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Kenny Pickett’s situation with the Steelers not deemed the best in the NFL for rookie QBs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/16/2022 - 12:30pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Think Kenny Pickett has the best situation of all the rookie quarterbacks? Not according to PFF...

The Pittsburgh Steelers made a strong statement in the 2022 NFL Draft when they selected Kenny Pickett out of the University of Pittsburgh. The statement wasn’t just how they took the player who practiced right next door for five years, but also the fact the Steelers had all available quarterbacks open to them and they chose Pickett.

Pickett finds himself in a pretty good spot with the Steelers. With Ben Roethlisberger officially retired after 18 seasons, Pickett will be the next quarterback, and face of the franchise, in either 2022 or 2023.

A pretty good landing spot, most would assume, but not the folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF). No, in ranking the best landing spots/situations for the Top 5 quarterbacks in the 2022 draft, Pickett landing in Pittsburgh wasn’t considered the best.

Why? Well, see what PFF had to say about Pickett landing with the Steelers:

2. KENNY PICKETT, PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Even if the offensive line he’s getting thrown behind placed 26th in PFF’s final rankings last year, there are a number of reasons why this was still an ideal scenario for Pickett. The first is obviously comfortability. Pickett took 1,054 drop backs at Heinz Field for the Pittsburgh Panthers and earned an 85.5 passing grade (compared to a 73.6 on the road in college). The second reason is the Steelers’ revamped receiving corps, featuring Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens and Calvin Austin III. That has the potential to be the most dynamic group on this list. The final reason is stability. Now, that may not apply to offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who is on the hot seat after the way that offense performed last season, but it does apply to Mike Tomlin, who isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The one worry is that Pickett’s 8.5-inch hands couldn’t have gone to a worse landing spot to alleviate the fumbling issues he showed in college. Every single team in the AFC North plays its games in cold-weather outdoor stadiums. And before you say, “he played there in college what’s the big deal?” understand that the latest game he ever played in Pittsburgh came in November and he’ll play six games later than that next season.

That’s right folks. The reason for Pickett not finding himself in the best landing spot is due to his hand size. Wondering how the Top 5 shook out, according to PFF? take a look below:

Top 5 QB landing spots

1. Sam Howell, Washington Commanders
2. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers
3. Malik Willis, Tennessee Titans
4. Bailey Zappe, New England Patriots
5. Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons

When you look at the above quarterbacks, each player finds themselves in a unique situation. For Howell, he will be playing behind Carson Wentz, someone the Commanders traded with the Colts to get. Willis is behind entrenched starter Ryan Tannehill, and Zappe behind Mac Jones who is going into this second season as the starter. Ridder was the second quarterback taken in the draft, and might have as good a chance as Pickett to play. In Atlanta Ridder is behind Marcus Mariota, and would likely be in a similar situation as Pickett in Pittsburgh.

Most people love to bash the 2022 quarterback class, but only time will tell if any of these players will pan out and be regular starters in the NFL. In the meantime, Pickett, and all of his fellow quarterback classmates, will try to carve out their own niche in the NFL with their respective teams.

Do you think Pickett’s landing spot was the best? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on throughout the offseason.

Antonio Brown’s latest cryptic tweet involves the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/16/2022 - 11:48am
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have long parted ways with disgruntled wide receiver Antonio Brown, but Brown has put the Steelers back on his timeline recently.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who hasn’t thought about Antonio Brown in a long time. As for the fan base, I’m sure Brown’s continued antics have made them think about his exit out of Pittsburgh a time or two.

Whether you love him, hate him or just feel bad for him, Brown is a lightning rod of controversy at every turn. Whether it was his departure from Pittsburgh, then forcing his way out of Oakland to being suspended with the Patriots. Upon reinstatement, Brown looked to have righted the ship and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

That was until he literally walked off the field last season during a game vs. the New York Jets.

Since that incident, Brown has appeared on a number of podcasts, and his social media behavior has proven to be as erratic as one would expect. On Monday, Brown put out a tweet which did something he hasn’t done in a long time — mentioned the Steelers.

Here is what he said around noon Monday:

Just wanna Retire A Steeler

— AB (@AB84) May 16, 2022

You can read this tweet a million different ways.

  • Some read it as Brown looking to retire from football, and wanting a one-day contract to end his career where he had the best years of his professional career.
  • Some see it as Brown trying to work his way back to the Steelers’ roster.
  • Others chalk it up to more nonsense being spewed by Brown via social media.
  • All while others feel it is Brown just trying to remain relevant and get people to talk about him.

If it was the latter, mission accomplished, Mr. Brown.

Either way, it is highly doubtful the Steelers would want Brown, and his proverbial baggage, associated with the organization anytime soon. And that would also be if Brown was hanging up his cleats and wanted to retire as a member of the Steelers. Sure, he was one of the most prolific wide receivers in team history, but with the bridges burned on his way out you have to wonder if the Steelers would even feel obliged to honor such a simple request.

In the meantime, let the speculation of this tweet begin until Brown says something else on social media to cause a stir.

Would you welcome Brown back to retire as a Steeler? How about have him back on the current roster? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp.

UPDATE

Lucky for us, Brown responded to some tweets and notified fans he has no interest in wanting to play for the Steelers, only to retire as a Steeler.

Translation: I only want to retire as a Pittsburgh Steeler, not play for them….just so we’re all clear.

— AB Translator (@MessengerMan2) May 16, 2022

What is the Steelers biggest X-Factor going into the 2022 season?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/16/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

There are a lot of different parts of the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers which will ultimately determine their success this coming season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have finished up their 2022 rookie minicamp and are heading into the next phase of OTAs. With 90 players on their offseason roster, the lineup is set for the most part, outside of the occasional player swap, unless they decide to make another major change.

When it comes to the Steelers personnel, there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Exactly who will be playing for the Steelers, or how well a particular unit may work together, will be a huge factor in the team's success, or lack thereof.

So what will be the Steelers biggest X-Factor as to how their 2020 season turns out?

First of all, I realize that it is May. There are a lot of things that are going to take shape before the Steelers take the field in Week 1. Therefore, this is a question that will likely be re-addressed throughout the remainder of the offseason, training camp, and the preseason as the Steelers get ready to play meaningful football in September. But now that the roster is filled out, it’s a good time to start this process and see how things may change over the coming months.

For now, these are the five nominations as to what is the biggest X-Factor in determining the Steeler success this coming season. Because this is not a question of who, players will not be specific options.

The quarterback position

With the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, this is an obvious choice. Uncertain at this time as to exactly who’s going to be taking snaps in the Steelers first regular season game on September 11 in Cincinnati, it’s ultimately going to be the play of that person which will help the Steelers win games. Also, whether or not that person remains to be the Steelers quarterback throughout the season is another factor. Whether it be in Kenny Pickett, Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, Chris Oladokun, or some surprising roster move, the play of the Steelers signal caller will be a huge factor in the offense’s success, and therefore the overall success of the Steelers.

The offensive line

An issue for the Steelers the last few seasons, the ability of the offensive line to protect their quarterback as well as open holes for the running game is another huge factor in the team’s offensive success. If the Steelers quarterback simply does not have time to throw, or is running for his life after receiving a snap, it makes it much more difficult for the offense to get into rhythm. Additionally, if Najee Harris or any other Steelers running back is constantly being contacted in the backfield, expecting huge strides in the running game is a difficult task. Additionally, if these factors greatly inhibit the offense, it could be the defense is called on to be on the field too often.

The Steelers did make some offseason moves in an attempt to bolster their offensive line. In bringing in James Daniel and Mason Cole, the Steelers are not sure in which way both players will contribute when it all shakes out. But by having two more players with NFL experience, if the Steelers younger players do not make the needed improvements for 2022 they should not be forced onto the field. Between young players such as Dan Moore Jr. and Kendrick Green, Kevin Dotson coming off an injury that cost him the second half of last season, Chuks Okorafor being retained despite questions of him holding down the position, and exactly how free agents are going to fit into the mix makes for a difficult situation which could end up very good or turn in a very bad direction.

Running back depth

The Steelers seem to be set with Pro Bowl running back Najee Harris as he enters his second season in the NFL. Last year Harris was able to play at all 17 regular season games as well as the postseason, but missing time in the middle of Week 18 showed how much his absence affected the offense. With the running back position being one in which players are constantly missing time due to injury, are the Steelers ready to have an adequate rushing attack in the event in Najee Harris misses time? This is one of those questions that you hope never has to be answered, but when it does it becomes a huge issue.

Stopping the run

Rather than pin the responsibility on the defensive front or the linebackers, it’s so much easier to look at the defense as a whole and discuss their ability to stop the run. The 2021 season saw the Steelers giving up more rushing yards than they ever had in franchise history. Whether it be wreaking havoc at the line of scrimmage or the ability for linebackers to free themselves up to step up and make plays, the Steelers were continually gashed in the run game last season. Yes, there are hopes that Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu are returning to the defensive line. But until they take the field, the Steelers may not be exactly sure what type of play they can expect. While the modern NFL does allow for teams to struggle at stopping the run as long as they are extremely effective at shutting down the passing game and getting to the quarterback, the Steelers could be a truly dominant defense if they could adequately stop both phases of the game.

