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Black and Gold Links: How Stephon Tuitt will finally play up to his potential in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 4:30am

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 from over. As the team retreats 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 Stephon Tuitt will not just play up to his new contract, but finally reach the potential the organization has seen in him since being drafted out of Notre Dame.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Stephon Tuitt realizes how people are calling him injury-prone, and how he isn’t living up to the new contract he signed before the 2018 season. The hope is in 2019 he rectifies this situation.

Carter’s Classroom: Will Tuitt finally do it?

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

The Steelers players with the largest salary cap numbers are Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. Roethlisberger is the two-time Super Bowl champion franchise quarterback who drives the offense and Heyward is the captain of the defense with 20 sacks in the past two seasons.

Tuitt, however, hasn’t made his big splash yet. His 5.5 sacks last season were the second most of his career behind the 6.5 he totaled in 2015. At 26 years old and costing the Steelers more than $13.6 million in cap space the next three seasons, Tuitt is one of their bigger talents and has to deliver in a major way:

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The NFL is fast, and most college players notice this right away. But someone forgot to tell Isaiah Buggs about that transition.

NFL too fast for a rookie? Not for sixth-rounder Buggs

By: Hunter Homistek, DKPittsburghSports

“I feel like once I actually buckle in, buckle down a little bit, I’ll play a lot faster,” Layne told me during OTAs. “But I mean, it’s still just a learning process.”

Yeah, Mr. Layne, for some it is. For others, apparently, the NFL is just another day at the office. I’ve been bouncing around the Rooney Complex, talking to every rookie I can find, and even some vets, about this topic. It’s fascinating to me, and the similarities in their responses paint a clear picture and help validate the claims.

So when I strolled up to Isaiah Buggs — the Steelers’ second of three sixth-round picks in the 2019 Draft — following Day 2 of minicamp on Wednesday, I expected more of the same. He ran a 5.15-second 40 (25th out of 30 defensive lineman), an 8.01-second three-cone drill (third worst) and a 4.83 shuttle (21st out of 24). No offense, but if somebody in this class was going to struggle with the speed, it was going to be Buggs, right?

Wrong.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Trey Griffey is primed and ready to make a name for himself in his second training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Spawn from baseball Hall of Famer, Trey Griffey prepared for 2nd Steelers camp

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

About a week-and-a-half prior to Father’s Day, Trey Griffey was asked if his dad had given him any fatherly advice about competing during his second season as part of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.

“He just told me, ‘Go in there and do what you do,’ ” Griffey, a wide receiver, recalled after an organized team activities session last week. “ ‘Everybody is going in there looking for a job. Even though you were there last year, you are still competing for a job.’ ”

Good advice — from a Hall of Fame source.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Can’t wait for training camp? Here are some things you should be on the lookout for while at Saint Vincent College.

Labriola on 5 things to watch at training camp

By: Bob Labriola, Steelers.com

IS THIS ACTUALLY THE YEAR THE TAKEAWAYS COME

It’s no secret that the Steelers cannot contend for a championship if their defense does not do better than the eight interceptions and 15 total takeaways the unit posted in 2018. In the first place, the eight interceptions tied a franchise low that was set during an 11-game season in 1940, and the only teams with fewer than 15 takeaways last season were the 6-10 Detroit Lions with 14, and the 4-12 San Francisco 49ers with seven.

It should no longer be necessary to tout the importance of taking the ball away in today’s pass-happy NFL, and the Steelers have been emphasizing that aspect both in their scouting of rookies and free agents as well as incorporating drills into their practices to hone the skills needed to make it happen.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

season can’t come soon enough‼️

We take a look back at all of the happenings that occurred from the offseason. pic.twitter.com/TC9u3X7TZS

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 17, 2019

8️⃣3️⃣ days. #SteelersKickoff pic.twitter.com/zeEU31LZRM

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 17, 2019

Today, @_BigBen7 hosted the 11th Annual Ben Roethlisberger Football ProCamp, with 250 kids participating.

While most of the day was about , a huge part of it was not. Each of the kids were asked to bring food donations with them to benefit @PghFoodBank. pic.twitter.com/a5zI5qsMcD

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 16, 2019

Donnie Shell catches Earl Campbell #Steelers #Oilers #BigHitsThread pic.twitter.com/I0KTvOP70o

— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) June 16, 2019

Pittsburgh Steelers achieved the ultimate goal throughout offseason workouts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 2:40pm

For the Steelers’ offseason workouts, it was mission accomplished.

Welcome to the dog days of summer. As the meteorological calendar turns from spring to summer, the National Football League goes on hiatus until the end of July when teams start to report to their respective training camps. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the few teams who still has their training camp away from their home city, July 25th is the date when they will report to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

When looking back at the offseason workouts, which include rookie minicamp, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp, there is no way anyone can say the Steelers didn’t accomplish their ultimate goal.

What is the ultimate goal?

It isn’t getting the rookies acclimated.

It isn’t having the new free agents getting to run with their new teammates.

And it certainly isn’t getting the team in front of the media to help silence the critics regarding the rocky offseason of 2018.

No, the ultimate goal is to just stay healthy — mission accomplished.

I can only imagine the joy it brings Mike Tomlin and his coaching staff when they think about having all of their players ready and available when training camp starts. Granted, a freak injury or accident during these dog days could change that, but you don’t see players with lingering issues, or severe injuries which took place during those practices in shorts.

If you think back to last year’s offseason workouts, you might remember two players being lost for the year due to injury. Jerald Hawkins tore his quadriceps, and Jake McGee tore his ACL. This year the team didn’t have any injuries like this, and Mike Tomlin realizes what lies ahead.

“I like the way we finished with our work here, continuing to add elements to situational football to educate our guys,” Tomlin told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “We did some mayday field goal-like work at the end of the two-minute drill. We have been working the two-minute drill, we just added to that today as an example of just increasing the complexities of the play and making it more football-like.

“I like the energy. I left them with the message that they need to show up ready. We have outlined that more in detail about what specifically what that means for each guy. Rest assured that conditioning and readiness has to be the most significant element of their time here in the upcoming weeks.”

The players now have time away. Time to vacation, but also time to ready themselves for the upcoming season. For those players who were on the 9-6-1 2018 team, they know all too well how things can spiral out of control, and they want nothing more than to have the opportunity to right those wrongs during the regular season.

But you take it one step at a time, and the Steelers have successfully gotten through their offseason workouts injury free. Next up? Training camp...which is another beast in itself. July 25th can’t come fast enough.

The players who were brought in, not those who are gone, should be the Steelers fan base’s focus

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 12:35pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that lost a lot of talent, but that doesn’t mean the focus should be solely on those who left.

Turnover in any occupation is unavoidable, but in the National Football League it becomes part of life. Players, teammates and fan favorites often leave the team where they were once cheered to find greener pastures elsewhere.

For the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers, the amount of turnover they experienced from 2018 to now wasn’t over the top, but the quality of player leaving was noticeable. Losing Le’Veon Bell and Jesse James via free agency is one thing, but the way Antonio Brown left the team had the fan base on their toes. At some point, the fans just wanted something positive to happen rather than hear about another IG comment, Twitter beef or awkward interview.

Many in the national media continue to cling to the very last drop of the Steelers’ rocky offseason, but one member of the 2019 team is ready to move on like we all are. That player would be none other than Vince Williams.

To Williams, the focus shouldn’t be on who left, but on those who are there and working hard to make 2019 a championship year for the black-and-gold.

