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3 areas of focus for the Steelers vs. the Lions in Preseason Week 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/21/2021 - 8:00am
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Listing a few points of interest for Steelers fans to focus on Saturday night against the Detroit Lions.

Saturday night's third preseason game against the Detroit Lions at the friendly confines of Heinz Field represents somewhat of a long awaited return to normalcy for the Pittsburgh Steelers players, coaches, and fans. There is a palpable excitement permeating through the organization and the fanbase. Veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger admitted to a full range of emotions during Thursday's post practice press conference.

Even preseason games have more meaning when the end of a legendary career is on the horizon. My beloved father used to love to point out a particular observation during many family outings, "We are making memories, aren't we"?! Looking back, he was absolutely right. In the end, memories are all you have left, and they are invaluable. Here's hoping for some great memories for all the Steelers faithful this season.

The third preseason game always has more urgency because it represents the only real dress rehearsal for the starters prior to the start of the regular season. Ben Roethlisberger and the other starters will probably only play a couple of series, depending on extenuating circumstances. There are certain things that the Steelers coaching staff will be focusing on during the first live in game action for many proven veterans, and some vital opportunities for all the fringe roster hopefuls. Here are a few points of interest.

Ben Roethlisberger and the starting offensive line

The first drive for Ben and the boys will most likely be a feeling out process, focusing on all the new personnel getting their feet wet so to speak. The ball will be coming out of Roethlisberger's hand quickly and on rhythm whenever possible, especially until the offensive line has a opportunity to prove their cohesiveness and ability to protect the QB. Expect a concerted effort to establish Najee Harris and the running game, with Roethlisberger taking snaps behind center. Once the starting unit gets settled in, look for a designed roll out or misdirection. There should be some play action mixed in, especially if the Steelers are able to establish the running game. I am not expecting all the bells and whistles that accompanies Matt Canada's offense; such as multiple formations, resets, and motions. After all it's only the preseason, but they may work in a little more creativity than the previous couple games.

Ray Ray McCloud, Rico Bussey Jr, and Cody White

The two hardest positions for any newcomer to make the final roster for the Steelers would definitely be wide receiver and edge, because the Steelers are incredibly effective at identifying and developing talent at those two positions. This year's depth chart is once again loaded at both, with too many talented performers caught in a numbers game. Barring a unexpected but not out of the realm of possibility trade or two, the Steelers are staring down the barrel at some very difficult decisions. First up, the receivers.

At first glance, it would appear that McCloud has a leg up on his competition. He brought a real spark to the Steelers as a kick returner last season, and appeared to be in position to build off that success this season. If we have learned anything from past experience, we should know there is never a comfort zone for fringe roster types. Especially with a franchise like the Steelers who specializes in finding hidden gems in unexpected places.

McCloud is definitely quicker than fast, with excellent short area elusiveness. He can be utilized in a variety of ways out of the slot or even the backfield on occasion, but he is limited to the slot due to his diminutive size, speed, and catch radius. His kick return ability is his best attribute by far.

Rico Bussey Jr. has enjoyed a strong training camp, and had a productive game against the Eagles. He has displayed excellent hands, and has a knack for getting open despite possessing rather pedestrian measurables. He has arguably had the most consistent camp of any of the receivers. He looks like a well rounded receiver with sneaky deep speed, but there is a elephant in the room so to speak. He has shown a real connection with Dwayne Haskins, but still needs to build a rapport with the other signal callers, especially Ben Roethlisberger.

Another young receiver to pay close attention to is Cody White, who just so happens to have multiple qualities that the Steelers love in their receivers. He has maybe the best hands in camp, easily snatching hands catches out of the air in traffic, plus the requisite toughness to complete the play. He has superior length and catch radius as a 6'3" wideout. He is still only 22 years old after leaving Michigan State early to enter the 2020 NFL Draft. He went undrafted after running a 4.66 forty at the Combine. He has been fighting an uphill battle ever since, but his reliable hands stand out from his competition for a roster spot.

Cassius Marsh, Jamir Jones, and Quincy Roche

Three standout edge performers, two possible roster spots. That's only if the Steelers go out of character and keep five outside linebackers. The Steelers usually keep four, with the top three getting the majority of the snaps. The fourth or fifth guys have to excel on special teams. The main reason I feel the Steelers may keep five this year is because of the expanded regular season, and they have two talented young men at a position of great need around the league. Marsh should survive the practice squad, the other two no way.

Marsh looks like a totally different player than he did at the close of last season, after being an emergency acquisition when Bud Dupree went down with injury. Now with a offseason and training camp under his belt, he has been making plays and generating pressure regularly. He looks like what he is, an experienced and reliable veteran performer. His roster spot looked pretty secure until the Steelers recently signed free agent Melvin Ingram.

Now the Steelers have a couple of young edge guys with tons of potential in Jones and Roche. Jones has good size and athleticism, coupled with a great motor. He has been making hustle plays all over the field, making the most of every opportunity he is given. Roche is a far more refined prospect than the still very raw Jones, possessing a impressive arsenal of pass rush moves and counters. He needs better technique and functional strength to improve as a run defender, but he can contribute immediately as a pass rush specialist.

I am excited and intrigued to see how Ben Roethlisberger will look in his first live game action orchestrating the new look offense. How effective the first team offensive line will be at opening holes for the running game and protecting their franchise QB. To see if the aforementioned receivers can continue to build on their excellent training camp performances, and in their order of usage in the game. The same thing holds true for the edge performers, with their special teams performances and usage going a long way towards bringing some clarity to that intense competition.

Enjoy the game and Go Steelers!

Steelers Fact or Fiction: Working for the weekend edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/21/2021 - 7:00am
Photo by Mitchell Leff/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 extending Stephon Tuitt to free up cap space and position battles heating up. It seems like the musical selection that best fits this week’s Fact or Fiction could be from the legendary Canadian group Loverboy.

Here’s a sample...

Everyone’s looking to see if it was you

Everyone wants you to come through

Everyone’s hoping it’ll all work out

Everyone’s waiting they’re holding out

Everybody’s working for the weekend

Everybody wants a little romance

Everybody’s goin’ off the deep end

Everybody needs a second chance,

Oh. You want a piece of my heart

You better start from start

You wanna be in the show

Come on baby lets go

Lets go

Are these lyrics really related here? Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to listen to some Canuck Rock? 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.

Dan Moore Jr. is making his case as a future starter on the offensive line Fact

I really like what I’ve seen and heard about the Steelers fourth-round selection in 2021 out of Texas A&M. Despite the growing pains that came with lining up against Alex Highsmith, Moore is being praised for his nasty streak and his blocking abilities. I thought he handled himself well in preseason action as well. There were plenty of negative comments surrounding the efforts and abilities of Chuks Okorafor, but upon further review... No. 76 seems to be adapting to the left tackle position quite well. I think the possession arrow for the position might be leaning towards the veteran, especially with Moore practicing more now on the right side. But whether it’s RT or LT, the object in the rear view mirror that is No. 65 Dan Moore Jr. may be closer than it appears.

Kevin Colbert is done making trades for 2021 Fiction

I really don’t expect Steelers GM Kevin Colbert to acquire any more talent by way of the trading post in 2021. However, I could envision a player or two in a deep position such as defensive line, wide receiver, running back, punter or quarterback be shipped off to replenish a somewhat depleted draft board next season. Although importing talent is not completely out of the realm of possibility, it’s never going to be for the likes of a Stephon Gilmore or an Aaron Rodgers.

Fans need to get to know the name Kalen Ballage Fact

I say this not because this will be ear candy hearing yinzers pronounce the fourth-year running back’s name, but because he could become Deangelo Williams valuable. Ballage stands at 6’2” and weighs in at a hearty 230 lbs. But he’s also been clocked at a speedy 4.4 in the 40 yard dash. Ballage had a touchdown in his Pittsburgh debut and 19 yards on four carries with a nine-yard gain negated by a penalty marker. The head-scratcher is why the former Charger, Dolphin and Jet is with his fourth squad in four years though. But Ballage has said that Pittsburgh is the finest organization that he’s worked for and environment goes a long way at times. But the main point to consider is that the Steelers cannot live on Najee Harris alone. Ballage as a backup could be filling as a part of the roster.

