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Checking the Steelers offensive player grades in preseason Week 3 vs. the Panthers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/30/2021 - 12:30pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Checking in on the PFF grades for the Steelers’ offensive players in the final preseason game against Carolina.

The Pittsburgh Steelers came up short in a big way in their final preseason action vs. the Carolina Panthers. The 34-9 final score was every bit as bad as the actual game. Although the Steelers were playing their reserves against the Panthers’ starters, it is still the expectation for players to play up to the standard regardless of the situation.

But how did these players grade out?

To get a better grasp on the individual performances by the Steelers, we turn to Pro Football Focus (PFF) to see their individual grades. Before going any further, it’s time for the disclaimer as we are all aware many fans cannot stand PFF’s grading system. It is up to each individual as to how much they trust the process which goes into PFF grades, but we will report on the grades for you to make the decision.

Nonetheless, even if you don’t like PFF it does give a baseline to allow fans to see who played well, and who might have been “below the line”, as Mike Tomlin would put it.

Below are the grades for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense from their preseason Week 3 game vs. the Carolina Panthers Friday night. For reference sake, the Steelers played 48 offensive snaps. All offensive players were listed regardless of the number of snaps played as long as it was at least one.

Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

G Rashaad Coward: 75.1 (15 snaps)
WR Chase Claypool: 72.4 (18 snaps)
OT Chaz Green: 70.2 (26 snaps)
RB Jaylen Samuels: 69.1 (9 snaps)
TE Marcus Baugh: 68.8 (13 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

TE Kevin Rader: 48.2 (18 snaps)
RB Kalen Ballage: 41.1 (9 snaps)
OT Dan Moore Jr.: 38.0 (22 snaps)
RB Tony Brooks-James: 36.8 (2 snaps)
TE Zach Gentry: 29.4 (10 snaps)

Quarterbacks

QB Dwayne Haskins: 63.6 (30 snaps)
QB Joshua Dobbs: 50.3 (18 snaps)

Despite a drop in QBR from 83.0 to 71.9 from Week 2 to Week 3, Haskins’ PFF score actually went up from the last game. It would be interesting to see how he would have finished up had he not had come in for the injured Dobbs.

Running Backs & Receivers

WR Chase Claypool: 72.4 (18 snaps)
RB Jaylen Samuels: 69.1 (9 snaps)
TE Marcus Baugh: 68.8 (13 snaps)
WR Anthony Johnson: 64.0 (23 snaps)
WR Ray-Ray McCloud: 60.5 (42 snaps)
RB Derek Watt: 59.2 (1 snap)
WR Cody White: 57.9 (18 snaps)
TE Eric Ebron: 55.4 (8 snaps)
RB Benny Snell Jr.: 54.4 (29 snaps)
WR James Washington: 53.8 (19 snaps)
TE Pat Freiermuth: 53.5 (5 snaps)
WR Mathew Sexton: 49.4 (16 snaps)
TE Kevin Rader: 48.2 (18 snaps)
RB Kalen Ballage: 41.1 (9 snaps)
RB Tony Brooks-James: 36.8 (2 snaps)
TE Zach Gentry: 29.4 (10 snaps)

It was good to see Chase Claypool come back from missing the previous game due to injury and have a solid performance. What ultimately dropped a lot of these grades were some of the lowest pass blocking scores I have seen on PFF. Some of the guilty culprits were Benny Snell (15.7), Kalen Ballage (10.5), and Zach Gentry (0.5). Although the scores really brought them down, none of them had more than three snaps pass blocking in the game. In fact, several low scores came from players who would not have met the 15-snap minimum usually instituted by PFF.

Offensive Line

G Rashaad Coward: 75.1 (15 snaps)
OT Chaz Green: 70.2 (26 snaps)
C John Leglue: 67.6 (26 snaps)
OT Chuks Okorafor: 63.4 (22 snaps)
G Kevin Dotson: 61.0 (22 snaps)
OT Joe Haeg: 60.1 (26 snaps)
G Malcolm Pridgeon: 59.6 (11 snaps)
C J.C. Hassenauer: 57.3 (26 snaps)
C Kendrick Green: 56.5 (22 snaps)
G B.J. Finney: 55.2 (22 snaps)
OT Dan Moore Jr.: 38.0 (22 snaps)

Although rookie fourth-round pick Dan Moore Jr. as well as veteran B.J. Finney had scored well throughout the preseason, getting the start on the right side against the best the Panthers had to offer caused their scores to dip quite a bit. Moore’s pass blocking score of 11.2 on 13 snaps is what completely tanked his grade. Other players making a push for the 53-man roster and practice squad came through in the top three spots, and Chuks Okorafor, although still not overly impressive, did have his best game of the preseason.

So, what do you think of the above grades? Were they close, or way off? Let us know your thoughts on the Steelers’ offensive grades in the comments below.

Dan Moore Jr. talks about growth, and challenges, after his first Steelers preseason

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/30/2021 - 11:30am
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers look as if they found a solid, and versatile, offensive tackle in Dan Moore Jr.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Dan Moore Jr. out of Texas A&M in the 4th round of the 2021 NFL Draft, most of the scouting reports all read the same.

“Project player.”

“Developmental tackle.”

“Maybe a starter in a few years.”

The fan base immediately saw this as a glaring negative, and didn’t expect much from Moore in his rookie season.

However, what ensued was Moore coming into camp in great shape, showing a physicality which wasn’t his calling card while at Texas A&M and turning heads from rookie minicamp throughout his first NFL preseason.

After the Steelers’ fourth preseason game, a 34-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Moore was able to reflect on training camp and the preseason. His overall growth has been noticeable, but it hasn’t come without challenges.

“A tremendous amount.” Moore said when asked how much he’s grown as a player this year. “The amount of snaps I’ve gotten, the help that I’ve gotten from vets—offense and defense—the coaches, I think I’ve grown so much.”

You might be wondering who those veterans are who have helped Moore become a more complete offensive lineman, and you might be surprised by some of the names.

“Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Cam [Heyward], a lot of those guys. [Chris] Worm[ley], even some of the linebackers. Huge help.” Moore said of the defenders who have been helping him hone his craft at the professional level.

Again, it isn’t as if this improvement didn’t come with some bumps in the road, especially since Moore has been asked to play both left and right tackle this preseason.

“It’s definitely been a challenge, especially going to the right.” Moore said. “I’m not very comfortable on the right side. But like I said, just getting more reps and having a great defense to challenge me every day and a great coaching staff to help me with the game plan definitely helps, for sure.”

The fact the Steelers are moving Moore to the right side, as well as getting him repetitions on the left, certainly provides a blue print for what the team plans to do with Moore during the regular season. They are preparing him to be the swing tackle for the offense this season, being able to fill in for both Chuks Okorafor or Zach Banner if they are unable to play.

In fact, some might speculate if Banner is ready for the regular season considering he played only 12 snaps total throughout four preseason games this year. On top of that, Banner didn’t even travel to Carolina, instead staying in Pittsburgh to get treatment, per Mike Tomlin.

If Banner isn’t fully ready to get back on the field, would the Steelers trust Moore enough to have him start at right tackle in Week 1 vs. the Buffalo Bills? Or would they think about using a more seasoned veteran like Joe Haeg to fill that void, if it needs filled?

That has yet to be determined, and is all speculation at this point. Nonetheless, Moore has done enough this preseason to warrant being in the conversation for swing tackle, and first tackle off the bench if needed, and that speaks volumes about the value the Steelers got out of this 4th round pick.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the upcoming 2021 regular season.

Podcast: Food, Family and Steelers Football

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/30/2021 - 11:00am

With the Steelers now in their off-season, it’s time to bring back an old favorite as we look back at Steeler tales from yesterday and today surrounding the black-and-gold.

The Steelers made roster cuts to get down to 71, but the road to 53 has a lot of onramps and exits. Plus, what food memories do you have of family and the Steelers and what will you be munching on while watching these 53 in 2021? This leads to the topic of the latest episode of the most unique member of BTSC’s family of podcasts. Join BTSC podcast producer Bryan Anthony Davis, Kevin Tate and Mark Davison with the lighter side of the Men of Steel.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The week that was in Steeler Nation

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.

Part 1

Part 2

Checking the Steelers defensive scores in preseason Week 3 vs. the Panthers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/30/2021 - 10:01am
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Checking in on the PFF grades for the Steelers’ defensive players from their final preseason game vs. the Panthers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers came up short in a big way in their final preseason action vs. the Carolina Panthers. The 34-9 final score was every bit as bad as the actual game. Although the Steelers were playing their reserves against the Panthers’ starters, it is still the expectation for players to play up to the standard regardless of the situation.

But how did these players grade out?

To get a better grasp on the individual performances by the Steelers, we turn to Pro Football Focus (PFF) to see their individual grades. Before going any further, it’s time for the disclaimer as we are all aware many fans cannot stand PFF’s grading system. It is up to each individual as to how much they trust the process which goes into PFF grades, but we will report on the grades for you to make the decision.

Nonetheless, even if you don’t like PFF it does give a baseline to allow fans to see who played well, and who might have been “below the line”, as Mike Tomlin would put it.

Below are the grades for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense from their preseason Week 3 game vs. the Carolina Panthers Friday night. For reference sake, the Steelers played 76 defensive snaps. All players scores were reported as long as they played at least one snap on defense.

Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

CB James Pierre: 90.0 (41 snaps)
DT Henry Mondeaux: 85.9 (35 snaps)
ILB Marcus Allen: 79.4 (16 snaps)
DT Carlos Davis: 74.8 (33 snaps)
DT T.J. Carter: 69.1 (22 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

ILB Robert Spillane: 46.1 (41 snaps)
ILB Buddy Johnson: 44.2 (35 snaps)
OLB Jamar Watson: 41.6 (29 snaps)
S Tre Norwood: 36.2 (41 snaps)
CB Lafayette Pitts: 34.1 (35 snaps)

Defensive Front Seven

DT Henry Mondeaux: 85.9 (35 snaps)
DT Carlos Davis: 74.8 (33 snaps)
DT T.J. Carter: 69.1 (22 snaps)
OLB Quincy Roche: 66.6 (37 snaps)
DT Isaiah Buggs: 66.3 (14 snaps)
OLB Cassius Marsh: 59.1 (46 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 56.8 (37 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 55.2 (44 snaps)
OLB Jamir Jones: 54.3 (40 snaps)
OLB Jamar Watson: 41.6 (29 snaps)

While Mondeaux ‘s score stood out as well as Carlos Davis, the fact that T.J. Carter made it in the overall top five for the defense despite not even getting a score of 70 tells a lot about the Steelers performance on Friday night. Above everything else, the most telling stat might be that Isaiah Buggs only received 14 snaps after starting the game at nose tackle which was the least of any player on defense this week. With continual strong showings while playing high on the depth chart and against better competition, Henry Mondeaux has made himself quite the résumé for the 53-man roster.

Inside Linebackers

ILB Marcus Allen: 79.4 (16 snaps)
ILB Ulysees Gilbert III: 58.4 (60 snaps)
ILB Robert Spillane: 46.1 (41 snaps)
ILB Buddy Johnson: 44.2 (35 snaps)

The most disappointing thing with these scores is the fact that Marcus Allen lead the way despite leaving the game with injury after only 16 snaps. While Ulysses Gilbert III did look better in coverage than Spillane, it might not be enough to earn him a roster spot. Beyond Allen’s coverage score of 76.8, the next best linebacker in coverage was Buddy Johnson with a 66.2 in coverage. Unfortunately it was his 30.7 score in run defense which brought him down.

Defensive Backs

CB James Pierre: 90.0 (41 snaps)
S Miles Killebrew: 64.1 (41 snaps)
S Donovan Stiner: 61.6 (59 snaps)
CB Justin Layne: 59.7 (41 snaps)
S Lamont Wade: 50.4 (35 snaps)
CB Shakur Brown: 49.2 (19 snaps)
CB Mark Gilbert: 49.0 (35 snaps)
S Tre Norwood: 36.2 (41 snaps)
CB Lafayette Pitts: 34.1 (35 snaps)

For this group, it was James Pierre and then everybody else. Pierre stood out and even though he allowed receptions on both his targets, he allowed -1 yards in passing. With several players fighting for possibly practice squad spots, it was Donovan Stiner as the only player who really seemed to take advantage as he got a lot of extra snaps while Tre Norwood was used in the slot. Unfortunately, Norwood score was not good on the night when given a chance to perform in that role. Therefore, there still a lot of questions with how the Steelers will align their defensive secondary.

So, what do you think of the above grades? Were they close, or way off? Let us know your thoughts on the Steelers’ defensive grades in the comments below.

Who could the Steelers mine trade value out of on their roster?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/30/2021 - 9:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

With cuts on the horizon who are the players the Steelers could actually find trade value within?

The Pittsburgh Steelers preseason is over and the next stop before the start of the regular season is roster cut down day. Of course the Steelers have already trimmed the team down to 71 bodies, but still need to remove an additional 18 bodies before they can construct a 16 man practice squad. The easiest course of action would be to trim the fat and move on with your day, but a savvy General Manager, like Kevin Colbert, would use this league wide roster slash as an opportunity to better his team in the future. By dealing bubble players, teams receive some sort of compensation for a body that would normally fetch them nothing. A great GM will be picking up 1-2 picks over the course of the next few days.

So who on the Steelers roster could they find some trade value in? Well, there are a number of players the organization has that could of use to other teams, and the past would indicate that Kevin Colbert and company are already working the phones trying to deal in, and deal out players before cutting them outright.

Below are a list of players the Steelers could actually be traded away for draft capital.

James Washington Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

After seemingly requesting a trade a few days ago, everything on the James Washington front has cooled down. That doesn't necessarily mean he won't be dealt, but if he is it would certainly be this week. Not to mention Washington holds probably the most value out of any of the Steelers trade assets. It might take a lot to pry Washington out of Pittsburgh, but unhappy players typically get shown the door fairly quickly in the Steel City.

A Quarterback Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images

Regardless of where you sit on the Dwayne Haskins and Mason Rudolph debate for the backup quarterback spot, I think most Steelers fans can agree the next great Steelers quarterback isn't already on the roster. If a QB needy team called the Steelers on either of these guys, I think they should at least entertain a deal. We know the Steelers will likely cut Josh Dobbs, but dealing someone else would keep Dobbs on the roster and not really affect anything in the quarterback room.

Jordan Berry Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

This preseason Jordan Berry punted the best football of his career. He pushed Pressley Harvin III as close to off the roster as any of us could have guessed, but the Steelers didn't draft ‘Big Press’ not to at least give him the opportunity. There is precedent here as the Steelers traded Brad Wing to the New York Giants for a seventh round pick back in 2015, a move which started the Jordan Berry era.

Benny Snell Jr. Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

I’m starting to lean in a direction that Snell in fact makes this team. The reason being Kalen Ballage would have an easier time clearing waivers to the practice squad than Snell, meaning the Steelers could keep both. But, if the Steelers get an offer on Snell they would be wise to come to terms on something. Snell won't be a big part of the offense because of the emergence of Najee Harris and the rise of Anthony McFarland, so getting anything for Snell at this point would be good asset management.

Robert Spillane Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Robert Spillane has not played good football since before his knee injury in 2020. He was attacked relentlessly all preseason long and the Steelers replaced him with Joe Schobert via trade a few weeks ago. Rookie Buddy Johnson has also looked like a player who has earned more playing time and could slot in as the Steelers third inside linebacker, if that is the case then Spillane could be expendable. Getting something back for a player who is going to get buried on the depth chart will maximize the return in any trade. But the Steelers will be stronger with Spillane on their roster in a depth and special teams roll.

Eric Ebron Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

This is probably the least likely player to be traded, as Ebron is straight up a good player. However, the emergence of Pat Freiermuth may force the coaches hand into moving on from Ebron to get the rookie more snaps. Having both guys on the roster makes the Steelers a better team, but the Steelers could field calls and force teams to reach a high demand to take Ebron’s services.

But what do you think? Do you think the Steelers will recoup any draft picks over the next few days? Who is the most likely to be dealt? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Predicting the Steelers 53-man roster: Post preseason Week 3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/30/2021 - 8:00am
Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images

With all the preseason games now complete, have any new Steelers players made a push to land on the 53-man roster?

The 2021 NFL preseason is over for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With no more chances for players to put their resume on tape, the Steelers now have to cut down their roster to 53 players. Based on the preseason performances, BTSC editor Dave Schofield and senior editor Jeff Hartman will give their thoughts of who will make the roster come August 31. Any changes from their last roster prediction before training camp will be noted.

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

Offense

Quarterback (3)

Dave: Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins

Changes: None

Analysis: This one is one of the most sure bets of any position.

Jeff: Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins

Changes: None

Analysis: Even though Dwayne Haskins looked awful vs. the Panthers, this will be your quarterback trio heading into the regular season. Let’s just hope fans don’t have to see anyone other than No. 7 this season.

Running Back (3)

Dave: Najee Harris, Anthony McFarland, Kalen Ballage

Changes: None

Analysis: I didn’t feel Benny Snell Jr. did enough to make a case for the 53 on Friday night, but if I’d have to place a wager the Steelers probably keep him anyway.

Jeff: Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland, Kalen Ballage

Changes: Benny Snell Jr. out

Analysis: Could the Steelers keep Benny Snell? They could, but he hasn’t earned it, in my opinion. I think they add versatility at another position.

Fullback (2)

Dave: Derek Watt, Trey Edmunds

Changes: Trey Edmunds in

Analysis: Although I put Edmunds on the roster to grab the H-back position, he could be a guy gets cut and then re-signed if the Steelers have to put another player on IR.

Jeff: Derek Watt, Trey Edmunds (H-Back)

Changes: Trey Edmunds in

Analysis: I decided to keep Trey Edmunds here with the roster spot vacated by Snell, but I could see this roster spot going elsewhere if deemed necessary.

Wide Receiver (5)

Dave: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud

Changes: None

Analysis: Nobody else made a big enough push to knock Ray-Ray out of the number five stop.

Jeff: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud

Changes: None

Analysis: Barring an injury, this is their crew in 2021.

Tight End (3)

Dave: Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry

Changes: None

Analysis: I think three is enough with a player on the practice squad.

Jeff: Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry

Changes: None

Analysis: Gentry has been impressive so far in training camp, but I don’t see the Steelers keeping four tight ends. I’d love for them to, but I don’t see it happening.

Offensive Line (9)

Dave: Zach Banner, Chukwuma Okorafor, Kevin Dotson, Trai Turner, B.J. Finney, Kendrick Green, Joe Haeg, Dan Moore Jr., Rashaad Coward, J.C. Hassenauer

Changes: B.J. Finney out

Analysis: I did the lazy thing and kept 10 last time because I didn’t know who to cut. I still don’t. Hassenauer seems to be locked in as the reserve center, and the Steelers probably need four tackles with Zach Banner only logging 12 preseason snaps. So I’m going with a completely crazy prediction of the Steelers cut Finney, put Banner on the IR to give him three more weeks, and sign Finney back the next day. It was easier to come up with that unlikely scenario than to pick who gets cut.