“I just feel like we brought a lot of good guys in,” Williams told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “The people we added…everyone is focusing on the people we lost but I think the people we added are going to be very helpful to us. I think instead of focusing on what we lost, I get a lot of encouragement about the people we brought in.

“Devin (Bush) is phenomenal. I feel like he is going to make plays right away. I think (Donte) Moncrief is good. I don’t think people realize how good he is. The wide out, (Diontae) Spencer, he was killing it in Canada (in the CFL) and he was out here making splash plays. Mark (Barron) is a seasoned vet, he is good. I feel like we got a lot of great people who came in and are ready to go.”

Whether fans want to believe it or not, Williams is right. Not only did the team go out and sign Barron, Steven Nelson and Moncrief in free agency, they added nine drafted players in the 2019 NFL Draft, many who will be asked to contribute in some way, shape or form during their rookie season.

Losing one of the best wide receivers of all-time is a tough pill to swallow, but at the same time the fans shouldn’t let the dust of Brown’s Rolls Royce getting out of town cloud their view of the current team. Is this 2019 Steelers team perfect in every possible way? Of course not, but at the same time they just might surprise some people this year.

According to Williams, the fan base should start to warm up to some of these new players, and I couldn’t agree more.

Steelers OC Randy Fichtner wants both reserve quarterbacks to win the backup job

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 11:03am

The battle to be the Steelers backup quarterback is likely to take all of training camp to be decided

With future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger obviously locked in as the Pittsburgh Steelers starter for the foreseeable future, it would be easy to overlook the battle to be the team’s backup in 2019. But while Big Ben has only missed three games due to injury over the last three season; at 37-years-old, it seems reasonable to be concerned how long that trend will continue.

A productive preseason saw Joshua Dobbs win the job in 2018 to the detriment of Landry Jones’ continued employment and there is every chance of a changing of the guard this offseason if the improvements Mason Rudolph has reportedly made translate to game situations.

And when speaking to reporters during mandatory minicamp, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner was quick to sing the praises of Rudolph when asked which player was ahead in the pecking order.

“Mason has made strides, Josh is still being productive from a stand point of doing what we ask. I like the competition of where they are at, they understand that it is competition, that it’s open. But to me, that position’s always going to be open, no matter who’s here. That battle is every single day, trying to put us in the best position that if Ben’s not in the game, that we have put the right guy in to give us a chance to win a game.”

Noting a change in Rudolph coming into the second year, while Fichtner appears willing to entertain the possibility of the former Oklahoma State quarterback winning the No.2 role, he is clearly reluctant to discount the potential of Dobbs.

“Lot more comfortable, lot more comfortable, better communication. It’s easier just to see him break the huddle and feel confident about what he called. There’s a lot of thinking that goes on. Make no mistake that any quarterback in this league that plays as a young guy coming in the league, there’s a transition time. And for him, I’m thankful that he has that transition time. Unfortunately, he really doesn't because he’s got to try to be the backup right now, I want him to be the backup, but I want Josh to be the backup too.”

The division of reps during training camp should be a good indicator of who is ahead in the battle, but the winner is unlikely to be decided until well into the preseason, with game day performances taking on added significance. While Jones effectively lost his job watching two young players compete from the sidelines, it should be expected that the contest will play out rather differently this time around.

And should the Steelers ultimately find themselves in a position where they have two quarterbacks equally capable of being the backup, that will be an enviable position to be in.

PFF grade Ben Roethlisberger as NFL’s most successful player vs. Patriots since 2006

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 9:30am

His record against them might not be great, but Big Ben’s performances in games versus the New England Patriots are better than any other player in the league according to Pro Football Focus.

In an effort to determine which players are the most successful against each individual franchise, Pro Football Focus has been digging into their archives this offseason. And with grades dating back to 2006, the analytics company has the data to cover the entire careers of all but a handful of the players currently active.

As per PFF analyst Ben Linsey, no defensive player in the league could be labelled as more of a team-killer than Aaron Donald, with the Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman recording the highest grade of any NFL player against each team in the NFC West over the course of his career. While Aaron Rodgers earns the title on offense thanks to lifetime grades of 92.0 against the Chicago Bears, 93.3 versus the Detroit Lions and 92.7 against the New York Giants.

But perhaps the biggest surprise of the piece was the revelation of the player considered the team-killer for the New England Patriots, a name that might come as something of a shock to Pittsburgh Steelers fans.

Despite a life-time record of just 4-8 against New England, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger still comes out as the highest-graded player versus the Patriots since 2006 with an overall grade of 90.5. As Linsey explains:

“Sure to upset the #QBWINZ crowd, Roethlisberger comes out as the top-graded player against the Patriots despite being just 4-8 against Brady and company. The tape shows, however, that the subpar record hasn’t been his fault. Big Ben’s touchdown to interception ratio of 18-to-10 doesn’t overly impress, but his big-time throw to turnover-worthy play ratio of 28:8 is much more impressive. The discrepancy indicates that luck hasn’t been on his side in the matchup, but that doesn’t detract from him playing at a high level.”

Of the 10 regular season Roethlisberger has played against New England, only three of them ended with a quarterback rating under 93.7. And if not for his two playoff performances against them that ended with an average quarterback rating of just 77.2, his overall grade from PFF would be even higher.

With the notable exception of a 2004 playoff loss to the Patriots, it would be fair to say that Roethlisberger has rarely been the reason Pittsburgh has lost to New England. Perhaps one of the key reasons for many of the defeats coming in the shape of the man named as the Steelers team-killer by Linsey.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS: TE ROB GRONKOWSKI, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, 94.5 OVERALL GRADE

“As I mentioned in the intro to this article, Gronkowski utterly dominated his matchups with the Steelers. He was targeted 51 times and brought in 41 of those passes for 685 yards and eight touchdowns. No matter which metric you look at Gronk is up near the top but most impressive is his passer rating when targeted – a perfect 158.3. Can’t get any better than that.”

Who is the greatest back up QB in Pittsburgh Steelers history?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 7:55am

What attributes constitutes the perfect back up quarterback and who is the best back up QB in Pittsburgh Steelers history?

Competitive people want to compete. Athletics represent competition at it's purist form. Nobody wants a player who is thrilled to sit and watch. That would better describe a fan than a player.

Quality depth on a football team is made up of talented individuals who compete for playing time and in the process drive the starters to perform at the best of their abilities. As the old saying goes, back ups are one play away from being a starter. Therefore, your back up players should have starter qualities, in a perfect world. That statement would be true for every position, with maybe one exception. Quarterback.

Truly effective back up QBs are a unique breed. They are expected to prepare each week as if they are going to see action, knowing all too well that nobody in the whole stadium, outside of maybe their own family, wants to see them in the game. If they are required to enter the contest then chances are something bad has happened to the starting QB, outside of taking over for mop up duty.

They need to have some starting qualities, but not enough to actually challenge the starter. If they do, a quarterback controversy is sure to materialize. There has to be a clear pecking order to prevent such a situation. A QB controversy can fracture a locker room and splinter a fanbase. While it may appear advantageous to have a Steve Young or Aaron Rodgers waiting in the wings, this scenario can lead to some rather ugly divorces. We all understand that the NFL is a business, but franchises are built on their legacies. Legends have been impacted negatively by similar situations that where handled incorrectly.

The established starting QB can't afford to always be looking over his shoulder. It will negatively affect his comfort level. Tom Brady didn't like the vibe he was getting from Jimmy Garoppolo and next thing you know Jimmy is in San Francisco. Last year's Super Bowl victory confirms the Patriots made the right choice.

