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Steelers big-play theme results in 31-14 preseason win over the Eagles

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 9:11pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Eagles 31-14 in their first preseason action of 2018.

The Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off the 2018 preseason the right way, going against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in the city of brotherly love. While the all-Pennsylvania contest was lacking the star power of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Carson Wentz, among others as they took the meaningless game off.

Nonetheless, just because the outcome is ultimately meaningless doesn’t mean the game itself is. Players looking to make the team, and rookies trying to make a name for themselves, put it all on the line for their respective teams.

The Steelers started with the football, and Landry Jones was under center to begin the game. After a successful run by James Conner, a Fletcher Cox sack of Jones pushed the Steelers back into their own zone, and Jordan Berry got his first action of the game.

It didn’t take the Steelers long to get the ball back after Coty Sensabaugh picked off Eagles backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld to give the Steelers tremendous field position. The field position would be for naught after another sack of Jones pushed Pittsburgh out of field goal range.

After a long drive, the Eagles had to punt the ball back to Pittsburgh and the Steelers made them play. After a James Conner first down run, Landry Jones’ hard count drew the Eagles offsides. The free play resulted in a huge 71-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster. Chris Boswell added the extra point to make it 7-0.

.@TeamJuJu gets the preseason started with some . pic.twitter.com/tfIWemhUxD

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 9, 2018

Joshua Dobbs started the second quarter for the Steelers, but in his first drive was unable to muster a first down.

After a very poor 25-yard punt by Jordan Berry, Nate Sudfeld drove the Eagles down the field and hit Dallas Goedert for the Philadelphia touchdown. After a defensive drive which was highlighted by missed tackles, a pre-snap penalty on the extra point changed Doug Pederson’s mind, and he went for the two-point conversion from the 1-yard line. The Eagles were successful and took the lead 8-7.

Aided by a personal foul on third-and-long, Joshua Dobbs and Fitzgerald Toussaint orchestrated a nifty drive with the second string which resulted in a Toussaint touchdown. Pittsburgh went for two, and Toussaint was successful to give the Steelers a 15-8 lead, but the offense was helped out by three automatic penalties on the Eagles during the drive.

Sudfeld took over for the Eagles again, and the Steelers recorded their second interception of the game, this one by Cameron Sutton. The interception gave Dobss and company the football on the 35-yard line. On the following play, Dobbs gave the ball right back by throwing an interception of his own.

With new life, Sudfeld wasted little time hitting a huge touchdown over Dashaun Phillips for 63-yards. After another pre-snap penalty by the Steelers on the point-after, Philadelphia chose to go for two again, but failed. At the two-minute warning, the Steelers clung to a 15-14 lead.

Dobbs took over the two-minute drill, and put together a phenomenal drive capped off by a tremendous catch by Damoun Patterson to extend the Steelers’ lead. Boswell’s point-after made the score 22-14 Pittsburgh heading into halftime.

Hands.
On.
Display.

@chasing_8 pic.twitter.com/B5OFWvZUdJ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 10, 2018

The Pittsburgh defense went on the field to start the third quarter, and it didn’t take long for Olasunkanmi Adeniyi came off the edge and stripped the ball away from Joe Callahan, and the Steelers were able to recover the loose football. However, when Mason Rudolph entered the game for the first time in his professional career, they were back-to-back Stevan Ridley runs before having a pass dropped. The team had to settle for a Boswell field goal to extend the lead 25-14.

After several punts by both teams, Mason Rudolph started to settle in. The biggest play he made was to, surprise surprise, James Washington. After drawing the Philadelphia defense offsides, the Washington completion moved the Steelers into Boswell field goal range. The kick was good when the drive stalled, making the score 28-14.

Rudolph ➡️Washington

Look familiar, @CowboyFB? pic.twitter.com/zpv7yrd3Qt

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 10, 2018

In the fourth quarter Mason Rudolph really started to settle in. The offensive line was giving him time to throw, and the timing routes were there, on time, and accurate. On his first drive of the final frame, Rudolph had the offense moving before an offsides penalty tempered the drive, resulting in another Boswell field goal to make the score 31-14 with 8:54 left in regulation.

When the dust settled, that would be the final score of this Week 1 preseason contest. As for the Steelers, their 2018 preseason record is now 1-0, and their next game will be next Thursday, August 16th, against the Packers in Green Bay.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes regarding the black-and-gold.

Steelers vs. Eagles Preseason Week 1: 3rd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 8:30pm

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

1st Quarter In-Game Update

2nd Quarter In-Game Update

The Pittsburgh defense went on the field to start the third quarter, and it didn’t take long for Olasunkanmi Adeniyi came off the edge and stripped the ball away from Joe Callahan, and the Steelers were able to recover the loose football. However, when Mason Rudolph entered the game for the first time in his professional career, they were back-to-back Stevan Ridley runs before having a pass dropped. The team had to settle for a Boswell field goal to extend the lead 25-14.

After several punts by both teams, Mason Rudolph started to settle in. The biggest play he made was to, surprise surprise, James Washington. After drawing the Philadelphia defense offsides, the Washington completion moved the Steelers into Boswell field goal range. The kick was good when the drive stalled, making the score 28-14.

Rudolph ➡️Washington

Look familiar, @CowboyFB? pic.twitter.com/zpv7yrd3Qt

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 10, 2018

The Eagles had possession at the end of the 3rd quarter with the Steelers up 28-14.

Steelers vs. Eagles, Preseason Week 1: Second-half live updates and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 7:45pm

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2018 preseason is here with the Steelers and Eagles locking horns in Week 1. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field for the first time in 2018 as they prepare to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 of the preseason. Their opponent? The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Steelers vs. Eagles Preseason Week 1: 2nd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 7:34pm

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

1st Quarter In-Game Recap

Joshua Dobbs started the second quarter for the Steelers, but in his first drive was unable to muster a first down.

After a very poor Jordan Berry punt, Nate Sudfeld drove the Eagles down the field and hit Dallas Goedert for the Philadelphia touchdown. After a defensive drive which was highlighted by missed tackles, a pre-snap penalty on the extra point changed Doug Pederson’s mind, and he went for the two-point conversion from the 1-yard line. The Eagles were successful and took the lead 8-7.