The cornerbacks

As much as I didn’t want to call out a specific position in the last section, this section is all about the cornerbacks. With the narrative among Steelers fans being that there is no true number one cornerback on this team, will the Steelers having multiple options in the secondary be enough to get the job done? Can Levi Wallace come in and be the answer at one of the positions? Can Ahkello Witherspoon be utilized enough in coverage where his struggles in run defense are insignificant? What are the Steelers hoping to get out of Cameron Sutton? There are a lot of questions about this position group for 2020, and the answer to those questions could be the difference between the Steelers having an elite pass defense or having it be an area of concern.

There very likely could be more factors that one could consider when it comes to the Steelers 2022 season, but these are the five areas I’ve chosen for now. In case you’re wondering, the best answer for what is the biggest X-Factor would be “all of the above” as the Steelers coming together in all these areas will ultimately determine their success. But which one is the most significant?

I don’t always do this in articles where I ask questions, but this time I’m going to give my answer:

The offensive line

Yes, I’m a bit biased because I both played and coached the position, but I feel the other two offensive X-Factors will be greatly influenced by the Steelers ability for the offensive line to do their part. If the Steelers can’t win in the trenches, they are going to be in trouble. If their offensive line can come together in a huge way, it makes the other factors less significant.

So what do you believe is the biggest X-Factor for the Steelers for 2022 as we sit here in May? In what order would you place their five items? Make sure you vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Is Matt Canada the kind of coach who learns from his mistakes?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/16/2022 - 8:30am
This is an absolutely perfect shot of that hat. This picture ought to be in a catalog. | Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

There’s a history of Steelers coaches growing from early-career stumbles. Maybe Canada will be one of them.

There’s plenty of consternation about Matt Canada’s return as offensive coordinator for the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers. Local writers like Dejan Kovacevic can’t stop talking about it, and I’ve seen plenty of pessimism in the BTSC comments too.

This angst is not completely unfounded. Canada’s only year running an NFL offense was 2021, and the results were mixed. The Steelers made the playoffs and swept both Cleveland and Baltimore, but the offense itself was 21st in points, 23rd in yards, and looked not just ineffective much of the year, but boring. You could make the case (and some have) that the Steelers won in spite of Canada, rather than because of him.

So why retain the offensive coordinator (OC)? Is there even an argument for it? Well, potentially, yes. Several, in fact.

For example, you could claim that one year is too short to determine whether Canada can be a winning coordinator, particularly in his first ever OC position. One-and-done is pretty out of character for the Steelers, as well. It’s why they’re so stable, and one reason they’re so good.

You could also claim that Canada and Ben Roethlisberger were poorly matched, especially at this stage in Roethlisberger’s career — where his legs were no longer able to sandlot the team through trouble, and where Ben hadn’t endured a major schematic change in a decade.

You could also claim Canada was saddled with unexpected key injuries, David DeCastro and JuJu Smith-Schuster as examples, a wretched offensive line, and four rookie starters. And all of these would be true.

But those are easy; I’d rather explore something hard. A better question, and perhaps a more tenuous reason for optimism, is about whether Matt Canada has the ability to grow. I say “tenuous” because we really can’t know yet if Canada is the type to learn from his mistakes. But if retaining Canada is a good move, and the Steelers offense comes to life again in 2022, that capacity in the OC will be one of the most important factors.

It’s probably important for us as fans to also remember: this wouldn’t be the first time a Steelers coach endured a learning curve on the way to a Lombardi, or four. We have short memories in Steeler Nation sometimes, so here’s a survey of how we’ve seen this movie before:

Chuck Noll learns that psychology and confidence matter SetNumber: X17311 Our Hall of Fame busts don’t have to be next to each other, but for the time being, we’ve got titles to win.

After drafting Louisiana Tech gunslinger Terry Bradshaw at No. 1 overall in 1970, 2nd year coach Chuck Noll stuck his new quarterback right into the lineup — starting Bradshaw in Week 1 of his rookie year. To complicate matters, Noll, who resented his own former coach, Paul Brown, for using him as a “messenger guard,” shuttling in and out of action, relaying plays to Otto Graham, swore he’d let his quarterbacks call their own plays as a coach. The result of this was rookie Bradshaw throwing six touchdowns against 24 interceptions, and completing 38% of his passes. Yikes.

Over the next couple of years, Noll would play Bradshaw right up until the Blonde Bomber screwed up. Then, in would come Terry Hanratty or “Jefferson Street” Joe Gilliam, until they screwed up themselves. This method allowed the maturing brick wall of a defense to carry the team as it improved year by year — even making the playoffs in Bradshaw’s third and fourth seasons — but it kept Bradshaw nervous and tight, knowing he’d be yanked at the first sign of struggle.

In 1974, heading into Week 12, Gilliam had started six games, Bradshaw five, and Hanratty one. That week, Bradshaw got the start and lost, completing six of 20, for 60 yards in a division loss to Houston. This should have led to another QB switch, but Noll called Bradshaw into his office during the week and told him, “we’re riding with you, win or lose. This is your team.”

Six weeks later, the Steelers were Super Bowl champs. And five years after that, they won their unprecedented fourth, with Bradshaw collecting his second consecutive MVP.

Noll had to learn, and then relearn, how to manage his wildly talented but sensitive quarterback. And he did.

Bill Cowher learns that you can’t coach just on preconceived principles Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images Look, man, I just can’t start a guy named “Bubby” in a playoff game. I just can’t.

In Bill Cowher’s rookie season, 1992, he was NFL Coach of the Year, and the Steelers entered the playoffs with the AFC’s No. 1 seed. This is usually explained as a reflection of the Chin’s intensity, giving the already-outstanding roster a shot of adrenaline, and the coach’s decision to shift the offense into a one-back scheme, with Barry Foster in the catbird seat (where he set the still-standing team rushing record). But another element is that Cowher shifted the quarterback job from fiery gunslinger Bubby Brister to low-risk game manager Neil O’Donnell.

O’Donnell was injured late in the ‘92 season, and the Steelers had to turn to Brister (who’d won playoff games in Pittsburgh already, and had been coached by Chuck Noll for six years). Brister had won a couple of games in relief midseason, and lost a couple late, after O’Donnell’s injury, then played lights-out in the closer against Bill Belichick’s Cleveland Browns, to take the division and clinch the first-round bye.

By the Steelers first playoff game, it had been over a month since O’Donnell had suited up, but Cowher believed no one could lose their job because of injury. So when the Divisional contest arrived, he stuck O’Donnell back into the lineup, despite Brister’s experience and quasi-hot hand.

In the playoff against Buffalo, O’Donnell threw two picks against no touchdowns (39.9 rating). And the Steelers were upset 24-3.

Check back in at the end of Cowher’s career and we see Tommy Maddox starting the 2004 season. In a Week 2 blowout loss to Baltimore, Maddox was injured and rookie Ben Roethlisberger entered for cleanup. You know the rest of this story: the team finished with 14 straight victories, and came one game (against a totally not cheating opponent) from the Super Bowl. But here’s the thing: Maddox got healthy again. He was in uniform as backup before the year ended, and even started (and won) the season finale as Ben and the starters sat.

35 year-old Bill Cowher would probably have stuck Maddox back into the lineup when he was healthy at midseason. But 49 year-old Bill Cowher had learned.

Mike Tomlin learns to pace for a full season Photo by Joseph Sargent/Icon SMI/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images You think you’re tired now, Ben? Just wait until you’re 39 and they add another game to the season.

In Mike Tomlin’s rookie season, he had a tall order in front of him: getting the respect of a successful and veteran team as a 35 year-old first time coach — a team that had notably followed up its Super Bowl season by missing the playoffs altogether. To drive home the point that the past is past, Tomlin worked the Steelers hard in training camp, and pushed them to earn their way back to the top.

It worked. In his first eight games as coach, the Steelers won five ball games by 20+ points. They improved their record by several games from the previous year and won the AFC North. But he definitely worked them too hard. The players were exhausted heading down the stretch, closing the season on a 1-3 skid, before being upset at home against Jacksonville in the Wild Card round.

What did Tomlin learn from that? Well, he took it easier in training camp in the future. But he also started extending Wednesdays off for veteran players like Hines Ward and James Farrior. As a result, the team was fresher heading down the stretch in the next few years, and won two AFC titles and a Super Bowl over the next three seasons, before the heart of the roster aged out.

That is, with aging players on the cusp of their retirements, the Steelers played extra-long seasons repeatedly, and nonetheless wound up the most successful team in the game for a half-decade. Tomlin’s initial instinct about work and conditioning wouldn’t have allowed that, but he learned.

Dick LeBeau learns to adjust to the opponent Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images It warms my heart to see Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, Aaron Smith, and Dick Lebeau on the Steelers sideline.

I wanted to throw a coordinator in here too, so where better to look than the inimitable “Coach Dad”?

Dick LeBeau’s zone-blitz schemes were developed in the 1980s to confuse and pressure west coast passing attacks like Bill Walsh’s 49ers. Like Walsh, LeBeau’s schemes were highly designed and the coach trusted the scheme implicitly. He might change the disguises from game to game, but the coverages and pressures were largely the same. And like Walsh, LeBeau’s schemes created winners, as Coach Dad is now regarded as one of the greatest defensive coordinators (DC) of all-time.