So what constitutes a perfect back up quarterback? A recent example would have to be Nick Foles, which is surprising considering the fact he has proven to be an NFL caliber QB. A Super Bowl winning QB actually. What makes Foles the exception to the rule? It boils down to his personality and his character. He is the rarest of competitors that can place the best interests of the team ahead of his own, a truly admirable quality. Foles has earned his starting position in Jacksonville, and is the type of quality individual that is easy to root for. When he's not playing the Steelers of course.

A back up QB has to wear many hats. He should be equal parts player, coach, mediator, and confidant. He is far more than a glorified clipboard holder. He has to be ever present mentally in the game, from signalling in plays to being a second set of eyes for the starting QB when he comes off the field. This was one area that Landry Jones excelled at with his experience. Last season Ben Roethlisberger had two inexperienced youngsters still wet behind the ears as his back ups. It is highly doubtful they had much to offer Ben in this regard considering their experience levels.

That is my lead in to the question I want to submit to the BTSC community. Who is the greatest back up QB in Pittsburgh Steelers history? We will set a timeline of the last 50 years as a parameter.

My choice for the best back up QB in Steelers history would have to be Charlie Batch. Batch fits all the criteria of a perfect back up quarterback. He was an accomplished performer, actually skilled enough to fill in for multiple games when necessary. However, he understood the importance of the pecking order as a former starter himself. He pulled double duty as the unofficial assistant quarterback coach and offered valuable insights to the rest of the QBs on the roster, especially Ben. He displayed leadership with his actions, both on and off the field. Finally, I never felt discouraged or defeated when he was forced to enter the game. The Steelers could still run their offense. They still had a chance to win the game.

Now it's your chance to chime in. Who do you think was the best back up QB for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the last five decades? Please vote and explain your selection in the comments section below. Thanks for your participation and as always, Go Steelers!

How the NFL could logistically handle an 18-game regular season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 6:52am

How the NFL could logistically handle an 18-game regular season.

As I wrote last week, an 18-game NFL regular season schedule seems fairly inevitable and something that could become a reality within the next half-decade or so.

I realize this isn’t necessarily the most popular topic, but the conceptions of Heinz Field, PNC Park and PPG Paints Arena were extremely unpopular in some circles many years ago. However, today, all three are fine venues to catch Pittsburgh’s three major sports teams, and most people don’t seem to remember how angry they used to be.

In other words, human beings have a way of adapting and moving forward—even sports fans. Therefore, I’m sure we’ll all quickly grow used to the realities of an 18-game regular season.

But how would the league go about this change and do so without upsetting the apple cart too, too much?

If you’re going to add two more regular season games, you’re likely going to have to eliminate two preseason games. But if you decide to go ahead and do that, when does the real season start?

If you hypothetically go by the 2019 calendar, the real games would start the night of Thursday, August 22, when the Bears kick off the regular season against the Packers. The third week in August is traditionally when the third set of preseason games are played; since there will only be two of those moving forward, the second week of exhibition action would take place in the middle of the month—just like it does now; this year, that would occur between Thursday, August 15 and Saturday, August 17 (this is just a guess, but teams would likely continue to play their final preseason games on Thursday night so as to have as much time as possible to make the final cuts and get ready for Week 1).

Now, in my opinion, if the NFL is going to have its employees play two more regular season games, it’s only fair that it also gives them extra rest in the form of a second bye week. But wouldn’t that push the Super Bowl back to almost the end of February?

Under my scenario, it would not.

Under my scenario, Week 2 of every regular season would be a bye week for all NFL teams. Sounds radical, I know, but this would serve two purposes.

First, it would keep all teams on an even playing field early in the year and allow coaches and players to continue to work on the details over that initial two-week break. In fact, maybe the league could even temporarily expand team rosters ever so slightly and give coaches and general managers until Week 3 to make their final handful of cuts.

Secondly, the league-wide Week 2 bye would allow the college kiddos to continue to have the national spotlight on Labor Day Weekend when college football traditionally kicks off.

Again, going by the 2019 calendar, Week 3 would begin on Thursday, September 5— instead of a pageant filled contest, it would just be regular Thursday Night Football; the Steelers would take on the 49ers on September 8 instead of the 15, etc., etc.

NFL teams would arbitrarily have their second bye weeks over the course of the year, and the regular season would end on Sunday, January 5.

Under the 2019/2020 calendar scenario, this would push the Super Bowl back to February 9, which isn’t all that bad when you consider Super Bowl XL between the Steelers and Seahawks was played on February 5.

As for what the league would do with those two extra games and who would play whom?

With each team playing six divisional games, you couldn’t use those opponents because that would mean playing two teams three times and one team twice.

I suppose it could be neat to play two extra teams from the other conference. However, there would be little value to that in terms of tiebreakers.

There’s probably only one way to do this. Keep the number of divisional games the same (six), as well as the number of non-conference games (four). Continue to rotate divisions within each conference every season—the Steelers play all four teams from the AFC East in 2019. As for what changes, that brings me to the conference match-ups all teams must have each season that are based on where they placed in their divisions the year before. For example, the Steelers finished in second place in the AFC North in 2018. Therefore, they must play the Colts from the AFC South and the Chargers from the AFC West, both of whom finished in second place in their respective divisions in 2018.

Under an 18-game season, just create a home-and-home scenario, with each team playing at the other’s venue over the course of the year. If there’s a sweep by one team over another, that would make for an easy tiebreaker when deciding things like seeding and who makes the playoffs. If there’s a split, then conference record becomes the first tiebreaker between non-divisional opponents.

There you have it. That’s how the NFL could logistically add two games to its regular season schedule without wreaking too much havoc on our sensibilities.

Podcast: Should the Steelers cling to the underdog moniker in 2019?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 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
  • Underdogs or not? We debate...
  • If moves are to be made, what position is paramount?
  • Dad talk
  • 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.

Steelers News: Artie Burns tackles his demotion head on, and is ready for a bounce back

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 4:34am

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 from over. As the team retreats 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 Artie Burns, although not the starting cornerback for the black-and-gold anymore, has faced his demotion head on, and is determined to work his way back onto the field in 2019.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Everyone knows Artie Burns’ story. Rookie who showed tremendous promise, a gradual decline in performance his sophomore year followed by a precipitous drop off in 2018. What lies ahead for Burns is anyone’s guess, but the young CB is working his tail off to make things right in 2019.

Kevin Gorman: After being benched, Artie Burns shows accountability to Steelers

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

By the time the Steelers drafted in 2016, Burns already was a father figure to his younger brothers and a father to a young son, roles that were thrust upon him without a choice.

“It definitely molded me,” Burns said. “It’s definitely had a lot of effect on what I do and how, and my beliefs. That’s just life.”

So you would think this holiday is a special one to Burns.

And you would be wrong.

“I don’t celebrate Father’s Day,” Burns said. “You’ve got to appreciate people year-round. That’s part of my belief. It’s a family thing. Everything I do, every action all ties in together. It’s not one day where I appreciate you. You show appreciation every day.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Mike Hilton wants a new contract, and he is primed for a big year in 2019 if he has to prove his worth to the Steelers organization.

Slowing things down

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

In a game that moves at lightning speed, having it slow down can be one of the best things that happens for a young player.

And that was just the case last season for Mike Hilton, the cornerback who is entering his third season in the league.