Aided by a personal foul on third-and-long, Joshua Dobbs and Fitzgerald Toussaint orchestrated a nifty drive with the second string which resulted in a Toussaint touchdown. Pittsburgh went for two, and Toussaint was successful to give the Steelers a 15-8 lead, but the offense was helped out by three automatic penalties on the Eagles during the drive.

Sudfeld took over for the Eagles again, and the Steelers recorded their second interception of the game, this one by Cameron Sutton. The interception gave Dobss and company the football on the 35-yard line. On the following play, Dobbs gave the ball right back by throwing an interception of his own.

With new life, Sudfeld wasted little time hitting a huge touchdown over Dashaun Phillips for 63-yards. After another pre-snap penalty by the Steelers on the point-after, Philadelphia chose to go for two again, but failed. At the two-minute warning, the Steelers clung to a 15-14 lead.

Dobbs took over the two-minute drill, and put together a phenomenal drive capped off by a tremendous catch by Damoun Patterson to extend the Steelers’ lead. Boswell’s point-after made the score 22-14 Pittsburgh heading into halftime.

Hands.
On.
Display.

@chasing_8 pic.twitter.com/B5OFWvZUdJ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 10, 2018

Steelers vs. Eagles Preseason Week 1: 1st quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 6:39pm

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off the 2018 preseason the right way, going against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in the city of brotherly love. While the all-Pennsylvania contest was lacking the star power of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Carson Wentz, among others as they took the meaningless game off.

Nonetheless, just because the outcome is ultimately meaningless doesn’t mean the game itself is. Players looking to make the team, and rookies trying to make a name for themselves, put it all on the line for their respective teams.

The Steelers started with the football, and Landry Jones was under center to begin the game. After a successful run by James Conner, a Fletcher Cox sack of Jones pushed the Steelers back into their own zone, and Jordan Berry got his first action of the game.

It didn’t take the Steelers long to get the ball back after Coty Sensabaugh picked off Eagles backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld to give the Steelers tremendous field position. The field position would be for naught after another sack of Jones pushed Pittsburgh out of field goal range.

After a long drive, the Eagles had to punt the ball back to Pittsburgh and the Steelers made them play. After a James Conner first down run, Landry Jones’ hard count drew the Eagles offsides. The free play resulted in a huge 71-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster. Chris Boswell added the extra point to make it 7-0.

.@TeamJuJu gets the preseason started with some . pic.twitter.com/tfIWemhUxD

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 9, 2018

The Steelers had the football, and Joshua Dobbs at quarterback, to start the 2nd quarter.

Steelers vs. Eagles, Preseason Week 1: First-half live updates and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 5:29pm

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2018 preseason is here with the Steelers and Eagles locking horns in Week 1. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field for the first time in 2018 as they prepare to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 of the preseason. Their opponent? The defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let's remember to keep it clean, respect everyone's thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Know the team: Steelers 2018 90-man roster and jersey numbers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 4:48pm

Our updated 2018 roster list includes all the jersey numbers allocated to players before the Steelers first preseason game of the year against the Philadelphia Eagles

With the Pittsburgh Steelers set to rest many of their starters against the Philadelphia Eagles in their first preseason game of the year, fans will see a lot of unfamiliar numbers on the field for the Black and Gold on Thursday night. After saying goodbye to some veteran names from 2017 this offseason and having seen several players adopting new numbers as they became available, it may be harder than normal for some to track which names are on the field as the game progresses.

Most of the starters in the secondary have shuffled their jersey numbers this offseason and Joe Haden, Sean Davis and Mike Hilton will all have a different look in 2018.

To help you keep track of all the substitutions, our updated 2018 roster list includes all the names and numbers currently listed on the team’s official website. Not all shirt numbers are exclusive to one player and there a handful of names on offense and defense that will be carrying the same number for the Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field. Both running back James Conner and defensive back Jamar Summers will wear number 30 for example, but it should not be too hard to tell them apart given their respective physiques and positions

Before you rush out to buy the jersey of your favorite undrafted rookie free agent, you might want to wait a few more weeks until the 53-man roster has been decided to see if they keep that number, let alone make the team. The final round of cuts if sure to free up a few more jerseys and it would be a surprise if there were not a few more number changes before the regular season begins.

5 players to watch in the Steelers vs. Eagles Week 1 Preseason game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 3:25pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be on the gridiron Thursday night, and time to narrow the focus on 5 players to keep a close eye on when they play the Eagles.

Football is back, sort of, and although the upcoming Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Philadelphia Eagles game in Week 1 of the 2018 preseason is technically meaningless, it doesn’t mean there aren’t specific players fans are excited to see.

While Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and other starters will be taking a night off and will enjoy being spectators, there are plenty of players fans should be excited to watch on the field for the first time this season.

Maybe you haven’t kept good tabs on the Steelers this offseason? Don’t know who you should be watching? Here are 5 players to keep an eye on during tonight’s preseason fracas.

1. Terrell Edmunds - 1st Round Pick Rookie Safety

Edmunds, unlike many of his fellow rookies, will actually see time with the starting defense. How the Steelers utilize him, and also how he performs, will be a great initial gauge on not only his progression, but his potential with the Steelers. Edmunds has been performing well in training camp, now is the time to see if it will translate to the playing field.

2. Keion Adams - 2nd year OLB

Adams had a promising rookie camp before a shoulder injury landed him on Injured Reserve. In his second year the Steelers are hoping he can pick up where he left off. He has already gotten further in his sophomore year than he did in his rookie campaign, but Adams has to show he can flash under the lights. With T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree out, Adams should be a starting outside linebacker and have plenty of opportunities to show his stuff.

3. Jaylen Samuels - 5th Round Pick Rookie RB

Samuels is a jack-of-all-trades type player, and how the Steelers utilize his talents will be fun to watch. However, will Samuels be able to duplicate his versatility at the highest level? Some have their doubts. Thursday night’s game against the Eagles will be a very good test, and also a litmus test for the Steelers and what they have in the former N.C. State product.

4. Mason Rudolph - 3rd Round Pick Rookie QB

The rookie quarterback from Oklahoma State has had some ups-and-downs throughout training camp thus far, but his arrow seems to be slowly pointing upwards. It is unknown when, and how long, Rudolph will play vs. the Eagles on Thursday, but expect the quarterback to be poised, and deal with the inconsistencies which come with playing in the second half of a preseason game with the best of them.