Jeff: Trai Turner, Zach Banner, Chuks Okorafor, Kevin Dotson, B.J. Finney, Kendrick Green, Joe Haeg, Dan Moore, J.C. Hassenauer

Changes: None

Analysis: Kendrick Green is the center, and that’s finally official. However, Hassenauer seems to have cemented himself as the team’s backup center. This creates an awkward position at guard. I think the Steelers like Finney at guard, his stronger position, and Coward is just the odd man out with Dotson back to health.

Total Offense: 25 Defense

Defensive Line (7)

Dave: Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Henry Mondeaux

Changes: Henry Mondeaux in

Analysis: I kept an extra guy, and still had to pick between Davis and Buggs. Henry Mondeaux seems to be high on the depth chart so I think he stays.

Jeff: Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Henry Mondeaux

Changes: Henry Mondeaux in

Analysis: Henry Mondeaux actually provides value to the Steelers, so I have him being an additional defensive lineman on the roster. Unfortunately, that means the end of the road for Isaiah Buggs.

Outside Linebacker (4)

Dave: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Quincy Roche, Jamir Jones

Changes: Quincy Roche out

Analysis: Thereare several players I had to choose between across the board, and I think Roche loses a spot to an inside linebacker.

Jeff: T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Quincy Roche, Jamir Jones

Changes: Quincy Roche out

Analysis: I think the Steelers have plenty of good special teams players, and Jones is a more well-rounded pass rusher if called upon. Hopefully the Steelers can bring Roche back on the practice squad, but right now he is the toughest cut to make on the defense.

Inside Linebacker (5)

Dave: Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Marcus Allen

Changes: Marcus Allen in

Analysis: The more I look at it, Geoffrey Benedict has convinced me Allen may be the guy in some defensive sub packages.

Jeff: Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Joe Schobert, Marcus Allen

Changes: None

Analysis: Adding Marcus Allen to the linebacker spot instead of safety, considering he plays there more than anywhere else in the Steelers’ current defense.

Cornerback (5)

Dave: Joe Haden, Cameron Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet, Mark Gilbert

Changes: Mark Gilbert out

Analysis: I would really like to keep Gilbert, but I simply don’t see him being better than the seventh-best defensive lineman.

Jeff: Joe Haden, Cam Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet

Changes: None

Analysis: The longer camp went on, it became increasingly clear this was the Steelers cornerback room. There will be other defensive backs to make plays, but these are likely your cornerbacks in Week 1.

Safety (4)

Dave: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Miles Killebrew, Tre Norwood

Changes: None

Analysis: I think these four are all the Steelers need with a player or two on the practice squad.

Jeff: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Miles Killebrew, Tre Norwood

Changes: None

Analysis: With Allen now on the linebacker side of things, this is your safety room heading into the regular season.

Total Defense: 25 Special Teams

Specialists (3)

Dave: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Christian Kuntz

Changes: None

Analysis: Why not.

Jeff: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Kameron Canaday

Changes: None

Analysis: The only thing keeping Pressley Harvin from not being written on the 53-man roster in pen, is consistency. Jordan Berry is fighting for his Steelers’ career, and he is kicking well. However, the more I watch, the more potential I see out of Harvin. I think he makes the team.

Total Team: 53 Practice Squad

Dave:
QB Josh Dobbs
RB Jaylen Samuels
RB Benny Snell Jr.
TE Kevin Rader
WR Ricco Bussey
WR Cody White
WR Anthony Johnson
G John Leglue
T Chaz Green
DT Isaiah Buggs
OLB Quincy Roche
ILB Ulysees Gilbert III
CB Shakur Brown
CB Mark Gilbert
S Lamont Wade
S Donovan Stiner

Analysis: I still did not check the status of every player to see whether or not they count as on of the six permitted veterans. I didn’t change much, and basically this is the top 16 players I have not making the team even though a few of them have already been cut.

Jeff:

I don’t do practice squad predictions. I don’t know enough about these fringe players to make an educated guess.

See Dave’s answer above.

For a more detailed breakdown, and explanation of the 53-man roster projections above, check out the Let’s Ride podcast where Dave and I break it down:

Winners and Losers after the Steelers loss to the Panthers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/30/2021 - 7:00am
Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Friday night when they traveled to the Carolina Panthers in the third official week of NFL preseason action. The Steelers were losers in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good performance.

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

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

Winners

Jamir Jones
Stat Line: 8 tackles, 5 solo, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 2 QB Hits

There weren’t many players who popped off the screen for the Steelers vs. the Panthers Friday night, but Jamir Jones was one of them. Many were talking about his missed tackle for loss, but on the night at least he was in position to make the play. In my opinion, Jones’ performance Friday was just the cherry on top of a really great preseason. Jones makes the team.

Mason Rudolph
Stat Line: Didn’t even play

Was Dwayne Haskins that bad? Yep. Rudolph is a winner based on the fact Haskins fell so hard he should be confident his job is safe. If Ben Roethlisberger were to go down, for any length of time, Rudolph will get the first shot at being the quarterback.

James Pierre
Stat Line: 4 tackles, 3 solo, 1 TFL

I tweeted during the game how Pierre’s name was being said a lot during the broadcast, and many responded with a response like this, “You shouldn’t hear a cornerback’s name a lot!” But Pierre proved he is a willing tackler, and I love that in a cornerback. I’m not sure how the Steelers will utilize Pierre this season, but he’ll be used no doubt.

Isaiahh Loudermilk
Stat Line: 5 tackles, 1 solo, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 1 QB hit

I always knew Loudermilk was going to have a spot on the 53-man roster. A team doesn’t trade away future draft capital to move back into the 5th round of the 2021 NFL Draft just to cut the player. But Loudermilk has been a pleasant surprise this preseason. He had a solid game, and while he is not going to be an immediate impact player, you can see his potential of being a game wrecker in a few years.

Chase Claypool
Stat Line: 1 reception, 18 yards, 2 targets / 1 rush, 11 yards

Claypool didn’t set the world on fire, but I wanted to see how his ankle has responded after missing just over a week of practice. Claypool looked great both running the ball and receiving. He’s back, and looks ready for a breakout season in 2021.

Losers

Dwayne Haskins
Stat Line: 9/16, 108 yards, 6.8 average, 1 TD 1 INT, 0 sacks, 71.9 Rating

I don’t know what else to say which hasn’t been said already, but if Haskins wasn’t re-inserted into the lineup due to Josh Dobbs’ injury, his stat line would be even more horrific. Not a good showing for Haskins, but if you are wondering if the Steelers will give up on the former first round pick, you better think again. It was just one outing, a preaseason game and not even a full game.

Matthew Sexton
Stat Line: 2 returns, -2 yards, 2 fumbles

Sexton’s fumbles likely sealed his fate with the team, but I have a feeling the young man was just trying to make a play. It was going to be an uphill battle for him to make the roster, but he wasn’t going to make a name for himself by fair catching punts. He took some risks, and didn’t receive the rewards. Such is life in the NFL.

3rd Down Offense
Stat Line: 2-for-11 on 3rd downs

This ties in with Haskins’ poor play, but the entire offense was bad Friday night. It wasn’t just one player. 2-for-11 on 3rd downs? As Mike Tomlin would say, “That’s Junior Varsity football.” Couldn’t agree more.

Turnovers
Stat Line: 3 total, 2 fumbles and 1 INT

It’s just a preseason game, but you can’t expect to win many games when you turn the ball over three times. Some will argue Derek Watt should have caught the pass which deflected off his hands, it doesn’t matter. When the ball ends up in the opposition’s hands, how it got there is null and void.

Mike Tomlin Challenges
Stat Line: 0-for-2

I always joke on Twitter about Mike Tomlin losing challenges, even ones he looks like he will win. That happened again Friday night. In hindsight, it just seemed like one of those nights where if it could go wrong, it went wrong. Even Coach T’s challenges.

If you want a more detailed look at the above list, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast where I outline each Winner and Loser, and MORE!

2021 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Is Steelers RB Najee Harris worth a 1st round pick?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/30/2021 - 6:00am
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

With fantasy football draft season in full swing, we rank the top 35 running backs in fantasy football and break down why they are ranked as such.

If you are like me, you love taking a good share of running backs early in your fantasy drafts. There are not a ton of workhorse running backs available for the taking, and the ones that are will likely go within the first few rounds. Today, we will rank the top running backs in fantasy football and determine who provides the best value based on where you will have to take them in your fantasy drafts.

These rankings will be based on standard non-PPR scoring, but if PPR is more your thing, I will have an alternate ranking at the bottom of this article.

As for the running backs, this year is a challenging year if you are picking in the mid to late first round. I usually try to take three running backs with my first five picks and at least two in the first three picks, but in the leagues that I am picking at the end of round one, I am not sure I will be able to follow that same philosophy this year. After the top four or five running backs, there are a lot of question marks, whether it be Jonathan Taylor’s usage, Saquon Barkley’s health, or Austin Ekeler’s ability as a pure runner. We will dive into all of it, be sure to stop by the comment section below and share your thoughts on how these players should be ranked.

2021 Fantasy Football RB Rankings (Non-PPR) 1. Christian McCaffrey Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 22: Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) runs to the outside during the NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and the Indianapolis Colts on December 22, 2019 at Lucas Oil Stadium, in Indianapolis, IN.