“The game definitely slowed down for me,” said Hilton. “It’s big. You are starting to see things easier. You are starting to make reads easier. When the game slows down more plays are out there for you to make. I think I improved there this past year.

“The more you play, the more you see, the more it all slows down. You’re able to break down plays and routes. It gives you a better opportunity to make plays on the ball. Through OTAs and minicamp, I have been making plays.

“There are always things I can get better at. There were plays I left out on the field last year, and I don’t want to do that again.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The Steelers are a team in transition, but that doesn’t necessarily mean things are bad. Believe it or not, this team has bonded over past drama and believes in each other heading into 2019.

JuJu: ‘We believe in each other’

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

Smith-Schuster is a worker. When he is on the field, he is laser focused. He is intelligent, knowing the offense. And he knows what is expected of him, that others are looking at him to be productive, to be a mainstay for the offense.

“For me it’s my third year. Guys have played more years in the league,” said Smith-Schuster, who doesn’t tout the role, but others definitely acknowledge it. “But I want to be more vocal, speaking up in the group. Everybody in the (receivers) room is a leader. If they want to say something, they can say whatever they want. Being a leader by making plays on the field and speaking up.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • One of the players retained by the Steelers this offseason, but doesn’t get much publicity, is Tyson Alualu. A player who fits the team’s 4th DE rotation perfectly.

Steady veteran Tyson Alualu perfect fit for Steelers’ 4th defensive lineman

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

From the beginning of their professional marriage 2½ years ago, Tyson Alualu and the Pittsburgh Steelers seemed like a perfect fit. So when it came time to extend the partnership this past winter, it was the proverbial a no-brainer from Alualu’s end.

Apparently, it was for the Steelers, too.

“I knew that I wanted to be back here,” the defensive lineman said during minicamp this past week, “and I just wanted to make sure that the feeling was mutual on their end. They shared that, so in the end I just think it made sense.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Another week closer. pic.twitter.com/8ffnPuJSpJ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 16, 2019

When people asked me growing up who my hero was, I would always say my dad. He was my biggest fan and he taught me how to be a good man and a good dad to my beautiful children. I love and miss you. #HappyFatherDay
:@steelers pic.twitter.com/Uwr9MAkF6I

— Jerome Bettis (@JeromeBettis36) June 16, 2019

Coach Butler speaks about Devin Bush, how the moves made this offseason will help the defense and performing under pressure. pic.twitter.com/YAVrxEX6UE

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 16, 2019

Today, @_BigBen7 hosted the 11th Annual Ben Roethlisberger Football ProCamp, with 250 kids participating.

While most of the day was about , a huge part of it was not. Each of the kids were asked to bring food donations with them to benefit @PghFoodBank. pic.twitter.com/a5zI5qsMcD

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 16, 2019

From our dads to yours...

Happy #FathersDay! pic.twitter.com/fnhpJ5gsvc

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 16, 2019

Joe Haden gives maximum effort during Browns charity softball game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/16/2019 - 2:00pm

After taking part in the game, the Steelers cornerback spoke at length to the media about his love for the city of Cleveland

As a former first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns and a resident of the city for seven years, it would be fair to say that Joe Haden still has a lot of love for Cleveland. And while this is disturbing to note from a Pittsburgh Steelers player, it is somewhat understandable given the path how Haden took to the Steel City.

Given his popularity with some sections of the Browns fanbase, it was perhaps unsurprising to see Haden acting as a captain for a charity softball game against a team led by Cleveland receiver Jarvis Landry on Saturday. But Steelers fans might wish he would try a little harder in the future after seeing him take a fall when chasing a foul ball during the game.

Joe Haden's commitment to catching this foul ball is epic @joehaden23 @God_Son80 pic.twitter.com/g1V2QdZ1os

— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) June 15, 2019

Thankfully, Haden seemed uninjured by his tumble and with the game called off due to rain a little later in the day, he was saved from anymore unnecessary heroics that could damage him.

Left with little else to do but to speak to the assembled Cleveland media at the event, Haden would be asked a endless series of question about the chances of his former team in 2019, with his answers showing just how much regard he had for his for the Browns and their fans.

From a Pittsburgh perspective, the only comments worth passing on were his remarks about the Steelers’ prospects this year, with Haden confident the team has the potential to make some noise in 2019.

“At the end of the day, if you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t have a chance and I feel like JuJu Smith-Schuster, he’s a great receiver. I feel like James Conner, he’s been doing his thing. We have one of the best offensive lines in the league. And we’ve got Ben, that’s been doing it for so long, won championships and won everything like that.

“I feel like we have great defensive players, bringing in Bush, our D-line’s crazy. Offensive line, I feel like they’re the best in the league. So we just gotta put it all together too.’’

While a fan of Haden’s game long before he arrived in Pittsburgh, I am doing my best to deluded myself into believing he has no real lasting affection for Cleveland. If you have ever visited the Mistake on the Lake, you will understand how strange it is to have any affection for the city.

Thanking Dad for my passion for the Steelers and Terry Bradshaw for reminding me how lucky I am

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/16/2019 - 12:06pm

Stories of how I being a Steeler fan is hereditary.

Today is Father’s Day and it’s a double-dip of delight for me. After a bout with cancer at the age of 31, I was told that conceiving children would be very difficult for me. 16 years later, I am grateful to boast two children (a nearly 12-year old boy and a 10-year old girl) that look a lot like me and share my idiosyncrasies and a third (my stepson) that I am proud to call my son. I’m also blessed to still have my dad, who, at age 24, thankfully started a lot earlier than I did. I already gave him his Father’s Day gift last week, but I didn’t think it was nearly good enough after the 47 years of love and encouraged that he’s granted me, so I decided to give him these printed words of thanks...but it’s still not even close to being enough.

The man who fathered my dad, left his wife and four kids in 1951 when my dad was four. My grandmother scraped and clawed to barely make ends meet for her family, but the void left by this man was mammoth like the Grand Canyon or Casey Hampton. Thankfully, there were a couple of neighborhood dads who noticed and offered wisdom and support to this kid in the Moxham section of Johnstown, PA. As appreciated as these father figures were, my dad still longed for his real father. One story that will forever hurt my heart, was an unisolated incident in which my grandfather phoned and promised to take all four kids to the movies. They eagerly awaited in anticipation on the porch, but he never arrived. No courtesy call, no apology, no rain check...just unadulterated heartbreak.

After a Vietnam-Era stint in the Navy, it came time to have kids of his own. My mom bore him a daughter in 1968 and I appeared in December of 1971. My father had the opportunity to follow the same path of the aforementioned biological parent and become an absentee father, but instead he made a vow so sacred to his family, but most importantly to himself that he would be damned before he would ever inflict the emotional heartbreak that wounds, festers and never really heals on his wife and his children. To this very day, he’s never even come close to denting, let alone breaking, that vow as he’s been married to my mom for 52 years and is celebrating his 51st Fathers Day today.

My dad had an amazing work ethic, but always found time to do stuff with his kids. He introduced the Steelers to me in the glory years of the 70s and we’ve always shared that bond. I recall one time in 1980 when Terry Bradshaw threw a last second pass to Lynn Swann for a come from behind walkoff against the Browns. My father leapt in the air like he was shot out of a cannon and bloodied his knuckles on our plastered ceiling. I was wondering why he was so excited from just a game. But soon he had infected me with the same over exuberance and I dwarf his accomplishments with my foolish and juvenile celebrations.