5. Matthew Thomas - UDFA Rookie ILB

Thomas is a player who is almost like an enigma. A big-time recruit out of High School with all the skill in the world. Unfortunately, what accompanied the skill were some off-field issues and overall lack of motivation which saw him go undrafted. The reason this is such a unique situation is how Thomas has the capabilities to be a tremendous player, and with the Steelers’ need for an ILB with Ryan Shazier injured, some would suggest Thomas could eventually fill that role. That journey starts Thursday with a good performance in his first professional contest.

Other players to keep an eye on:

James Washington — 2nd Round Pick Rookie WR
Chukwuma Okorafor — 3rd Round Pick Rookie OT
Cameron Sutton — 2nd year CB
James Conner — 2nd year RB
Joshua Dobbs — 2nd year QB
Justin Hunter — Veteran WR

Steelers Throwback Thursday: The Pennsylvania State Championship/dance party

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 1:58pm

With the Steelers opening their exhibition season against Philadelphia tonight, BTSC goes back 14 years to a memorable-but-bittersweet meeting with the Eagles.

The BTSC Delorean seems to be liking a certain year in recent weeks. Once again, the time circuits are cued up to a time when George W. Bush was celebrating his reelection victory over John Kerry for POTUS, ABC’s Lost was captivating couches and their inhabitants all across America, and Disney Pixar had the top-grossing movie in The Incredibles. Equally as incredible was the inaugural season for Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger. The rookie from Miami of Ohio had won his first five starts and was capturing the hearts of Steelers Nation for the first time in what seemed like forever. Meanwhile, the cross-state rivals known as the undefeated Eagles were rolling into town, a week after the Steelers vanquished the previously undefeated Patriots. Led by Andy Reid, Donovan McNabb, Terrell Owens and a suffocating defensive corps, the Eagles looked to be a ferocious foe. Sans their spectacular rusher Duce Staley and the defensive mountain known as Casey Hampton, Steelers Nation was cautiously anticipating the contest.

Welcome to November 7, 2004

The Steelers wasted no time in establishing dominance in this game by jumping on “The Bus”. With an injured Staley in street clothes, the twelfth-year back needed to channel his younger self. Bettis converted a fourth and one, as well as gaining 34 yards on the Steelers’ opening series. Facing a 3rd-and-13 from the Philly 32, the rookie Ben Roethlisberger avoided a rush and took off for a first down of 16 yards to extend the drive. On the very next play, Hines Ward took it on an end-around for another 16 and the score. Hines punctuated the TD by flapping his arms and mocking the patented celebration of T.O. in the end zone. With 71 rushing yards on the opening drive, the Steelers were off to a running start and an early 7-0 lead.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Eagles attempt to counter was futile as Larry Foote sacked McNabb on third down to force a three-and-out and a punt, which would become somewhat of a theme for the game. It was almost deja vu for the Steelers as well. Facing 3rd-and-13 once again, Roethlisberger converted again. Flushed out of the pocket and forced to throw on the run, he found Verron Haynes across the middle for the first down. Later on the drive, Ben converted another third down (this time it was only a 3rd-and-4) with a pass to Hines Ward that he took down the left side line all the way to glory and a chance to dance again. With 2:27 remaining in the first quarter, the Steelers led by two touchdowns, 14-0.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After stopping the Eagles again, the home team found the end zone on a third consecutive series. Haynes caught a big ball for a gain of 26 to get them into scoring range again, and No. 7 found TE Jay Riemersma, who was covered well by Jeremiah Trotter, in the end zone for the touchdown. Steelers 21, Eagles 0.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Eagles finally started to rally late in the second quarter, but tough defense by Ike Taylor and Kendrell Bell forced them to have to settle for a 33-yard David Akers FG. On the sidelines, Owens (unhappy with his involvement) was found hounding and incessantly yapping at McNabb on the sideline, who apparently didn’t want to hear it and furiously tried to outrun and ignore him. In fact, that was the most offensive thing the Eagles did all day.

On the next series — with the Steelers approaching midfield — Roethlisberger launched one deep into double coverage to Plaxico Burress. Future Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins intercepted the ball and ran it back 32 yards to give the Eagles good field position. But they were unable to do anything with the opportunity. James Farrior made a great open field tackle on Brian Westbrook after he caught the ball. Westbrook had a lot of open field in front of him and could’ve gone all the way, but Potsie’s heads-up tackle forced another Johnson punt as the first half came to a close.

At halftime, the Steelers welcomed the 1979 Steelers world championship team for its 25th anniversary celebration.

In the third period, Plaxico burst off of the skinny post, caught the ball and a sped down the sideline. It seemed like he was going to go all the way, but his one-handed hotdogging made the ball pop out-of-bounds at the 22. A few plays later, Jeff Reed missed a 33-yard field goal, as the lead remained at 18.

On the next drive, Philadelphia was piercing into Steelers territory as T.O. was starting to heat up. But McNabb, under pressure from Aaron Smith, forced a pass that was picked off by James Farrior. With a 4th-and-3 on the 36, the Steelers went for it. Using the hard count, Philly’s Michael Lewis jumped across the line and gave the Steelers the first down. The Steelers brought in Reed for a 42-yarder and a 24-3 lead with 2:36 left in the third.

Farrior’s great day continued on the next Eagles’ drive as he sacked McNabb. The Eagles had to punt again. But Ben tripped and botched the handoff and the ball ended up in the hands of Michael Lewis as the third quarter expired.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

In the fourth quarter, the veteran Willie Williams came alive on back-to-back plays.. First with coverage on a long pass to Todd Pinkston and then with a sack of McNabb on the next play. The Steelers ended up with the ball again after that and drained tons of clock behind the running of Bettis and the versatility of Antwaan Randle-El. Reed converted another field goal with around eight minutes to play in the game to give Pittsburgh a 24-point lead at 27-3.

Bill Cowher showed a lot of class, declining to press his advantage when the Steelers had a chance to run up the score. Willie Parker had his first career carry and it contributed to the rushing total of 252 yards. The Eagles, in turn, only had 21. The Steelers also dominated time of possession to the tune of 41:49 to 18:11. The final score was 27-3 and there was much rejoicing at Heinz Field.

