only did the Steelers outside linebacker starting tandem of Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt start the game, they played pretty much the entire first half. The Steelers only had five outside linebackers dressed for the preseason game, one of which joined the team three days earlier. With Anthony Chickillo going down to injury, the starting duo received a decent workload. Between the two of them, they registered two tackles, two sacks, and two passes defensed.

Coach Tomlin was asked about what he thought of his starting outside linebackers.

“I thought they brought great energy. I thought they were productive. That was good representation of them I thought.”

Diontae Johnson

• TOUCHDOWN • Beautiful route by Diontae Johnson. Out and up. Devlin hits him and he holds on in the end zone. Play is under review. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 18, 2019

Earlier in the week, Mike Tomlin stressed the importance of young players being available in order to be properly evaluated. While one player he was referencing, Sutton Smith, still could not suit up for Week 2, Diontae Johnson made his much anticipated NFL debut. Starting off shaky by fumbling a punt which he recovered, Johnson soon showed why he was taken in the third round of the draft. With three catches for 46 yards and a touchdown, Johnson had his first trip to the end zone taken off the board with a controversial offensive pass interference which was surprisingly upheld upon review.

Coach Tomlin was asked this thoughts on Johnson and how he fits into the Steelers’ offense after his first game.

“It was a good start for him, but we’ll see. It’s a good place to build upon. A good initial start.”

Olasunkanmi Adeniyi

Forgot to include Ola Adeniyi, who is reportedly out with a torn meniscus. #Steelers

— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) August 18, 2019

While reports have emerged stating Ola Adeniyi’s surgery on Friday was for a torn meniscus, the Steelers have yet to acknowledge anything in regards to his injury. Had it not been for a now-removed social media post, there is the chance Adeniyi’s surgery may not have been known at all to this point.

Coach Tomlin was asked about the status of Adeniyi’s injury.

“He’s out right now. I’ll have some information for you probably next week.”

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

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following our win against the Chiefs. https://t.co/et9hGze59j

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 18, 2019

Report Card: Grading the Steelers’ 17-7 win over the Chiefs in Preseason Week 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 9:43am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after in Week 2 of the 2019 exhibition season.

The Steelers took to Heinz Field for the second-straight week, but the energy and excitement of last week’s opener was toned down into a reserved tone and a desire to succeed in memory of a beloved coach who passed away last Sunday. After a against the AFC runners-up of a year ago, the arrow is pointing skyward. For some reason, I’ve been given the responsibility to rate the performance of the squad. It’s not easy, but I’ll give it a whirl.

Despite my less than prestigious BTSC teaching certificate, I have to issue the necessary disclaimer. You know the story; of course, I’m not a football coach, or a teacher, but I play one in blogs and podcasts. All week, I found myself noticing just how equal in talent the two teams actually are and that will show. Then the game happened and judgments abound.

Grading games is an extremely difficult and somewhat thankless task. While the coaches’ grades, of course, are what counts the most, the media and fans can’t help but evaluate as well. The preseason is even tougher. All letter grades are simply based on the eye test of somebody watching at home. In this case, it’s my doofus opinion.

So let’s take a look at BTSC’s early perceptions:

Offense: B-

Mason Rudolph looks like the true heir-apparent to Ben Roethlisberger and Devlin Hodges could be QB3. Once again, James Washington was tremendous The line was pretty decent and the ruuning game of James Conner and Jaylen Samuels were a treat to watch. Bennie Snell was slightly better. Not the best week, but nothing to cry about either.

Defense: B+

Defense is hard to grade in the preseason. I was not overly impressed with the performance of Keith Butler’s unit last week. This week, I found them to be strong like steel. Patrick Mahomes was not able to destroy the secondary like he did last year in Week 2. Even without Devin Bush, this was an inspired group. Artie Burns and Bud Dupree looked like guys aiming to do more than just keep their jobs Ulysses Gilbert III and Tuzar Skipper are making the most of their opportunities and would be tough to say goodbye to. This group looked every bit of what we’ve been pining for.