McCaffrey is at the peak of his career, and as long as he can stay healthy, he will be one of the best all-around running backs in the league. With a better quarterback in Sam Darnold and an improved corps of weapons, I expect McCaffrey to be running against fewer stacked boxes in 2021.

2. Derrick Henry

Likely the safest play in fantasy football, I still like King Henry as a top-tier running back. The addition of Julio Jones will not make the Titans any less run heavy than they were without him, as Jones will not be getting any targets that were not already taken by Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith last season. This just forces defenses to keep the safeties high, as Tennessee now has two legitimate talents on the outside that can beat defenses over the top. This only helps Derrick Henry, who still has a fantastic run-blocking line in front of him.

3. Dalvin Cook

You always have to hold your breath considering Cook’s injury risk, but he is in a run-heavy offense that just made major improvements to the offensive line. If it puts your mind at ease, grab Alexander Mattison in the 12th or 13th round in case something happens to Cook, but when healthy, this Minnesota offense is going to run through Dalvin Cook. Expect a lot of volume.

4. Nick Chubb

I was a bit hesitant to trust Chubb the last two seasons because of Kareem Hunt’s presence, but after last year, it is clear that Chubb is the top guy in that backfield. Cleveland is such a run-heavy team under Kevin Stefanski that it does not matter whether Kareem Hunt is there or not. His floor is extremely high, and his rushing ability near the goal line gives him a relatively high ceiling.

5. Alvin Kamara

With Michael Thomas sidelined for the first part of the season, Kamara is expected to see a lot of volume. My only worry with him is the loss of Drew Brees. Brees got his running backs involved in the passing game quite often, but Jameis Winston is more of a downfield thrower who does not use his running backs as much. If Taysom Hill is the starter, having two rushing threats could potentially keep some of the focus away from Kamara when he is going against a stacked box, but either way, I think Nick Chubb is a safer play if both he and Kamara are available when you are on the clock.

6. Ezekiel Elliott

Elliott is nearing the end of the “prime” years for a running back, but if their aging offensive line can remain healthy, I like Elliott’s chances of being a top five to seven running back. Although Tony Pollard has become a dangerous weapon out of the backfield, I still expect Elliott to see a large workload and return to his usual fantasy consistency. When Dak Prescott was healthy last season, Zeke was a top five fantasy running back. He may not be a top five back, but he should safely be inside the top ten if both he and his quarterback can remain healthy.

7. Aaron Jones

I had Jones ranked around twenty a couple weeks ago, but with Aaron Rodgers back into the fold, Jones’ stock should rise. I do worry about A.J. Dillon eating into Jones’ workload, but Jones has never survived off a large workload. It is efficiency that makes him relevant. Plus, the Packers would not have re-signed Jones for such a large contract if they only expected him to split carries with Dillon.

8. Najee Harris Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images CANTON, OHIO - AUGUST 5: Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs the ball in the first half during the 2021 NFL preseason Hall of Fame Game against the Dallas Cowboys at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium on August 5, 2021 in Canton, Ohio.

We obviously do not know what to expect out of rookies, but Najee Harris’ fit with the Steelers seems like a match made in heaven. Harris’ patient running style, similar to Le’Veon Bell’s, is very challenging for defenses to prepare for, as the unusual timing can throw a defense off very easily. Much will depend on the play of his offensive line, but there is a lot to like.

You cannot win your league with your first round pick, but if you struggle to make good trades during the season, you can definitely lose it with your first round pick. I used to go for players based solely on upside in round one, but after failing several times with that philosophy, I quickly changed to a more conservative approach. Najee Harris definitely has upside in this offense, but other players being drafted around the same time as Harris, such as Jonathan Taylor and Saquon Barkley, definitely bring more upside. However, Harris carries a much higher floor.

Mike Tomlin always prefers having a bell cow running back rather than a committee, and there are very few clear-cut workhorse backs. While Aaron Jones is still the main back, there is always a chance that he concedes goal line carries to A.J. Dillon later in the year. He and Najee are neck and neck in my opinion, and I currently give the slight edge to Jones. Still, he is not guaranteed the large workload that Najee is. Jonathan Taylor is also a lead back, but the Colts chose to re-sign Marlon Mack. Is Mack going to get more carries than Taylor? No, but since they brought him back, you have to imagine they will use him in some capacity. He could get five to seven carries a game, and those are touches being taken away from Taylor.

The Steelers offensive line will have its share of struggles, but they should be a much more aggressive and physical unit. The Steelers also plan to be a more balanced offensive unit under Matt Canada, which should keep defenses more off-balanced. I do not see Najee Harris as a guy who could finish as a top three fantasy running back, but if you are picking at the end of the first round in a ten or twelve team league, Harris is one of the safest plays out there.

9. Jonathan Taylor

We talked some about Taylor already, but the big factors here include Quenton Nelson and Carson Wentz. It is true that the Colts will likely lean heavier on the running game during Wentz’ still possible absence, but this also means that he will be running against more stacked boxes. Not having Nelson is a killer for the running game, but hopefully he will only be out the minimum of five weeks as opposed to ten or twelve weeks. Marlon Mack may take a few carries away from Taylor and cap his ceiling a little, but Taylor will still be the focal point of this offense.
The latest indications point toward Wentz and Nelson being ready to potentially start Week 1, which should be considered positive news if you are a Jonathan Taylor owner.

10. Saquon Barkley

I got bit by the Barkley hype last season, which is why I am staying away from him if at all possible this season. With reports coming out that Barkley may not be ready Week 1, I do not think Barkley can be trusted. He has never lived up to his potential, and that is due to both injuries and poor offensive line play. He has the upside to be the best player in fantasy football, but at this point I would almost be shocked if he stayed healthy all season.

11. Austin Ekeler

In PPR leagues, Ekeler provides much more value, but his ceiling is quite limited in non-PPR leagues. That is why I do not think he is worth a first round pick. Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson have provided the Chargers with solid contributions, but neither Kelley nor Jackson will seriously battle Ekeler for touches. Ekeler is somewhat of an injury concern, but with Justin Herbert’s emergence, the Chargers have been less reliant on Ekeler in between the tackles and more reliant on him in open space, and that is where Ekeler excels.

12. Joe Mixon

I have gotten burned by Mixon for years now, but I always find away to jump on the Mixon hype train. This year, the reason is his workload. The Bengals let go of long-time receiving back Giovani Bernard this offseason, and Samaje Perine and Chris Evans are the only legitimate options currently behind Mixon. Mixon was a very good receiver out of the backfield in college, and in 2021, he will finally get more opportunities to display his pass-catching abilities. Cincy’s line is still shaky, but the additions of Jackson Carman and Trey Hill should improve their run blocking. If Mixon falls to pick 20, jump all over him.

13. Antonio Gibson

Many people wonder how committed Washington will be to running the football with Ryan FItzpatrick as the quarterback, but Gibson is still a safe play in the late second round. J.D. McKissic could steal a few opportunities from Gibson in obvious passing situations, but his overall role in this offense is steady from week to week. Consistency is rare in fantasy football, but I think Gibson can give it to you in 2021.

14. J.K. Dobbins

The Ravens currently have Gus Edwards listed as the co-starter on the depth chart, but I do not see that lasting for long. I was not a fan of Dobbins coming out of college, but this offense does not require an elite pass catching and pass blocking running back. Having a guy who can hit the hole with power and burst is exactly what Baltimore wants in order to complement Lamar Jackson’s speed and elusiveness to the fullest extent. Gus Edwards will get his carries, but let’s not kid ourselves. Dobbins is the best running back in this backfield.

Update: J.K. Dobbins has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the entire 2021 season. In lue of this, Gus Edwards now slides in as my 28th highest rated running back. Expect Baltimore to bring in someone externally in the coming days.

15. Chris Carson Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JANUARY 09: Running back Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the football against the defense of the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter of the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lumen Field on January 09, 2021 in Seattle, Washington.

Most rankings you find will have Carson rated as a top 20 back, but I am slightly higher on him. The Seahawks are expected to get Rashaad Penny more involved this season, but until Penny can prove that he can stay healthy, I am not going to push Carson down because of his presence. Seattle is always a run-heavy team, and despite the addition of Dwayne Eskridge and emergence of D.K. Metcalf, they will continue with that same run-heavy philosophy.

16. James Robinson — Jacksonville Jaguars
17. Chase Edmonds — Arizona Cardinals
18. Clyde Edwards-Helaire — Kansas City Chiefs
19. Mike Davis — Atlanta Falcons
20. Javonte Williams — Denver Broncos
21. David Montgomery — Chicago Bears
22. Miles Sanders — Philadelphia Eagles
23. Damien Harris — New England Patriots
24. Darrell Henderson — Los Angeles Rams
25. Michael Carter — New York Jets

I was a huge fan of Mike Davis at the beginning of the offseason, but the more I have read, the less confident I am that they will be committed to him as the workhorse back. With Arthur Smith coming in as the head coach, I assumed that Atlanta would focus more on running the ball than they have in past years. However, the coaching staff has not seemed thoroughly impressed with any of their running backs thus far into training camp. Edwards-Helaire is valuable in PPR but is not the type of workhorse back you want in non-PPR.

Edmonds and Williams both have competition in the backfield, but both players will likely be atop their respective depth charts by the end of the year. I usually avoid Patriot running backs, but it seems as if Harris has separated himself from the other backs on New England’s roster. While I have been a huge fan of Henderson since his days at Memphis, I do not trust Sean McVay to give him the workload that he is deserving of. The addition of Sony Michel also hurts Henderson, as Michel could very well take a good chunk of the third down work.

