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Steelers Fact or Fiction: Preseason Week 2 Chiefs Edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 12:29pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

BTSC takes five bold statements surrounding the current state of the team and labels them as Fact or Fiction.

With members of the Pittsburgh Steelers getting ready to do battle against Andy Reid and his Kansas City Chiefs on Friday at Heinz Field, the narrative of the ‘19 campaign continues with speculation and excitement galore. BTSC anticipates big storylines and issues bold statements regarding each one of them. Let’s take a look and deem them as fact or fiction.

Only playing Ben Roethlisberger a half in this preseason will lend to a slow start in New England. Fact

In the past five seasons, Ben Roethlisberger’s only good showing in the opener was against Washington in 2016. Although the team needs to err on the side of caution and make sure their franchise quarterback doesn’t get injured, No. 7 needs to play more than one half of football in exhibition play. Waiting to shake off rust against the Pats reduces chances of winning.

Ola Adeniyi’s surgery ensures Tuzar Skipper a spot on the 53-Man Roster. Fiction

With Adeniyi out, his Toledo teammate has the best chance of anybody to make the team. However the Steelers played a good bit of the 2018 season with only three linebackers on the 53MR and they could repeat that practice again.

The WR2 position is James Washington’s to lose after one game. Fiction

Washington had a phenomenal 2019 debut, but more of a sample size is necessary. The second-year Cowboy from Oklahoma State was very impressive, but Donte Moncrief and Diontae Johnson haven’t shown what they could do yet. No. 13 may be a front runner, but this competition has just begun.

The Pittsburgh defensive scheme did a lot to hinder Justin Layne’s first appearance as a Steeler Fact

While the third-rounder from Michigan State struggled in his Steeler debut, one can’t help not to wonder why a press corner was playing off of his man. No. 31 needs to get improve mightily, but the system does as well. The team desperately needs to take advantage of their players’ strengths. That was far from done last week pertaining to Layne.

How the secondary defends Pat Mahomes could be a sneak peak of the tale of 2019. Fact

I personally would love to see Pat Mahomes play against the Steelers secondary the entire contest. If a majority of the first-string starts against Mahomes and they struggle...it could foreshadow a long season.

Will these statements identify more as, to quote Bill Murray as John Winger in Stripes, “That’s a fact...Jack!” or will they identify more with the Albert Camus quote “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”? What matters most is your opinions on the matter. Please state them in the comments below.

Crunching the Numbers: Continued improvement for the Steelers in Preseason Week 2 vs. the Chiefs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 11:02am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After many positives coming out of preseason Week 1, growth in Week 2 is the desired outcome

The Pittsburgh Steelers preseason Week 1 is now more than a week behind them as they get ready to take Heinz Field by storm in prime time Saturday night. To say it wasn’t a traditional week for the Steelers would be the understatement of the year. After loosing the beloved wide receivers coach Darryl Drake Sunday morning, football took a back burner to real life tragedy for a couple days. Once they got back on the practice field, the Steelers had only one full session open to the public to end training camp as bad weather forced them indoors prematurely on Tuesday and Thursday.

With training camp now behind them, the Steelers focus should be on marked improvements in various areas each week of the preseason. In this week’s installment of Crunching the Numbers, we’ll take a look at some statistics from the Week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers which need to improve in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

28

The Steelers averaged giving up 23.75 points a game during the 2018 preseason. After surrendering 28 points to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1, the Steelers face an even bigger offensive threat in Week 2. The Kansas City Chiefs led the NFL in scoring for Week 1 of the preseason, putting up 38 points on the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs also led the league in scoring in the 2018 regular season with 35.3 points per game. In 2018, the Steelers gave up an average of 22.5 points per game. If they can hold the high-powered Chiefs to 24 points or less, it would be a major victory.

10

While they still had four less than their opponent, the 10 accepted penalties charged to the Steelers is high even for the preseason. With 12 or more penalties going against them the first three weeks of 2018, it should be a point of emphasis to get the penalties under control now before the games count in the standings.

31

I know, this statistic does not always paint an accurate story. But the Steelers giving up 31 first down to Tampa Bay last week is a concerning statistic. While a low number of first downs doesn’t always mean the defense is making stops, a high number is indicative of giving up long drives.