Two days after my 11th birthday on December 5th, 1982, my dad surprised me with tickets to my first Steeler game. At Three Rivers that day, we saw Terry Bradshaw throw a 74-yard TD bomb to John Stallworth, Franco Harris score from a yard-out, Gary Anderson kick five extra points and Donnie Shell intercepting a pass. Seeing my heroes play was awesome, but one thing I remember the most was my dad heroically helping a car out of a ditch on the way home. Other great memories from that day were my getting a Steelers 50th anniversary mug from Arby’s (which I still proudly have displayed in my fan cave), eating a hot dog in the upper level concourse while freezing and my dad refusing my request to take me to a bar called Froggy’s (the very same pub featured on NBC’s “This Is Us”) after I saw a plane fly over with a banner trailing behind advertising a Steelers party. The Steelers won 35-14 and I was hooked even more.

There are too many father-son Steeler memories to mention like his teaching me never to cheer an opponent’s injury or to always wait for three zeros on the clock to celebrate. Also I can’t forget my shunning my buddies to come home from college every weekend with subs to watch the game with Dad, his kicking me out of the room briefly after berating Tim Worley through the television after a trip to the playoffs died when he fumbled (he teases me about that til this very day) and my getting to return the favor by taking him to a game in 1992 and his getting to sit in the press box. I made it a point to take my dad to a number of Steeler games every chance I got over the years and I know how proud he was to tell his buddies at work all about it. There were great wins and crushing defeats. But the box score never really mattered, it was the unbreakable bond of a little boy sharing a ballgame with his dad...no matter what year was on the calendar.

I moved out in 1995 to start my adult life. I’ve had successes and failures over the years, but he has always found a way to tell me how proud he is of me, even if I screwed up. He still does. He’s my biggest cheerleader and biggest fan. Sometimes I feel like he’s way too biased and he gives me much more credit than I deserve. I realize that he’s so proud to keep that vow from so many years ago. But here is the truth of all truths. I’m not as great a son that he thinks I am and it’s his amazing treatment of me that has backfired on him. I think of the last part of Harry Chapin’s No. 1 hit from 1974, “Cats in the Cradle” when I think of how often I see my dad, which is no where near enough.

I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away

I called him up just the other day

I said, I’d like to see you if you don’t mind

He said, I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time

You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kids have the flu

But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad

It’s been sure nice talking to you

And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me

He’d grown up just like me

My boy was just like me

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon

Little boy blue and the man in the moon

”When you coming home, son?” “I don’t know when”

But we’ll get together then, dad

We’re gonna have a good time then

You see, he taught me so much about how to be a father...that I want my kids to feel like me the way that I think of him. But even though I try to make time to see my parents, it’s not enough and that’s something I’ve got to change. As I write this, I realize that 2018 was the first season in my lifetime that I didn’t watch a single game with my dad. We would talk afterwards on the phone, but that’s not good enough either.

Last year I had the opportunity to go to Virginia to meet Terry Bradshaw at an autograph signing, I called up my dad and asked him to join me, which he seemed excited to do. We waited in line in anticipation of meeting the guy that we first bonded over all of those years ago. Bradshaw was very cordial, but something amazing happened when my father leaned in and told No. 12 that he was at Super Bowl XIV in 1980 and thanked him. “The Blonde Bomber” stopped and thought long and hard and said, “Man, that was a tough one”. I jumped in and jokingly explained that I was still mad at my dad for not taking me. “Why didn’t he take you?”, Terry asked. I explained that I was eight and he took my mom to Pasadena instead. The HOFer replied, “Hell son, I wouldn’t have taken you either”. Still joking, I mentioned that I still haven’t gotten over it. I’ll never forgot what Terry Bradshaw said next with a completely sincere look on his legendary face. He said, “Son, just be glad you still got him around”.

I didn’t need Terry Bradshaw to remind me of how blessed I am, but I’m glad he did. Sharing the love for the Steelers always gave us talking points and great memories, but I’m a lucky guy to have all that I have and that’s definitely due to the dedication and love that I got from a man that never was blessed with the same infinite gifts that I was.

Thank you, William Leonard Davis. I can’t wait to see you today. I love the Steelers, but I love you so much more. Happy Father’s Day.

Trey Edmunds turning heads throughout Steelers offseason workouts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/16/2019 - 9:49am

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a couple Edmunds on their team, and it is the running back which is turning heads.

It seems as if NFL families are in right now across the NFL landscape, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have their share of NFL brothers on their roster.

Maurkice Pouncey and brother Mike, of the Chargers, are one of the NFL families.

The Watt brothers, J.J. Watt of the Texans, Derek Watt of the Chargers and of course T.J. Watt of the Steelers.

Many would next talk about the Edmunds family next. Tremaine Edmunds, drafted in 2018 by the Buffalo Bills and Terrell drafted by the Steelers in the same draft. But what most don’t realize is there is a third, and oldest, brother who is also in the NFL. That would be running back Trey Edmunds.

Trey was signed by the New Orleans Saints in 2017 as an undrafted rookie free agent, but was waived in September of 2018 and eventually signed by the Steelers. Edmunds was actually promoted to the active roster in December of 2018, and is now turning his attention to the 2019 season where he hopes to crack the 53-man roster. But that won’t be an easy feat.

The Steelers have James Conner entrenched as the featured running back, Jaylen Samuels looks like he has the RB2 spot locked up and rookie Benny Snell Jr. will certainly have a spot on the 53-man roster. Will there be four running backs on the team? Edmunds is trying his best this offseason to create a spot for himself.

In fact, ESPN recently published an article a 32 surprise standouts for all NFL teams article, and Edmunds was picked by Steelers’ beat writer Jeremy Fowler as the surprise standout for the black-and-gold.

See what he had to say:

Pittsburgh Steelers

RB Trey Edmunds

The Steelers’ tailback room is full with James Conner, Jaylen Samuels and draft pick Benny Snell Jr., but Edmunds has been hard to miss during offseason work. He won several drills against linebackers in the open field and looks comfortable in the system as a two-year NFL veteran who also has played for New Orleans. The big brother of Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds will be difficult to cut. Other candidates are rookie receiver Diontae Johnson -- quarterback Mason Rudolph says Johnson has caught every ball Rudolph has thrown -- former CFL star receiver Diontae Spencer and maligned cornerback Artie Burns. -- Jeremy Fowler

This is clearly talking about football in shorts, speaking of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp, but it seems as though Trey Edmunds is doing the best with what he has in front of him. But will the Steelers keep four running backs? Will Edmunds make the 53-man roster? Feel free to let us know what you think in the comment section below!

A Letter From The Editor: The Pittsburgh brainwashing has been ongoing for 10 years

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/16/2019 - 8:31am

On this Father’s Day, I speak about me raising my kids in a black-and-gold household.

Last year at this time I wrote an article about the appreciation I have for my father thanking him for raising me the way he did, and especially for passing down his love for all things Pittsburgh to my brother and me. We grew up enjoying watching the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins, not just because we rooted for the team, but because it was a bond between the three of us which lasts till this day.

This year, on Father’s Day, I decided to turn the page, so to speak, and talk about me being a father. In case you just stumbled upon this article and are not a regular at BTSC, I am a 36 year old father of 5. My oldest, and only son, is 10 while my youngest daughter will turn one on the 23rd of this month. Ever since the day my son was brought home from the hospital, I knew I was going to raise my children the same way I was raised — with black-and-gold blood running through their veins.