The Steelers went on to win-out and end the regular season at 15-1. But they faded in the AFCCG against New England and a rematch with Philly at the Super Bowl in Jacksonville was not to be. But this game goes down as a satisfying victory against an undefeated opponent for the second straight week and it gave a city and its rookie QB hope for a future hoisting the Lombardi.

As for me, I was in the stands for this game and had a great feeling about my team that helped carry me through the remainder of Autumn. Something had happened before the game, though, that really saddened me.

As we were walking in, an SUV entered the parking lot. The driver was apparently late for work as he hurried to park. The operator of the vehicle was a disoriented Myron Cope. Obnoxious fans yelled joyously to Cope, who barely acknowledged them. The fans joked that the legendary broadcaster was already drunk, but I could tell that just wasn’t the case when I noticed his head was bandaged.

Myron seemed to be a shell of his normally gregarious self and he seemed to be much more aged and struggling as his face painted a picture of desperation. I later read he had become faint and had fallen and hit his head on the toilet. A few months later, he would announce his retirement due to health issues, and this was one of the incidents that cemented his decision to step down. Inside the stadium, an exciting new era was beginning, but outside of it, a storied career that many of us closely associated with our favorite team was coming to a close.

Steelers vs. Eagles: Behind enemy lines with Bleeding Green Nation

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 12:47pm

Getting to know the defending Super Bowl champs with those who cover them closely.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won’t have to travel far for their first preseason game of the 2018 season. A short flight to Philadelphia has them facing the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles in Week 1 of the meaningless game series on the NFL schedule.

The first preseason game usually brings with it plenty of questions, yet not a lot of answers. So, I went to the man, Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation, to ask him key questions about the upcoming exhibition game.

Take a look at his answers below, and check out all of the tremendous work at Bleeding Green Nation leading up to, and after, the game Thursday night:

1. How long should we expect to see the Eagles’ starters, if any play at all? Who has already been ruled out?

Doug Pederson wouldn’t reveal how long he plans to play his starters on Thursday night. If the past two years of his coaching tenure are any indication, the starters should play around 10 snaps at most.

The Eagles haven’t officially ruled any players out but it seems like both Carson Wentz and Nick Foles won’t be suiting up against Pittsburgh. That means it’ll likely be Nate Sudfeld starting at quarterback for Philadelphia. He’ll get a good chunk of playing time before fourth string passer Joe Callahan takes over.

Former Steelers receiver Mike Wallace will probably be out since he hasn’t participated in practice this week. Fellow former Steelers receiver Markus Wheaton might be active for the game.

2. What player(s) are the Eagles faithful excited to see this preseason?

Rookie tight end Dallas Goedert and 2017 second-round pick Sidney Jones are the young players everyone will be watching closely. The 6-5, 260 pound Goedert has been a monster in the red zone during offseason practices. Now it’s time to see if he can do it in the games. Jones is intriguing because he missed nearly his entire rookie season due to the Achilles injury he suffered leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft. Jones has been seeing a lot of time in the nickel corner role during camp. It’ll be interesting to see if he can live up to the hype of being a player who might’ve been a top 15 pick if he never got hurt at his 2017 pro day.

3. The Eagles won a Super Bowl (still can’t believe it). Are expectations now Super Bowl or bust?

Great question.

In some ways, it feels like the Eagles can never disappoint us again. They won the Super Bowl. I legitimately thought I might go my whole life without seeing them do that. I’ll be forever grateful.

Now, ask me how I feel about the disappointment thing right after the game if the Eagles lose in Week 1. I’m sure that complacency isn’t going to last forever.

It’s hard to say the Eagles not repeating as Super Bowl champions would be a disaster. It’s just so hard to do. But yes, there’s certainly an expectation for them to repeat. One could argue they’re very much in a unique position to do so. They won the Super Bowl despite missing their MVP caliber quarterback (Carson Wentz), their future Hall of Fame left tackle (Jason Peters), one of their best offensive weapons (Darren Sproles), their stud middle linebacker (Jordan Hicks), and their special teams captain (Chris Maragos). These players will now be back in 2018. And it’s not just that their return on the field that’s valuable. These guys are important leaders in the locker room. This might help the team fight off complacency since those guys want to make it back to the Super Bowl and actually play in the game this time around.

4. Are there any positions where the Eagles have a ton of talent, and someone will be on the open market come Week 1 who could be snagged by another NFL team? What are those positions, and who are the players?

The Eagles have quite a few positions like this. There’s a good battle going on for the fifth and sixth receiver jobs, for example. If Wheaton does win one of those, he’ll be back on the street. Otherwise there could be a nice depth guy like Bryce Treggs, Greg Ward Jr., or Rashard Davis who shakes free. Chance Warmack should be available this summer, whether that’s in the form of him getting traded or cut. You could do worse at backup guard. The Eagles have more cornerbacks than they know what to do with. D.J. Killings has the makings of a backup nickel corner. A linebacker like LaRoy Reynolds or Joe Walker could be useful to a team looking for depth. Teams starved for pass rushers will take a look at Steven Means or Joe Ostman if they become available.

I’d expect the Eagles to have a couple of their final cuts claimed on waivers.

5. What do Eagles fans think of the Steelers/Pittsburgh fans? We all know the Flyers and Penguins hate each other, but what about the NFL variety?

I feel pretty neutral towards the Steelers. I’d think most Eagles fans feel the same way, except for those who live in the middle of Pennsylvania (such as State College) and have to interact with Steelers fans more often. Even then, it’s hard to say there’s a real rivalry between the two teams considering how infrequently they play each other. And if it comes down to Patriots or the Steelers in the AFC, as it often does, I’d rather see New England lose.

One thing I will note here is that it never works out well for the Steelers when they come east. The Steelers are 0-9 in Philadelphia since 1966.

Extra Credit - Score Prediction?

Hmm … let’s say 20-17, Eagles win.

Steelers former OC Todd Haley struggling to understand how the Browns operate

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 11:45am

Agreeing to appear on the HBO show ‘Hard Knock’ might not have been the best decision the Cleveland Browns have ever made

As the league’s most unsuccessful franchise of the modern era, the Cleveland Browns are desperate to rehabilitate their public image. The punchline to so many jokes about how not to run a team, they likely believed an appearance on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ would show the team in a different light this offseason. However, just one episode into the latest series, it seems the Browns might be even more out of touch with the rest of the NFL than fans could ever have imagined.