I usually like grabbing three running backs in the first five rounds of my fantasy drafts, but many of the players in this tier are being undervalued in fantasy drafts. If you can grab Chase Edmonds in round six or Javonte Williams in round seven, that will allow you to grab an extra receiver, tight end, or even quarterback a couple rounds earlier. All of the players listed in that tier are more than capable of being RB2 caliber running backs on a weekly basis.

26. D’Andre Swift — Detroit Lions
27. Josh Jacobs — Las Vegas Raiders
28. Zack Moss — Buffalo Bills
29. Kareem Hunt — Cleveland Browns
30. Raheem Mostert — San Francisco 49ers
31. Leonard Fournette — Tampa Bay Buccaneers
32. Myles Gaskin — Miami Dolphins
33. A.J. Dillon — Green Bay Packers
34. James Conner — Arizona Cardinals
35. Jamaal Williams — Detroit Lions

Swift is much lower in my rankings than most experts’ rankings, but the Lions seem to like what Jamaal Williams brings to the table on early downs. Although Detroit will likely favor the pass catching running back in Swift once they get behind in games, Swift will still struggle to get a heavy workload on the ground. The addition of Kenyan Drake and the destruction of Vegas’ offensive line have caused Jacobs to slide down draft boards, and the additions of Trey Sermon for the 49ers makes Raheem Mostert’s outlook a little more bleak. I still think Mostert brings solid value in the middle rounds, but he needs to remain healthy for the entire season, something that has prevented breakout seasons in the past. Jacobs will still likely see a lot of early down work, but the addition of Kenyan Drake could take passing down work away from him.

Zack Moss and James Conner both have serious injury concerns, but both players could be in line for goal line opportunities, which means more opportunities for touchdowns. In Moss’ situation, he has the opportunity to cement his status as the lead back in Buffalo and become a reliable weekly flex option. I worry about Fournette with Ronald Jones’ early down ability and Gio Bernard’s ability on passing downs, but Fournette is the most complete running back in that backfield when healthy. I worry about Gaskin because Salvon Ahmed was fairly effective during Gaskin’s absences last year. Plus, the addition of Malcolm Brown could limit his goal line opportunities. That is why I have him so low.

2021 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings (PPR) Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 13: Austin Ekeler #30 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs the ball for a first down against Isaiah Oliver #26 of the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter at SoFi Stadium on December 13, 2020 in Inglewood, California.

1. Christian McCaffrey — Carolina Panthers
2. Dalvin Cook — Minnesota Vikings
3. Alvin Kamara — New Orleans Saints
4. Derrick Henry — Tennessee Titans
5. Nick Chubb — Cleveland Browns
6. Austin Ekeler — Los Angeles Chargers
7. Ezekiel Elliott — Dallas Cowboys
8. Saquon Barkley — New York Giants
9. Aaron Jones — Green Bay Packers
10. Antonio Gibson — Washington Football Team
11. Najee Harris — Pittsburgh Steelers
12. Jonathan Taylor — Indianapolis Colts
13. Clyde Edwards-Helaire — Kansas City Chiefs
14. Joe Mixon — Cincinnati Bengals
15. J.K. Dobbins — Baltimore Ravens
16. Chris Carson — Seattle Seahawks
17. Darrell Henderson — Los Angeles Rams
18. James Robinson — Jacksonville Jaguars
19. Chase Edmonds — Arizona Cardinals
20. Mike Davis — Atlanta Falcons
21. David Montgomery — Chicago Bears
22. Javonte Williams — Denver Broncos
23. Michael Carter — New York Jets
24. D’Andre Swift — Detroit Lions
25. Miles Sanders — Philadelphia Eagles
26. Kareem Hunt — Cleveland Browns
27. Damien Harris — New England Patriots
28. Raheem Mostert — San Francisco 49ers
29. Zack Moss — Buffalo Bills
30. Josh Jacobs — Las Vegas Raiders
31. Leonard Fournette — Tampa Bay Buccaneers
32. Myles Gaskin — Miami Dolphins
33. Tony Pollard — Dallas Cowboys
34. Sony Michel — Los Angeles Rams
35. A.J. Dillon — Boston College

If you haven’t listened to them yet, make sure you check out one of BTSC’s brand new podcasts, The Steelers Fantasy Football Fix, hosted by Jeremy Betz. He has extensively broken down the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers in the first three episodes, Be sure to listen to those below so that you can dominate your upcoming fantasy drafts.

Which running backs do you think bring the best value in 2021? How would you rank the top running backs? Be sure to share your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers in the comment section below!

Podcast: Predicting the Steelers final 53-man roster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 08/30/2021 - 4:30am

Jeff Hartman leads the way with his AM studio show on the BTSC family of podcasts with the latest episode of “Let’s Ride“.

The Steelers were less than stellar against the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte and it showed in the 34-9 loss. As always, there are winners and losers every week. and how will it shake out in the Men Steel’s 53-man roster. It’s final prediction time. This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts. Join BTSC senior editor Jeff Hartman for this and more on “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Note
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/29/2021 - 2:30pm
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

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

BTSC continues their recap of the past week’s events for our readers. But where they went wrong was asking the one narcissistic writer that would put a bizarre spin on it to do it. So let’s all take a look at a BAD week in the Burgh together.

Sunday 8/22
  • The Atlanta Falcons are losing their backup quarterback A.J. McCarron for the 2021 season with an ACL tear. That sound you hear is Kevin Colbert whizzing through his Rolodex to call Arthur Blank and it’s not to order a new ShopVac from Home Depot.
  • Bad news for a former Steeler in Baltimore. L.J. Fort tore his ACL and will need to undergo season-ending surgery. Best wishes to Fort for a quick recovery.
Monday 8/23
  • Pittsburgh Police announced that they are “aware” of the brawl at Heinz Field between fans that quickly went viral on Saturday Night and are investigating the incident. I am shocked that this wasn’t dealt with immediately. Rumor has it that both the WWE and the Cincinnati Bengals are interested in signing the two main combatants in the fight.
  • The Rams announce the release of one Devlin Hodges on this day. Will the Duck migrate to another NFL city? All the Steelers need to do is sign Hodges and cut Percy Harvin III for my ill-fated purchase of the No. 6 jersey to be valid again. Since that isn’t going to happen, I guess it’s only fitting to Duck Tape over the quarterback’s surname.
  • Gerry Dulac reported that fans should expect T.J. Watt to sign a contract extension shortly after the Carolina game that will make him the league’s highest-paid defensive player. The author of this column is reporting that he is expecting a BOGO coupon for Arby’s and may get to eat this week.
Tuesday 8/24
  • Brian Batko shared the interesting nugget that Steelers cornerback James Pierre and Ravens QB Lamar Jackson are first cousins. Pierre claims that he is the faster family member and that Jackson would admit to that claim. All of my male cousins are taller than me, but I’m the best looking. However, I still can’t get them to endorse the truth.
  • Former Steelers draft pick Derwin Gray has been released by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Steeler fans that look for new couches on the side of the road were all over social media looking for their team to sign Gray. Much to their chagrin, the offensive lineman was claimed by Tennessee. Much to my chagrin, Mrs. BAD would never let me bring home a trash sofa.
  • The Steelers made five cuts to pare their roster down to 80. The players released were were OL Aviante Collins, WR Tyler Simmons, RB Pete Guerriero, LB Calvin Bundage and S Antoine Brooks Jr. The 2020 sixth-rounder from Maryland was a surprise cut, but injuries derailed his once-promising second season.
Wednesday 8/25
  • Sony Michel was traded from the New England Patriots to the Los Angeles Rams. The move dashed the dreams of Steelers fans that were convinced that Benny Snell Jr. would be shipped to La La Land to replace the injured Cam Akers. It’s like back in the sixth grade lunch room when I was incensed that little Davy Armstrong wouldn’t trade me his Little Debbie Snack Cakes and a Capri Sun for a bag of prunes and a three-day old milk.
  • Jim Wexel reported that “Dwayne Haskins could steal the no. 2 job Friday night. After not having directed a TD drive this preseason, Mason Rudolph is vulnerable.” My crystal ball, since this is being written after the game, predicts that Jim’s crystal ball is cracked.
Thursday 8/26
  • Haskins was named by Mike Tomlin as the starter for the preseason finale, while Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph would remain in street clothes. That gave me flashbacks to the Prom in 1988 when Yolanda Yinzer sent another dude to Masters Tuxedos while I was relegated to street clothes.
  • Stefan Wisniewski retired from the NFL on this date. Best wishes to a local guy and former Steeler in his post NFL endeavors.
Friday 8/27
  • The Steelers fourth preseason game was a brutal 34-9 loss. I’ve passed kidney stones that I’ve found more tolerable than watching that debacle.
Saturday 8/28
  • T.J Watt’s name was leaked as landing in the top ten of NFL.com’s Top 100 Players for 2021 at No. 9. That reminds me of 2001 when I ranked No. 9 on ex-Mrs. BAD’s list of favorite men. What makes it worse, we were still married at the time.
  • The Steelers turk got started early ahead of Tuesday’s 53-man roster deadline with nine names targeted. The cut list included tight end Marcus Baugh, running back Tony Brooks-James, cornerback Shakur Brown, defensive tackle T.J. Carter, wide receiver Anthony Johnson, cornerback Lafayette Pitts, offensive guard Malcolm Pridgeon, wide receiver Mathew Sexton and safety Lamont Wade.
  • A bad day for J.K. Dobbins and the Baltimore Ravens, as the second-year running back was carted off of the field in their preseason finale against Washington. If the Steelers are to beat the Ravens, I’d rather do it at full strength. Best wishes to Dobbins for the diagnosis not to be season-ending.
  • Speaking of the Ravens, I find it ridiculous that they are celebrating the record of 20 straight preseason victories. That’s like bragging about being the first to finish dinner. Now if the Ravens could go 20-straight games without anybody wanting to wipe the smug look off of John Harbaugh’s face... now that would be an accomplishment.