479

Another stat which could be skewed by the game situation, it’s never a good thing for a defense to be in the neighborhood of giving up 500 yards to their opponents. Part of the reason Tampa Bay may have been able to rack up a good bit of yardage was because they were attempting to come from behind to win the game. Even while holding a significant lead for three-quarters of their Week 1 game, the Kansas City Chiefs still reached 400 yards of offense. If the Steelers can keep the Chiefs from eclipsing the 400-yard mark for the second week in a row, it could be a significant victory as long as the game isn’t a blowout.

0

One thing Steelers fans failed to witness last week at Heinz Field was a rushing touchdown. As much as the quarterback play was entertaining as three players are battling for two spots, seeing a Steelers’ running back reach the end zone for the first time can be as equally entertaining. In 2018, the Steelers averaged one rushing touchdown a game in the regular season and 1.25 in the preseason. Getting at least one rushing touchdown against the Chiefs would be a welcomed site.

So there are some numbers to use as a measuring stick in terms of improvement for the Steelers second game of the 2019 preseason. Which number would you most like to see the Steelers reach? Is there another one you’re looking for? Please leave your answers in the comments below!

Ben Roethlisberger should play more in the preseason, but it’s probably a good thing he doesn’t

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 9:28am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Roethlisberger could probably benefit from more playing time in the preseason. However, the risk of a year-ending injury just isn’t worth the reward of a sharper start to the season.

The Steelers take on the Chiefs on Saturday night at Heinz Field in the second preseason game of 2019.

Much to no one’s surprise, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be held out for a second straight week. Going by recent exhibition season trends, you can expect Roethlisberger to play a few series next week in the all-important dress rehearsal third preseason game and no series at all a few days later in the fourth.

The question comes up every preseason: should Steelers starters—specifically, Roethlisberger—play more as a means to get ready for the regular season?

The answer to that is, absolutely. That’s especially the case for the franchise quarterback. Purely from a rhythm and “iron sharpens iron” standpoint, how could Roethlisberger not benefit from more preseason action?

There is only one answer to that question, but that answer is only truly safe in a perfect world, a world where very important players never get injured.

I remember where I was that day four Septembers ago when Roethlisberger lay prone on the turf of then Edwards Jones Dome as Pittsburgh battled the then St. Louis Rams in a Week 3 match-up in 2015.

I was at a sports bar in Chicago with my uncle and his buddy; we were just taking in some NFL action as we prepared for a fun night at Wrigley Field where the Pirates would take on the Cubs in a preview of the National League Wildcard Game.

Late in the third quarter, Roethlisberger was hit just below the knee during a sack by then Rams safety, now Steelers linebacker Mark Barron. Roethlisberger was in great pain instantly, and a hush fell over the crowd—at least the small Pittsburgh trio that consisted of my uncle, his buddy and me.

I’m sure Steeler Nation was holding its collective breath as Roethlisberger was carted off the field with what later was diagnosed as a sprained MCL and bone bruise.

It wasn’t a season-ending injury, and Roethlisberger was back a month later. But it could have been so much worse. Of course, it could ALWAYS be so much worse. As the saying goes in football, you’re always one play away from a season/career-ending injury.

If that’s the case, if you can just as easily suffer a traumatic injury in Week 3 as you can in the preseason, why not roll the dice and just sharpen that iron during some August football?

Because it’s just not necessary. What would you rather have to start the season, Rusty Ben or Booted Ben? Erratic Ben or Big Bruised Ben?

I think it’s an easy answer. There’s always time during the regular season to improve on one’s accuracy, but there’s never enough time to come back from a torn ACL. Even if it’s a less significant injury that forces a player to miss a few games, there’s not always enough time to come back from that. Take the aforementioned 2015 season, for example. The Steelers were 1-2 during Roethlisberger’s absence, as Michael Vick and Landry Jones took turns filling in for him. Pittsburgh ultimately finished 10-6 and needed help from Rex Ryan and the Bills just to sneak into the playoffs as a sixth seed.