Keeping both Minkah Fitzpatrick and T.J. Watt will be a tough task for the Steelers front office Fact

It’s old news that T.J. Watt is present at camp, but not participating in practice with the team because of contract negotiations. With plenty of optimism, many parties feel that a deal is inevitable. But there is a number being bandied about and it’s slowly snuffing out the flame of hope for some. $100 million. Throw in the fact that the Seattle Seahawks just signed safety Jamal Adams to largest contract in NFL history at his position. The Adams deal is for $17.5 million per year, $38 million in guaranteed money and comes complete with a signing bonus of $20 million. Minkah Fitzpatrick is likely to command more than Adams. Sure, the Steelers are expecting to have an exorbitant amount of space under the cap in 2022, but two mega-contracts could cripple a team. So hold on to your hypocycloids, this one isn’t going to be easy.

James Washington is expendable Fiction

Is Washington the superstar that the Steelers wanted him to be upon drafting him in 2018 in the second round? No, he is not. That is mostly due to being in a crowded stable of receivers. But still, the team leader in yards receiving in 2019 has been very valuable to the cause and has been known to shine in big moments. When Chase Claypool went down with an ankle injury in camp, worry spread through the organization. Chase was luckily deemed okay, but Washington’s presence on the roster is more important with injuries possible every single week. At this point, I’d much rather have No. 13 for 2021 than a draft pick in 2022.

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.

How to watch Steelers vs. Lions: Time, TV Schedule, and game information

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/21/2021 - 6:00am
Kareem Elgazzar

All the information needed to watch, listen, or follow the Steelers game on Saturday against the Lions at Heinz Field.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are taking the field again as they are entering the second half of the 2021 preseason. The Steelers are still expected to play most of their starters while still trying to get a look at the other players getting their shot at sticking with an NFL team.

Will the Steelers have a better first half than their previous two games? Will the Steelers offensive line get an extended look as the first unit is finally expected to start the game? Will the defense continue to bring the pressure regardless of which players are on the field?

This Saturday will answer these questions as the Steelers look to continue their preseason on a positive note. Make sure you get all the information you need below so you can enjoy the Steelers Week 2 preseason game:

Week 2 Preseason:

Game: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Detroit Lions

Date: Saturday, August 21st

Kickoff: 7:30 P.M. ET

Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

Weather: Live weather update

TV Channel: Broadcast nationally on NFL Network and locally on KDKA-TV with Bob Pompeani and Charlie Batch as commentators and Missi Matthews as the sideline reporter. A list of Steelers preseason affiliates can be seen HERE for stations carrying the game in various cities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Hawaii, and Alaska.

Online: NFL.com Game Pass offers live games for international viewers and all out of market preseason games with a paid subscription. fuboTV also allows you to stream NFL games online with a subscription. NFL Game Center will update the action on a play-by-play basis.

Radio: Steeler Nation Radio with Bill Hillgrove, Craig Wolfley, and Max Starks. The broadcast will be live on WDVE 102.5 FM and WBGG 970 AM in the Pittsburgh area or check the list of Steelers Radio Affiliates. Viewers can listen anywhere in the world online via Steelers.com, but the Steelers Official Mobile App does have geographical restrictions. The Steelers broadcast is also available on Westwood One radio, XM Radio and Sirius Radio on channel 228.

You can also follow Behind the Steel Curtain on Twitter or in the game thread article to catch all of the highlights. Be sure to check back with BTSC after the game for our post-match roundup, and subscribe to BTSC Steelers Radio on YouTube to catch The Steelers Post Game Show with Jeff Hartman, Bryan Anthony Davis, and Dave Schofield.

Podcast: What Yinz Talkin ‘Bout

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/21/2021 - 5:30am

Join BTSC’s newest podcast, What Yinz Talkin ‘Bout for a fun look at the Steelers in the sea of social media.

Fans get a lot of their news and Steelers talk from social media. With that they get a lot of false rumors and absurd takes. Take a deep dive into the world of Steelers social media from a yinzer perspective as BTSC proudly presents a very unique show that highlights “What Yinz Talkin ‘Bout”. Join Kyle Chrise and Greg Benevent for their black-and-gold breakdown of everything “Stillers” on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and so much more. If Devin Bush posts another cat video or Jordan Berry is looking for a job on LinkedIn, they’ll be talkin ‘bout it n’at too.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • This week with the Steelers and social media
  • and MUCH MORE!

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.

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Preseason Vol. 5

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 5:45pm
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

There is always something to talk about when it comes to the black-and-gold!

It’s Friday again, so it’s time for the six pack of questions. It seems as if Jeff and Dave come to a consensus in cutting to the chase...

This week, I, Dave, will be tasked with the questions up for discussion.

The rules are still the same...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

  • I’ll ask at least four questions strictly related to the Steelers.
  • The rest of the questions could be about anything.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have fun talking about the Black-and-gold.

Procedural Note: Since the title feature has gone away, please feel free to leave your usual title as the first line of your response and even bold it if you can for the ease of others.

So here we go! With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to jump on in. Hopefully this party is exactly what you’re looking for on a Friday night. Here goes:

NOTE: Due to Saturday’s game against the Lions, there will NOT be a Saturday Night Open Thread. Additionally, with the Steelers playing next Friday against the Panthers, there will be no Friday Night Six Pack next week.

1. The Steelers had to cut five players this week. Who was the most surprising cut, or were they all players to be expected? The five players were:

DE Abdullah Anderson
DB Stephen Denmark
WR Isaiah McKoy
T/G Brandon Walton
K Sam Sloman

2. Ben Roethlisberger is slated to start on Satrurday night against the Lions, but how long he will play is yet to be determined. Do you feel the Steelers’ offense needs to find the endzone while Roethlisberger is at quarterback in order to deem it a successful outing?

3. Since minicamp, the Steelers roster has has had some significant changes with subtractions like David DeCastro and Vince Willaims, but have also had additions of players like Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram III, and Joe Schobert. Over the last two moths, has your confidence in the Steelers roster increased, decreased, or remained the same?

4. The projected starting offensive line of Zach Banner, Trai Turner, Kendrick Green, Kevin Dotson, and Chuks Okorafor practiced together for the first time this past week. How much time do you want to see this unit together on Saturday night in order to better determine how they are working together?

5. The obvious follow up to the last question is coming...before seeing them in action on Saturday night, do YOU think this should be the starting offensive line come Week 1? If not, then who is there instead?

6. If you could ask the final Steelers-related question for this list, what would it be? (Hopefully others answer your question in the replies.)

Stay safe out there!

And it wouldn’t be a Friday night unless we said...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

We added some new shows and a new platform to our podcasts...if you haven’t checked out Jeff’s morning show Let’s Ride, Bryan and Tony’s Steelers Retro Show or Dave’s Steelers Stat Geek, or even the new evening shows, give them a try by listening below!

Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Heyward give their early assessments of Kendrick Green

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 2:05pm
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers’ rookie starting center has been proving his worth both on and off the field.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Kendrick Green out of Illinois in the 3rd round of the 2021 NFL Draft, there was some talk of him starting early in his rookie season. When fans saw Green only registered four starts at center his Senior season, it dampened expectations of him in the black and gold.

Nonetheless, despite those lost snaps, Green has come into camp and held down the starting role from Day 1. Just this past week head coach Mike Tomlin, who always struggles to praise rookies, admitted Green was the team’s starting center.

Throughout the first two preseason games Green’s play has been as expected. Some good, some not-so-good. In last week’s preseason game vs the Philadelphia Eagles, Green seemed to have his first “Hey rookie, welcome to the NFL” moment when he was pushed backwards into the lap of Mason Rudolph by Javon Hargrave.

It’s a learning experience, and one Green will hopefully use to help him improve his overall game. As the team prepares for the Detroit Lions this Saturday night at Heinz Field, two team captains, Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Heyward, spoke with the media and were asked about Green.

Roethlisberger likes what Green has been able to accomplish in a short amount of time this preseason/training camp.

“He’s doing really well. We’ve started working on silent counts, we’ve done all kinds of stuff.” Roethlisberger said. “We still are both working together every day to try and get as comfortable as we can, but I’m very confident and comfortable in the way that he’s progressed.”

When you think about giving insight on a position, rarely would you think a defensive lineman would be asked about an opposing offensive lineman. However, they can provide some valuable information considering they go against each other almost every day in practice.