After six season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, offensive coordinator Todd Haley is one of several new faces experiencing life in training camp with Cleveland for the first time this year, and like many viewers watching ‘Hard Knocks’ on Tuesday night, it appears he cannot believe how the Browns organization is run either.

During a coaches meeting to discuss the availability of injured players, Haley seems to be struggling to understand the team’s policy when it comes to allowing individuals to sit out practice and his thoughts on the matter did not appear to mesh with Hue Jackson’s vision.

#HardKnocks #Browns - #ToddHaley on players resting (echos Landry’s speech) - I agree. #DrydensDen pic.twitter.com/zMCl2E7179

— Scott Dryden (@BrownsScout) August 8, 2018

Disturbed that some players are being given too much time to rest, Haley even used a popular Mike Tomlin quote when trying to address the issue with his head coach.

“We need to get so much done, you know, and I know I said that to you and we joked about it, but if we live in our fears. Our team has to get mentally tougher and be able to fight through the (expletive) that we’ve got to fight through. We’ve got to change this drastically and if we’ve got guys that haven't done (expletive) sitting around doing nothing, I just don't know how we’re gonna it.”

Sadly his opinion fell on deaf ears after Jackson made it clear who the boss was, but it was interesting to note the look on Haley’s face when listening to Jackson’s defense of his reasoning. A response reported by Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

“I used to sit in the same chair you guys sit in and I used to feel the same way. I just wanted to kill ‘em, okay? Until all of a sudden, I sat in this chair and then they’re not there, and you don’t get them to practice, and you can’t get them through and then you don’t have them for three weeks. and I’m not living in my fears. That’s real, and I think we all can appreciate that.”

the look Todd Haley gave Gregg Williams after Hue Jackson said "I used to sit in the same chair you guys sat in." I. am. deceased. pic.twitter.com/6FfOtP476U

— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) August 8, 2018

Although Jackson has a room full of experienced coaches to work with in Cleveland, many of whom have been head coaches themselves in the past, it perhaps surprising to note how dismissive he is of their opinions. All of them have been more successful in that role than Jackson has been with the Browns after all.

Considering recent free agent signing Jarvis Landry was filmed giving a similar and less PG rated version of the same speech to a room full of wide receivers earlier in the episode, it seems safe to assume that Haley is far from the only member of the team frustrated by how soft some of the players in the organization actually are. However, while Jackson remains inexplicably in charge of the team, it is unlikely the situation will improve this season.

Three Things to look for in the Steelers vs. Eagles Week 1 preseason game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 10:53am

Some key areas to watch as the Steelers face the Eagles on Thursday night.

It is finally time. Football is back in Steelers Nation and all is well. After a tumultuous wait for our beloved Steelers to be back, they return tonight as they face their in-state rivals. the Philadelphia Eagles. The Steelers are coming off one of the most disappointing losses in recent memory when they lost to Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2017 AFC Playoffs.

Now it is time to see some of the progress and tools which will be at the Steelers’ disposal this season. While only one preseason game, the Steelers will still need to show they have made progress to possibly winning a championship. Given the state of Le’Veon Bell’s contract, this could be possibly be the final year of their championship window, but it seems tonight we will be looking more so into the future, especially with Mason Rudolph expecting to get significant snaps.

Here are my three things to look for in tonight’s preseason action:

Mason Rudolph’s and Joshua Dobbs’ Progress

This is going to be an exciting time for the Steelers as we watch potentially the next franchise Quarterback of the Steelers take the field for the first time.

By all accounts. Rudolph has impressed at camp and Kevin Colbert said he was much further along than they actually thought. His progressions and reads have been better by the sound of it and if he shows growth from his college-self this will be a very exciting time to be a Steelers fan.

Josh Dobbs, on the other hand, has had a pretty rough training camp. He did this last year as well, but showed flashes in the preseason, where he led a few clutch drives, as well as showing his arm off a few times. The Steelers will want to see notable progress from him if he is going to supplant Landry Jones.

Rudolph and Dobbs together are an intriguing duo. Ben Roethlisberger is not playing and we already know what Landry Jones is capable of, but if Dobbs and Rudolph show up, Jones could be out of a job. While I do not consider it likely right now, I do believe there is an outside chance Dobbs and Rudolph do in fact perform well enough Jones is released by the Steelers.

Rudolph and Dobbs both need a lot of work, but with them being young, potential-filled players, you have to find it intriguing. Both had trouble processing the whole field coming out of college, and so against a defense that likes to run exotic looks even in vanilla defense, this is a good test for the young quarterbacks.

Dobbs has to show growth, though. If he does not show any poise in the pocket, ability to improve his ball placement, or show his processing has improved, he may very well prove he was a wasted pick last year by Kevin Colbert.

The Safeties

Other than linebacker, the secondary is a place of intrigue, and yet fear for Steelers fans. Free agent acquisition Morgan Burnett will be looking to impress in a variety of roles as he makes his debut with the Steelers. Rookies Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen will also look to have a big impact and prove that they were indeed the correct picks.

Edmunds, in particular, has to show he has improved on his processing and pursuit angles. By the sounds from camp, both have been true, as he has made a ton of great plays this camp alone, seemingly being the player the Steelers have needed. Allen has to show he can cover at least modestly well. We all know he is a great run defender, but he also has to show he is not a complete liability in coverage

Sean Davis will be playing in his first game as a true Free Safety. He has to show not only is his range a big addition the defense, but he has improved on his tackling. Davis has a knack for getting his nose around the football, he even led the team in tackles last season, but he has to show he can finish the play. Davis led the team in missed tackles last year, and if he can put things together at free safety, the Steelers instantly become a much better defense.

Sleeper Malik Golden will also be looking to impress and perhaps steal a roster spot. He had a great preseason and a good training camp last season until a groin injury ended his hopes of possibly making the roster. He has continued to have a decent camp and can perhaps be a welcome addition to the team as a whole.

The Enigma of Jaylen Samuels

One of the most versatile, and yet peculiar picks in this draft was Jaylen Samuels. He has so many possible uses in this offense. He can be used as a running back, slot receiver, outside receiver, tight end, H-Back, and fullback.