Bottom line, you can always get by and remain competent with just about any player on your roster...with the exception of your future Hall of Fame franchise quarterback. If he goes down, the integrity of your team suffers greatly, and it’s often reduced to the proverbial shell of its former self.

A month from now, while you’re possibly lamenting some early-season rust from Roethlisberger, just remember it could always be worse. You could be ruing the extra time he played in the preseason.

Steelers Film Room: Evaluating Devlin Hodges’ Week 1 preseason performance

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 7:55am
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is getting a lot of buzz, but was his performance worth it?

I will not make any bones about it, I am a Devlin Hodges fan. I knew nothing about him until I did a player bio on him. A kid from Samford with the all-time FCS passing leader was intriguing, and I came away wanting to see more. Finally, the time came with the Pittsburgh Steelers first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers midway through the third quarter. What a surprise as most Steelers fans probably thought the same as me he may get in sometime in the fourth quarter.

During the next quarter and a half, there was plenty to like but moments of confusion and even an ill-advised throw. If you were just to look at his eight of 14 passing for 79 yards and a touchdown, you might come away uninspired with his playing against guys deep on Tampa’s depth chart. Factor in the two to three drops and his stats look much more productive.

Overall, the rookie showed poise, pocket presence and an ability to go through his progressions while limiting his mistakes.

In the video montage, you will see replays of Hodges, his good, his bad and his mediocre.

While Hodges had a respectful performance when factoring in the drops, he also had a hand in those drops with touch or lack thereof. While Josh Dobbs struggled, he was also playing against players who will start for Tampa Bay on opening weekend. That is something that the players Hodges did not have to face. The players Hodges faced will either be finding a new line of work, on the practice squad or possibly buried deep on the depth chart playing on special teams.

There are two main questions the man with 14,584 collegiate passing yards and 111 career passing touchdowns must answer. Can he repeat his performance against players who may submit their resumes in a month? And can he perform at that high of a level against the competition that Dobbs faced last week and the competition that Mason Rudolph will face this week?

Hodges did not embarrass himself and threw his hat into the ring to make the 53--man roster, can he build on his success or just a flash in the pan?

Please share your comments below, BTSC would like to hear your opinion!

An updated look at the Steelers 91-man roster with jersey numbers before Preseason Week 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 6:47am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Heading into Week 2 of the preseason against the Chiefs, here is the Steelers complete roster with numbers for your reference

As training camp continues, there may be some names who are unfamiliar to some Steelers fans. As a guide, here is a breakdown of the Steelers entire roster by position with their jersey numbers. With the Steelers receiving an international exemption, 91 players can be carried into training camp. The number of players kept (in parentheses) on the Steelers initial 53-man roster in 2018 have been noted for reference.

(Editor’s Note: Every time the team makes a transaction, we will update the roster to keep you up-to-date on who is still on the 91-man roster.)

Offense

Quarterback (3)

  1. Ben Roethlisberger #7
  2. Joshua Dobbs #5
  3. Mason Rudolph #2
  4. Devlin Hodges #6

Running Back (3)

  1. James Conner #30
  2. Jaylen Samuels #38
  3. Benny Snell Jr #24
  4. Trey Edmunds #33
  5. Malik Williams #39
  6. Travon McMillian #35

Fullback (1):

  1. Roosevelt Nix #45

Wide Receiver (6)

  1. JuJu Smith-Schuster #19
  2. Donte Moncrief #11
  3. James Washington #13
  4. Diontae Johnson #18
  5. Eli Rogers #17
  6. Ryan Switzer #10
  7. Trey Griffey #15
  8. Johnny Holton #80
  9. Tevin Jones #14
  10. Diontae Spencer #82
  11. Brandon Reilly #83

Tight End (3)

  1. Vance McDonald #89
  2. Xavier Grimble #85
  3. Zach Gentry #81
  4. Kevin Rader #87
  5. Christian Scotland-Williamson #49
  6. Trevor Wood (also LS) #88
  7. Mickey Crum #46

Offensive Line (9)