Unfortunately, as we all know, smart and well-coached quarterbacks could sometimes pick his teams apart. Kurt Warner and Aaron Rodgers both illustrated this in Super Bowls, but you’re probably thinking of Tom Brady when I say that.

Brady’s Patriots didn’t light up the Steelers often, but they beat LeBeau’s defenses more than they lost — usually by quick dink-and-dunk passing that worked the middle of the field and didn’t allow the Pittsburgh edge rushers time to collapse the pocket. Brady’s biggest weakness is pressure up the middle; without that, a zone scheme’s empty spots are too easy to locate. So LeBeau’s edge-rush and zone combo played exactly to Brady’s strengths.

Then came 2011, where the Steelers were defending AFC champs, hosting Brady’s Patriots in Week 8. The Pats entered the contest clearly believing they’d get the typical Dick LeBeau zone blitz, but LeBeau crossed them up, dialing up press coverage all day long. Brady was flummoxed and ineffective, and New England totaled a pitiful 213 yards of total offense. Pittsburgh pounded them 25-17, a game which was truly not that close — the Steelers doubled them in yards and held possession for over 39 minutes.

This was a very good Pats team — they’d go on to win the AFC that year — but the Steelers outplayed them up and down, because Dick LeBeau learned he couldn’t just keep throwing the same scheme at them and expect a different result.

Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Pictured: one of the worst play-calls of Matt Canada’s entire career.

Mistakes happen to the best of them. You can’t hang a guy for not being perfect. The question of whether Matt Canada was any good last year is answered by stats and numbers; the better question is whether Matt Canada will learn something from 2021’s sputtering. He’ll have fewer rookies that have to start; he’ll have a more mobile and agile quarterback (no matter who gets the job); and he’ll have fewer surprises as a second-year OC.

Now it’s on him. Some of you have already given up hope, but I think one year is too short to know. This is not a prediction, it’s also possible he won’t learn a thing, but I think there’s reason for optimism.

Time will tell.

Will 2022 will be the year Alex Highsmith becomes a star?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/16/2022 - 7:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Highsmith had the drive and determination to become a starting OLB in just his second season with the Steelers. In year 3, does he become a star?

Kevin Colbert, the now-former Steelers general manager, said recently that the expectations for the players selected in the first three rounds of the annual NFL Draft are for them to become starters—the sooner the better, I would imagine.

Alex Highsmith, a third-round pick out of Charlotte in the 2020 NFL Draft, already met that expectation when he became a starting outside linebacker last training camp following the free-agent departure of Bud Dupree the previous spring.

Actually, Highsmith, who became a starter on merit last summer despite the free-agent acquisition of Melvin Ingram, was thrust into the role out of necessity late in his rookie campaign after Dupree suffered a torn ACL in early December.

Even though Highsmith acquitted himself quite well down the stretch of the 2020 season and into the playoffs, the defense clearly missed the type of weapon Dupree had developed into over his final two seasons in Pittsburgh.

Did the Steelers' defense miss Dupree in 2021? With critical season-ending injuries sustained by both Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu on the defensive line, and with linebacker Devin Bush struggling to come back from a torn ACL injury suffered in 2020, it’s safe to say the Steelers at least missed the player Dupree was before his own injury—Dupree struggled to post anywhere near the same kinds of numbers he did for his new team, the Titans, a season ago.

Of course, T.J. Watt, who posted 15 sacks in 2020 opposite Dupree, who was on pace for 11.5 before the knee injury, took quarterbacks to the turf a whopping 22.5 times last year.

Watt more than made up for the absence of Dupree. As for Highsmith, he did okay in the sack department in 2021 by tallying six.

That’s good, honest production from a second-year player who was picked in the third round.

But is there more meat on the bone for Highsmith, if you will?

Can Highsmith take his game to a whole new level in 2022 and go from full-time starter to prolific pass-rusher? He’s certainly going to get the opportunity. I mean, how can he not? What sane and intelligent defensive coordinator wouldn’t try and do everything that he could to stop, or marginally disrupt, Watt, especially after he just won his first Defensive Player of the Year award?

If Tuitt and Alualu can perform at or close to the level they have in the past, that should make for an even more formidable front-seven, which, in turn, should give Highsmith all of the one-on-one battles he desires.

Of course, there’s far more to being an outside linebacker than just rushing the passer, and Highsmith has certainly shown the potential to be a more well-rounded player over his first two seasons.

Can Highsmith be that? You had to like the improvement shown between his first and second season, especially the physical transformation going into last summer’s training camp.

The work ethic is there, as is the drive and determination.

Finally, the opportunity to turn the corner is also there. Does Alex Highsmith have it in him to do just that?

I have a funny feeling that he does.

Steelers Rookie Minicamp: Video and News from Day 3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/16/2022 - 6:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Minicamp is underway, and we give you the video from Day 3.

It’s football in shorts.

But like I always say, football in shorts is better than no football at all.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 rookie minicamp got underway Friday at the Steelers UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, and it was the first time anyone has seen the seven draft picks in their new threads. Sunday was Day 3, and the final day, and the rookies took the field looking to carve their niche within the organization.

But the picks from the 2022 NFL Draft weren’t the only ones in attendance. The 10 Undrafted Rookie Free Agents (UDFAs) and several try-out players were there trying to prove their worth. Some were just trying to find their way onto the team’s 90-man offseason roster.

With that said, what all went down at practice Saturday? Here we put together the video for you to get to see some press conferences throughout the three day minicamp.

Let’s get to the video/news:

As most should have expected, the third, and final, day of rookie minicamp is one which is the least covered among the media who are able to watch practices live. Nonetheless, something we haven’t shown our readers throughout the week are the full-length interviews with several of the team’s 2022 rookie class.

But first, the rookie minicamp photo:

Rookie minicamp ☑️ pic.twitter.com/yf5PnvithL

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 15, 2022

Okay, now to get a feel for these new players, check out the interviews with players like Calvin Austin III, Connor Heyward, Kenny Pickett and George Pickens.

Press Conferences

Calvin Austin III

.@CalvinAustinIII on catching passes from @kennypickett10, what makes his game so versatile, getting comfortable in a new city and more. pic.twitter.com/iHK1GFyT0l

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) May 15, 2022

Connor Heyward

.@ConnorHeyward1 on making his mark in the NFL: pic.twitter.com/QL4b0Yxu6M

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) May 13, 2022

George Pickens

George Pickens on Day 1 of rookie minicamp: pic.twitter.com/H2r3Gzo1Jg

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) May 13, 2022

Kenny Pickett

.@kennypickett10 on Day 1 of rookie minicamp: pic.twitter.com/BtLWz5GiEm

— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) May 13, 2022

Rookie minicamp is now over, and the Steelers now turn their attention back to Organized Team Activities (OTAs). Here is a look at some of the dates to keep an eye out in the coming weeks:

Phase Two (May 2-20): In this voluntary phase on-field workouts may include drills with strict guidelines and no contact. Coaches are permitted to be on the field during this time. All drills must be conducted at an acceptable walkthrough pace that is for instructional purposes.

Phase Three (May 23-June 17): Teams may conduct a total of 10 voluntary Organized Team Activities, OTAs, during this phase. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted. The team’s mandatory minicamp takes place during this time.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/16/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and written, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

We Run the North: The Steelers schedule vs. the rest of the AFC North

Join BTSC’s Kevin Tate for the latest AFC North news on his signature show, We Run The North.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Note
  • The breakdown of schedules in the AFC North
  • and MUCH MORE!
The Steelers Sunday Night Q&A: Minicamp Mania, Rookie edition

It’s another offseason Sunday in 2022 with no NFL football and no games scheduled. However, the Steelers drafting is complete and so is their minicamp for rookies. BTSC is continuing a question-and-answer free-for-all from you the loyal fans. This time, join BTSC’s Matt Peverell of Steelers Touchdown Under & The Steelers War Room and Shannon White of The Steelers Hangover & The Curtain Call as they team up to take questions from the live chat for some good Steelers discussion.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Steelers Rookie Minicamp
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!
Let’s Ride: What will a Steelers win look like in 2022?

Wins are still expected even after all of the changes for the Steelers in 2022, but in what form will Steelers wins be in? Join BTSC’s senior editor the morning flagship show in the Behind the Steel Curtain family of podcasts.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The Steelers Offensive Draft Analysis and Matt Canada’s need to take advantage of it
  • The Monday Morning Conversation with Hunter Homistek
  • and MUCH MORE!

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Have a BAD Week: A look back at the Steelers week from a black-and-gold mind

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/15/2022 - 2:45pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

BTSC’s random-thought renegade is back with his bizarre look at the Steelers week that was.

The Steelers’ season ended four months ago, but there’s plenty of news coming out of the Steel City. BTSC continues their recap of the past week’s events for our readers. So, let’s all take a look at the week in the ‘burgh together.

Monday 5/9

Obviously wasn't much trade interest in James Bradberry, but I'd expect a stronger market to materialize now. Eagles, Chiefs, Raiders, Bengals and Steelers stick out as potential landing spots.

— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) May 9, 2022

A released cornerback is fresh on the market. Que up the thousands of internet GMs for the Steelers that obviously have more interest and more delusions of free cap space to sign James Bradberry.