Heyward was able to talk about Green’s progression, and what he does well for a rookie.

“I think Kendrick has got to approach it that way.” Heyward said when talking about Green showing some nastiness in camp. “He’s going up against Tyson [Alualu] everyday, and Tyson is gonna beat you up if you aren’t careful. He’s getting the best work he can. Hopefully it prepares him for the season. He’s asked a lot of questions and we’ll take it from there. He’s gotta take his lumps throughout the season, that happens, but how do you continue to bounce back and not hit that rookie wall?”

To be more specific, Heyward thinks Green has a tremendous amount of potential.

“He’s athletic. He can get out in space. He communicates well.”

Green will be the team’s starting center for the foreseeable future, and if the Steelers were able to find the next rock in the middle of their offensive line for the next decade, and then some, in the third round, it might be considered one of the best picks of the Kevin Colbert era.

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

Podcast: Previewing the Steelers vs. Lions preseason contest

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 2:00pm

BTSC’s Jeff Hartman, Bryan Anthony Davis, and Dave Schofield talk news of the day and everything surrounding the Steelers. All of this while mixing in fun and frivolity like only they do.

Coming off of two preseasion victories, the Steelers will integrate more starters into exhibition game action on Saturday at Heinz Field. What all should we expect from the black and gold this week? This is just one of the subjects that will be discussed and speculated on in the latest edition in the flagship show of the BTSC family of podcasts.

As always, it sure is a good time to get on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-Gold and there you have the topic for the BTSC podcast The Steelers Preview with Jeff Hartman, Bryan Anthony Davis, and Dave Schofield. Join the triumphant trio as they combine the down all things Steelers and with shenanigans galore.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News of the week
  • Previewing the Steelers vs. Lions
  • Trivia

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:

10 reasons to be pessimistic about the Steelers 2021 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 12:30pm
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Let’s take the bad with the good and look at some reasons to be worried about this team

Yesterday we took a look at 10 reasons why you should be excited about the Steelers 2021 season. Today we flip that coin over and dive into reasons for pessimism for the upcoming season. So here are 10 reasons why you should be worried about the Pittsburgh Steelers. Make sure to read the other story in the link below.

10. The AFC North is a stacked division Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Let’s face it, the AFC North is no cake walk, it never is and seemingly this will be the toughest year to take the divisional crown since it was formed. The Ravens, Browns, and Steelers are all playoff hopefuls, and the Bengals look like a team ready to claw their way back up. Being mediocre isn't winning anyone this division, the team on top will be the one that is consistently good from beginning to the end.

9. Drops and missed tackles Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Steelers still have to prove drops and missed tackles won't be a theme for this year’s team. The Steelers can attribute a couple of their 2020 losses directly to dropped passes, and if it isn't cleaned up 2021 could be a long year. As good as the Steelers defense is, they have struggled getting guys to the ground for a couple years now. Both of these fundamentals need to be taken care of for the Steelers to find any success this year.

8. Massive free agent losses Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Steelers lost three starters on defense and two on offense to free agency, and they lost one player on defense and three on offense to retirement. This is a lot of turnover for an NFL team, and will require a lot of guys stepping up in replacement. The likelihood of all these replacement players being good is very low, and the Steelers will be reliant on them to be good in 2021.

7. The receivers are still immature Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire

Whether or not you enjoy the receivers dances on social media, at the end of the day it is a distraction because the guys in the locker room will be asked about it ad nauseam. If the Steelers are losing games you can rest assured the group will be asked if dancing online will be the reason for it. It’s annoying and will unfortunately be a distraction for the team.

6. Toughest schedule in the league Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Steelers have a murders row of opponents in 2021. Not only are the up against the AFC North but they will face the likes of the Chiefs, Bills, Packers, Titans, Seahawks, and Chargers. If the Steelers are going to do anything this year they will have to prove themselves against most of the top teams in the league. This is the road the Steelers will be faced with, and there's no hiding from the challenge.

5. Holes in the secondary Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers defense is still one of the best in the league. The problem is they still have two glaring holes at corner and at strong safety. While Edmunds, and Sutton/Pierre have their moments, they have been burned a lot in the past. These are the two spots on the defense opposition will target all game long, and the Steelers should still feel some pressure at upgrading at least one of these spots.

4. The offensive line is still an issue Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Steelers are bringing a new offensive line into the 2021 season. They could be a really solid unit, but if each players warts show it could be a long year. Chuks Okorafor is a fine tackle that isn't great at one specific thing, Kevin Dotson looks like he can and will be really solid but needs experience, Kendrick Green is undersized and needs some marinating time, Trai Turner is injury prone and has regressed, and Zach Banner struggles in pass pro. Could they overcome the issues? sure. But it’s more likely the flaws show up on game day.

3. This team can't win in the playoffs Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Let’s face it the Steelers have struggled in the playoffs dating back to 2016. Until they can win in the playoffs it will be a talking point amongst fans and media alike. Getting out of a funk like this isn't an easy one, but a necessary step for the organization. The Steelers need to get to the dance and perform for the first time in a long time.

2. Ben Roethlisberger is another year older Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger looked bad down the stretch in 2020 and turned the ball over like crazy in the playoffs. If Ben continues to struggle he may be forced to the retirement home rather than riding off gracefully under his own power. We’ve seen Peyton Manning and Drew Brees completely fall off in the final year of their careers, and the Steelers can't afford that from Ben Roethlisberger.

1. Internal pressure for winning a title for Ben Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

At the end of the day it looks like the Steelers organization are making all the moves necessary to make this team as strong as possible to win one more ring with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm of the ship. Trying to win a ring for a legend on their way out is something we’ve seen a lot of teams try to do for their players over the years. But it adds a lot of pressure to the plates of the other guys to get it done. Only Ben himself knows what it takes to win a ring on this team, and adding more pressure to the other guys could form some cracks to form.

But what do you think? Are you an optimist or pessimist when it comes to the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Predicting the Steelers 53-man roster: Post preseason Week 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 11:30am
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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

The 2021 NFL preseason is halfway down for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With Week 1 of the preseason now behind us, there has now been two chances to see most of the Steelers roster in action to help better assess which players will or will not make the final cut later this month. Based on the preseason so far, 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: The game against the Eagles didn’t help Joshua Dobbs make a case to bump off one of the other quarterbacks.

Jeff: Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins

Changes: None

Analysis: The longer the preseason goes, the more it looks like this position group is settled with the three listed above. Now, how those get placed behind Ben Roethlisberger is still uncertain.

Running Back (4)

Dave: Najee Harris, Benny Snell Jr, Anthony McFarland, Kalen Ballage

Changes: None

Analysis: This is a position where I was tempted to cut a player in order to keep one somewhere else, but it would have been Benny Snell and I’d actually like to see him carry the football once before completely dismissing him.

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

Changes: None

Analysis: The only change I can foresee at this position would be if the team decides to keep Trey Edmunds as a FB/RB/H-Back. At this point, I don’t see it happening.

Fullback (1)

Dave: Derek Watt

Changes: None

Analysis: It wouldn’t be to knock Watt off, but Trey Edmunds is making a case to keep an extra fullback/running back.

Jeff: Derek Watt

Changes: None

Analysis: Unless the Steelers decide to keep Trey Edmunds as a RB/FB/H-Back/Special Teams player, this position is set.

Wide Receiver (5)

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

Changes: None

Analysis: I was really tempted to drop Ray-Ray McCloud and put another receiver on this list. The problem was I wasn’t sure which one so I didn’t make the change.

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: This one is becoming much more clear, unless the Steelers keep four which would obviously be Kevin Rader.

Jeff: Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry

Changes: None

Analysis: Gentry has been impressive so far in training camp, but I can’t get that Kevin Rader pancake block vs. the Dallas Cowboys out of my head. I would love for the Steelers to keep four tight ends, but I just don’t see it happening. Not at this point at least.

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: Rashaad Coward out, J.C. Hasenauer in

Analysis: I would really like to keep 10 offensive linemen, but it just doesn’t make sense. Hassenauer has been playing well this preseason, so even though Coward has got snaps with the first team he still might be the odd man out.

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

Changes: J.C. Hassenauer in, Rashaad Coward out

Analysis: Kendrick Green is the center, and it finally became official this past week. 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 (6)

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

Changes: None

Analysis: For some reason, I have a feeling that between Davis, Buggs, and Mondeaux, the Steelers keep the one who is least likely to sneak through to the practice squad. I almost put Abdullah Anderson in place of Davis, but then the Steelers released him this past week despite quality play in the Hall of Fame Game.