  1. Maurkice Pouncey #53
  2. David DeCastro #66
  3. Ramon Foster #73
  4. Alejandro Villanueva #78
  5. Matt Feiler #71
  6. Chukwuma Okorafor #76
  7. Jerald Hawkins #65
  8. B.J. Finney #67
  9. Zach Banner #72
  10. Derwin Gray #77
  11. Damian Prince #64
  12. Patrick Morris #62
  13. J.C. Hassenauer #60
  14. Garrett Brumfield #68
  15. Fred Johnson #74
Defense

Defensive Line (6)

  1. Cameron Heyward #97
  2. Stephon Tuitt #91
  3. Javon Hargrave #79
  4. Tyson Alualu #94
  5. Daniel McCullers #93
  6. Isaiah Buggs #96
  7. Lavon Hooks #95
  8. Conor Sheehy #61
  9. Winston Craig #64
  10. Casey Sayles #74
  11. Greg Gilmore #65
  12. Henry Mondeaux #72

Outside Linebacker (3)

  1. T.J. Watt #90
  2. Bud Dupree #48
  3. Anthony Chickillo #56
  4. Olasunkanmi Adeniyi #92
  5. Sutton Smith #42
  6. Tuzar Skipper #51
  7. Christian Kuntz #99

Inside Linebacker (5)

  1. Vince Williams #98
  2. Mark Barron #26
  3. Devin Bush #55
  4. Tyler Matakevich #44
  5. Ulysees Gilbert III #54
  6. Robert Spillane #49
  7. Tegray Scales #46
  8. Ryan Shazier (PUP) #50

Cornerback (5)

  1. Joe Haden #23
  2. Steven Nelson #22
  3. Mike Hilton #28
  4. Artie Burns #25
  5. Cameron Sutton #20
  6. Justin Layne #31
  7. Brian Allen #29
  8. Marcelis Branch #39
  9. Trevon Mathis #35

Safety (6)

  1. Sean Davis #21
  2. Terrell Edmunds #34
  3. Jordan Dangerfield #37
  4. Marcus Allen #27
  5. Kam Kelly #38
  6. Dravon Askew-Henry #41
  7. P.J. Locke #24
Specialists

Placekicker (1)

  1. Chris Boswell #9
  2. Mathew Wright #16

Punter (1)

  1. Jordan Berry #4
  2. Ian Berryman #8

Long Snapper (1)

  1. Kameron Canaday #57
  2. Trevor Wood #88

Offense: 44

Defense: 42 (not including Shazier)

Specialists: 5 (not including Wood)

Total: 91

Podcast: Why no news, is good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 5:21am

In a brand new show titled ‘Yeah, I said it’, we talk about some burning topics surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell gone from the Pittsburgh Steelers, most fans have enjoyed a Training Camp/Preseason with their favorite team not being called “Team Turmoil”. In fact, there has been a lack of news coming from the Pittsburgh Steelers lately.

It makes you realize why the saying, “No news, is good news.” certainly comes to play when talking about the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers.

This is where the newest BTSC podcast “Yeah, I Said It” comes in. My co-host on ‘The Standard is the Standard’, Lance Williams tries to decipher why the lack of news surrounding the Steelers this preseason.

Time to deliver the goods on the latest show.

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!

Check out the audio below:

Feel free to give us your thoughts on the topic in the comment section below, and don’t forget to follow us on all our audio platforms by following the links below:

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

Black and Gold Links: Ben Roethlisberger describes the 2019 Steelers as a “special group”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/17/2019 - 4:34am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers returned to the gridiron when they reported back to training camp. With practices underway, the news surrounding the black-and-gold is just starting to heat up. As the team prepares for the coming season, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the season starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Ben Roethlisberger calls the 2019 Steelers a “special group” as he talks about his excitement for the upcoming season.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Ben Roethlisberger has never been one to hold back when it comes to his commentary on the team. Which means when the Steelers’ quarterback calls this team special, fans should listen.

Ben Roethlisberger says Steelers have ‘special group’ heading into season

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

In the span of a week in early March, two former Pittsburgh Steelers NFL All Pros became the property of other teams. While the term “addition by subtraction” is cliché, the Steelers are trying to convince themselves it’s true in this case.

Perhaps that was the motivation for what Ben Roethlisberger said Thursday, or perhaps the veteran quarterback was genuine in speaking about an affection for this particular group of teammates.