DRAFT PICK JERSEY NUMBERS ARE HERE pic.twitter.com/T5UlwHqa5d

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 9, 2022

I predicted three out of seven and was close on six. The numbers look good, but I feel like the Steelers missed out on the Calvin Austin III digits by not giving him No. 16. Austin III 16 just said I ran past your a$$.

Tuesday 5/10

Congratulations to @CamHeyward for winning the @PFWAwriters 'Good Guy' Award, presented annually to an NFL player for his qualities and professional style in helping pro football writers do their jobs.

️ : https://t.co/B5ULXEoFTR pic.twitter.com/637q4k0GUR

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) May 10, 2022

With no disrespect to Cam, Big Deal! I won the Richland High School version of this award about 17 times in my teens when getting turned down by girls for dates. I wonder if Heyward ever hears a sentence starting with, “You’re a good guy, but........”. Seriously though, the Good Guy Award is given to an NFL player for his qualities and professional style in helping pro football writers do their jobs. The award has been presented annually by the PFWA since 2005, when the Steelers Jerome Bettis, the only other Pittsburgh player to do so, won the award. All joking aside, this is well-deserved for Heyward.

The Steelers waived two players in advance of this week's minicamp: long snapper Rex Sunahara and linebacker Tegray Scales. They also waived/injured corner Isaiah Johnson.

— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) May 10, 2022

These type of moves apparently will happen quite a bit before camp. Wish someone would have told me before I ordered my Rex Sunahara jersey.

It's about that time now. The schedule rumors, leaks, and bad information will start flowing. It's even a little earlier this year than normal with the NFL releasing tidbits all week.

So here we go, the first 4 #Steelers rumored games are here. https://t.co/g3IO7dqf75

— SteelerNation (@SteeIerNation) May 10, 2022

A ton of fake schedule news all weak long. None of these rumors really rang true. Spoiler Alert: People lie on the internet sometimes.

Ravens add Mike Davis to backfield. https://t.co/dGDtE9gzkc pic.twitter.com/JunE3UmvNJ

— theScore (@theScore) May 10, 2022

Do the Ravens need more running backs? They have more RBs than I have something that I have a lot of.

Wednesday 5/11

.@CamHeyward’s gearing up for schedule release

2022 NFL Schedule Release: Tomorrow at 8 pm ET on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/Q3isiJvAC2

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 12, 2022

Absolutely brilliant stuff. Kudos to Cam and the Steelers PR department. If there was an Oscar for Best Actor in an NFL Schedule Release Promo, it would go to Cam and Chris Rock would be safe.

Thursday 5/12

That makes four external candidates getting second interviews — Ryan Cowden (#Titans), John Spytek (#Bucs), former GM Doug Whaley and Weidl — along with internal candidates Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt, who also recently interviewed for a front-office job in Philadelphia.

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 12, 2022

The GM search is still on. The Steelers are taking almost as long as Mrs. BAD trying to figure out where to go out to eat or what to wear for a night out on the tahn.

Our 2022 schedule is here‼️ #HereWeGo

: https://t.co/j0ke8ShZwe
Download to your calendar: https://t.co/KbGPUWET0e

: Watch NFL Schedule Release '22 on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/94w9bKMk19

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 13, 2022

The schedule was pretty favorable to the Steelers except for the 8:15 PM game on Christmas Eve. BTSC missed an epic podcast opportunity to record our wives when we tell them that we have to work late on Christmas Eve.

guess who just got 10k followers by literally making up a bunch of NFL games because I was bored and faking out almost the entire football twitter landscape? this guy right here. pic.twitter.com/ZBIUnwbEZF

— Big Nipple Sports (@BigNipSports) May 12, 2022

I’m not sure whether this cat is absolutely brilliant or a complete wang. With a name like Big Nipple Sports, probably the latter. Jokes on me though, I’m still writing about him.

Congratulations to the Trubiskys! pic.twitter.com/oTdEXpC6Dj

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 12, 2022

Beautiful news. Welcome to Steelers Nation Hudson David Trubisky.

Congratulations, @JeromeBettis36! https://t.co/Cu70o8WUpK

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 12, 2022

This is awesome that, after all he has accomplished, Jerome Bettis kept a promise and got his diploma.

Friday 5/13

We have signed WR George Pickens to a four-year contract. @BordasLaw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 13, 2022

First one to sign. It’s hard not to be excited about the personality and the football player that is new to the Men of Steel.

We have signed OL Trent Scott to a one-year contract.

To make room on the 90-man roster, we waived G Malcolm Pridgeon. @BordasLaw https://t.co/cfpNUtGHHv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 13, 2022

Me and Malcolm Pridgeon have something in common, only that my starter wife, the ex-Mrs. BAD, swapped me out for the custodial engineer at work. Pridgeon got “got” for another offensive lineman.

Ask Bill Cowher how great it felt to shock the world in 1992 when preseason predictions had the Steelers going 4-12. A bye in the first-round of the playoffs, anyone?

Ready for rookie minicamp

More : https://t.co/tuL8QkGAHH pic.twitter.com/ENx5xRMYsE

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 13, 2022

Oh yeah, and Rookie Mini Camp started today

Saturday 5/14

We have signed TE/FB Connor Heyward, LB Mark Robinson, & QB Chris Oladokun. @BordasLaw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 14, 2022

Four down and three to go. Who will be the next new Steeler to sign on the dotted line?

This was the significant week that was for the Steelers, mixed-in with my black-and-gold loving life. I’m sure next week will be full of Steelers happenings as well, so we’ll have to do this again. Have a great week, but better yet have a BAD one.

BTSC Top Ten: Pat Freiermuth comes in 6th for the top Steelers of 2021, who will be #7?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/15/2022 - 12:15pm
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

BTSC voters are choosing the most valuable Steelers from 2021.

As the Steelers continue through the offseason, building 2022 roster, it is a good time to take a look back at 2021 again and rank the top ten Steelers players of the season. There are a good number of players who played well, and a lot who didn’t.

Pat Freiermuth is probably the most controversial selection on this list so far. But that’s the most controversy we’ve seen from the Steelers 2021 second round pick. Freiermuth was supposed to be eased into the tight end job, but after a standout training camp Freiermuth ended up leading the position in snaps in Week 1 of the 2021 season and in fourteen of the Steelers 17 games. Two of the games he didn’t lead tight ends in snaps were because of injury.

Freiermuth showed the receiving skills everyone saw in college, recording the second highest receiving yards by a Steelers tight end since Heath Miller retired, and outproducing Heath Miller’s rookie season even when adjusted for the 17th game (but not at all when adjusted for the massive difference in passing attempts between 2021 and 2005).

Freiermuth also showed that he is a serious blocker, frequently taking on the H-Back role and being a lead blocker for Najee Harris. He also showed up in pass blocking where he ended the 2021 season the third highest rated pass blocking tight end in the NFL (Zach Gentry ranked 4th).

Despite his accomplishments, it is a bit of a surprise to see Freiermuth make this list ahead of Ben Roethlisberger and Diontae Johnson. In fact, the only two offensive players currently on this list are the two 2021 rookies in Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth.

While both are deserving of praise for their rookie seasons, I think we are also seeing an indictment of the offense the last two years being placed heavily on the players who were here for both seasons.

Best Steelers of 2021:
1. T.J. Watt
2. Cameron Heyward
3. Najee Harris
4. Minkah Fitzpatrick
5. Chris Boswell
6. Pat Freiermuth

With Boswell off the list, we add linebacker Joe Schobert to our list of ten candidates for the 6th most important Steeler of 2021.

Let’s take a quick look at the candidates:
Bold = led Steelers in stat, * = led NFL in stat

Chase Claypool: Claypool’s 2021 season was considered a drop-off from his rookie season, but statistically that was only true in touchdowns scored, one of the most volatile stats for receivers. Claypool’s second season saw him improve slightly in yards per game, yards per target, broken tackles and drops. While the entire passing game was less efficient in 2021, Chase Claypool saw the least decline in efficiency.
Stat line: 105 targets, 59 receptions, 860 yards, 2 TDs.

Kevin Dotson: Dotson only appeared in 9 games for the Steelers, and it showed. With rookies starting on either side of him, Dotson was the anchor of the line, and that line was improving before he was hurt. The Steelers recorded 5 straight 100+ yard rushing games, a streak that ended with Dotson’s injury. That span of time involved the only two wins the Steelers recorded where their opponent scored 20 or more points.

Terrell Edmunds: Edmunds was labeled a reach when he was drafted, and while he has played in all but one game since then, and started all but 5, Edmunds has been more known for his weaknesses than his strengths. Edmunds has put in the work, improved every season, and in 2021 had his best coverage season, ranking in the top 20 in passer rating against when targeted, while still being a key player against the run for the Steelers.
Stat line: 2 interceptions, 6 passes defended, 1 sack, 8 tackles for a loss, 63 solo tackles.

Joe Haden: The veteran cornerback missed 5 games, but was still the Steelers best cornerback over the course of the season, and the Steelers defense continues to be a much better defense when he plays and the Steelers continue to win far more of their games with him than when he is out.
Stat line: 0 interceptions, 6 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 26 solo tackles.