Thus, it is going to be an interesting story to watch how they use Samuels in today’s game. From the reports out of camp, expect him to be used at running back, slot receiver, and H-back, especially with Vance McDonald being out with a foot injury.

Randy Fichtner’s scheme calls for exotic plays and versatile players. This is why they drafted Jaylen Samuels. Samuels has a real shot to be a difference maker, and it sounds like he has thus far.

It is very likely we will not actually get the full view of just how Samuels will be used, but we will at least get an idea of how he will be used this season. We may see some two running back sets with James Conner very early on in the game. Regardless of how he is used this game, Samuels will be a player to watch, as he very easily can exploit defenses with his versatility.

Mason Rudolph on budding Steelers career: “Mentally, it’s been tough”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 9:35am

The path to the NFL hasn’t been smooth sailing for Mason Rudolph, but the verdict is far from out on this Oklahoma State quarterback.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers traded up in the third round with the Seattle Seahawks to select Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, many saw him as the future of the position in Pittsburgh.

Throughout offseason workouts, Rudolph impressed and fans didn’t care if it was just ‘football in shorts’, the excitement was palpable throughout the fan base. As training camp came, Rudolph has had moments of brilliance, but more moments of struggle. For fans who may be disappointed to hear this, they should remember the situation Rudolph finds himself in. Learning behind Ben Roethlisberger, and getting comfortable with simple things like taking a snap under center, could be just what the doctor ordered for his future success.

After all, not every rookie quarterback is Roethlisberger, who won 15 games in a row and was bolstered by a ridiculous defense and running game.

Nonetheless, Rudolph acknowledges the transition from college to the NFL hasn’t been easy. In fact, it has been tough.

“Mentally for me, it’s been tough,” Rudolph admitted to Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “But it’s a lot more comfortable getting under center. That was big, and I think I addressed that. I really cleaned up a lot of the quarterback/center-exchange issues. We had a couple in OTAs. And I’m just a lot more comfortable.”

For a young man, Rudolph is as polished as they come. When it comes to professional athletes who just have the knack to address media, and be as professional as possible, I compare him to another star down the road — the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby.

This isn’t to predict Rudolph will attain superstar status as Crosby has in the NHL, not that this would be a bad thing, but let’s just say Rudolph understands how to work the media. His coordinator, Randy Fichtner, gives an accurate description of how he has been progressing.

“He’s working. He’s doing a nice job,” Fichtner said. “It’s in-helmet perspective. That takes time to develop. Change of pace. The whole game is different. It’s always going to be different. That transition isn’t easy, and he is playing the position where the transition is the hardest.”

Throughout camp, and likely throughout the preseason, Rudolph will be under duress both physically and mentally. He won’t be afforded the time, and pocket, to pass like Ben Roethlisberger will behind the starting line. But it shouldn’t derail him from his progress.

“That’s football though,” Fichtner said of the lack of time Rudolph has had to throw. “That’s a good evaluation. That’s what the preseason is going to be like. He won’t see (first team) snaps for a long time.”

Rudolph will put on the black-and-gold jersey for the first time with his new teammates Thursday night, and fans will be watching to see how he performs. No one knows if it will be against the Eagles’ third or fourth string players, but Rudolph’s performance will be one to watch.

It hasn’t been easy, but the hope is Rudolph’s progression continues tonight when the Steelers and Eagles square off in Week 1 of the NFL preseason.

Bold and bizarre predictions for Steelers Preseason Week 1 at Philadelphia

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 8:30am

BTSC’s Nostradamus predicts tonight’s exhibition contest between the Steelers and Eagles.

Pittsburgh Steelers football is back tonight, my friends. I, for one, am as happy as Jeff Reed sending erotic selfies. Just how many questions will be answered in the contest with Keystone State rival Philadelphia is not known; however, there will be plenty of expected certainties, and a plethora of surprises as well. For the second-straight season, here is my list of bold and bizarre predictions to look for tonight.

  • Much like Mike Hilton a year ago, OLB Ola Adeniyi becomes a household name in Steeler a Nation.
  • Yinzers from Swissvale to Sewickley, Moon Township to Murraysville and Aliquippa to Altoona butcher the name of the undrafted free agent from Toledo so bad he simply becomes known as “O.A”.
  • James Conner and James Washington shine on offense for the Steelers in extended roles, but the quarterbacks that were selected a pick behind them in each of the last two drafts (Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph) struggle and fail to impress.
  • Le’Veon Bell drops his latest rap track online moments before kickoff and disses the organization for not paying him. Irate fans call for his immediate dismissal.
  • Quadree Henderson is solid in the return game, causing fan and media speculation that he could make the team.
  • A Steeler fan gets knocked out in Lincoln Financial Field by an Eagles supporter for simply being a Steeler fan. The video captured by another fan’s cell phone gets more views on YouTube than the actual game gets on the CW and NFL Network combined.
  • The lack of depth on the O-line becomes glaring and disconcerting enough to force Kevin Colbert to surf the waiver wire.
  • Antonio Brown is seen on the sideline wearing a Chris Acher Pirates jersey.
  • Anthony Chickillo, like Arthur Moats a year ago, makes the biggest splash on defense with a multiple sack game.
  • The game ends with the final score being...Oh who cares? It’s what happens on the field and not the scoreboard that counts the most in preseason. Just no injuries, please.
  • Alright, I’ll give a prediction. Eagles 17, Steelers 13.

So just how many of these predictions will become reality? I’d say at least one. But your guess will probably be just as good as mine. Feel free to celebrate me as a soothsayer, or mock me as moronic, in the comment section. Enjoy!

Six Steelers Slobberknockers: Questions for BTSC fans to discuss on game day

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 7:32am

As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 of the preseason, there’s still lots to talk about!

What the heck is a “slobberknocker?” In football terms, it’s s a hit that, well, knocks the slobber right out of the other player’s mouth. I’ll be posing six hard-hitting questions to BTSC fans every game-day morning during the 2018 preseason and regular season.

These questions won’t be the same old dull and droll questions rolled out every game day by the networks or cable channels. Let Terry Bradshaw or Kurt Warner bore the average NFL fan by asking questions about the windy conditions the quarterbacks will face — won’t happen here (we already know wind influences the trajectory of a football).

The questions will be directed towards the knowledgeable fans here at BTSC. Fans who are considered not to be average NFL fans or Steelers fans — but a cut above.