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.

The Steelers’ health should be a major talking point heading into the 2021 regular season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/29/2021 - 1:00pm
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Unlike other teams, the Steelers avoided major injury throughout their four game preseason schedule.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys were the only two NFL teams who played in four preseason games this year. While typical for fans who watched the game prior to the 2020 season with no preseason, the rest of the league settled on three preseason games in 2021.

Some viewed this as a great opportunity to get players without a ton of experience to gain some of the valuable experience lost last season. Others saw it as an increased opportunity for injury.

With the Steelers’ preseason in the rear view mirror, we can safely say the team avoided the injury bug throughout these four games. Sure, there were injuries to players like Chase Claypool (ankle), Joshua Dobbs (toe) and Marcus Allen (hamstring), but not are considered long term and shouldn’t hinder players when the regular season rolls around.

Not all teams were this fortunate, even in a three preseason game schedule. On Saturday the Baltimore Ravens’ offense was delivered a huge blow when running back J.K. Dobbins left the game with a lower body injury. Sunday it is being reported the injury to Dobbins is feared to be the season-ending variety.

J.K. Dobbins currently is undergoing his MRI, but the expectation going in was that he had suffered a season-ending knee injury, per sources.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 29, 2021

Could you imagine the Steelers suffering a season-ending injury to Najee Harris? Ben Roethlisberger? How about Minkah Fitzpatrick?

It would be crippling to the lineup, and while this isn’t suggesting the Ravens will be awful without Dobbins, the Steelers staying healthy throughout the preseason should be a major talking point heading into the regular season.

We can talk about the backup quarterback position, the vacancy at the nickel cornerback position and even the punter battle, but this is all based on the Steelers getting through the first preseason since 2019 with a clean bill of health.

As the team now turns their attention to the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 on the road, they can do so knowing their entire starting offense, and potentially their entire starting defense, T.J. Watt’s contract and Stephon Tuitt’s availability being the anomalies, will be healthy and ready for games that really count.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare to trim their roster and get ready for the 2021 regular season.

Is Bryce Callahan the perfect trade target for the Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/29/2021 - 11:30am
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are in the market for a slot corner and Bryce Callahan appears to be on the market. Could the two sides make a deal?

As we rush toward the NFL’s roster cutdown deadline, a few things are clear with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They desperately need an upgrade at nickel corner (even Keith Butler said so), they’re a team trying to field a championship roster, and they have a wad of money burning a hole in their pocket. Let’s face it, Antoine Brooks and Shakur Brown got cut, and Arthur Maulet has been injured. They need a player for sub packages, and probably some depth for the outside guys too. It is the perfect storm to make a deal.

When surveying the available nickel corners across the league, not many jump off the page. That is until you land on the Denver Broncos, and veteran Bryce Callahan. Broncos brass have told media that they are actively shopping defensive backs because of the depth at the position on the team. Combine that with the Broncos coaches gushing over the other nickel corners on the Broncos roster and you can begin to read the tea leaves.

With the recent coaches praise for Nate Hairston and Kary Vincent Jr looking good in games, I wonder if we will see a Bryce Callahan trade come.

If we don't, one of the two makes the roster with the other a likely practice squad guy.

— Erick Trickel (@ErickTrickel) August 26, 2021

There also doesn't appear to be a team across the league looking harder for an upgrade at the nickel spot more than the Steelers, and they should actively be in on this situation. We’ve seen Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert making a load of unconventional moves this offseason so swinging a deal like this really wouldn't, and shouldn't, surprise anyone.

Broncos GM George Paton says he's fielding calls from other clubs on cornerbacks. Likes his depth there.

— Chase Goodbread (@ChaseGoodbread) August 29, 2021

But the question remains to a lot of Steelers fans is who is Bryce Callahan, and how can he make the team better?

Callahan is a 29 year old, 5’9”, 188 pound corner who came into the league as an undrafted free agent of the Chicago Bears in 2015. Callahan is probably best known for his hard hitting style and ability to chase the quarterback from the corner position. Much like another player Steelers fans used to known. The difference between Mike Hilton and Callahan however is Hilton was given a lot more opportunity to blitz, while Callahan had more coverage responsibilities, where he was fairly successful.

A broken foot caused Callahan to miss the entirety of the 2019 season and parts of the the 2018 and 2020 season. But after finally having the correct surgery he is up and back to running 100%.

Bryce Callahan is built different.

(Via @nfl)

pic.twitter.com/8LWt83Z1xA

— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) July 17, 2021

Acquiring Callahan won't actually cost much in terms of draft capital, but because of the Steelers lack of 2022 NFL Draft picks they would likely need to pull from the 2023 class. The Broncos also have by far the worst punter in the league, so sliding Jordan Berry into this deal feels like a clean and easy way to make the bodies work going either way.

Callahan will cost an acquiring team $7,176,471 in cap space here in 2021, the final year of his current deal. This can be minimized by renegotiating the deal, or adding void years, like how Colbert retooled so many this year. But the Steelers could swallow the entirety of that deal and still be fine financially for everything else.

If I had to predict a trade I think it would read as follows:

To Pittsburgh: Bryce Callahan

To Denver: 2023 fifth round pick, and P Jordan Berry. Followed by a secondary move of the Steelers either extending Callahan for another year (or two), or adding voided contract years to his deal to lower his 2021 cap hit.

All in all, I think this is the exact type of deal the Steelers should be in on, and Bryce Callahan is in fact the perfect trade target of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But what do you think? Should the Steelers attempted to acquire Bryce Callahan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Podcast: The 2021 season is here, are the Steelers ready?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/29/2021 - 11:00am

Check out our latest weekly venture with an international flavor. Put another shrimp on the barbie and check out Steelers Touchdown Under with two blokes from Australia, Matty Peverell and Mark Davison.

So the Steelers didn’t go undah-feated through the preseason? That’s a good thing with no team going 4-0, we’ll soon see about 3-0 though, and winning the Super Bowl. That being said, how did the game against the Panthers leave Steelers fans feeling, and what should we be looking out for in the lead-up to the Bills game?

Join the Matty Peverell and Mark Davison, as they bring a global perspective to the Steelers 2021 offseason, and what needs to be done to set the team up for a successful 2021 chase for that seventh Lombardi.

This is what will be discussed on the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts that’s now moved over to its live YouTube home.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The boys discuss how the last two games left them feeling
  • The players that showed up and those that disappointed
  • What moves the Steelers may need to make to be ready for the 2021 season
  • Matty & Mark discuss what to eat when watching Steelers games, preseason or in-season
  • ‘Slingin the Slang’
  • Loads of audience Q&A
  • Plus MUCH MUCH MORE!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out the YouTube clip here, and be sure to subscribe to our channel by clicking HERE:

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

Part 1:

Part 2:

The Steelers backup quarterbacks are exactly as the name implies 

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/29/2021 - 10:00am
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The heir apparent at the quarterback position does not have to be on the roster for a successful 2021 season.

It’s the most important position on the football field. NFL teams invest millions upon millions of dollars to employ the best quarterbacks to run their offense to have a greatest chance of success. Although championships have been won with less-than-stellar quarterback play, they are more the exception than the rule. There are very few NFL teams that feel they can make a push for a championship without a high-quality quarterback.

Since 2004, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had such a quarterback. Drafted with the 11th overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft, Ben Roethlisberger was thrust into action in his second regular-season NFL game and never looked back. With two Super Bowl championships to his name, albeit with one coming from a less-than-average performance, Ben Roethlisberger has just about every quarterback record in Pittsburgh.

But even with Roethlisberger running the offense, for years many Steelers fans have been looking at the next man on the depth chart to see who will be able to fill the shoes of number seven once he rides off into the sunset. Yes, it’s great when a team has a plan and has the next guy in place. But this isn’t always how it works out in the NFL. In fact, it’s quite rare.

Season after season I have heard Steelers’ fans complain about backup quarterback Landry Jones and how he’s not the next guy. They were exactly right. He wasn’t the next guy and he was never going to be the next guy. Sometimes a backup quarterback is simply as his name implies: a back up quarterback. It’s not always the next guy to take over.

This was obviously the case early on in Roethlisberger‘s career when the Steelers had one of their greatest backup quarterbacks in the eyes of many fans in Charlie Batch. He was simply the backup. The job of the backup quarterback was to fill-in when needed when the franchise QB was not available and not have the team incapable of winning games. This has been what the Steelers have been able to accomplish without Ben Roethlisberger, for the most part, when he was unavailable throughout his career. Even the dreaded 2019 season, the Steelers managed to go 8–6 with a combination of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges.

But as Ben Roethlisberger‘s career is at a point where any season could be his last, it leaves many fans looking to the future. With Roethlisberger working out a contract this past offseason where he took a pay cut and did not add any years to the deal where he’s under contract, many are still looking for this to be the last go for Big Ben.

With the Steelers also giving an extension to fourth-year quarterback Mason Rudolph as well as signing former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins during the 2021 offseason, it seemed as if this preseason was a prime place to look for who could be the future, even if it is only brief, at the Steelers quarterback position post-Ben Roethlisberger.