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

Changes: None

Analysis: I don’t see this list changing anytime soon. In fact, I think it would take an injury to change the list. Maybe they keep Isaiah Buggs or Henry Mondeaux, but there are only so many spots on the roster.

Outside Linebacker (5)

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

Changes: Cassius Marsh out, Jamir Jones in

Analysis: Jones has been impressive although Cassius Marsh does bring experience. I could see Marsh being a player on and off the Steelers roster throughout the season.

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

Changes: Cassius Marsh out, Jamir Jones in

Analysis: Agreeing with Dave this much is weird, but I don’t see much value in Marsh at this point. I think the Steelers have plenty of good special teams players, and Jones is a more well-rounded pass rusher. To me, the battle will be between Roche or Jones who gets a helmet each week.

Inside Linebacker (4)

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

Changes: Marcus Allen out, Joe Schobert in

Analysis: With Joe Schobert coming in and Spillane now being the main backup, I don’t know if the Steelers need more depth than four players.

Jeff: Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Ulysees Gilbert III, Joe Schobert

Changes: Ulysees Gilbert III out, Joe Schobert in

Analysis: The acquisition of Schobert means the end of the road for some known players, and in this prediction that player is UG3. Can Marcus Allen make the roster? If so, it won’t be as a linebacker.

Cornerback (5)

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

Changes: Shakur Brown & Arthur Maulet out, Justin Layne & Mark Gilbert in

Analysis: Why not shake up things a little bit here? Justin Layne looked much better last week despite an early shaky moment or two. I also think if the Steelers don’t hold onto Mark Gilbert he will get scooped up on waivers right away.

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 (5)

Dave: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Miles Killebrew, Antoine Brooks Jr., Tre Norwood

Changes: None

Analysis: I was tempted to drop Brooks and keep the extra corner in Maulet. It really will come down to Brook’s availability.

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

Changes: None

Analysis: Norwood might be the biggest surprise of this group. As a 7th round draft pick, not much is expected out of him, but he has shown up and proven he can be a valuable asset in the back end of the defense.

Total Defense: 25 Special Teams

Specialists (3)

Dave: Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin III, Kameron Canaday, Christian Kuntz

Changes: Kameron Canaday out, Christian Kuntz in

Analysis: I pulled the trigger on the long snapper as it would save the Steelers a little bit of money and I don’t know if there is any drop off to Kuntz.

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. This punter battle is anything but complete with two exhibition games left.

Total Team: 53 Practice Squad

Dave:
QB Josh Dobbs
RB Pete Gurriero
RB Trey Edmunds
TE Zach Gentry
WR Ricco Bussey
WR Matthew Sexton
WR Anthony Johnson
G Malcolm Pridgeon
T Chaz Green
DT Henry Mondeaux
DT Isaiah Buggs
ILB Ulysees Gilbert III
ILB Marcus Allen
CB Shakur Brown
CB Lafayette Pitts
S Lamont Wade

Analysis: I will admit that I did not check the status of every player to see whether or not they count as a veteran or not. The Steelers are allowed to keep six, and players such as Joshua Dobbs and Trey Edmonds definitely count. I didn’t keep some of the Steelers riskier cuts such as Rashaad Coward and Cassius Marsh as they are just as likely to end up on another team. I would also almost guarantee that a couple of the next five cuts coming next week are on this list. As you can tell, my confidence in this list is quite low.

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.

Podcast: What next now that the Steelers are back in the black?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 11:00am

Matt Peverell breaks down the Steelers salary cap and player personnel situation every week in The War Room.

The Steelers are playing their first preseason game at Heinz Field in two years. With the Steelers starting Ben Roethlisberger and other stars for the first time in 2021, what next now that the Steelers are back in black? BTSC’s Matt Peverell will attempt to discuss what hasn’t been discussed yet on BTSC. Join Matty P. for his solo show as he looks at possible future Steelers and examines the ins-and-outs of the Steelers dollars and “sense” situation when it comes to personnel.

Check out the BTSC’s Aussie perspective and stay a while with Matty in The War Room.

Rundown of the show:

  • Latest updates on the Steelers’ players with contract news or requests
  • Overview of this week’s big roster moves including: signing Joe Schobert and restructuring Stephon Tuitt.
  • What Jamal Adams’ contract may mean for Minkah Fitzpatrick
  • How the Steelers can use the new found cap from Stephon Tuitt’s contract restructure to: A) Pay T.J. Watt or B) Sign a tackle or CB, and who should that be?

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Updating Steelers’ training camp battles after the Eagles preseason game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 10:00am
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at the Steelers’ training camp battles after they completed two of their four preseason games.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a roster which is set at several positions, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have several position battles which are unfolding before our very eyes. Before the start of training camp, myself and Dave Schofield outlined several camp battles which will be worth watching. After the Philadelphia Eagles preseason game in the Week 1, the team now prepares for the Detroit Lions in Week 2. With that said, it is time to take a look at where these battles stand.

Let’s get to it...

Center

Kendrick Green vs. B.J. Finney vs. J.C. Hassenauer

Take a look at the pre-camp article below:

It took him a while, but Mike Tomlin has finally said Kendrick Green is the team’s starting center. Barring injury, or extremely poor play, this battle is all but settled; however, the battle for backup is just heating up. Hassenauer has played much better this preseason, could he bump Finney completely off the roster?

Cornerback

James Pierre vs. Justin Layne

Take a look at the pre-camp article below:

There was a time when it was being discussed if Justin Layne would even make the Steelers’ roster. I think his spot is safe, but he hasn’t jumped ahead of Pierre when it comes to potentially starting opposite Joe Haden.

Tomlin had this to say about Layne during his Thursday press conference:

“He’s done a nice job in terms of working to improve his skill over this process and consistency in his play and he’ll have an opportunity Saturday night and next week to add to that,” said Tomlin. “It’s reasonable to expect him to continue to have an upward trajectory in terms of the quality of play.”

Layne isn’t going anywhere, but will have to keep making big plays to leap-frog Pierre.

Running Back

Kalen Ballage vs. Anthony McFarland vs. Jaylen Samuels vs. Benny Snell

Take a look at the pre-camp article below:

Ballage and Snell have both been banged up and missed significant amounts of time during training camp, but if they are truly healthy you can tell Tomlin is a fan of both players. It all depends how many running backs the Steelers plan on keeping on their 53-man roster.

Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada had this to say after practice Tuesday about the running back room:

“I think we’ve got a bunch of good players. Again, we talked about injuries before at the other position. We’ve had a couple guys in and out, but I think Naj[ee] has been good with the limited reps he’s gotten. He’s looked pretty good and done the things we’ve wanted him to do. Ant[hony McFarland] came in both weeks and has shown some growth from year one to year two. J-Sam [Jaylen Samuels] played pretty good. Benny [Snell]’s been nicked up but we all know how strong Benny can be. KB [Kalen Ballage] got nicked up and showed pretty well in the first one. [Eddie] Faulk[ner]’s got a really good room right now and I think competition is the greatest thing in life. It makes you be the best every day. I think we’ve got a good situation there.”

Punter

Pressley Harvin III vs. Jordan Berry

Take a look at the pre-camp article below:

The Steelers’ fiercest battle might be at the punter position. Both Jordan Berry and Pressley Harvin III have been playing lights out when given the opportunity. This battle is literally 50/50 heading into the third exhibition game.

Danny Smith had this to say about the battle this week:

“It really has been competitive. It really has. It’s good to see two pros put their best foot forward. No pun intended. But Jordan’s punting the ball better than he ever has and Pressley is very talented, so it’s been quite a competition. And it will continue.”

Tight End

Zach Gentry vs. Kevin Rader

Take a look at the pre-camp article below:

I remember writing articles about how horrible the Steelers’ tight end depth was heading into training camp. Now I don’t really feel as bad about it considering Zach Gentry’s body transformation and Kevin Rader’s ability to be a great two-way player. This battle will go on for the rest of the preseason, and Tomlin talked about Gentry at his weekly press conference Thursday.