Special Teams: B

I’m usually quite critical of Danny Smith’s unit, but they were quite solid for the most part again this week. Chris Boswell looks to have emerged from his awful funk. Bennie Snell looked good on ST and Diontae Spencer is seeming like the real deal.

Overall: B-

It was a brutal week for this team off of the field, on-field they were an inspired bunch. I found solace in besting Pat Mahomes early in the game.Not perfect, but much more good than bad.

Valedictorian: Nobody

Honor Roll: Jaylen Samuels, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, James Conner, Diontae Spencer, Artie Burns, Bud Dupree, Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges. Tuzar Skipper, Ulysses Gilbert III.

Needs Improvement: Chuks Okorafor, Joshua Dobbs, Xavier Grimble, Mike Hilton, Donte Moncrief.

Now it is your turn to play teacher. Use the polls and the comments section below. We can compare notes in the teachers lounge.

6 Winners and 5 Losers after the Steelers 17-7 win vs. the Chiefs in Preseason Week 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 8:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Time to take a look at who would be considered a ‘Winner’ and a ‘Loser’ after the Steelers latest action on the gridiron.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Saturday night when they hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 of NFL preseason action. The Steelers were ______ in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good performance.

With it being the preseason, many of the player who are being criticized are not even going to be employed by the Steelers organization come September, but the judgement process must go on. Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.

Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after Week 1 of the preseason...

Winners

James Washington
Stat Line: 4 receptions, 78 yards, 19.5 average

Maybe I was thinking James Washington would have a decrease in production from Week 1 to Week 2, but I was wrong. Washington didn’t just have a productive day, but showed tremendous versatility. So far, in two weeks, he has shown the ability to catch the deep ball, out jump defenders, go over the middle and his nifty sideline catch was a thing of beauty. Washington is making a strong case for increased playing time in 2019.

James Conner
Stat Line: 6 rushes, 28 yards, 4.7 yard average / 1 rec., 6 yards

This was the first time to see Conner in a full contact situation since the 2018 regular season, and he didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t as if Conner was running wild all over the Chiefs, but his ability to always move forward, and make life tough on a defense is always fun to watch. Conner looks ready for 2019.

Jaylen Samuels
Stat Line: 4 rushes, 26 yards, 6.5 yard average, 1 TD

Samuels looks like a different player this preseason compared to last year. He looks faster, more agile and slimmer than the 2018 version. His stat line didn’t jump off the page, but with every game he is proving he is more than capable of being the next man up if Conner were to get injured at some point during the season.

Mason Rudolph
Stat Line: 10/15 77 yards

The stats don’t scream “winner”, but I’m putting Rudolph here because even though he had a slow start he had full command of the offense. His pocket presence has been vastly improved this year, and his arm looks better than ever. Rudolph was putting the football into some very tight windows, and didn’t always get a lot of help from his teammates. Rudolph probably didn’t secure the No. 2 QB spot Saturday night, but he took a big step towards that, in my opinion.

Bud Dupree
Stat Line: 3 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 TFL

It is just the preseason, but if Dupree could possibly produce this type of production in 2019, the Steelers’ defense could be vastly better than they were in 2018. He is just one player, but if he is able to be a threat opposite T.J. Watt, the Steelers’ defense can be a tough opponent for offenses to deal with.

Turnovers
Stat Line: 3 Takeaways

After last year, any takeaways are tremendous. The Steelers forced three turnovers, all fumbles, and it was a pleasant surprise.

Losers

Turnovers
Stat Line: 2 Giveaways

The Steelers might have taken the ball away three times, but they also had two really bad turnovers. The Joshua Dobbs goal line interception are the type of plays Steelers fans saw too much of in 2018. Mike Tomlin mentioned his pleasure with the defense taking the ball away in this post-game press conference, but also mentioned how the giveaways continue to be an issue.

Xavier Grimble
Stat Line: 1 reception, 13 yards

Grimble is on this list based on the fact he had a horrendous drop early in the game. It isn’t just the fact he dropped the ball, but the fact he is battling for a spot on the depth chart, at a ridiculously thin position, and could have really put an exclamation point on his performance. Instead, fans are wondering not if, but when, the Steelers will make a move at the tight end position before the season.