Alex Highsmith: In his second year, Highsmith stepped into a starting role in 2021. In that role Highsmith recorded only 6 sacks but continued to show he is a sound defensive player who is strong in all phases of the game. While we look forward to Highsmith growing further into his role in 2022, his play in 2021 was definitely above the line.
Stat line: 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 46 solo tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 15 QB hits.

Diontae Johnson: The Steelers leading receiver made his first playoff appearance and recorded the first 1000 yard receiving season since 2018. While his efficiency numbers were not good, it wasn’t just Johnson, the entire passing offense was bad.
Stat line: 169 targets, 107 receptions, 8 receiving TDs.

Ben Roethlisberger: The Steelers quarterback was a shell of his former self, and yet it is hard to believe that the team would have made the improbable run to the playoffs without him. Similar to Jerome Bettis being a major reason the 2005 Steelers won the Super Bowl while he was a backup, Ben Roethlisberger’s importance to the 2021 Steelers likely is more than his ability to still play the game.
Stat line: 3,740 passing yards, 22 passing TDs, 10 interceptions.

Joe Schobert: Schobert joined the Steelers via a trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he helped hold down the inside linebacker position for the Steelers. He ended up second on the team in tackles, while playing the 5th most snaps on the Steelers defense. While not a long-term solution to the Steelers linebacker needs, Schobert was a solid player for the one season he was on the team.
Stat Line: 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 70 solo tackles, 6 passes defended, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit.

Akhello Witherspoon: Akhello Witherspoon only played in 9 games in 2021, and ranked 8th in snaps for defensive backs on the Steelers, but he also led the Steelers in interceptions and tied Cameron Heyward for the most passes defended. His shorter time on the field definitely limited his value to the team, and with his awful first game, justifiably so. But it is hard to overstate the impact Witherspoon had late in the season when the Steelers made their push to a playoff berth.
Stat Line: 3 interceptions, 9 passes defended, 14 solo tackles, 1 tackle for a loss.

Chris Wormley: Chris Wormley was put into a much bigger role than he had played before in 2021, when injuries moved him from the #4 defensive lineman on the team to #2. In that increased role Wormley nearly doubled the previous highest snap count of his career, and his production more than doubled. While Wormley was part of the defensive struggles in run defense, he was a major asset in pass defense, ending up third on the team in sacks and 4th in pressures.
Stat line: 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 3 passes defended, 51 total tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, 10 QB hits.

Now it is up to you to make your selection. Who should be rated the seventh-best Steeler of 2021, and who should come back to compete for 8th?

The More You Know: Random facts about your Steelers, Kennywood edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/15/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Time to learn more about your favorite NFL team, and some trivia as well!

It’s the offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers and there are so many topics to talk and write about. Free agents, the GM conundrum, the starting quarterback, traiming camp, and breaking news will all be covered here at BTSC. But who’s going to give you little-known-facts out of the 500 Level?

Luckily, your one-stop, and non-stop, shop for everything Steelers employs a Steelers fan that was allegedly dropped on his head as a one-year-old during the Immaculate Reception. Useless and somewhat fascinating facts are his forte. So, here we are with off-the-wall thoughts from the dark side of a black-and-gold brain that nobody asked for. But the joke’s on you as you’ll be telling your peeps something you read here later.

412 Forever

Michael John Douglas played some epic characters during his 44 years of screen acting. Known professionally as Michael Keaton, his breakout came in 1982 playing Billy “Blaze” Blazejowski in Nightshift and has been known as Mr. Mom, Batman, Beetlejuice and Ken in Toy Story. But one role that the Oscar-nominated actor will always be known for is as a diehard Steelers, Pirates and Penguins fan. The Mountour high grad is vociferous and proud of his Steel City fandom and reps the 412 and the black and gold everywhere he goes.

BTSC Steelers Jeopardy

(Answer at bottom of article)

Middle Name Madness

We love citing the second name of members of the Men of Steel here at Behind the Steel Curtain. We always cite Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger, Christopher Lynn Boswell and Trent Jordan Watt, but who else? Hence, the “More You Know Middle Name of the Week”. This week we feel compelled to feature the Steelers player that was drafted tenth overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2010 NFL Draft. A force in the middle of the Steelers’ defensive line, Alualu is looking to return from an injury that kept him out for all but two games in 2021.

Tyson Asi Alualu Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images This Week’s Birthdays of Steel

5/15 - John Dekker (1983)

5/16 - Keith Butler (1956)

5/17 - Wayne Capers (1961), Keenan Lewis (1986), Earl Morrall (1934), Ernest Pough (1952), Jay Riemersma (1973), Ed Stofko 1920,

5/18 - Flozell Adams (1975), Karl Dunbar (1967), Dave Smith (1947), Will Wolfird (1964)

5/19 - Chris Doehring (1973), Brady Keys (1936), James Parrish (1968), Craig Wolfley (1958)

5/20 - Justin Hunter (1991), Frank Sinkovitz (1923)

5/21 - Joey Clinkscales (1964), Danny Farmer (1977), Adrian Klemm (1977), Ara Parseghian, Guy Whimper (1983)

Steel Stats

There’s so much talk about the Steelers opening on the road for the 8th season in a row, but the Steelers have fared well in than span, only losing to New England twice. Pittsburgh has a record of 4-2-1 during the road-start streak that ranks 5th longest in history. By starting against Cincinnati for the first time ever in an opener, the Steelers now have only one AFC team that they’ve never opened against…the New York Jets. As for the National Football Conference, the Men of Steel have yet to begin a new season against the likes of the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers or New Orleans Saints. All in all, the Steelers have opened with 84.3% of the current teams in the league.

Disturbing Sights

Not knowing yet what they had in Hines Ward as a receiver in the late 90s and early 2000s, the Steelers selected a wide receiver first in both the 1999 and 2000 draft. With the diminutive Troy Edwards going first in 1999, the team was compelled to go big with Plaxico Burress a year later with the 8th overall pick in Y2K. After five seasons, and not being the undisputed WR over Ward, the 6’5” Burress left for the New York Giants in free agency only to miss out on the Steelers triumph in Super Bowl XL. Not to be outdone though, the receiver would catch the winning pass for the Giants in their Super Bowl XLII upset of New England. Despite a stellar career, the Michigan State Spartan was never named to a Pro Bowl. Possibly most infamously known for serving jail time for accidentally shooting himself in a New York night spot in 2008. After his early release from incarceration, Burress would be back to the league two years later for a stint with the New York Jets in 2011 and a return to the ‘burgh very late in 2012 with the Steelers, where he played four games and caught a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger. Sadly, Plaxico’s career ended in camp before the 2013 when the veteran suffered a rotator cuff injury. In his five original seasons, Plax had 261 receptions and 23 TDs, He may not have been an absolute Steeler legend... but the sight of No. 80 wearing No. 17 in the Big Apple is still disconcerting.

Hypocycloids Gone Hollywood Madison Avenue

With Kenny Pickett becoming a Pittsburgh Steeler, there will be plenty of references to the legendary Pittsburgh amusement park, Kennywood. Opening in 1899, the fun park is one of only two amusement parks on the National landmark registry. The legendary roller coaster, The Steel Phantom, was even mentioned, along with the park, on an episode of CSI. Now boasting the Steel Curtain roller coaster, Kennywood is very in sync with the local football franchise. In 1985, Jack Lambert and Myron Cope teamed up to record a memorable and funny commercial as they rode the Raging Rapids water ride. It ended up being an epic ad in Pittsburgh television history.

The Cliff Clavin Corner

In 1979, the Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl with a completely homegrown team, Meaning they had no players that were drafted or acquired from other teams.

So, there you have it. Anybody can spout out stat after stat, but not everybody can embrace the colorful and personal side of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, the more you know, the more you can stupefy your friends, family and neighbors with your big, black-and-gold brain. By the way, “What is wearing three different uniforms?” is the correct clue in BTSC Steelers Jeopardy.

We’ll see you right here next week. Until then keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the hypocycloids.

A Letter From the Editor: The Steelers QB competition should be a two-man race

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/15/2022 - 9:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have three quarterbacks vying for one spot, but it should only be two.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting a close look at two of their four quarterbacks this weekend during rookie minicamp, and while Kenny Pickett and Chris Oladokun take center stage, the big competition looms large.

That competition would be none other than the battle to see who will be the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1.

While every black and gold fan has their own opinion of who they believe should be the starting quarterback, Mike Tomlin has made it crystal clear every player on the roster will be given an opportunity to prove their worth and win the job during training camp.

This all sounds well and good, but the fact is the team should not be having a wide open competition for the starting quarterback opening. At least not a competition with 3-4 players vying for one spot.

Oladokun is a player just fighting for a roster spot, so we’ll eliminate him from the equation. Barring injury, Oladokun’s hope of making the 53-man roster largely hinges on Mason Rudolph playing well enough for a team who suffered an injury at quarterback calls the Steelers and pulls off a trade for his services, making Oladokun QB3 on the depth chart.

Then there was three.

Mitchell Trubisky
Kenny Pickett
Mason Rudolph

In Bill Cowher’s book Heart and Steel, he spoke about trying to work a three quarterback competition, and it failed miserably. As he put it, there just aren’t enough repetitions to go around.