Q1: Besides the obvious 2018 rookies, who is the one offensive and one defensive player you’re most eager to see in action during the Philadelphia Eagles preseason game?

Q2: On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how strongly would an impressive performance by Landry Jones sway your wish for him to stay as the Steelers’ backup quarterback? And on the other hand, would a pedestrian performance by Jones send you to the BTSC boards to voice your frustration?

Q3: If the Eagles blow the doors off of the Steelers, would this be any cause for apprehension? Conversely, if the Steelers throttle the world champion Eagles, would this lead to higher 2018 expectations for the team?

Q4: Are you bummed out that the Steelers won’t be trotting out many of their starters or are you more pleased that the starters won’t be risking injury?

Q5: Who is the player with the most to gain during this game? And which one has the most to lose?

Q6: If backup tackles Chukwuma Okorafor and Jake Rodgers struggle, will you hit the panic button about the Swing Tackle position?

Steelers fans will be glued to their TV from kickoff until the final whistle, scrutinizing everyone from starters to camp-fodder players. While fans don’t put a great amount of stock in preseason games, they still want to see how players perform compared to the chatter coming out of training camp. Hopefully, the players we see on the field early will showcase the talent which made them Pittsburgh Steelers in the first place.

Will these players live up to their offseason hype, or will they flounder under the bright lights of the NFL? Only time will tell.

Podcast: In-depth training camp report and preview of Eagles Week 1 preseason game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 6:17am

In the latest episode of the “Steelers 1-on-1” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-gold from the week that was.

The 2018 NFL Draft is over and so are OTAs. Believe it or not, there’s lots to talk about heading into a big week of offseason news for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Take a look at the rundown for the first episode of the new show Steelers 1-on-1. On this show, Jeff Hartman interviews someone to discuss all things Pittsburgh Steelers. Today’s guest was none other than Chris Carter of DKPittsburghSports.com

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Report from Steelers Training Camp
  • Who to watch vs. the Eagles on Thursday
  • Expectations for the Steelers in Week 1
  • Some training camp stories
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, walks 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 our BlogTalkRadio page. If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below. Be sure to follow us on iTunes by searching The Standard is the Standard.

The show is sponsored by Frank Walker Law, the top criminal defense firm to call in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia and home to one of the nation’s top-100 ranked trial attorneys in Frank Walker. For his PA office, call 412-212-3878 or to reach his WV office call 304-712-2089. You should also check out his website frankwalkerlaw.com to see how he can help you in your time of need. Frank Walker Law: Real Talk, Real Experience, Real Results.

Steelers at Eagles Preseason Week 1: Time, TV Schedule and game information

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/09/2018 - 5:13am

All the information you need to know to keep up with the action from the Steelers’ first preseason game of the year against the Philadelphia Eagles

The Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Philadelphia Eagles in their first preseason game of the year on Thursday night at 7.00 p.m. ET, and we have all the information you need to know to follow the action.

Despite their cross-state rivalry, the Steelers play the Eagles only once every four years now that they belong to different conferences. But prior to 1967, their matchups were biannual affairs. The last time the two sides met during the preseason was a 2016 game won by Philadelphia 17-0, and their last meeting in the regular season was a devastating 34-3 loss for the Steelers in Week 3 of that same year.

With the starters expected to see limited action, and several key players set to miss the game due to injury, the coaching staff will care much less about a victory on Thursday night and much more about the caliber of play from the younger names on the roster.

Simon Chester Steelers preseason Week 1 - Steelers @ Eagles Preseason Week 1:

Game: Pittsburgh Steelers @ Philadelphia Eagles

Date: Thursday August 9

Kickoff: 7.00 p.m. ET

Venue: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia

Weather: Live weather update

Watch:

TV Channel: Broadcast locally on KDKA-Channel 2 with Bob Pompeani and Charlie Batch as commentators and Missi Matthews the sideline reporter. Check the national broadcast map to see if the game is on in your area.

Online: NFL.com Game Pass on delay in the US and live for international viewers or via live a subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket. The NFL Game Center will update the action on a play-by-play basis.

Radio: Steeler Nation Radio with Bill Hillgrove and Tunch Ilkin as commentators and Craig Wolfley as the sideline reporter. Broadcast live on WDVE 102.5 FM and WBGG 970 AM in the Pittsburgh area and online via Steelers.com and the Steelers Official Mobile App.

You can also follow Behind the Steel Curtain on Twitter to catch all of the highlights as they happen, and be sure to check back with us after the game for our post-match roundup.

Ben Roethlisberger is still excited about the fact Joe Haden is a member of the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 2:31pm

After going against Joe Haden for years, Ben Roethlisberger is still excited about Haden being on his team.

If you think about it, the fact Joe Haden is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers is still pretty crazy.

After playing his entire career with the Cleveland Browns, and going against the black-and-gold twice a season, Haden now calls the 412 area code home during the season. For some Steelers fans it is still hard to fathom, and you can count quarterback Ben Roethlisberger into the mix of players who are still happy, and excited, Haden is in black-and-gold...not orange-and-brown.

Roethlisberger talked about it to the SiriusXM NFL Radio hosts when they visited the Steelers during training camp.

Take a listen:

.@steelers QB @_BigBen7 has a lot of confidence in Pittsburgh's secondary heading into the new season – subscribers can catch our full stop from #SteelersCamp on demand! pic.twitter.com/AP2MssQx0v

— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) August 6, 2018

The one knock on Haden throughout his career has been his durability. He has played in 16 regular season games just once, and that was his rookie season in 2010. Since then he has failed to log a full 16-game season.

In his first year with the Steelers, he played in just 11 games after suffering a broken leg midway through the season. Now healthy, Haden is ready to help complete the Steelers’ secondary, and Roethlisberger feels he still has a lot left in the proverbial tank.

In fact, in the interview above, Roethlisberger goes as far as saying he not only is happy he doesn’t have to go against Haden any longer, but how the Steelers’ secondary could actually be considered a strength.

Think about that for a second.

Dating back to Bill Cowher, the Steelers have always been a defense which was solid despite their secondary. Fans would talk about the missing piece to the puzzle, and always mention the secondary shortly after.

With the likes of Haden, Artie Burns, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton and even Brian Allen, the cornerbacks have gone from a weakness to a potential strength. If they can take the football away more in 2018 than they did last year, it will just solidify this sentiment among the NFL landscape.