Donte Moncrief
1 reception, 1 yard, 1 fumble

What a way to start your career in Pittsburgh, but this wasn’t just about the fumble, it was about the timing of it. After the Steelers’ defense caused a Carlos Hyde fumble, the next play Rudolph hit Moncrief and he coughed the ball up, giving it right back to Kansas City. I’m not closing the book on Moncrief, but it wasn’t a good start to his tenure in the Steel City.

NFL Network
Stat Line: You are awful

I’m sure I’m not alone when I sat down to watch the Steelers game, go do some stuff at halftime, and come back to the Cowboys vs. Rams game. I know the Steelers game got started late, but you completely abandon a game at halftime? Luckily, I had access to NFL Game Pass and was able to watch the game, but that is some shoddy work by the NFL Network.

Officiating
Stat Line: This Pass Interference rule is going to be a nightmare

So they don’t allow Diontae Johnson’s first touchdown, where he didn’t interfere, but when the ball clearly touched the ground on his second, first which counted, touchdown, they uphold the call. If this is how the season is going to go, buckle up and get ready to yell at the TV more than usual.

Analyzing the Steelers Preseason Week 2 win over the Chiefs, by the numbers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 7:02am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Steelers managed to pull off a victory, but was their statistical performance worthy enough to deem the game a success?

Two down, two to go.

Preseason Week 2 is now behind us. The Steelers have now played their second game, and this time many more of the typical starters saw the field. With just five or six players who are projected starters for the regular season not suiting up, there was a much better feel early on that this was much closer to the team who will take the field in Foxborough in a mere three weeks.

But did they Steelers perform in a manner where coaches and fans should be satisfied with the product at Heinz Field from the black and gold?

In my earlier Crunching the Numbers article, I compiled some statistics from the Steelers’ Week 1 game which are in need of improvement moving forward. Using those stats, let’s look actual statistics from Week 2 to help determine if our expectations were met in Saturday’s game.

7

I don’t care if it was a lot of backups. I never imagined the Steelers holding the Chiefs to seven points. I thought the goal of 24 was pretty ambitious, and I definitely took the over of 46.5 combined points. Not only was this was the top scoring offense in 2018, it was a team who put up 38 points last week with mostly reserve players. So any argument about the Chiefs backups not being as good is easily disputed. I’m calling this a great win for the defense. It was the fewest number of points the Chiefs have scored in a game since Week 15 of 2013.

8

Although they had more accepted penalties than their opponent, seeing the number of flags against the Steelers decrease from Week 1 to Week 2 is a good thing. Additionally, I think most of us can agree there should have been one less penalty for certain. The offensive pass interference call on Diontae Johnson was egregious to say the least. What is even more telling is if they did not overturn a missed call of that caliber, will they actually overturn any of these sorts of challenges throughout the 2019 season?

17

While some look at this statistic as meaningless, it is important that the Steelers cut the number of first downs surrendered almost in half. After giving up 31 in Week 1, only giving up 17 in Week 2 looks like an accomplishment. Coupled with the low number of points surrendered, it is a pretty telling statistic this time around.

315

When I set the goal for the Steelers to keep the Chiefs to under 400 yards of offense, I thought there was only a slight chance they could do it. I thought if Kansas City had the lead they might not push the ball down the field quite as much. But the Chiefs never led in the game, and the Steelers still held them to 315 yards of offense.

1

Even in such a low scoring affair, the Steelers managed to get the ball into the end zone on the ground this week. I felt Jaylen Samuels had a good game both rushing and in pass protection before he had his 14-yard touchdown. The Steelers got the job done on the ground with 4.0 yards a carry from 124 yards on 31 rushes.

So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers second game of the 2019 preseason, all of which they hit the mark. Which number were you pleased with the most? What was the most disappointing statistic? Is there another one not listed which really stands out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below!