Tomlin on Gentry:

“He’s had great progress,” said Tomlin. “We’re not ready to paint with a broad brush yet in terms of dividing the labor up or identifying roles. But he’s done a nice job and he’s particularly utilized his skillset that’s a little bit different than others in the room. Zach is 6-8. 280 plus, and so it’s reasonable to expect some of those skills to turn up in line of scrimmage play, in blocking in in the run game and it has.”

Defensive Line

Isaiah Buggs vs. Isaiahh Loudermilk vs. Henry Mondeaux vs. Carlos Davis

Take a look at the pre-camp article below:

This battle is going to be another one which will go down to the wire. I’ve been extremely impressed with Loudermilk’s progress, and Davis looks like he is vastly improved heading into his second season. It makes you wonder if the battle will be between Buggs and Mondeaux for a final spot along the defensive line, and it might come down to special teams.

Quarterback

Mason Rudolph vs. Dwayne Haskins vs. Joshua Dobbs

Take a look at the pre-camp article below:

Some suggest there is still a spot open for the backup quarterback position, but I don’t see it. I also don’t see a way Josh Dobbs makes the roster, even though he has played extremely well this preseason and training camp. It would take a tremendous fall from grace from Mason Rudolph for Dwayne Haskins to take that spot. A lot can change, but I’m not sure there is much movement in this battle.

What do you think of all these training camp battles? Who is winning, and who will be the odd man out? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.

Mike Tomlin cites Ben Roethlisberger’s lack of time with Steelers’ offense for his preseason plan

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 9:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are going to be playing Ben Roethlisberger Saturday night vs. the Lions, and there is a reason why.

If you are like me, you heard Mike Tomlin talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ plan for their starters Saturday night vs. the Detroit Lions and wondered why. Mainly, Why would he plan on playing Ben Roethlisberger at all in 2021?

The team is hoping to get Roethlisberger’s feet wet in their third preseason game Saturday, typically the final dress rehearsal for NFL teams, but the schedule makes you wonder if Roethlisberger should be playing Saturday, if at all.

When the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was signed, the two sides agreed to eliminate one of the preseason games with the addition of a 17th regular season game. When they abbreviated the preseason schedule, they didn’t truncate the calendar. Meaning, teams have almost two weeks off before the start of the regular season.

So, with the Steelers’ plans to play Roethlisberger Saturday, you have to wonder if he will also play in Week 3 vs. the Carolina Panthers the following Friday. Assuming he won’t even dress for the game, that would leave roughly three weeks between Roethlisberger’s time on the field vs. Detroit and when he will take the field vs. the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 of the regular season.

So, why even play Roethlisberger at all? Other quarterbacks are resting the entire preseason, and Roethlisberger did just fine in 2020 without preseason snaps, and this coming off major reconstructive elbow surgery.

This week Tomlin cited Roethlisberger’s lack of experience in Matt Canada’s offense as the main reason he wants to see Roethlisberger play this preseason.

“If he was in the same system of offense that he’d been in he probably wouldn’t play.” Tomlin said. “We’ve taken that approach in the past. But we think it’s good for him to get in the stadium and communicate with Matt and do some of the things that the quarterback has to do from a dry run perspective before we step into a regular season stadium.”

On Tuesday, Tomlin had this to say about the plan for Roethlisberger this Saturday.

“We’ll play it by ear. We have a plan, but we’re willing to adjust that plan based on what it is we see in-stadium.”

Canada met with media on Thursday, and had this to say about Roethlisberger’s progress in his offense.

“I think Ben is right where he wants to be.” Canada said. “He’s playing very well. He’s worked extremely hard to bring along the many young guys up front, working with them. We’ve got a young guy in the backfield. We’ve got a young guy at tight end. He’s certainly had some rapport with those guys on the edge. They don’t have a lot of years. JuJu [Smith-Schuster]’s got a little bit more. Ben’s worked very hard to get everyone on the same page. The few changes we’ve had in our offense, the tweaks we’ve had in terminology, he’s embraced those and learned them, as well as teaching everybody else now. I’m excited for where we all are, but he’s certainly been great.”

As for Roethlisberger, how much playing time does he want to see vs. the Lions? As much as he can get.

“Because we’ve got a new system,” Roethlisberger said. “There’s a new coach, player communication in terms of a new guy, the offense is different. He’s up in the box as compared to on the field.

“There’s a lot of newness. I think it’s prudent to get as much time as I can in under those circumstances.”

The Steelers will be playing Roethlisberger Saturday night, and the hope is the offense looks like a well-oiled machine from top to bottom before Roethlisberger exits the field, likely for the preseason.

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.

Training Camp Recap: Putting a bow on the Steelers 2021 training camp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 8:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back at Training Camp, and it is time to check out what went down during the latest practice!

It isn’t Saint Vincent College, but it hasn’t been Latrobe, PA since 2019. The Pittsburgh Steelers are taking in their 2021 Training Camp between Heinz Field and their UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the Southside of Pittsburgh.

What went down during the latest training camp practice? That is where this article comes in. Check out all that was said, as well as photos and videos from the day’s workouts.

Here we go...

The Pittsburgh Steelers held an early practice Thursday, and it was closed to the public. It was also the final practice of 2021 training camp. This camp was different in a lot of ways. It was the first camp which had fans in attendance since 2019, but it was far from what fans are accustomed to seeing at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

On top of that, the Steelers were preparing for a preseason which was normal for the fans, but anything but normal for the players. The Steelers reported to camp earlier than 30 other NFL teams as they prepared to play the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game. While this has continued to be viewed as a bonus, it has made things different for the opposition. For instance, when the Steelers played the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 of the NFL Preseason, it was their second exhibition game. However Philadelphia was making the preseason debut.

It has made for some different matchups, and also difficult to gauge players’ development at times. Nonetheless, the Steelers have pressed on without hesitation.

Camp has concluded, and there is a lot to decipher about this team as more cuts loom large. Who will make the team? Who will be released? There are still two exhibition games to decide the fate of those players. In the meantime, let’s see what else went down at the final practice at Heinz Field...

7 Shots

This is your daily update on the Steelers’ favorite goal line drill “7 Shots”. The team hadn’t done this drill the past few days, but threw it in again at the conclusion of camp.

Mason Rudolph and Ben Roethlisberger were the only two QBs to run 7 shots today. Offense won 6-1.

Ben inc Diontae Johnson (Maulet in coverage)
Ben —> Washington over Haden
Ben —> Freiermuth
Ben —> JuJu
Rudolph —>White
Rudolph —>Freiermuth
Rudolph —> Johnson

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 19, 2021

Going deep

Fans should remember there are times when Ben Roethlisberger wants to work on specific things during practice. There is a good chance today Roethlisberger wanted to test the deep ball. He didn’t connect, but arm strength looks to be pretty good heading into the regular season.

On the first two plays vs. scout defense, Ben Roethlisberger tries to air it out a little.

He overthrows Diontae Johnson on a 30+ pass to the end zone, then just misses Eric Ebron a play later on about a 15-20yd throw. Ball hit Ebron's finger tips but was just out of reach.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 19, 2021

Team Drills

More team drills took place Thursday, especially considering the Steelers had a simulated work week leading up to the preseason game vs. the Detroit Lions Saturday night. Here are some updates from those team drills.

1s D vs. 2s O - Mason Rudolph tried to force it in the corner of the end zone into double coverage and Terrell Edmunds comes down with the pick.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 19, 2021

Cody White with a nice grab in the back of the end zone on a pass Rudolph threaded into him. Ballage getting the majority of the second-team RB snaps.

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 19, 2021

Haskins with a nice back-shoulder throw to Bussey for a completion against Sutton. But he's then picked by a leaping Joe Haden who tips the ball to himself and catches it.

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 19, 2021

QB Carousel

It doesn’t look like the quarterback depth chart is going to be changing anytime soon. We all should have expected this barring a huge drop off from Mason Rudolph.

QB progression today has been Roethlisberger with the 1s, then Rudolph, then Haskins.

I know Haskins has looked good at times, esp in 2nd preseason game, but I don't think he's done enough to unseat Rudolph at No. 2. Still time, of course, but Rudolph is still the favorite.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 19, 2021

Bussey and the Practice Squad?

Rico Bussey has made a name for himself during 2021 training camp, but has he done enough to make the team? That has yet to be decided, but one thing is for sure, he would fit nicely on the practice squad. One has to wonder if he will be poached by another team if the Steelers release him.