Living in the state of Maryland, you can assume the harassment we receive for being Pittsburgh fans. Whether it be Baltimore Ravens fans or Washington Capitals followers, there are always snide remarks given as we don our black-and-gold gear wherever we go. But those who are close to us always find it funny when they ask one of my children a question like this...

“You like the Steelers? Are you sure you don’t want to root for the Ravens?”

Of course my child’s response would be something like this:

“Eww no! The Ravens stink.”

I smile and nod in approval, and am quickly accused of brainwashing my children. Well, of course I am! Why wouldn’t I want the same bond with my children like I have with my own father and brother? Why wouldn’t I want them to take an interest in something I hold so close to my heart?

Yes, my children have only known one team in the NFL, MLB and NHL their whole lives, and I’m sure as they grow and develop new relationships they will experience new teams in their own ways. But my hope is they will always hold true to their bond with the Steelers, and by proxy, their Dad.

I love my children more than life itself, and all I hope for is one day when my son and daughters are grown they call me on a Thursday to talk about the upcoming Steelers game and the opponent — just like I do with my own father.

You call it brainwashing, I call it developing a bond. Oh, and also raising them right!

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there doing their thing and raising their kids the right way!!

Who gets a new contract before the 2019 season: Hilton, Haden, both, or neither?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/16/2019 - 6:45am

Both CB’s are looking for a new contract even though they are in very different situations.

It’s not a breaking news how both Joe Haden and Mike Hilton are looking for a new contract before the start of the 2019 season. Mike Hilton has been participating in all team activities without signing his Restricted Free Agent tender (much like Alejandro Villanueva in 2017) in hopes of signing a long-term deal. Joe Haden is entering the final year of his three-year contract and has already stated he wants to retire a Steeler. Hilton is looking for his first large contract in the NFL. Haden has now passed the dreaded 3–0 and is thinking about the conclusion of his career. Both players are coming from different perspectives, but they have the same goal: multiple seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers beyond 2019.

First, let’s look at where each player stands contractually. Mike Hilton has his restricted free agent tender on the table which would pay him $645k for the 2019 season. There is no dead money if Hilton is released before the season, but after playing out his contract Hilton would be an unrestricted free agent in 2020. Over the course of his three year career (two on an NFL active roster), Hilton has earned just over $1 million total prior to 2019.

As for Joe Haden, he is in the final year of a three-year contract with the Steelers and is set to earn close to $12 million. With a savings of $10 million if he were to be cut, some have speculated Hayden could be released in a cap-saving move. But it really makes no sense for the Steelers to cut their best corner. With his expected salary for 2019, Haden would be set to go over the $100 million mark for his soon-to-be ten year career.

While signing Mike Hilton to a new contract would require more salary cap space, extending Joe Haden would most likely reduce his cap hit for 2019. Looking at both of these factors, it could be in the Steelers best interest to make both moves when it comes strictly to the numbers of the salary cap. The biggest issue would be Hilton’s contract demands as slot corners have seen their salaries greatly increase over the past few seasons.

There are other concerns when it comes to both players. At the end of 2018 it appeared Hilton was falling out of favor with the Steelers, even though he was still believed to be one of the top slot corners in the league. As for Haden, he has yet to play a 16 game season with the Steelers, so his availability and longevity has been the biggest concern with him going back to his time with the Browns. After looking at these factors, it could be possible it is in the Steelers best interest to just have them play under their current contracts for 2019, or make the drastic move in releasing either player.

From an on-the-field standpoint, it would be unknown exactly how the Steelers would replace their production. In 2018, Hilton and Haden combined for three of the teams eight interceptions, while Cam Sutton was the only other corner to pick off a pass. Additionally, Haden led the Steelers with 12 passes defensed while Hilton was second with eight. So statistically they were the two best pass defenders on the Steelers.

So what do you think will happen with the contracts of Joe Haden and Mike Hilton going into 2019? Are they both worth locking up beyond 2019, or should the Steelers wait and see while running the risk of losing them after the season?

Black and Gold Links: How Eli Rogers will prove his worth within the Steelers’ offense in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/16/2019 - 5:27am

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 from over. As the team retreats 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 Eli Rogers, although surrounded by competition, could survive once again to make the Steelers’ 53-man roster and be an impact player.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Eli Rogers played well when he returned to the team at the end of the 2018 regular season, but can he build on that and be an answer for an offense searching for just that?

Carter’s Classroom: Rogers survives again?

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

When Eli Rogers returned late in the 2018 season, he didn’t get too many chances to show why the Steelers kept him while he recovered from an long-term knee injury. Now, Rogers returns with competition at his position that could push him off the depth chart, but I’m here to break down why that won’t be so easy.

Rogers went from playing in 14 games in 2017 to just three in 2018. His injury opened the door for Ryan Switzer to make a name for himself as the team’s undersized and often overlooked slot receiver. Rogers came back and posted 12 catches on 14 targets for 79 yards and a two-point conversion.

Rogers isn’t tall, fast or elite in any regard, but his rapport with Ben Roethlisberger has been a big reason he’s stuck around since 2016. When Rogers would make mistakes in training camp, you could see Roethlisberger working closer with him than other receivers. The two have connected in some tight spots for the team over the years, and that shouldn’t be overlooked.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Don’t look now, but James Washington is turning heads throughout the 2019 offseason.

Kovacevic: Who’s the real James Washington?

By: Dejan Kovacevic, DKPittsburghSports

James Washington seems to be a contradiction.

He stands 5 feet 11, framed more like Rashard Mendenhall than any wide receiver at any level, but he’s stamped as being a high-point target in the NFL. He’s never been a burner, but he’s expected to splash his way to big plays. And maybe most mystifying, at least this summer, his pedigree at Oklahoma State was built on being stocky, sturdy ... so he went and lost 15 pounds.

Seriously, can anyone grasp what the Steelers might -- or might not -- have here?

I could see the investment of the second-round draft pick in 2017, particularly given how solid Kevin Colbert’s scouts have been at wide receiver. And I could definitely see a lot of what they liked rolling into the preseason, when he and his college QB, Mason Rudolph, reconnected with some combat-catch rock at the next level. But then came a rookie season in which he played 14 of 16 games, started only six and made all of 16 catches.

If Washington and Ben Roethlisberger were sharing anything but a uniform, it wasn’t obvious.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Is the NFL screwing up their new replay challenge rule?

Tim Benz: The NFL is screwing up its own replay fix

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Leave it to the NFL to block itself from doing the right thing when it comes to pass-interference replay.

The league was about to do something that showed eminent good sense. Now, it’s going to screw it up.

Bear with me through this winding road of missteps and stupidity as we recap. I’m as mad at the league for making you read this as I am at the league for making me type it.

• In March, NFL owners voted to allow replay reviews for pass-interference calls and (eventually) non-calls. This was a clear response to the blown non-call in the Saints-Rams NFC title game.

At the time, the problem with this significant rule change was that the owners gave replay officials sole power to initiate the review process in the final two minutes of each half and overtime.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Think Mike Hilton will hold out to get a new contract in 2019? Think again...

Holdout hasn’t ‘crossed my mind,’ Mike Hilton says as he awaits new deal

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Mike Hilton exited minicamp without a contract and without assurances he will get a favorable deal from the Pittsburgh Steelers prior to training camp.

Because he has not signed his $645,000 exclusive-rights tender, the 25-year-old slot cornerback remains the Steelers’ only player without a contract. The Steelers don’t report to training camp until July 25, giving the two sides nearly six weeks to work out a deal.