Steelers defeat the Chiefs in Week 2, only suffer minor injuries

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 5:26am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were victorious vs. the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2, and remain a relatively healthy team heading into Week 3.

It is often said how Week 3 of the NFL Preseason is considered the final dress rehearsal for the regular season. If this is indeed the case, the Pittsburgh Steelers will go into their Week 3 game vs. the Tennessee Titans with the vast majority of their starters rested and ready to go.

In Week 2, the Steelers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 17-7 at Heinz Field, but it wasn’t without some bumps and bruises along the way. After the game, head coach Mike Tomlin identified several players who were held out of the game, or left the game, for various reasons.

Benny Snell Jr. (groin)

Anthony Chickillo (chest)

Both of these players’ injuries were not considered serious, as Tomlin put it, but it will be interesting to see if they can heal up fast enough to get back on the field for Week 3.

Tomlin also clarified why two rookies were held out of the game Saturday night.

Star rookie linebacker Devin Bush was held out with what was called a shoulder injury, but Tomlin deemed it was strictly precautionary. The Steelers coach said he hopes to get Bush back on the field this week. Fellow rookie, and Michigan grad Zach Gentry was also held out with injury, but Tomlin didn’t specify the injury.

Tomlin was asked about Ola Adeniyi’s injury, and he said he would have more information in the coming days for the media on his recovery timeline.

To see Tomlin’s full press conference, see the video below:

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following our win against the Chiefs. https://t.co/et9hGze59j

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 18, 2019

Podcast: Recapping the good, and the bad, in the Steelers preseason win over the Chiefs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 5:02am

In the latest episode of “The Steelers Post-Game” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold from the most recent contest.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is just starting, and the preseason is officially underway.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Post-Game Show. On this show Jeff Hartman and co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Game Balls
  • Winners and Losers
  • Steelers Q&A
  • 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.

Knee-Jerk Reactions to the Steelers 17-7 win vs. the Chiefs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 10:48pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

One BTSC writer shares his real-time, initial thoughts of the Steelers test against the Chiefs.

Here we go! Our latest look at the new-attitude Pittsburgh Steelers. No they did not rebuild, but they are starting life without two-thirds of the Killer Bs. There’s a different brand of swagger and a desire to prove from a lot of these guys and I can not wait.

Nonetheless, a simple reminder, a knee jerk reaction is an immediate and unthinking, emotional reaction. It’s basically shooting first and apologizing later. I can safely say that’s a true definition of your’s truly and a good lot of Steeler Nation. Here’s my real-time reactions during the Steelers’ first battle of the new season.