With that being said, the more I think about the Steelers’ quarterback situation heading into 2022, I tend to lean towards this actually being a two, not a three, man race for the quarterback throne. Let me explain.

Obviously, Trubisky was a prized addition to the Steelers’ offense, if he wasn’t viewed this way the team wouldn’t have gone out and signed him in the early hours on of the legal tampering period. Sure, they drafted Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but they didn’t know that was a guarantee when they signed Trubisky. In other words, he was the guy they wanted if they weren’t able to land a quarterback in the draft.

Trubisky will, and should, be given every opportunity to win the starting quarterback job this offseason.

The case for Kenny Pickett is pretty cut and dry. When you spend the 20th overall pick, and it being the first quarterback taken in the draft, on a quarterback, you give them an opportunity to win the job. Throw in the fact he has 49 career starts in college and is 24 years old and the case continues to make itself.

There aren’t many, but there is a fraction of the fan base who is still thinking Rudolph has a shot at winning the job. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but to me that only happens if the previous two quarterbacks trip and fall flat.

Not only that, if I were to give Tomlin a suggestion, it would be to limit Rudolph’s reps during camp. Why? What more do you need to see of Rudolph you haven’t already seen? He’s been in the organization for the past four seasons, going on year five, has been a starter and received starter reps leading up to games with Ben Roethlisberger getting time off.

What more do you need to see?

If the Steelers valued Rudolph, or even thought he had a legitimate shot at winning the job, why get Trubisky in the early hours of free agency? Why feel the need to get a first round quarterback?

The answer is they’ve seen enough to know Rudolph isn’t the answer.

To bring this full circle, the fact the Steelers think of Rudolph in this fashion, and his history with the team, this quarterback competition shouldn’t be open. It shouldn’t be a four person competition. Heck, it shouldn’t even be a three person competition. The competition should be between Pickett and Trubisky, with Rudolph as the fail safe if they both flounder.

Hopefully Tomlin learns from the mistake Cowher made and the right decision is made even before camp. No, not on picking a quarterback, but preparing a competition which is best for the organization.

(Note: The Letter From the Editor feature runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)

Steelers Rookie Minicamp: Video and News from Day 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/15/2022 - 7:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Minicamp is underway, and we give you the video from Day 2.

It’s football in shorts.

But like I always say, football in shorts is better than no football at all.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 rookie minicamp got underway Friday at the Steelers UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, and it was the first time anyone has seen the seven draft picks in their new threads. Saturday was Day 2, and the rookies took the field looking to carve their niche within the organization.

But the picks from the 2022 NFL Draft weren’t the only ones in attendance. The 10 Undrafted Rookie Free Agents (UDFAs) and several try-out players were there trying to prove their worth. Some were just trying to find their way onto the team’s 90-man offseason roster.

With that said, what all went down at practice Saturday? Here we put together the video for you to get a glimpse of Kenny Pickett, George Pickens and other rookies as they took the field together as a collective for the first time.

Let’s get to the video/news:

DeMarvin Leal

With Kenny Pickett not being interviewed following Saturday’s practice, other rookies had microphones in front of their faces for the first time as a member of the Steelers. DeMarvin Leal was one of those players, and he was asked specifically about his playing weight. According to Leal, he is up roughly 15 pounds since the NFL Scouting Combine, closing in on 300.

DeMarvin Leal said since the Combine, he’s up 15 pounds. Says he now weighs near 300 pounds.

The Steelers are planning to play him anywhere from a 2i to a 5T.

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) May 14, 2022

When Mike Tomlin held court with the media, video can be seen towards the bottom of this article, he was asked about Leal’s weight. His response was the team is just getting to know him, and his body.

Mike Tomlin with an interesting answer when asked if DeMarvin Leal's frame has more room to put on some more weight:

"He's speculating if he thinks we want him to put on weight. We're just here getting to know him, his body, and how it works."

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) May 14, 2022

Here is some video of Leal practicing Saturday:

Steelers' third-round pick DeMarvin Leal, who said today he's now up near 300 lbs, working through the bags here today at Steelers rookie camp pic.twitter.com/vgAatyHVHH

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) May 14, 2022 Calvin Austin III

Calvin Austin has always been a smaller player, and likely one of, if not the, smallest players on his football team. That certainly will be the case with the Steelers and the NFL, but what separates him from the rest? Heart.

Calvin Austin says his heart is what's going to separate him despite size concerns:

"I've got heart...I'm a dawg. I'm ready for whatever competition and whoever is in front of me. When I'm on the field, I have no fear."

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) May 14, 2022

When Austin was asked about catching passes from Kenny Pickett, he referenced their time together at the Senior Bowl, but he knows Pickett can throw the ball.

Calvin Austin III: Big fan of Kenny Pickett already. #Steelers @937theFan pic.twitter.com/dlNBaP463B

— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) May 14, 2022

Outside of his speed, Calvin Austin was lauded for his catch radius. The ability to make tough catches away from his body. The Steelers official Twitter account was able to give fans a glimpse of just that during Saturday’s workout.

Go and get it@CalvinAustinIII pic.twitter.com/6E4p2Na71D

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 15, 2022 Mike Tomlin Press Conference

Mike Tomlin addressed the media for the first time since the NFL Draft concluded, and he answered questions about minicamp thus far. Take a look and listen in the player below:

Coach Tomlin on getting to know the rookies & more: pic.twitter.com/os7qPxo06U

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 14, 2022 Other Video

QBs @kennypickett10 | @1Chrisoladokun0 pic.twitter.com/ByJAsikUgR

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 14, 2022

Ready for another day of work #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/WskmkYN4Ei

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 14, 2022

@CalvinAustinIII pic.twitter.com/Y8IwsltIOw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 14, 2022

Rookie minicamp will wrap up on Sunday, and the Steelers then turn their attention back to Organized Team Activities (OTAs). Here is a look at some of the dates to keep an eye out in the coming weeks:

Phase Two (May 2-20): In this voluntary phase on-field workouts may include drills with strict guidelines and no contact. Coaches are permitted to be on the field during this time. All drills must be conducted at an acceptable walkthrough pace that is for instructional purposes.

Phase Three (May 23-June 17): Teams may conduct a total of 10 voluntary Organized Team Activities, OTAs, during this phase. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted. The team’s mandatory minicamp takes place during this time.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.

3 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin following Saturday’s rookie minicamp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/15/2022 - 6:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking to the media following the on-field workout, the Steelers head coach were asked some questions about their rookies.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin spoke briefly with the Pittsburgh media following Saturday’s rookie minicamp practice. Based on the questions, the “Players Mentioned” article is able to make another brief return! Remember these are players mentioned in response to specific questions during the Q&A period.

Kenny Pickett

The Pittsburgh Steelers used their first-round draft pick in 2022 on a quarterback for the first time in 18 years. With a lot of anticipation around Kenny Pickett during Steelers rookie minicamp, Coach Tomlin was asked if he’s learned anything about Pickett that he didn’t already know from being next door to him while he was at the University of Pittsburgh.

“Not particularly with him but obviously I got a heck of a lot more exposure to him. Particularly from a personal standpoint, the man, relative to some of his teammates.”

DeMarvin Lael

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a number of players whose height and weight may not be typical of other players at the position in the NFL. One of those selections was third-round draft pick defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal, who is listed at 290 pounds. Coach Tomlin was asked about Leal stating he had already begun to put on weight.

“He’s speculating if he thinks we want him to put on weight. We’re just here getting to know him and his body and how it works. Oftentimes in draft preparation, guys hear things from NFL people, and they try to do what they think we want. The reality is that we’re trying to get to know the athlete, the pedigree of the athlete and how his body works, what’s the optimal condition for him to be in, etc. And so, it would be much too premature to talk about desired weights and so forth with any of these guys, because we’re just getting to know them.”

Calvin Austin III

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted two wide receivers in the 2022 NFL draft. Their second selected receiver, Calvin Austin III, has a reputation for being very undersized. Coach Tomlin was asked about what he sees from Austin that makes him not worry about his size.

“Speed.”

In a follow up question, Coach Tomlin was asked how he plans to utilize Austin‘s speed.

“Run extremely fast. When your small man, you better be fast in this game. And that’s the reality of it. That’s nothing new. It’s not earth shattering or groundbreaking. That is his distinguishing trade, and it has to show up in all aspects of his play”

The entire press conference can be seen here:

Coach Tomlin on getting to know the rookies & more: pic.twitter.com/os7qPxo06U

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 14, 2022

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/15/2022 - 5:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest two podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and written, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

Steelers Touchdown Under: A way too early preview of the Rookie Steelers & their 2022 record

The Steelers rookies are now in mini-camp, the 2022 NFL schedule has been released, which means the season is getting closer. What will the 2022 rookie draft class bring to this Steelers team? Can we learn anything from mini-camp? What are the early predictions for their 2022 record based on the schedule release alone? These are just some of the many questions that Matty Peverell and Mark Davison will address On Pittsburgh Steelers Touchdown Under. Matty P. and Marky P. bring a global perspective to how the Steelers can achieve success in 2022 and beyond, as they chase a seventh Lombardi. Tune into the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts.

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • The 2022 Steelers Schedule
  • Projected contributions of the 2022 Steelers’ Rookie Class
  • Listen to the show below

Tune into the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts.