Seen it throughout camp, but Rico Bussey has an obvious connection with Dwayne Haskins. Had a nice grab on a long ball before the interception. I think Cody White has a better chance of earning a roster spot in a crowded WR room, but Bussey could stick as a practice squad guy.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 19, 2021

Last off

It seemed fitting Najee Harris was the last player on the practice field the last day of camp. The kid has been a work horse both on and off the field since the first day he stepped foot in the team facility. The team will need Harris at his best this season, and hopefully the extra work pays off.

Najee Harris still on the field about 15 min after the end of practice, working on catching passes at the goal line. He was also the last guy on the field yesterday, too.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 19, 2021

Get LOUD!

Thursday the Steelers pumped in crowd noise at Heinz Field to simulate a real game setting. It might be weird for players who played in 2020 to have fans in seats in 2021 at the start of the season.

And now we've got crowd noise being pumped into Heinz Field, simulating a typical Friday practice with the crowd noise during team drill.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 19, 2021 VIDEO

.@_BigBen7 talks about the new offense, playing in front of #SteelersNation, the offensive line and more. pic.twitter.com/JINBR6T700

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 19, 2021

"The emphasis for this outing, as it pertains to the quarterback position, is getting Ben his first in-stadium exposure of the preseason."

Full press conference: https://t.co/4dZh0EKuTt pic.twitter.com/8mNv8mj4R7

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 19, 2021

#SteelersCamp ✔️@budlight pic.twitter.com/gMO4XWZL1M

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 19, 2021 PHOTOS

See you Saturday night, #SteelersNation #HereWeGo | How to watch/listen: https://t.co/Kw0tHLkvQw pic.twitter.com/so8vdZwfaj

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 20, 2021

Thanks to all who traveled near and far to come to #SteelersCamp at @heinzfield! #SNUProud pic.twitter.com/BkntGVq7S5

— SteelersNationUnite (@SteelersUnite) August 19, 2021

12 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin in Thursday’s press conference

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 7:00am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Steelers were practicing in an empty stadium Thursday morning to prepare for their matchup Saturday night with the Detroit Lions.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Training Camp has technically come to an end. Before the closed practice at Heinz Field Thursday morning, head coach Mike Tomlin had his weekly press conference with the Pittsburgh media. Being a formal sit-down conference, there was plenty to take in pertaining to specific players. Remember these are current players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.

Ben Roethlisberger

Steelers fans are ready to see Ben Roethlisberger take the field for the first time in 2021, even if it is just the preseason. Coach Tomlin was asked what the plan was for Roethlisberger’s playing time and for the other quarterbacks.

“We’ll play it by ear. We have a plan but we’re also willing to adjust that plan based on what it is that we see in-stadium.”

In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked exactly how much time Roethlisberger would be given to work with the offense Saturday night.

“We have a plan but we’re going to play it by ear. A lot of it depends on what transpires in-stadium.”

Coach Tomlin was asked yet another question about Roethlisberger pertaining to the offensive line and if they will play beyond Roethlisberger‘s time on the field in order for them to gel together.

“He’s not required for that to happen.”

Joe Schobert

The Steelers newest addition to the roster is set to see his first action Saturday night. Coach Tomlin was asked about his plan for Joe Schobert and if he was inclined to play him more after not being with the team the first two games.

“We’re gonna play him with the first group. I don’t know if it’s needed to play him any more. He’s proven quickly that his football intellect is on a professional level. He’s adapting quickly and gaining the detail. But playing with people and communicating and working to play together is something that’s going to be continually addressed with him. It’s not going to get solved on Saturday night, so I don’t know that that’s our mentality. We’re going to give him some game exposure with that group and go from there.”

Dwayne Haskins

Many of those in Steelers’ Nation are anxious to see what quarterback Dwayne Haskins would do against tougher competition. Coach Tomlin was asked if there was any emphasis on getting Haskins playing time with the ones since he’s mainly been playing with the twos.

“Not in this particular instance, no. The emphasis for this outing, as it pertains to the quarterback position, is getting Ben (Roethlisberger) his first in-stadium exposure of the preseason. We’ll go from there.”

Cam Heyward & Joe Haden

There are a few other Steelers’ veterans who have yet to see the field this preseason. Coach Tomlin was asked specifically about the playing time for Cam Heyward and Joe Haden.

“We’ll have an open door mentality regarding participation. We haven’t finalized participation to this point. All that are healthy will have an opportunity to play in the game. We’ll determine what level of health that is as we get closer, just know that we’re inclusive in terms of our mentality regarding player participation in this one.”

Chase Claypool

After being helped off the field on practice Tuesday, Chase Claypool appears to not have any serious injury in regards to his ankle. Coach Tomlin was asked if Claypool will be healthy enough to play on Saturday.

“Just like the others, we’ll have an inclusive mentality. We’re not ready to draw the line in the dirt here over 48 hours out from the contest. We’ll gain some clarity about him and some others as we get closer.”

Justin Layne

After getting an interception last week against the Eagles, Justin Layne has also got his name mentioned at practice for getting his hands on the football. Coach Tomlin was asked about Layne‘s ability to create turnovers and if it factors into his evaluation of him.

“It’s just a component of it. Obviously, it’s a big component of it. Getting the football is big, not only for individuals but for defensive units. He’s done a nice job in terms of working to improve his skill over this process and consistency in his play. He’ll have an opportunity Saturday night and next week to add to that. It’s reasonable to expect him to continue to have an upward trajectory in terms of the quality of play.”

Cam Sutton

As the Steelers continue to work through the possibilities at slot cornerback, Cam Sutton returned to the role for the first time this preseason during practice this week. Coach Tomlin was asked if Sutton would see action in the slot on Saturday in order to get more of a look at players on the outside.

“We’ve got different types of slots. We’ve got possession down slots, or two-minute slots, we’ve got first-and-ten slots. We’re working a lot of people to provide a lot of opportunity there. Cam has been a guy that’s played some in there during the course of his career on possession downs, so we worked some possession down things yesterday in that regard, but we’ll continue to cast a wide net and look at a variety of candidates regarding that interior nickel or sub package play. There’s not just a cookie-cutter, there’s not just a nickel. There are first and second down nickels, there are third down nickels, there are two-minute nickels. Versatility is a thing that we value and we’re gonna utilize that situationally, no doubt.”

Stephon Tuitt & Chris Wormley

With Stephon Tuitt not practicing yet for the Steelers, Chris Wormley has got the majority of the first-team reps in his place. Coach Tomlin was asked about Wormley and other defensive lineman taking advantage of playing time due to Tuitt’s absence.

“Whenever someone misses time, I always say one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. He’s missed some time and it’s provided a lot of reps for a lot of men.”

Coach Tomlin was asked a follow-up question about if he has a timetable for Tuitt to return.

“I don’t. I haven’t asked a lot. I know that he’s had good days. I know progress has been made. I know that he’ll be excited to get back out there with his teammates, but really, I’ve been focused on the guys that are participating.”

Coach Tomlin was asked yet another question about if the issue with Stephon Tuitt is conditioning.

“I don’t have to provide any color to injury status or anything of that nature at this time of year, so I won’t.”

T.J. Watt

Although he continues to work out every day the Steelers are on the field, T.J. Watt has yet to participate in any team activities. Coach Tomlin was asked if there was a plan or an update on Watt’s status.

“None as I sit here today, no.”

Zach Gentry

One of the battles coming into training camp was for the third tight end on the roster. Coach Tomlin was asked if Zach Gentry has established himself in the third spot at this time.

“He’s had great progress. We’re not ready to paint with a broad brush yet in terms of dividing the labor up or identifying roles. But he’s done a nice job and he’s particularly utilized his skillset that’s a little bit different from others in the room. Zach is six-eight, 280 plus, so it’s reasonable to expect some of those skills to turn up in line of scrimmage play and blocking and in the run game, and it has.”

A portion of Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen below with a link to the entire press conference on the Steelers YouTube channel.

"The emphasis for this outing, as it pertains to the quarterback position, is getting Ben his first in-stadium exposure of the preseason."

Full press conference: https://t.co/4dZh0EKuTt pic.twitter.com/8mNv8mj4R7

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 19, 2021

Mike Tomlin must have been having a dress rehearsal press conference on Thursday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 6:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was in midseason form as he said a whole lot of nothing during his press conference on Thursday.