As the Steelers got quality play mixed in with times of struggle, much of Steelers’ Nation feels that the quarterback situation for the 2022 season was not answered this August.

That’s fine.

Yes, it would have been fantastic if the Steelers found a quarterback in waiting in either an improved Mason Rudolph or a revived Dwayne Haskins. But through four preseason games, this was not an obvious conclusion to draw.

That’s fine.

What the Steelers ultimately need for the 2021 season is a backup quarterback. By all indications, it seems that they are blessed with two players who could fill the role. The fact that neither one of them has stepped up to show that he will be the next quarterback leading this team beyond Ben Roethlisberger isn’t nearly as important as having a player that could fill-in for a game or two, either from the start or coming off the bench, and still give the Steelers a chance at victory.

In one of his many press conferences throughout training camp in the preseason, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about if the 2022 season comes into play when looking at his quarterbacks and the distribution of snaps in preseason games. Not to give a direct quote, the short answer was “no.”

The Steelers were looking for the quarterbacks on the roster this year to be the players that could be a backup quarterback. If they are going to develop into something more, that development will continue throughout the 2021 season and in the Steelers weekly preparation for games.

Of course the fans want to know who the next quarterback is. It might be one of the players on their roster who is going to take the next step in the future. It might be someone who’s playing on Saturdays right now. In fact, five years ago when Steelers’ fans were worried about the same question, the answer was if the player was possibly playing on Friday nights, meeting they were still in high school.

We have broken down and discussed Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins for months. We have seen them appear in three or four preseason games. Heck, even when Ben Roethlisberger saw his only action of the preseason many fans still wanted to focus on Rudolph and Haskins. But now it’s time for the regular season. Now the Steelers have backup quarterbacks to make sure they are ready to come in at a moments notice. The worries of the 2022 season still comes after 17 regular-season games and any possibility of an NFL postseason.

For now, the quarterbacks on the Steelers roster not named Ben Roethlisberger are backup quarterbacks. They are everything that their name implies. Whether they move beyond that in the future will be determined. But for now, it’s best to let them be what they are and work hard to become something more.

Steelers Fact or Fiction: Patience edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/29/2021 - 9:00am
Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

BTSC takes five burning questions regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers and labels them as fact or fiction.

There’s always so much to talk about when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the inquiries surrounding the black and gold are definitely ever-evolving, especially this week with the Steelers looking pedestrian in their preseason finale. But anyhow, there is surely a lot to wonder about. BTSC tries to answer some of the poignant wonderings ahead of time. It seems like the musical selection that best fits this week’s Fact or Fiction could be from the

Here’s a sample...

I sit here on the stairs ‘cause I’d rather be alone

If I can’t have you right now, I’ll wait, dear

Sometimes I get so tense, but I can’t speed up the time

But you know, love, there’s one more thing to consider

Said, woman, take it slow and things will be just fine

You and I’ll just use a little patience

Said, sugar, take the time ‘cause the lights are shinin’ bright

You and I’ve got what it takes to make it

We won’t fake it, aw, I’ll never break it, ‘cause I can’t take it

Are these lyrics really related here? Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to listen to some Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff and Steven Adler? But anyhow, there is surely a lot to wonder about. BTSC tries to answer some of the poignant wonderings ahead of time. Take a look at some bold statements on this and more as we label them as fact or fiction.

Are we on point? Only time will tell.

The Steelers slot corner is not currently in the Pittsburgh locker room Fiction

Who the actual starting slot corner will be when the Steelers play for reals is a question that nobody can really answer at this particular juncture. However, we know that it definitely is not going to be Mike Hilton, who will be plying his trade in tiger stripes in Cincy this season. It’s not Antoine Brooks Jr. either after being put on the injured/waived list on Tuesday. With Arthur Maulet banged up as well, plans need to be redrawn quickly. I agree with BTSC’s Geoffrey Benedict that Cam Sutton was originally thought to be an option, but he is better in coverage and not as physical and that James Pierre and Justin Layne are more of the outside corner variety and Tre Norwood might not be ready. Keith Butler has hinted that it could be slot-by-committee, but that’s a dangerous proposition as well with no consistent option getting time to gel. Even though the player’s identity is not known, getting a slot corner off of the garbage heap this late in the game is a risky proposition. With no time to learn the system, a castoff might not work. So, expect the team’s slot to already be in black and gold with a number to be named later.

Josh Dobbs will not be on the Steelers 53-man roster on September 12 in Buffalo Fact

This next submission I have wavered on and originally did not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff at BTSC. In fact, I was a video game from the 80s Cafe as seen in Back To The Future 2. It’s Lone Gunman. Anyhoo, I thought that Kevin Colbert was going to weave a web of magic and score a draft pick out of Mason Rudolph after Dwayne Haskins’ performance in prime time against the Carolina Panthers on Friday Night. My rationale was that the two quarterbacks had trade value and Colbert has done this dance in the past by sending Dobbs to Jacksonville for a fifth rounder just two years ago. I thought that Dobbs would stay as a capable QB3 and Mason would fetch a four or a five in next year’s draft. I still believe in Haskins, but I no longer think that a trade will happen.

Not having T.J. Watt and Stephon Tuitt in preseason game shape could hinder Steelers’ defensive efforts early on in 2021 Fact

I’ve said this in past years when talking about Ben Roethlisberger’s minimal exhibition play since 2015, although I’m backing off a bit after No. 7’s showing against Detroit. But conditioning and not practicing is a dangerous thing. It brings on rust galore when the season counts. T.J. is a superstar, but he still needs to see action. Stephon Tuitt’s situation is a mystery, but I don’t know how easily No. 91 can just jump right in the pool after not getting wet for a long while.

Don’t buy a new player’s jersey until right before the first regular season game Fact

So you want a Joe Schobert jersey? You better wait. Schobert is going to wait until final cuts and select his digits from the fallen. What if Quincy Roche doesn’t make the team and gets plucked off of the practice squad by another franchise. You are stuck with a pair of 48s to go with your now vintage Bud Dupree jersey. You are jonesin’ for Jamir’s jersey? The No. 44 possession arrow may go to Derek Watt. I remember a few years back when a fan paid big bucks for a Tuzar Skipper jersey only to be shocked when No. 51 was wearing the blue and red of the Giants and not the black and gold. Have patience grasshopper or play it safe and spend your dough on a No. 90.

Pat Freiermuth will be the Steelers starting tight end in Week 1 Fiction

Freiermuth is the future, but Eric Ebron still resides in the present and offers value. Yes there are going to be drops, but fans seem to think that he drops every pass thrown his way. The rookie from Penn State will see plenty of action and may even set up a time share in the end zone, but the incumbent will remain TE1 for the opener in Orchard Park.

Check out the Fact or Fiction podcast to learn even more about these topics every single week and listen for more on the player below.

9 Takeaways from the Steelers’ 34-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/29/2021 - 8:00am
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

9 things we learned, or overreacted to, following the Steelers’ fourth preseason game of the season.

The Steelers ended their preseason on a rough note Friday night, falling to the Carolina Panthers by a score of 34-9. And although it was just an exhibition game, there’s plenty of takeaways to be had from the Steelers’ fourth and final preseason game of the year.

1. Perspective is needed

The Steelers only started a small number of their regular season starters against the Panthers. This left a roster comprised largely of backups facing the Panthers’ starting squad for a good bit of the first half. So it’s no surprise that the Steelers lost the game by a large margin. This is no excuse for the many self-inflicted wounds that plagued the team throughout the game, but rather a reminder that this is no reason to think that the Steelers’ performance against the Bills will be equally bad on Week 1.

2. A reason to worry

If there is one reason to worry about the regular season based off of Friday’s game, it would be the performance of the Steelers’ offensive line. Three-fifths of the starting unit played against the Panthers’ starting defensive line in the first half, with B.J. Finney and Dan Moore replacing starters Trai Turner and Zach Banner, respectively. Despite being slightly undermanned, the offensive line still performed far below expectations, offering hardly any time to throw in pass protection and failing to provide running lanes for Benny Snell. And the second-team unit didn’t perform much better. With the regular season opener the next game on the schedule, it’s essential for the offensive line to rise to the challenge in the next few weeks — otherwise, the 2021 season could be a rough one for the Steeler offense.

3. A reason not to worry

The Steelers’ backup defensive line was much better than expected against the Panthers on Friday night. Chris Wormley was pressuring the quarterback throughout the game, and Isaiahh Loudermilk continued to show off his upside, even recording a sack. Isaiah Buggs and Carlos Davis each had a solid game as well. With Stephon Tuitt’s return timetable in question, as well as the veteran state of the Steelers’ starting defensive line, it was encouraging to see the strong depth the team has.

4. An underwhelming end to the quarterback controversy

Mason Rudolph won the backup quarterback job Friday night, and he didn’t even play. This decision was heavily implied when the coaches decided to sit him against the Panthers, and just about set in stone following Dwayne Haskins’ rough performance. That being said, Haskins is hardly all to blame for the Steelers’ offensive struggles. His offensive line didn’t offer much help, and he was without a running game as well as the team’s top two receivers — all while facing a starting NFL defense. Still, Haskins was far too inaccurate and unconfident Friday night, only managing to spark the offense in garbage time during the fourth quarter. As of right now, Mason Rudolph is the team’s unquestioned QB2.