The Steelers Power Half Hour: Playing the black-and-gold numbers game

Welcome to the Steelers Power Half Hour. Joe Frost, Paul Yanchek and Chris Pugh discuss the Steelers rookie numbers, the draft and what’s next for Mason Rudolph. Join the Ohioans as they play the black-and-gold numbers game.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Saturday Night Open Thread: Rookie Minicamp Edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/14/2022 - 5:45pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Time to answer some questions with fellow Steelers fans in the Steelers Saturday Night Open Thread!

The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base has had a lot of information to digest the past few days. The 2022 regular season schedule release on Thursday, and rookie minicamp getting underway Friday-Sunday.

With all that is going on, it is time for another Saturday Night Open Thread. With our canuck friends not able to provide the questions this week, I’m standing in for our friends from the great white north.

Let’s get this started...

1. Of all the draft picks not named Kenny Pickett, which player are you most excited to see in action during training camp/preseason?

2. I wrote a separate article for this topic earlier today, but I’ll ask the question here too. With the schedule known, free agency all but over and the 2022 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror. Are you taking the Over or Under with the Steelers Win/Loss number at 7.5?

3. Give me your player comparison for Kenny Pickett...

4. Knowing who is available at both positions, which position would you rather add a free agent before the start of training camp? Running back or Cornerback?

5. I’ve always laughed at people’s creativity. So, let’s caption the photo above...

With the schedule known, do you like the Over/Under on the 2022 Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/14/2022 - 1:11pm
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers Over/Under line is certainly a tough wager to place.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team in the midst of transition in many ways. Ben Roethlisberger has retired, and so has Kevin Colbert as the team’s General Manager (GM). On top of those mainstays, the defensive calls will be handed over to Teryl Austin as Keith Butler stepped down as defensive coordinator after the 2021 season.

With all the turnover, there are a lot of people who are uncertain of the 2022 Steelers.

Who will be the quarterback in Week 1?

Will the defense look different with Austin and Brian Flores putting their fingerprints on the game plan?

Will the free agent acquisitions, especially along the offensive line, be able to transform the team?

On top of the many moves/changes the Steelers are undergoing this season, the 2022 regular season schedule has officially be released. We’ve known the opponents and locations for months, but now we know the exact day/time of the team’s 17-game schedule.

Either way, when you look at the DraftKings Sportsbook odds on the team’s overall Win/Loss totals, it makes you wonder if the team will be able to achieve more than 7.5 wins, or if they’ll stumble to Mike Tomlin’s first losing season of his tenure as the Steelers coach?

Take a look at the Over/Under for the 2022 season:

OVER/UNDER: 7.5

Over: +100
Under: -100

In case you want to take a closer look at the schedule, you can see it below:

Week 1: at Cincinnati Bengals 1 PM
Week 2: vs New England Patriots 1 PM
Week 3: at Cleveland Browns Thursday 8:15 PM
Week 4: vs New York Jets 1 PM
Week 5: at Buffalo Bills 1 PM
Week 6: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1 PM
Week 7: at Miami Dolphins 8:20 PM
Week 8: at Philadelphia Eagles 1 PM
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: vs New Orleans Saints 1 PM
Week 11: vs Cincinnati Bengals 8:20 PM
Week 12: at Indianapolis Colts Monday 8:15 PM
Week 13: at Atlanta Falcons 1 PM
Week 14: vs Baltimore Ravens 1 PM
Week 15: at Carolina Panthers 1 PM
Week 16: vs Las Vegas Raiders Saturday 8:15 PM
Week 17: at Baltimore Ravens 1 PM
Week 18: vs Cleveland Browns TBD

Thinking about the 2022 NFL Draft picks, the free agent acquisitions and the schedule, how would you place a bet when it comes to the Over/Under of the 7.5 wins? Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on throughout rookie minicamp, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp.

Breaking down the 2022 schedule for the entire AFC North

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/14/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Looking at key parts to the schedules of the Steelers AFC North opponents.

The Steelers 2022 schedule has been reported, dissected, and predicted. This time, the Steelers schedule is going to be compared to their division foes. While 82% of their opponents are the same throughout the AFC North division, whether they face those teams at home or on the road, and when they have their bye weeks are all different factors which could come into play in determining the 2022 AFC North Champion.

Here are several categories to compare schedules across the AFC North. Included in the breakdown are their Week 1 matchups, bye weeks, prime time games, and games against their different opponents from the AFC South, AFC West, and NFC East. To finish things off, we’ll look at who each AFC North team will be facing the week before they take on the Steelers.

Week 1 Matchups:

Ravens: at New York Jets, 1 PM
Browns: at Carolina Panthers, 1 PM
Bengals: vs Pittsburgh Steelers 1 PM

Other than the Steelers, the other three AFC North teams are all favored in their opening game. Obviously they couldn’t all be favored with the Steelers taking on the Bengals.

Bye Weeks:

Steelers: Week 9
Ravens: Week 10
Browns: Week 9
Bengals: Week 10

The AFC North was compacted together with all teams having their bye in a two week period right in the middle of the season.

Prime Time Games:

Steelers:
Week 3 at Cleveland Browns, Thursday Night Football
Week 7 at Miami Dolphins, Sunday Night Football
Week 11 vs Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday Night Football
Week 12 at Indianapolis Colts, Monday Night Football
Week 16 vs Las Vegas Raiders, Saturday Night Football

Ravens:
Week 5 vs Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday Night Football
Week 8 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thursday Night Football
Week 9 at New Orleans Saints, Monday Night Football

Browns:
Week 3 vs Pittsburgh Steelers, Thursday Night Football
Week 8 vs Cincinnati Bengals, Monday Night Football

Bengals:
Week 4 vs Miami Dolphins, Thursday Night Football
Week 5 at Baltimore Ravens, Sunday Night Football
Week 8 at Cleveland Browns, Monday Night Football
Week 11 at Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday Night Football
Week 17 vs Buffalo Bills, Monday Night Football

This year, it’s the Bengals and Steelers getting the maximum five primetime games where Baltimore and Cleveland only combined to make five.

Uncommon Opponents:

Steelers:
(NFC East) Week 8 at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 PM
(AFC South) Week 12 at Indianapolis Colts, Monday Night Football
(AFC West) Week 16 vs Las Vegas Raiders, Saturday Night Football

Ravens:
(NFC East) Week 6 at New York Giants, 1 PM
(AFC South) Week 12 at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 PM
(AFC East) Week 13 vs Denver Broncos, 1PM

Browns:
(AFC West) Week 5 vs Los Angeles Chargers, 1 PM
(AFC South) Week 13 at Houston Texans, 1 PM
(NFC East) Week 17 at Washington Commanders, 1 PM

Bengals:
(NFC East) Week 2 at Dallas Cowboys 1 PM
(AFC South) Week 12 at Tennessee Titans, 1 PM
(AFC West) Week 13 vs Kansas City Chiefs, 4:25 PM

As dictated by the schedule, all AFC North teams travel to two of their three games against opponents uncommon to the rest of the division.

Lead up to the Steelers Games:

Ravens:
Week 13 vs Denver Broncos, 1 PM
Week 16 vs Atlanta Falcons, Saturday 1 PM

Browns:
Week 2 vs New York Jets, 1 PM
Week 17 at Washington Commanders, 1 PM

Bengals:
None (Week 1)
Week 10 BYE

The Ravens get to face the Steelers coming off of home games both times where the Browns will take on Pittsburgh following games they are likely favored. As for the Bengals, they will be well rested both times they take on the Steelers.

Steelers sign three more of their 2022 draft class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/14/2022 - 9:55am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers continue signing their rookies during rookie minicamp.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the midst of their 2022 rookie minicamp, and the team continues to sign their rookie class during the three-day event.

After signing 2nd Round pick George Pickens Friday, the team announced they signed three more draft picks Saturday.

Those three were:

6th Round: Connor Heyward

7th Round: Mark Robinson

7th Round: Chris Oladokun

This per the team’s official Twitter account:

We have signed TE/FB Connor Heyward, LB Mark Robinson, & QB Chris Oladokun. @BordasLaw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 14, 2022

The signing of these three rookies, plus Pickens, means the Steelers only have three remaining draft picks who have yet to sign on the dotted line.

Those left unsigned are:

1st Round: Kenny Pickett

3rd Round: DeMarvin Leal

4th Round: Calvin Austin III

With the slotted rookie pay scale, fans shouldn’t fret about these players being unsigned. In fact, there is a good chance a deal gets done before the end of minicamp Sunday. At this point, the only aspect of these contracts to negotiate is the signing bonus/guaranteed money.

According to overthecap.com, Heyward’s salary cap hit for 2022 is estimated at $750,685 based on being selected at 208. As for Robinson and Oladokun, their estimated salary cap hits for 2022 are $738,067 and $731,473 respectively. At these numbers, none of the newly signed draftees will land in the top 51 salaries on the Steelers roster at this time and will not effect the current salary cap.

With that said, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on throughout the offseason.

The NFL missed a golden opportunity with the 50th anniversary of the immaculate reception

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/14/2022 - 9:00am

With the Raiders taking on the Steelers in late December, they missed it by a day and put it at the worst possible time.