Quarter 1
  • Not a fine first series. Youch!
  • Good defense by Burns on the burner Hill.
  • Not loving Nelson on that coverage.
  • Kind of got lucky there.
  • That’s why you go and get a guy like Mark Barron.
  • Stopping them on the first series...Nice.
  • Awesome.
  • Finally getting to see Diontae Johnson.
  • Not much there.
  • Vanimal has got to keep the ball off of the ground there.
  • Connor needs better concentration on that screen, but great basketball move keeping that ball from falling incomplete.
  • Mason is showing ability to get out of trouble.
  • When it comes to Chuks Okorafor, to quote Ben Affleck from Good Will Hunting...”Ya suspect!”.
  • He could get Mason killed out there.
  • This is a much better defense this week against a juggernaut offense.
  • Artie Burns with a couple of great plays.
  • Huge forced fumble and good awareness by Sean Davis.
  • That’s not a stellar debut for Donte Moncrief.
  • You can’t fumble right after your defense gives you a gift.I’m liking the D this week.
  • Diontae Johnson with a bad fumble.
  • Got lucky getting that one back.
  • Two good gains by Conner.
  • Not hoping to see much more from him.
  • How awesome is it that the entire Pitt Football Team is at the game?
  • I’m grumbling over that Grimble drop.
  • Not a fan of the TE depth.
  • Not a bad pass by Rudolph. JuJu needs to pull that ball in.
  • Great ST tag team by Bennie Snell and Justin Layne.
  • Sweet!Love me some J-Wobble.
  • Matakevich in coverage = heartburn.
  • That guy is a special teamer only.
  • Linebackers in coverage again. They got lucky there with the drop.
  • Matekevich. Good stop.
  • Ugly First Quarter.
Quarter 2
  • Nice job getting the ball away, but negated.
  • Another flag?
  • Love that play by the OSU Cowboy connection. JWash is for real.
  • An Eli Rogers sighting.
  • Good hops by No. 13.
  • Poise by Rudy. He looks like he’s earning the QB2 job.
  • Snell isn’t getting loose.
  • Mason good pass to the X-Man. Good catch too.
  • Samuels reeling off 8. He’s solid.
  • What a long play. Elusiveness by No. 2.
  • This is a nice drive. Really needs to end in the Touchdown Zone.
  • Diontae with a first down. Smooth.
  • Wow. Jaylen Samuels with a great seal-off by Feiler and a host of Stillers. Great drive. 7-0...Good Guys.
  • Defense still looking good.
  • They are starting to surrender yards.
  • Dupree with another sack. That’s a guy that wants paid.
  • Three defenders. Soft coverage. C’mon guys.
  • 14 play drive by KC for 81 yards is disconcerting.
  • Dobbs with a big completion. Some points before the half would be nice.
  • Had to go for it there. No luck.
  • Mike Hilton and my guy, Tuzar Skipper, big play.
  • Skipper has a shot at the 53MR.
  • Nice pass from Dobbs to Eli. Hope it’s not coming back.
  • Defenseless receiver penalty. Gotta make them pay.
  • And they don’t. Bad pick. Dammit! At least Dobbs can tackle.
  • Too many gaffes by both teams.
  • 7-7 at the half.
Quarter 3
  • I missed watching the first drive of the second-half because NFL network’s changeover. But I’m back on after Spencer’s great punt return.
  • Snell picks it up on the fourth down carry, but a hold brings it back. On comes the punt team.
  • Nice breakup on third down. Hilton seems like a different player after halftime.
  • Spencer making a name for himself as a punt returner.
  • Washington almost gets it. Going for it on fourth again!
  • Benny Snell football.
  • Dobbs with a nice scramble to make sure he gets the first down.
  • Thanks to NFL network screwing over Steeler fans, that quarter went really quick.
Quarter 4
  • Great catch and throw by Dobbs and Johnson, but for some reason they threw the flag.
  • Can Tomlin finally win a challenge? It was such a horrible call.
  • How can they not overturn that? Even the Chiefs commentators knew it was a bad call!
  • Wright bangs it through from 47 yards, but it should’ve been a PAT.
  • Nice tackle for loss by Cam Sutton.
  • Good three and out late in the game.
  • Devlin Hodges time! Grind this out and head in with a W.
  • Diontae Johnson with a nice third-down catch. Had to make sure he wasn’t close to anyone so they don’t throw flag on him.
  • Diontae Spencer with a nice run on the reverse. Making the most of his chances.
  • There Johnson gets his TD! It should be his second, but I don’t want to take away from this one.
  • Or maybe he didn’t.
  • I hate to even say it, but make up call? Who cares because it’s a Steelers touchdown!
  • Skipper with the sack!
  • Catch and a fumble. But did he ever really have it? It looks like it!
  • Askew-Henry gets in on the action with a pass breakup.
  • Justin Layne defends the pass in the end zone as time expires.
  • I don’t care if it was a lot of backups, holding Kansas City to seven points is an accomplishment.

Once again, I just shot first and I’ll apologize later. All reactions were in real time. Basically, it is the equivalent of watching the game with me, you just don’t have to listen to me chew my food and listen to me ramble. Now time to watch it again and see what really happened. Make sure you get your voice heard in the comments below.

Steelers defeat Chiefs 17-7 in sloppy preseason game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 10:28pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were victorious over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 of the NFL Preseason. See how it went down!

The Pittsburgh Steelers were slated to play the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET. Due to thunderstorms in the Pittsburgh area, kickoff was moved back an entire hour before these two AFC powerhouses finally got the game underway.