The Steelers are set to play their all-important dress rehearsal preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field on Saturday evening.

It will be cool to see who will participate and how much, and this is why I made sure I caught head coach Mike Tomlin’s press conference on Thursday morning.

Actually, I don’t know why I thought Tomlin would reveal anything about Saturday’s preseason game because he didn’t. I usually fall for the same thing whenever I visit the website of one of those Tony Robbins’-type folks who say they can give me the direction I need to make $10 million or be an alpha man or whatever.

They never do, not unless I’m willing to fork over $99, no wait, $49 today only!

I’ve never been willing to fork over that much money, which means I’m still roughly $10 million short of my financial goal and still a beta male.

Back to Tomlin’s press conference from Thursday. We learned that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will play. How much? Tomlin has a plan for that. What is the plan? He’s playing it by ear.

As for some other vital veterans, like Cameron Heyward and Joe Haden, Tomlin will also play their level of participation by ear. What about the guitar solo in Stairway to Heaven? I believe Tomlin said he can play that by ear.

Impressive.

Tomlin also said he will not paint with a broad brush. What’s he painting with a thinner brush? I don’t remember; even if I did, it probably had something to do with the plan. Maybe he is going to paint the wide net that he will cast at Heinz Field on Saturday night. Is Tomlin going to cast a net wide enough to cover the actual stadium or one just big enough to soften Roethlisberger’s fall if he gets hit by whoever Joe Haeg will be blocking? Is Haeg playing with the ones on Saturday? Could be. I mean, I might as well make that up.

You might say Tomlin was in midseason form during his press conference on Thursday. You could say, in fact, that it was his dress rehearsal session with the media. Tomlin never tells anyone anything during the regular season, and I guess he felt it necessary to get reporters and fans used to that before September 12.

The thing that cracked me up the most was when Tomlin was asked about a possible injury to defensive end Stephon Tuitt. He told the media member who asked the question that he didn’t have to divulge any information regarding injuries this time of year.

Yeah, like he ever really does any time of year.

I guess it’s easy to forget just how guarded head coaches are and how paranoid they get when it comes to potentially letting vital information slip out.

I just finished Bill Cowher’s new book—Heart and Steel—and it was great but a bit light on the juicy nuggets.

Chuck Noll was once asked if he’d ever write a book, and he said no because coaching was incredibly personal and private for him.

No truer words.

The only thing I know for sure about Saturday’s practice tilt with the Lions is that both Jordan Berry and Pressley Harvin will punt. I can’t believe Tomlin let that cat out of the bag. The Steelers play Detriot again during the regular season. Let’s hope the Lions don’t take notes.

Finally, now I know why real reporters often show disdain for the pretend media. If I had to go into work just to get the same answers a guy like me can get while watching it on YouTube in my mom’s basement, I might block some folks on Twitter, too.

Podcast: Steelers expectations vs. the Lions change dramatically

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/20/2021 - 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“.

In training camp, the Steelers had goals for each preseason contest on the schedule. But due to many circumstances, expectations vs. the Lions have definitely changed dramatically. 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
  • Hart to Heart
  • 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.

10 reasons to be excited about the Steelers 2021 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/19/2021 - 2:05pm
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the Steelers season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have put together a quality roster ahead of the 2021 season. For Steelers fans, heading into this past offseason appeared to be a daunting task, and the team looked on the brink of a rebuild. But as we sit here today the Steelers have assembled a team good enough to compete for a championship. Today we look at 10 reasons why Steelers fans should be excited about the 2021 season.

10. The Steelers Still Have a Top Defense Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Steelers have been one of the NFL’s best defensive teams for the past five consecutive seasons. Despite losing three starters from last year’s team, the Steelers were able to upgrade at middle linebacker, upgrade depth at outside linebacker, and have a healthy competition brewing for the corner back spot. The Steelers front seven is a nasty and deep group, unlike any other in the NFL today, it will be hard scoring on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

9. The Steelers Rebuilt the Entire OLine Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Out with the old, in with the new. The Steelers moved on from an abysmal 2020 offensive line that nearly got Ben Roethlisberger killed each and every week. The returning tackles are back to playing on their strong sides, plus the addition of Dan Moore who grows leaps and bounds with every single practice. Kevin Dotson is a star in the making, and Trai Turner finally looks healthy. Rookie Kendrick Green is getting his feet under him, but he looks nasty at the point of attack. This unit is meaner, younger, and better than what we saw in 2020.

8. The Steelers Receivers Have More Chemistry Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The Steelers managed to return the entire 2020 receiving unit to the 2021 team. All of these guys have had another year to grow with Ben Roethlisberger, and have been exposed to Matt Canada’s philosophies for almost a year and a half already. For those simple factors alone they will be better than they were last year, and all those guys are still younger than 25.

7. This is a Deep Squad Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Which position groups don’t actually have a lot of depth on the Steelers? Safety, and Center come to mind but that's about it! The Steelers can survive injuries to a lot of positions and be alright, of course no major injuries would be ideal. But, the strength of this team might be its depth and being able to out condition the opposition.

6. Sophomores Stepping Up Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Steelers 2020 draft class will take on starring roles for this year’s team. Chase Claypool, Alex Highsmith, Kevin Dotson, and Antoine Brooks will all be starters, and Anthony McFarland and Carlos Davis will be primary reserve type players. The first three players I listed each have Pro Bowl potential ahead of them here in 2021, and will directly relate to the success of this team.

5. The Coaching Staff is Greatly Upgraded Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

From Randy-land to Matt Canada, this is going to be a night and day difference for the offense. Not only will they not be predictable, but the system will be one that actually advances offensive schematics across the NFL. Adrian Klemm also needs to be brought up, as the Steelers offensive line looks to be bringing a hyper aggressive approach to the 2021 season. The scheme changes will make the Steelers better exponentially.

4. Ben Roethlisberger Didn't Have to Rehab All Year Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Think about what the Steelers storylines were a year ago today. The headlines were dominated by Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow and whether or not he could hold up through an NFL season again. He was fresh off of rehab and just began throwing the football. This year Roethlisberger didn't have to rehab his throwing arm and instead was able to train like an NFL quarterback. Even if Ben isn't the hardest working guy in the weight room, whatever he did this offseason is better for on-field success than rehab.

3. Kevin Colbert is Aggressively Improving the Roster

In the last eight weeks, or so, the Steelers added three Pro Bowlers to the roster. They also just opened up a whack of money to further improve this team. Kevin Colbert is building a championship quality roster and doing so without spending much cap space with each and every move. I really don’t think he is done before Week 1, and this team’s roster is getting increasingly better by the week. If Colbert can add another piece to the roster it may just push the Steelers over the top.

2. The Entire Draft Class Looks Good Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

After paying close attention to Steelers training camp, I honestly can't tell you about one Steelers rookie draft pick that isn't impressing at practice. Najee Harris looks like a Pro Bowl level running back, Pat Freiermuth will be an impact starter, Kendrick Green has taken the starting center job, Dan Moore Jr. has performed incredibly well, Buddy Johnson might even be the best linebacker throughout camp, Isaiahh Loudermilk has been impressive, Quincy Roche has put up insane pass rush win rate stats, Tre Norwood might be the best safety depth the team has, and Pressley Harvin III could legitimately become the best punter in the league. What’s not to like!

1. The Steelers are Underrated Underdogs Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Everyone, and I mean everyone, is sleeping on this team. Not only that, but the Steelers are pissed off from what happened to them at the end of last season. Opposing teams may be willing to over look this team, but that would be a huge mistake. Considering the amount of talent assembled by Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin put together, I would say this is one of the top teams in football. Let the league sleep on this team, and at some point everyone will wonder how the Steelers ended defying expectations. This is a dangerous team and they are hungry to prove themselves.

But what do you think? What are the reasons that excite you about this Steelers team? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Podcast: Getting acquainted with the 2021 Detroit Lions

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/19/2021 - 2:00pm

Learn about the Steelers upcoming opponent with the return of BTSC’s Know Your Enemy. Michael Beck and Geoffrey Benedict break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Detroit Lions.