The National Football League has figured out a way to keep themselves relevant all year round. Between the spectacle that is the NFL Draft, and even the release of their schedule during the playoffs of two other major sports leagues, they still drive the needle more than anything. The NFL has become great self promoters and rarely miss an opportunity for their league to be in the spotlight.

Well, they missed one this coming December.

As noted by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the NFL would do a major injustice if they were to not set the matchup between the Steelers and Raiders in Pittsburgh on the weekend of the 50th anniversary of the immaculate reception. It was too perfect for those two teams to be matched up once again in 2022 in Pittsburgh.

If the Steelers don't play the Raiders at Heinz Field on Dec. 23 -- the exact 50-year anniversary of the Immaculate Reception -- I have grossly overestimated the NFL marketing people, schedule-makers and TV executives. We'll find out Thursday night.

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) May 9, 2022

As many people pointed out to Dulac in his tweet, December 23rd falls on a Friday in the year 2022. Would the NFL play a game on Friday? Are they even allowed to do such a thing?

Well, they didn’t.

Yes, they capitalized on that matchup and put it on the proper week of the season to where the two teams could play as close as their established schedule would allow to commemorate the greatest play in NFL history. So the Pittsburgh Steelers and Las Vegas Raiders will face off at Heinz Field, assuming it is still called Heinz Field at that time, in Week 16.

On Christmas Eve.

At 8:15 PM.

When I first saw this game on the schedule, I asked, “Are you serious?” The NFL is really going to have a game with a Pittsburgh Steelers that runs close to midnight on Christmas Eve?

I know not everyone celebrates Christmas. I know there are people that celebrate it in much different ways. But for many Americans, Christmas Eve carries a lot of anticipation and traditions spent with family. Honestly, it’s a terrible time to play a football game.

On the Friday Night Six Pack article this week, I asked the question of what the users at BTSC thought about the Christmas Eve game. While there were some that weren’t bothered by it, here are some of the first responses received:

“Hate it. Won’t watch. Some things are too important.” —ALDOG

“Don’t like it. We go to church, dinner and Christmas Eve is a family night. I won’t be watching.” —huntingtonbeachsteeler

“Really do not like having the added stress on holidays.” —dinner

“Not cool. I recognize that I’m a degenerate when it comes to football so I’ll gladly let my family pull me away from this one. NFL should have more respect than to think they get primetime on Christmas Eve too.” —TorchM

“I’m not wild about the late kickoff, but I’m okay with this. I don’t have any kids though. I don’t know how I’d feel about being up late if Christmas morning meant more in my house.” —cassidy977

So not only will a portion of Steelers fans either have to give up catching the game, or have to make big family sacrifices to do so, imagine those who attend games regularly. I think of season ticket holders because I happen to be one of them. And as soon as this game was publicized, I immediately put my tickets up for sale.

Simply catching this game on television is going to be hard enough, I can’t imagine actually attending the game. Granted, I live 3.5 hours away with no traffic and good weather. If I were to attend the game, if I were to arrive home before 4 AM on Christmas Day, I would be lucky.

Now that I’ve complained enough about the game being on Christmas Eve at that time, what I really wanted to discuss is how the NFL could have knocked this out of the park. How? They simply need to have this game stand alone on Friday.

It didn’t have to be an afternoon game. The 8:15 PM kick off would be just fine. Really, any kickoff time between 1 PM and 8:25 PM, even doing just a random, unconventional time would have worked. But the NFL chose not to do so. Imagine having an entire day celebrating this game, having a ceremony at the spot of the reception in the parking lot at Heinz Field where it is designated with a plaque. All of the festivities, the reshowing of the game both on television and in the stadium, and all of it leading up to the Steelers and Raiders facing off on the same day would have been beautiful.

But the NFL didn’t do it.

Perhaps there are scheduling and logistical reasons which kept this from happening. Maybe there is a deal with the NCAA or a problem with there being five straight days of NFL football, which sounds absolutely exquisite to me. Maybe the NFL could have done it if they chose. But they didn’t.

Thinking about how great this could have been, sticking this game in prime time on Christmas Eve isn’t going to help. Add in the fact that almost a full slate of games will be played at 1 PM and 4 PM the same day, there’s nothing really special about the other than it will be the only game being shown at a time when most parents are putting their kids to bed in anticipation of the following morning.

As someone who lives so far away from Pittsburgh and still has season tickets, I avoid prime time games. In 2019 I attended three of them, and I don’t want to do that again. After attending the Sunday night game against the Buffalo Bills, one which was flexed from a 1 PM game, I don’t think I could handle another time of walking in my front door at 5 AM after Bryan Anthony Davis drove us home in a snowstorm. But if the game against the Raiders commemorating the 50th anniversary of the immaculate reception was in prime time on Friday night, I can almost guarantee I would have attended that game. It would have worked out great.

Frankly, I don’t care who the Steelers are playing if it’s going to be in that horrible timeslot. I’m still going to do my job of covering the game as well as cheering on my beloved Steelers. But during the entire weekend, when I’m not thinking about Christmas, I am likely going to be thinking about how great it could have been if the NFL would have got it right.

Steelers Rookie Minicamp: Video and News from Day 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/14/2022 - 7:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Minicamp is underway, and we give you the video from Day 1.

It’s football in shorts.

But like I always say, football in shorts is better than on football at all.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 rookie minicamp got underway Friday at the Steelers UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, and it was the first time anyone has seen the seven draft picks in their new threads.

But the picks from the 2022 NFL Draft weren’t the only ones in attendance. The 10 Undrafted Rookie Free Agents (UDFAs) and several try-out players were there trying to prove their worth. Some were just trying to find their way onto the team’s 90-man offseason roster.

With that said, what all went down at practice Friday? Here we put together the video for you to get a glimpse of Kenny Pickett, George Pickens and other rookies as they took the field together as a collective for the first time.

Let’s get to the video/news:

Kenny Pickett

Of course the majority of the media were going to be targeting Kenny Pickett, and rightfully so. Here is all the video/news on Pickett after Day 1:

Kenny on Ben

It seems as if Ben Roethlisberger is ready to help the next Steelers quarterback, from retirement. Better late than never, right?

Kenny Pickett also said he got a call from Ben Roethlisberger recently:

“He said he’s always there for me if I have any questions or advice. He’s an unbelievable player, Hall of Famer. He’s a guy I can use as a resource in these coming weeks here.”

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) May 13, 2022

Kenny on the QBs

Wisely, the rookie quarterback realizes he can only worry about himself, and no one else, as he begins his professional career.

Kenny Pickett on the quarterback competition: “I’ve got no shot if I don’t know what i’m doing. I’m dedicating myself to the playbook and learning every detail I possibly can to give myself the best shot, to operate out here.”

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) May 13, 2022

Video

Kenny Pickett just finished his first practice with #Steelers. Some highlights via @937theFan ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/blmLwfIIxS

— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) May 13, 2022

.@kennypickett10 on this morning's walkthrough:

Full : https://t.co/GuBlH0IExH pic.twitter.com/lpxOCFI3PV

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 13, 2022

"He's a guy that I'll definitely use as a resource in these coming weeks here."@kennypickett10 on hearing from @_BigBen7: pic.twitter.com/3hA5OR5W6y

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 13, 2022

@kennypickett10 pic.twitter.com/HNotitxHkO

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 13, 2022 George Pickens

With all the attention on Pickett, there wasn’t as much attention on the other draft picks. However, 2nd Round pick George Pickens did give a few interviews.

Steelers 2nd-rd pick a George Pickens on UGA running a pro-style offense, his bond with fellow rookie WR Calvin Austin and on a head accessory he wore on the 1st day of rookie minicamp pic.twitter.com/94QPu1MBaO

— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) May 13, 2022 Connor Heyward

The same can be said regarding Connor Heyward.

Steelers rookie Connor Heyward said that having big bro Cam on the team puts a chip on my shoulder” because he wants to prove he will make the team on merit and not because he’s Cam’s brother pic.twitter.com/Bb8kd6RQTp

— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) May 13, 2022 Calvin Austin III

Just a brief flash across your screen was the best shot of the diminutive wide receiver.

CA3 (last receiver in this video) is 5’8” on a good scale https://t.co/HrkahW2rw2

— Jeff Hartman (@JHartman_PIT) May 13, 2022 Quarterbacks

Here are Kenny Pickett and Chris Oladokun, the only QBs at Steelers rookie camp, getting some work in with receivers today (Tyler Vaughns, Rico Bussey, Tre Tipton, George Pickens, Calvin Austin in order of appearance) pic.twitter.com/Qei4RxlHVB

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) May 13, 2022 Other Video

Hitting the Field

Rooks hittin' the field pic.twitter.com/irM74o7nl0

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 13, 2022

DeMarvin Leal

Comin' through @boimarv9 pic.twitter.com/ugBi71NQY6

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 13, 2022

Mike Tomlin photobomb

We see ya, Coach pic.twitter.com/I2cZepTN9J

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 13, 2022

ESPN on Kenny Pickett

Mark Whipple told me earlier this week that Kenny Pickett might be better prepared for the transition to the NFL than Ben Roethlisberger was thanks to his extra year at Pitt.

For @SportsCenter ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/X8q5vfG4Ny

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) May 13, 2022

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of rookie minicamp, OTAs and mandatory minicamp.

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