In the meantime, at least Roethlisberger won’t have to worry about Haden picking off any of his passes anytime soon outside of practice.

Rookie Quadree Henderson will be Steelers’ starting kick and punt returner for preseason opener

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 12:00pm

Undrafted, rookie free-agent signing Quadree Henderson will have the first opportunity to prove he can take the punt-return job away from Antonio Brown on Thursday night against the Eagles.

While the Pittsburgh Steelers arguably haven’t had a dependable return man since they parted ways with Stefan Logan after the 2009 season, the one player they do have on the roster capable of doing the job is one they’d rather not use. Antonio Brown has been an effective punt returner for the past eight season, but he hasn’t been a part of the kick-return game since 2011, and the coaching staff would rather not use the league’s best wide receiver on special teams if they could help it.

If the Steelers are to find someone to replace Brown on punt returns this season, one of the best candidates available to them might undrafted, rookie free agent Quadree Henderson. And it appears the team will be giving him every chance to impress on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. As he told Chris Adamski of TribLive.

“I just found out I’ll be the starting punt returner and starting kick returner, No. 1 up there for right now. It’s a big opportunity for me to go out there and showcase my skill.”

Signed as much for his return skills than anything else coming out of the University of Pittsburgh, Henderson averaged 26.6 yards on 73 kick returns and 13.4 yards on 37 punt returns for his college career. Four kick returns for touchdowns and three punt returns for touchdowns for the Panthers suggests Henderson might even have the big play capability the Steelers are looking for.

Changes to the rules surrounding kickoffs should open up the game for the return men a little bit more this year and it could benefit Pittsburgh to have a genuine threat at the position. With the exception of JuJu Smith-Schuster last year, fans have not see much excitement from the kick return game in several years and a strong showing from Henderson against Philadelphia could go a long way to securing his place on the final 53-man roster come opening day.

Thursday is the Steelers’ first opportunity to play under the new NFL rules

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 10:42am

The landscape of the NFL is constantly changing, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have no choice but to adapt accordingly.

If you aren’t progressing then you’re regressing, because life is constantly evolving around you and we must keep moving forward to keep up. But there’s always a price to be paid for all this progress.

This past NFL season was unlike anything the league had seen before. Football and politics collided, and not in a good way. This wasn't the President calling to congratulate an individual for breaking a record or winning the Super Bowl as we’re accustomed to. This got ugly — quick.

The league also instructed the teams and their trainers prior to the season to more closely monitor players after plays that might have resulted in them having their “bell rung.” It became apparent that the helmet was far too often being used as a weapon, not as the piece of safety equipment it’s intended to be.

The NFL is still feeling the effects of this new political scrutiny and their inability to provide a safer work environment for the players. They would be wise to remember it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time.

No matter where you stand concerning the national anthem protests, we can all agree it needs to be handled more productively moving forward. It negatively impacted the NFL’s image, sponsors (see Papa Johns), and fan base. That certainly was not the desired effect of the protests initially. They were meant to bring awareness and start a dialog over perceived societal inequalities. Mission accomplished — kind of — but with a lot of unwanted complications.

Many NFL fans were left with a bad taste in their mouths. Multiple players have had their reputations and employment impacted. Most of this could have been avoided with better communication. There’s a time and a place for activism, but during the national anthem is neither the time nor the place.

This offseason during the owner’s meetings, the league made a knee-jerk reaction to try and control the situation. Most decisions made hastily are not thoroughly thought out, and their solution to the problem is a good example. I believe the situation was going to work itself out, if only the league would have stayed out of it — but now we’ll never know.

Hopefully, this season won’t be a repeat of last season. True progress in these issues will be determined by the time and resources contributed by the players, the franchises, and community leaders off the field. It’s impossible to govern morality — that’s an individual responsibility.

Another issue facing the NFL is player safety and the impact of modern technology advancements involving the football helmet. There was a wonderful article posted a few weeks ago here on BTSC, by cliff-harris-is-still-a-punk, discussing the advancements in modern helmet design and engineering. The modern helmets are much lighter and engineered to absorb and redirect the force of impact to better protect the athlete. This is an innovative development for player safety, but it’s really only a step in the right direction.

We must keep in mind that helmets were not a part of football until years after its origin. Most of us grew up playing football in the backyard or on a playground. Oftentimes, it was two-hand touch because flag football wasn't in the picture yet. Things got serious when you played tackle. You definitely didn't lead with your noggin’, or you would get knocked out. Head up, wrap your arms, and drag the runner down. Even when you got older and played organized ball you were still taught the same fundamentals.

Make no mistake, the new helmet rule wasn't approved just in an effort to prevent concussions and CTE cases. It was in an effort to prevent catastrophic injuries like Ryan Shazier's. Ryan was notorious for leading with his helmet, and was even penalized for it during a playoff game against the Bengals. It's too late now to do anything about Shazier's injury, but the league is trying to prevent similar injuries moving forward.

There are sure to be frustrations due to inconsistencies with rule interpretation and enforcement, but you have to start somewhere. Hopefully, the new rule won't end up costing a team a victory that affects its road to the Super Bowl — like the catch-rule last season.

One thing I won't miss is watching a defensive player try to get on Sportscenter with a knockout hit, only to whiff on the tackle. I would say there were at least three missed tackles to every one jarring impact. The Steelers were thirty-first in the league in missed tackles, which was second worst. Mitchell and Davis were big contributors to this undesirable ranking, but there was plenty of blame to go around.

In a perfect world, this new rule change will force Steelers’ defenders to focus on their tackling fundamentals to avoid hurting the team with a penalty or suspension. This renewed focus should result in fewer missed tackles and instances of head trauma.

Thursday's game against the Eagles will be our first opportunity on a lot of fronts for Steelers Nation. Our first opportunity to see the rookies and fellow newcomers in action. Training camp is one thing, but how will many of the camp darlings respond under the bright lights against a very talented Eagles squad. Hopefully, there will be plenty of positive results to get pumped up about, and most importantly, no serious injuries.

It will also be our first chance to watch the Steelers competing under the new rule changes. I'm rooting for the refs to get those bad calls out of their systems before the games really count.

Enjoy the game and, as always, "Go Steelers!"

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