“I like this group,” Roethlisberger said after the final practice of camp at Saint Vincent. “I think we have got a special group of people here, and that’s why I am excited to see when things get real what is going to happen.”

The Steelers, of course, traded receiver Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders, and former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell signed with the New York Jets after he’d sat out the 2018 season while refusing to sign the franchise-tag tender.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Why the man they call “Duck” has been turning both players and coaches’ heads during training camp this season.

Ben Roethlisberger on Steelers QB Devlin Hodges: Duck is ‘fun to watch’

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

If Pittsburgh hasn’t yet caught “Duck” fever, perhaps the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback has.

Devlin “Duck” Hodges has by far outperformed most of the No. 4 quarterbacks invited to Steelers training camp over the years. And with a nickname inspired by a national duck-calling championship win a decade ago, coupled with a strong NFL preseason debut last week, Hodges is on the verge of a mini-cult following among Steelers fans.

Ben Roethlisberger, apparently, is joining the ranks of Hodges fans.

“Duck is just slinging it — and it’s fun to watch,” Roethlisberger said Thursday after the conclusion of the final training-camp practice at Saint Vincent. “He’s kind of fearless out there.

“(A) young guy, small school, undrafted … it’s fun to see guys like that succeed.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • There was talk of the Steelers putting an advertisement(s) on the seats at Heinz Field. Turns out the City of Pittsburgh vetoed that idea pretty quick.

Pittsburgh zoning board sacks Steelers’ seat-painting plan at Heinz Field

By: Bob Bauder, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh zoning board has denied an appeal by the Steelers for permission to paint Heinz Field seats in the form of a sign, ruling that it constitutes a “roof sign” prohibited by city zoning regulations.

PSSI Stadium LLC, a team affiliate, sought permission to paint seats on the north side of the stadium, arguing that it should be exempt because it would be an “interior element” and not visible from the outside.

A zoning administrator in April determined that the city’s zoning code prohibited the sign. The Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment agreed in a seven-page decision released Thursday.

“Because PSSI Stadium did not specify what words or logos might be included on the proposed sign, it did not definitely demonstrate that the proposed sign would be a ‘non-advertising sign,’” the board noted in the decision, adding that PSSI also “offered no credible evidence or testimony that the proposed sign … would not be visible from the exterior.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

The journey continues.#HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/zLeI1WDlRq

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 17, 2019

Giving back to a community that gives so much to us. Thank you, Latrobe! #SteelersHuddlefor100 pic.twitter.com/S5OgRDBE7Y

— Steelers Community Relations (@SteelersCR) August 16, 2019

Back Soon. pic.twitter.com/H9i0kMiVNv

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) August 16, 2019

Waiting for tomorrow pic.twitter.com/Y8jBhxTTje

— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) August 16, 2019

I freakin love this city.

— Ryan Switzer (@Switz) August 17, 2019

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions: Training Camp Edition, Vol. 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 5:32pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There is plenty to talk about regarding all things black-and-gold!

Several people have asked if we could bring back the Friday Night Open Thread. I had moved the event to Saturday morning, but after minimal success, I decided to bring it back to Friday night — with a slight twist.

I liked the Saturday Six-Pack theme, so I decided to just take the six questions and move them to Friday night. Say hello to Friday Night Six-Pack of Steelers Questions and open thread!

The rules haven’t changed...

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.

That’s it! With that out of the way, it’s time to get this party started. Hey, don’t act like you’ve never done a little Friday night drinking. Here goes:

1. The Steelers are done with training camp...who are you most excited to watch vs. the Chiefs in Preseason Week 2??

2. If you were Mike Tomlin, how would you handle Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2? Sit him, or play him in a series or two?

3. Between the two players, who makes the roster? Eli Rogers or Ryan Switzer

4. How many series/quarters would you play the starters on defense vs. the potent Chiefs offense?

5. This will be published this week, but who is your front-runner for the Isaac Redman Award?

6. Caption the photo below:

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

Report: Steelers Ola Adeniyi has torn meniscus, out minimum 2-4 weeks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 4:04pm
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a now-deleted post, Adeniyi reported having an unknown surgical procedure

In a since-deleted Instagram post, Steelers outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi underwent a surgical procedure this morning which is still unknown at this time.