It’s time once again to become a scout for the Steelers before their latest game. This time around we talk about an NFC team that will visit Heinz Field again in the regular season in the latest edition of Know Your Enemy. It’s the show where Michael Beck and Geoffrey Benedict break down the upcoming opponent for the Black-and-Gold. This week, Mike and Geoff welcome Jeremy Reisman, the editor-in-chief of SB Nation’s Pride of Detroit. Who is fighting for a job in Motown and who will be on the field for the Men of Steel? These questions and more will be pondered on the latest episode of the BTSC family of podcasts. As always, it is a good time to talk everything Steelers.

  • News and Notes
  • A look at the Lions
  • Guest Jeremy Reisman, the Editor-in-Chief of SB Nation’s Pride of Detroit
  • Guest Kyle Chrise from the new BTSC show, “What Yinz Talkin ‘Bout”

Michael and Geoffrey walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-Gold.

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

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

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

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

Part 1:

Part 2:

Who graded out well for the Steelers offense in preseason Week 1 vs. the Eagles

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/19/2021 - 12:30pm
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Checking in on the PFF grades for the Steelers’ offensive players in the second preseason game vs. the Eagles.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were victorious in their second preseason action vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. The 24-16 final score could have been even more had the Steelers not chose to take a knee on the Eagles’ four-yard line with just over a minute left. But with the Steelers already running more than 50 offensive plays in the second half, they had seen enough and were ready to get back to Pittsburgh.

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 1 game vs. the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday night. For reference sake, the Steelers played 83 offensive snaps including three kneel downs. Since all the players were listed on defense regardless of the number of snaps played, we’ll give the offense the same treatment even though they had over 30 snaps more to work with.

Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

G Kevin Dotson: 94.5 (50 snaps)
RB Pete Gurriero: 85.6 (9 snaps)
G Brandon Walton: 83.5 (18 snaps)
QB Mason Rudolph: 81.9 (17 snaps)
WR Cody White: 81.8 (24 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position, including the tie)

QB Josh Dobbs: 51.5 (18 snaps)
G Trai Turner: 51.5 (20 snaps)
OT Aviante Collins: 47.5 (18 snaps)
TE Marcus Baugh: 43.7 (11 snaps)
TE Pat Freiermuth: 43.3 (32 snaps)
OT Chuks Okorafor: 42.6 (20 snaps)

Quarterbacks

QB Mason Rudolph: 81.9 (17 snaps)
QB Dwayne Haskins: 80.5 (48 snaps)
QB Josh Dobbs: 51.5 (18 snaps)

Although Steelers’ fans have a tendency to see what they want to see in regards of the quarterbacks, there has been no mistaking the fact that Mason Rudolph has not led the Steelers on a scoring drive yet in the 2021 preseason. But looking at each individual play and scoring them equally, Rudolph continues to be the highest-rated quarterback on the Steelers both weeks of the preseason. While all three scores were close last week, Josh Dobbs comes in while behind Dwayne Haskins based on Week 2.

Running Backs & Receivers

RB Pete Gurriero: 85.6 (9 snaps)
WR Cody White: 81.8 (24 snaps)
RB Trey Edmunds: 77.9 (8 snaps)
WR Rico Bussey: 75.7 (45 snaps)
WR Diontae Johnson: 75.6 (17 snaps)
WR Anthony Johnson: 71.4 (21 snaps)
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster: 70.7 (15 snaps)
RB Najee Harris: 70.6 (12 snaps)
TE Eric Ebron: 65.3 (14 snaps)
TE Kevin Rader: 64.8 (26 snaps)
RB Anthony McFarland: 63.1 (21 snaps)
RB Tony Brooks-James: 61.6 (19 snaps)
RB Jaylen Samuels: 60.3 (22 snaps)
RB Derek Watt: 55.6 (5 snaps)
WR Isaiah McKoy: 54.8 (45 snaps)
TE Zach Gentry: 54.4 (25 snaps)
WR Matthew Sexton: 54.3 (15 snaps)
WR Chase Claypool: 53.3 (14 snaps)
WR Tyler Simmons: 52.7 (15 snaps)
TE Marcus Baugh: 43.7 (11 snaps)
TE Pat Freiermuth: 43.3 (32 snaps)

There is a lot to digest here. Although Pat Freiermuth ended up on the bottom of the list, his play improved as the game progressed, particularly his blocking. With scores and snap counts all over the place, it’s difficult to draw one large overall conclusion. Both Cody White and Rico Bussey had nice scores with a higher number of snaps played which shows how both players are doing all they can to try to squeeze onto the 53-man roster come September.

Offensive Line

G Kevin Dotson: 94.5 (50 snaps)
G Brandon Walton: 83.5 (18 snaps)
OT Dan Moore Jr.: 80.0 (45 snaps)
G B.J. Finney: 79.9 (48 snaps)
C J.C. Hassenauer: 76.6 (45 snaps)
OT Chaz Green: 76.0 (52 snaps)
OT Joe Haeg: 74.6 (31 snaps)
C Kendrick Green: 72.6 (20 snaps)
G Malcolm Pridgeon: 70.9 (15 snaps)
C John Leglue: 64.5 (25 snaps)
G Rashaad Coward: 59.4 (15 snaps)
G Trai Turner: 51.5 (20 snaps)
OT Aviante Collins: 47.5 (18 snaps)
OT Chuks Okorafor: 42.6 (20 snaps)

it’s interesting how the Steelers second-highest graded lineman was released on Tuesday and already claimed off waivers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As I have already outlined the outstanding performance of Kevin Dodson in a separate article, the biggest takeaway is the overall high scores among the group. The other unfortunate takeaway is how three players who started the game were in the bottom four scores.

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.

Danny Smith views the Steelers’ punter camp battle as still up for grabs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/19/2021 - 11:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

One of the Steelers’ most fierce camp battles is happening at the punter position.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp battle which has been highly contested has been on special teams. No, not a return man, but the punting battle between Jordan Berry and rookie Pressley Harvin III.

So far, it has been a back-and-forth effort between the veteran and the rookie punters. When Harvin punted the entire game vs. the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game, he put on a show. He pinned the opponents deep in their own end, and his end-over-end punt even resulted in a fumble recovery for the special teams.

In Week 1, vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, it was Berry who put on a show. Berry also pinned the opponents deep in their own end, and showed a finesse with the ball he has yet to display in his time with the Steelers. Harvin was supposed to punt in the second half, but the Steelers never had to punt for both quarters.

Nonetheless, Special Teams Coordinator Danny Smith knows this competition is far from over.

“It really has been competitive. It really has.” Smith told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s good to see two pros put their best foot forward. No pun intended. But Jordan’s punting the ball better than he ever has and Pressley is very talented, so it’s been quite a competition. And it will continue.”

There were many who criticized the Steelers for drafting Harvin in the 7th round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Georgia Tech. Those were the same people who felt the team would have benefited from drafting another position at that time. That doesn’t bother Smith at all.

“That doesn’t affect me.” Smith said. “That’s the same as a linebacker, that’s the same as a quarterback, that’s the same as a DB. And anybody that doesn’t think so doesn’t understand the game of football. In Pittsburgh, PA, obviously, we like draft choices to make football teams, as everybody does. We’re going to keep the best guy. And I think those are the teams that win, the teams that do that. We don’t keep guys on a hope and a prayer or a wish. We’re going to keep the best guy.”

When you look at the camp battle between Harvin and Berry on paper, you have to wonder if Berry has an advantage considering his experience in the NFL. His overall experience with the Steelers. Smith doesn’t really see it that way.

“It doesn’t really give him a leg up. They’re tough decisions, to your point.” Smith added. “They’re really hard decisions to make for myself, for the head coach, for the GM, for the owner. They’re tough decisions, they really are. But that’s our job and that’s what we’ve got to get done. I have timed everything. I’ve got stacks up there in that dang thing that would blow your mind, and I’m not a big stat guy. But I’ve got times: hand to foot, hangtime, depth, distance, location, all those kinds of things. So, we’ll make a good decision and we’re going to come out with a good punter because I’d say we’ve got two NFL punters in this camp.”

From all reports of camp, and what we’ve seen this preseason, this camp battle seems far from over. In fact, many would say it is pretty square at this moment. With two preseason games remaining, it will be up to one of these two punters to win the job. They’ll have to show consistency punting the ball, and obviously holding for Chris Boswell on point after and field goal attempts.

One of the hottest battles within the Steelers is at punter, bet you never thought you’d hear that entering the regular season.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Detroit Lions this Saturday night at Heinz Field.

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