If nothing transpires, is Hilton prepared to hold out until he gets more money?

“That hasn’t even crossed my mind,” Hilton said this week before the Steelers concluded minicamp. “I’m here for the team. I’m going to be here and try to help the team win games.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

OTAs ☑️
Minicamp ☑️#SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/odQRqxFAPS

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 15, 2019

1,000 career catches for 8️⃣6️⃣@mvp86hinesward | #SteelersKickoff pic.twitter.com/vV9sdRVDlB

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 14, 2019

Defenses better not throw single coverage on @TeamJuJu in @EASPORTS #Madden20! Unleash the #Steelers offense on August 2nd.

RT for your chance to win a beta code to play #Madden20 this weekend only. pic.twitter.com/NmENwgggdx

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 14, 2019

World’s first robotic quarterback being trialed by NFL teams

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 2:00pm

The future of the fourth quarterback as a training camp arm could one day be in doubt if robotics company Monarc Sports Robotics has their way.

While the NFL is not normally known for embracing change, certain teams around the league have been quick to adapt to new technologies that will gave them an edge or help improve existing training methods. In 2016, the Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the first to trial tackling robots at practice, a device ultimately purchased by a number of NFL teams and colleges.

Now it would appear that the use of robotics in football has taken a significant leap forward with the invention of a device that is most simply described as a robotic quarterback. Created by a group of alumni from Iowa University and their company Monarc Sports Robotics , “The Seeker” is capable of delivering a football to any predefined point on the field using tracking software or being used as a more accurate version of a jugs machine.

Here's the story behind Seeker, the world's first robotic quarterback developed by Monarc Inc and currently being trialled by a host of NFL and college football teams. Via Iowa's @Local4NewsWHBF #robotics #sportsrobots pic.twitter.com/em7x8YZNou

— Robot&AIWorld (@RobotAndAIWorld) June 13, 2019

Given the precise nature of the device and its ability to map an exact point on the field, while accurately delivering the ball over and over again, the benefits of the robot are clear for all to see. Most recently it has been trialed by the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, as well as a number of Division I college programs.

World's first robot QB

(via @RobotAndAIWorld) pic.twitter.com/UBjR1xnoFb

— Bleacher Report NFL (@BR_NFL) June 14, 2019

Designed to be easy enough to use by anyone able to use a simple flip phone, The Seeker would offer teams the opportunity to allow receiver to train without the need of an additional player, while also giving them quality reps not wasted by errant throws.

With the Steelers noted for their interest in this sort of advanced technology, it might not be too long until fans see them on the field in Latrobe too.

Ben Roethlisberger comes in at No.12 on Forbes 2019 highest-paid athletes list

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 11:45am

Thanks to the new contract he signed this offseason, the Steelers star quarterback is back on the list of the world’s richest athletes

While it can be hard to comprehend the contracts handed out to some NFL players these days, the money the top names can earn pales by comparison to the figures received by professional athletes playing other sports.

As per the latest Forbes highest-paid athletes list released last week, the sport to play if you really want to get paid is soccer, with the top three earners on the list all plying their trade in European soccer leagues. Barcelona captain Lionel Messi takes the No.1 spot with total earnings of $127 million, closely followed by Juventus midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo at No.2 with $109 million and Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar at No.3 with $105 million.

Thanks to the new contract his signed this offseason, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback makes a rare appearance on the list at No.12 with total earnings of $55.5 million, the third highest ranked NFL player on the list behind Russell Wilson at No.6 ($89.5M) and Aaron Rodgers at No.7 ($89.3). Big Ben is unsurprisingly the only Pittsburgh player in the list, following in the footsteps of Stephon Tuitt who came in at No.79 in 2018.

In total, 19 NFL players are included this year, lagging far behind the NBA with 35 players, the most of any sport, and ahead of the MLB with 15. But while soccer players might dominate the top spots, there are only 12 of them on the list overall.

Perhaps the most noticeable contrast between NFL players and their counterparts in other sports is how little of their income is made up from sponsorship, with Roethlisberger especially lacking in this regard. Where tennis players like Roger Federer earned $86 million from endorsements over the past year and just $7.4 million in winnings playing tennis, only $1 million of Big Ben’s income came from anyone other than the Steelers.

Drew Brees was the highest earner among NFL players in terms of sponsorship with $16 million, but almost half of the football players on the list received less than $1 million. And while the same can be said of the relatively low levels of endorsements earned by MLB players as against their salaries from baseball, the highest-earning NBA players generally appear to do better out of endorsements.

Lacking some the international appeal of many the other sports represented on the list, NFL players will always struggle to match the earnings of other sports. And if football players hope to see this imbalance change, they would be wise to embrace plans for international expansion.

Possibly of interest only to me: Among the more obscure facts noted while researching this piece was the name of the highest paid athlete of all-time. Rather than the expected options like Michael Jordan who comes in at No.2 with $1.85 billion or Tiger Woods at No.3 with $1.7 billion, it is a Roman chariot racer called Gaius Appuleius Diocles who takes that title with earnings of over $15 billion based on today’s money.

The Steelers’ emphasis on situational football continues in minicamp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 10:17am

As in years past, the Steelers have put an emphasis on situational football to hopefully improve in 2019.

Every year the Pittsburgh Steelers, along with every other football team across the United States, puts an emphasis on a specific aspect of their game. It was this approach which resulted in the Steelers’ starting every practice with ‘Seven Shots’. Seven plays in the red-zone to improve red-zone production.

In 2018, the Steelers had one of the best red-zone offenses in the NFL, so you can say it was a job well done by the coaching staff. On the defensive side of the ball the theme was tackling. After a horrendous 2017 season, in regards to tackling, the Steelers improved in this skill set in 2018.

So, what is the focus this year? If Mandatory Minicamp is any indication it is on the two-minute drill. If you think this is just for the offense, think again, this is also for the defense.

This per Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Each of the final seven games last season came down to either the Steelers or their opponent possessing the ball in the last two minutes with a chance to tie or win the game. It worked out for the Steelers in wins against Jacksonville, New England and Cincinnati – not so much in losses against Denver, Oakland, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Chargers during a 2-4 closing stretch.

In the first half, the Steelers were involved in such games against Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Cincinnati.

When speaking with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, Fichtner spoke of why this was a point of emphasis this offseason.

“Not many games are won or lost and you know it going into the fourth quarter where there’s a 20-point difference,” Fichtner said Wednesday. “You’re going to be playing four quarters and someone is going to have the ball at the end to win the damn game.”

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler added more to the reason for the two-minute scenario being a focal point.

“I think we can be better than we were last year, and we have to be during those 2-minute periods because we are going to be in a lot of close games,” Butler said. “Those games that we had last year that we lost, we won the year before when we were 13-3. In those games, we’ve got to get the winning edge.”

The main man in charge had a different spin on it, one which doesn’t equate to just offense or defense. He wants to see players in specific situations, and he also wants to get them on film throughout the drill.

“It’s good to see guys operate under situations,” Tomlin said. “It aids on the drill when we have NFL officials here like we did this week.”

“You always want to have some of that situational stuff installed so you can get it on video as a teach tool when you reinstall it when you go to training camp,” he said. “When the real installation comes, we’re not talking in abstract fashion, they’re not looking at other people executing it. They’re looking and themselves and some way to execute it.”

The Steelers’ have played their cards wisely in the past, and have seen the benefits of it during the season. Will this pay off as well? Only time will tell, but a better two minute offense and defense can certainly help a team looking to make it back to the postseason in 2019.