The Steelers elected to receive the football to start the game, and Mason Rudolph was first under center for the black-and-gold with the first team minus players like Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro.

After back-to-back runs to James Conner, the Steelers dialed up a pass with Rudolph on 3rd and 2, only to see it fall incomplete and punt the ball away. The Chiefs’ starters, including Patrick Mahomes, started the game and wasted little time going to work. But when their drive reached the midfield mark, it stalled.

The Steelers were forced to punt again, and Mahomes and company took over with good field position, but on a 2nd down run by Carlos Hyde, Terrell Edmunds got his hands on the football, causing a fumble, and it was recovered by Sean Davis. The very next play from scrimmage, Rudolph hit Donte Moncrief for a short gain, but Moncrief fumbled the ball back to the Chiefs.

Chad Henne took over for the Chiefs, but both teams failed to register any points on the scoreboard before the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was more of the same for both teams until Rudolph started to get into a rhythm with his college teammate James Washington. Two big completions to Washington got the Steelers into Kansas City territory for the first time in the game. Diontae Johnson’s first professional reception set up a Jaylen Samuels run into the endzone for the first score of the game.

.@JaySam1k with no one around‼️ pic.twitter.com/nbEQv3ftKZ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 18, 2019

Boswell’s point-after was good, making the score 7-0 with 6:39 left in the first half.

Chad Henne wasn’t about to be outdone by Mason Rudolph, and he put together a drive of his own. With 1:11 left in the half Henne hit Mecole Hardman for a 17-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

Joshua Dobbs came into the game to try and move the Steelers into at least field goal range before heading into halftime, and he delivered a long 40-yard strike to James Washington on the first play from scrimmage. However, the Steelers failed to get into field goal range and turned the ball over on downs. Instead of just kneeling out the half, Mike Hilton caused a fumble while blitzing and Skipper Tuzar recovered the football with 25 seconds left in the half.

.@TuzarSkipper picks it up! pic.twitter.com/mF9grPDr7C

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 18, 2019

A pass to Eli Rogers aided by a personal foul set the Steelers up inside the 10-yard line, but Dobbs threw an interception at the goal line which was returned to midfield. The Chiefs’ completed a quick pass before giving Harrison Butker a 58-yard attempt which sailed wide right. The first half ended with a 7-7 tie, and the Chiefs due to get the ball after the break.

The Chiefs, led by Kyle Shurmer at quarterback, put together a nice drive to start the third quarterback, but resulted in another punt. Diontae Spencer had a 38-yard return to give the Steelers tremendous field position. However, the quarter continued to be nothing but punts. Nonetheless, Dobbs finally got the team into Kansas City territory and looked as if he threw a touchdown to Diontae Johnson, but the play was brought back after Offensive Pass Interference was called. The booth challenged the call, but the penalty was upheld. The drive resulted in a Matthew Wright field goal, making the score 10-7.

Pittsburgh’s defense continued to keep the Chiefs off the scoreboard, and when Devlin Hodges came into the game he quickly moved the offense down the field, hitting Diontae Johnson for his first professional touchdown of his career. After the point-after it made the score 17-7 with 4:22 left in regulation.

Kansas City was threatening to add to their point total, but a Marcus Allen hit caused a fumble which was recovered by the Steelers with 1:31 left in the game. Both teams failed on their final possessions, and the game ended with the final score 17-7 in favor of the Steelers.

The Steelers’ win moves their preseason record to 2-0 as they prepare to play the Tennessee Titans in Nashville in Week 3, their first road game of the preseason. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as the regular season inches closer.

Steelers vs. Chiefs Preseason Week 2: 3rd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 9:40pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

2nd Quarter In-Game Update

The Chiefs, led by Kyle Shurmer at quarterback, put together a nice drive to start the third quarterback, but resulted in another punt. Diontae Spencer had a 38-yard return to give the Steelers tremendous field position. However, the quarter continued to be nothing but punts. Nonetheless, Dobbs finally got the team into Kansas City territory as the third quarter came to a close.

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