5. Haskins vs. Dobbs

Most of this offseason’s quarterback talk has centered around to the training camp battle between Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins. But with Mason Rudolph sitting out Friday night, the spotlight was put on Dwayne Haskins versus Joshua Dobbs. Haskins’ rough showing may have opened a door for Joshua Dobbs to play his way into the third spot on the depth chart, but ultimately he didn’t separate himself much from the competition. With roster cutdowns looming, it looks like the Steelers’ final quarterback depth chart will be composed of Ben Roethlisberger, Rudolph, and Haskins. But Dobbs still offers more as a gameday inactive than Haskins, as the former has a good relationship with Ben Roethlisberger and has been a valuable asset on the sidelines throughout his career. In the end, the team will likely go with Haskins’ upside over Dobbs’ smarts, but the final cuts should certainly be interesting.

6. Jamir Jones may have played onto the final 53

Outside linebacker Jamir Jones was considered a camp body when he first signed onto the Steelers’ roster this year. By the end of the Hall of Fame Game he had put himself on the map, and midway through the preseason he had put himself into the final roster conversation. But against the Panthers he may have secured himself a spot on the final 53. He recorded a sack, but also continued his strong special teams play, recording a tackle and continually being around the ball. He’s consistently looked better than fellow outside backers Cassius Marsh and Quincy Roche this preseason (although Marsh did have a nice game against the Panthers). As developmental pass-rusher and special teams ace, Jones may be the perfect piece to fill out the Steelers’ depth at linebacker.

7. Aggressive defensive backs

It’s been a rough preseason for Steelers’ cornerbacks not named Joe Haden. Against the Panthers, coverage was once again up and down, but the defensive backs’ aggressiveness against the run was apparent. James Pierre especially stood out in run support, and Miles Killebrew once again was all over the place on defense. Mark Gilbert and Tre Norwood also stood out, and although the latter had a rough game in his first outing as the Steelers’ slot corner, he showed the necessary physicality for the role.

8. Benny Snell’s roster spot is in question

After sitting out of the Steelers’ previous three preseason games due to injury, Benny Snell got his chance to prove himself against the Panthers. He showed off his tough running style on a 17-yard run, but hardly made an impact with the rest of his carries. It was a tough break for Snell, whose lone preseason opportunity came during the offensive line’s worst outing of the season so far. Despite his experience with the team, it’s unclear where Snell stands in regard to the rest of the Steelers’ running back room, with Kalen Ballage, Anthony McFarland, Trey Edmunds, and even Jaylen Samuels having shown more this preseason.

9. The punting battle comes to an end

Jordan Berry and Pressley Harvin’s battle for the starting punting spot was one of 2021’s most interesting training camp battles. The punters were evenly matched, and both managed to a have a very impressive preseason. The battle came to an quite the finale against the Panthers, in which Berry and Harvin split the punting duties 50/50, recording four punts apiece. With the Steelers’ offense struggling, they each got plenty of opportunities. Both punters had strong games, showing off good hang time and respectable distances. Harvin may have had a misstep when Chris Boswell missed a kick that Harvin was holding for, but it looks like the blame falls solely on Boswell. In such a close competition it will be interesting who makes the final roster.

The Steelers’ final preseason game was a rough one to watch. Thankfully, the regular season is just around the corner. Make sure to share your takeaways below in the comment section, as well as if you agreed or disagreed with the ones above.

Also, don’t forget to stay tuned to Behind the Steel Curtain for all things Pittsburgh Steelers as we get closer to the 2021 regular season.

Steelers 2021 53-man Roster/Cut Tracker

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/29/2021 - 7:00am
Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Check and see who has been released, who is rumored to be released and more breaking news!

The Pittsburgh Steelers, like all other 32 NFL teams, are in the process of trimming their rosters from 80 to 53. For some reason, and the Steelers have never done this before, teams are releasing players almost in waves.

So far, the Steelers have released 9 players, which brings their roster to 71. Believe it or not, the Steelers have two practices this week (Sunday and Monday) before the league mandates they get their roster to 53. This will take place Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. It isn’t known if the Steelers will make any more cuts before these practices, or if they will use them as two more opportunities to evaluate talent.

With that said, this tracker will be used to keep you up to date with all the players who have officially been released, those who might be rumored to be released and any other news surrounding the players like intentions to sign on the practice squad.

It is worth reminding fans players have to clear waivers before they can be signed to the 16-man practice squad, so like every year fans will have to keep their fingers crossed to see if their favorite player who was released is lucky enough to clear waivers and land back with the Steelers.

Let’s get to the list of players...

Rumors of Release

TE Marcus Baugh

Official Release

TE Marcus Baugh
RB Tony Brooks-James
CB Shakur Brown
WR Anthony Johnson
S Lamont Wade
WR Matthew Sexton
CB Lafayette Pitts
DT T.J. Carter
OG Malcolm Pridgeon

Other News

None Yet

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they now turn their attention away from the preseason and prepare for the 2021 regular season.

T.J. Watt the latest member of the Steelers to grace the NFL’s Top 100, at No. 9

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/29/2021 - 6:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers’ talented pass rusher found himself as the lone member of the team in the NFL’s Top 10.

It is that time of year again. Time for the NFL to release their Top 100 players of the previous season. In the past, the NFL has stretched this out throughout the vast majority of the offseason. They would release 10 players at a time, have an hour long show unveiling the list and even a reaction show.

This year the league changed it up and released players without as much fan fare. The Steelers already had two players on the NFL Top 100, Cameron Heyward coming in at No. 57, and Minkah Fitzpatrick at No. 52.

It was then reported there would be only three members of the Pittsburgh Steelers to make the Top 100, and fans immediately knew the other would be T.J. Watt. But where would Watt be ranked?

Saturday it was announced Watt is No. 9 on the NFL’s Top 100.

#️⃣9️⃣0️⃣ is #️⃣9️⃣ on the #NFLTop100

: https://t.co/aKJV6L0Gl6 pic.twitter.com/bKTEi3wU7r

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 28, 2021

The NFL has released their Top 10, and here are the 8 players who they considered better than T.J. Watt.

Now presenting...

Players No. 6-10 on the #NFLTop100!

: #NFLTop100 -- Top five players revealed NEXT on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/g2CyGD23fY

— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2021

10. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
9. T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
8. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
7. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. DaVante Adams, Green Bay Packers

The best of the best: No. 5-1 on this year's #NFLTop100!

Agree with this list? pic.twitter.com/miq1RGVQQe

— NFL (@NFL) August 28, 2021

5. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
4. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
2. Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare to trim their roster to 53, and get ready for the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 of the 2021 regular season.

Podcast: Steelers history of running to daylight

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 08/29/2021 - 5:30am

Join BTSC’s newest podcast, the Steelers Power Half Hour for weekly Steelers Power Rankings in may a black-and-gold category

A major part of sports viewing is the emotional connection of the fan to certain players. When it comes to running backs to don the hypocycloids, some prefer the finnesse of Franco, the power of the Bus and the pure speed of Fast Willie. Welcome to the Steelers Power 1⁄2 Hour. Join BTSC’s Chris Pugh, Joe Frost and Paul Yanchek for weekly power rankings as it pertains to the Pittsburgh Steelers. This time it’s a look at Steelers favorites.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Ranking Pittsburgh Steelers all-time running backs
  • and MUCH MORE!

Chris, Paul and Joe of BTSC walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Saturday Night Open Thread: He ain’t no Rented Mule

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/28/2021 - 6:00pm
Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

Come and join this merry band of Steelers’ faithful for some lively debate about our Steelers, good food and the merits of the odd cold beverage.

Well, it’s the end of an era here in the canuck household. I put our beloved travel trailer up for sale. We have a ton of great family memories associated with it, but it’s time has come. Furthermore, I am officially not cool enough to hang with my kids anymore, well haven’t been for a while now and certainly not for a week or so of camping. Anyway, we have been fortunate enough to have seen as far east as Halifax and north west as Kakabeka Falls. Man, what a beautiful country we have!

Anyway, on to football.

Yes, SNW, this is FOOTBALL! Get over it.

  1. What exactly is your level of confidence heading into the season? Put on your ‘Carnac the Great’ hat and predict our record come playoffs.
  2. Before you get to question 3, I ask this one. Much has been written about the Steelers’ QB situation and how it seems to be a foregone conclusion that Josh Dobbs will be QB4. However, I have serious questions about why he would sign on to the practice squad knowing his chances of getting any reps in season are essentially ZERO. Therefore, what are your specific thoughts on his future with the team, or in the league in general?
  3. Now, I have the power to put you in Kevin Colbert’s office for an hour for the express purposes of listening in on internal discussions regarding trades. Who is the front office looking / hoping to move before having to cut them? (and no, you can’t answer Dobbs, lol)
  4. Yesterday, Geoffrey Benendict wrote a really good article on Henry Mondeaux. If you didn’t read it, go read it after making your obligatory comments here (let’s leave Reno alone tonight) but I will summarize in saying that Geoff see’s Mondeaux as a varsity player, if you know what I mean. Anyway, who are you thinking is under the radar now but by the end of the season will have surprised a few of us fans and have earned real trust of the coaching staff?
  5. With the recent news that Mike Lange is retiring I have been thinking about some of the all-time great play by play guys. Everyone knows Vin Scully and most Pittsburgh sports fans should know the name Mike Lange. However, there have been some other great Announcers in not only other cities but other sports. Us Canuckleheads had Forster Hewitt - the originator of “He shoots, he scores!”. Tiger fans were absolutely blessed to have the great (and I really do mean great) Ernie Harwell. Sabres fans have/had Rick Jeanneret (Lalalalalafontaine anyone?). Who else should we know about?

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