NFL Realignment: A rebuttal, and changes which include Conference changes

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 8:46am

A different proposal of realigning divisions both within and across the current AFC and NFC.

After reading the article earlier this week on BTSC, I informed Jeff Hartman I had hypothesized a divisional realignment back in 2016. It might have been boring because it didn’t switch each division, but it was an alignment which made sense. After looking over my old alignment, I decided to take it to the next level and also do an additional realignment across the conferences.

2019 will be the 18th season of the current division format that started in 2002 when the Houston Texans joined the NFL. At the time, the goal was to align teams geographically while still keeping some classic rivalries. But with team travel being a constant issue, how would the divisions look if they were lined up purely by location?

The process used was to start with extreme geographical cities (Seattle, New England, Miami, etc.) and start grouping the closest teams. The most sensible arrangement keeping teams in conference appears to be as follows:

AFC East:

New England

NY Jets

Buffalo

Baltimore

AFC North:

Pittsburgh

Cleveland

Cincinnati

Indianapolis

AFC South:

Tennessee

Houston

Jacksonville

Miami

AFC West:

Kansas City

Denver

Oakland (Las Vegas)

LA Chargers

NFC East:

NY Giants

Philadelphia

Washington

Carolina

NFC North:

Minnesota

Green Bay

Chicago

Detroit

NFC South:

Atlanta

Dallas

New Orleans

Tampa Bay

NFC West:

Arizona

Seattle

San Fransisco

LA Rams

The changes are subtle. In the AFC, Baltimore goes to the East, Miami moves to the South, and Indy replaces the Ravens in the AFC North. As for the NFC, it’s only a swap of Dallas and Carolina while leaving the North and West alone.

The biggest issue with this alignment is keeping Kansas City in the West. There are only seven teams west of the central time zone, so someone has to bite the bullet. Kansas City and Houston are the next farthest teams west in the AFC. If conferences were ignored, Dallas could go into the West because it is slightly west of the AFC teams. But Kansas City isn’t really close to any other market (Minneapolis is the closest over 400 miles away), so it makes sense to keep them in the West in this alignment.

If conferences are ignored for realignment, things suddenly become very interesting. I still labeled conferences as AFC and NFC, but really they could be switched in each geographic direction or completely reassigned altogether. Once again, I started with extreme cities in making my groupings. The only rule I stuck to was Los Angeles and New York had to have a team in each conference rather than be in the same division. Here is how it turned out:

AFC East (Northeast):

New England

NY Jets

Philadelphia

Buffalo

NFC East (Mideast):

NY Giants

Washington

Baltimore

Pittsburgh

AFC North (Mid-central):

Detroit

Cleveland

Cincinnati

Indianapolis

NFC North (North-central):

Minnesota

Green Bay

Chicago

Kansas City

AFC South (Gulf Coast):

Houston

Tampa Bay

New Orleans

Miami

NFC South (Mid-South):

Atlanta

Carolina

Tennessee

Jacksonville

AFC West (Midwest):

LA Chargers

Denver

Arizona

Dallas

NFC West (West Coast):

Seattle

San Fransisco

LA Rams

Oakland (Las Vegas)

I gave additional nicknames to each division to help explain why they were split this particular way. I realize the names are not perfect, but they are mildly close. Yes, Miami is on the Atlantic, but it is in reasonable proximity to the Gulf.

With the exception of New York and Los Angeles, the goal was for any team traveling to another city in their division to not pass by another team’s city in a different division. In the current NFL alignment, the Patriots roughly pass six non-AFC East teams (Philly, Baltimore, Washington, Carolina, Jacksonville, and Tampa) on their way to Miami. Ignoring the LA/NY problem, the new divisions can take a US map and connect the dots of the four teams in each division and the areas covered by these lines would not overlap.

In this configuration, Pittsburgh is in a very interesting situation. Yes, the Steelers are geographically closest to Cleveland, but Pittsburgh is farther east than anyone in the Mid-central and the East needed one more team. Any other team would cause areas to overlap.

If ignoring the restrictions of the multi-team cities, Philadelphia and the New York Giants would swap, while the LA Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders switch divisions. If the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in 2020, their new city should determine their placement.

So if realignment were to occur, what would be the most interesting for the Steelers? Would it be to stick with Cleveland, Cincinnati, and gain Indianapolis, or the conference change yielding Baltimore, Washington, and the NY Giants or Philadelphia? Or is it best to just leave everything alone? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Player Profile: Conor Sheehy

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/15/2019 - 6:48am

Continuing our look into the lesser known prospects and if they will be able to crack the Steelers’ 53-man roster.

The first place to look up info for a player you are unfamiliar with is Wikipedia? But what happens if that player does not have a Wiki page? Dig deep into the internet and see what you can find in every nook and cranny. That is exactly what had to be done to find out about Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Conor Sheehy.

At 6-foot-4 and 295-pounds, Sheehy would stand out among most of the other Steelers defensive ends. With the starting defensive ends locked up by starters Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward, and primary backup filled by Tyson Alualu, Sheehy will need his play to stand out more than his size this summer. Probably Sheehy is battling with four other players for one roster spot on the 53-man roster. Battling for playing time is something that is not new to Sheehy.

During his Freshman season at Wisconsin, Sheehy played in all 14 games but only recorded two tackles. One for loss in limited play.

2015 was the breakout season Sheehy had been waiting for. Six starts at nose tackle and two at defensive end accounted for 31 total tackles, three for loss and two sacks. With the mix of starts at two different positions, Sheehy showed his versatility along the defensive front in a talented Badger lineup. His performance was not only limited to the gridiron as Sheehy scooped up an Academic All-Big Ten honor.

During his junior campaign, Sheehy started 11 of Wisconsin’s 13 games — all at defensive end. He logged 27 tackles, four for loss, 2.5 sacks, and one forced fumble en route to third-team All-Big Ten honors (Coaches). The highlight game of the season came against Northwestern when Sheehy amassed five Northwestern five total tackles, four of them solo, one sack and a forced fumble.

2017 was the pinnacle of his college career as Sheehy started all 14 games at defensive end.

The defense was second in the nation in total defense surrendering 262.1 yards per game. The defense was third in the nation in scoring giving up a meager 13.9 points per game while also finishing third in rush defense (98.4 yards per game) and being the top team in the nation in passing efficiency (96.4 yards per game). Sheehy was rewarded with second-team All-Big Ten (coaches) and third-team All-Big Ten (media) honors.

The lack of production and a mediocre pro day sealed his fate at not being selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. The 5.26 second 40 time was sluggish but the stat that jumps out was putting up just 21 reps of 225 on the bench press. A low total for a player of his size.

After going undrafted Sheehy remained in Wisconsin and signed with the Green Bay Packers. When the Packers cut down from 90 players to 53 early in September, Sheehy was not among the ones who made the final roster nor was he signed to the Packers practice squad or any other practice squad in 2018.

The Steelers gave Sheehy another shot at an NFL career when the team signed him to a reserve/futures contract in January. Sheehy will look to impress coaches this summer but reps will be limited because of his position on the depth chart. Undersized and lack of strength should keep him locked in at only competing for defensive end reps and not any nose tackle reps. Steelers 2019 sixth-round pick Isaiah Buggs, Winston Craig, Henry Mondeaux, and Casey Sayles will his competitors for the lone roster that should be available.

The odds are long for big No. 61 to make the final foster but Pittsburgh could add him to the team’s practice squad.

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