Steelers OLB Ola Adeniyi had surgery this morning per his social media account. No information provided by the team yet. Adeniyi had a tremendous 3 weeks at Saint Vincent for training camp.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) August 16, 2019

While surgery does not necessarily mean Ola’s season is over, it is difficult to speculate anything at this point until the exact procedure is announced. In 2018, Adeniyi began the season on injured reserve and returned to the Steelers active roster on December 1 following the Week 12 game against the Denver Broncos. Ola dressed for only one game in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers. His entire 2018 season consisted of nine defensive snaps and one combined tackle.

It appears that Steelers outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi is recovering from surgery this morning (though his social media posts have been deleted) https://t.co/UknewougIf pic.twitter.com/2TdPRTWgVM

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) August 16, 2019

In Week 1 of the preseason against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Adeniyi registered four tackles and impressed with his special teams coverage. Throughout training camp, Adeniyi was noticed for his performance both in drills and team activities creating a lot of buzz surrounding his upcoming 2019 season.

Ola goes up against Okorafor and wins both matchups. More of a challenge than Hawkins but still Adeniyi looks good in pass rush drills. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 1, 2019

There were many people inside the organization as well as countless fans who had high hopes for Adeniyi’s contributions to the Steelers in 2019. While his exact status for the season is still to be determined, it appears at least some time with the Steelers will be missed.

With Adeniyi’s availability for the 2019 season now in question, the outside linebacker position will be one to watch closely in the next three preseason games. While T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and Anthony Chickillo all remain on the Steelers as the only outside linebackers on the Steelers roster for most of 2018, it is difficult to imagine the team going with such few options at the position for another season. Rookies Tuzar Skipper and Sutton Smith, both coming out of the Mid-American Conference, may now be given a greater opportunity to find their way onto the Steelers 53-man roster.

Skipper, a former teammate of Adeniyi’s from Toledo, earned his way to Latrobe after impressing the Steelers as a tryout player for rookie mini camp. In the Steelers Week 1 preseason matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Skipper registered a sack. As for Sutton Smith, he was a sixth round draft pick for the Steelers out of Northern Illinois but has battled injuries this preseason.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for updates as this story continues to develop.

UPDATE:

Per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Adeniyi underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. The injury will have him sidelined 2-4 weeks, minimum.

Ola Adeniyi has meniscus tear. Out 2-4 weeks min

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) August 16, 2019

If Dulac’s timeline is true, this injury will have Adeniyi missing the final three weeks of the preseason, and potentially the first two weeks of the regular season. Those games are the season opener in New England against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football, then the home opener vs. the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2.

Any time a player undergoes surgery the timeline to return is never cut-and-dry, so stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on this story and more as the black-and-gold prepare for Week 2 of the NFL Preseason.

Re-visiting the Steelers’ projected 2020 compensatory draft pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 1:24pm
Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

With contracts being set for months, the biggest factor remaining is playing time for the players lost and gained

With the time period for signing players who factor into the compensatory formula for 2020 having passed over three months ago, there are still other factors which will contribute to what additional draft picks are awarded. With the number one factor being a players salary, there are still some ongoing factors which could change things up just a little bit.

Based solely on contracts, here is a reminder of where the Steelers currently stand for a 2020 compensatory draft pick according to overthecap.com with the projected round value in parenthesis.

Departures:

Le’Veon Bell (3)

Jesse James (6)

L.J. Fort (7)

Arrivals:

Steven Nelson (4)

Donte Moncrief (6)

Starting at the top of the arrival list, the following cancellations would be as follows:

Nelson (4) cancels James (6)

Moncrief (6) cancels Fort (7)

Bell (3) is left

When it comes to players shifting up or down with their compensatory value, the two factors throughout the season will be playing time and postseason awards. Obviously, these factors will be something to discuss as the season goes on. But one very large factor which could greatly change the compensatory picks is if a player is released from their new team.

In regards to the players the Steelers signed, both Steven Nelson and Donte Moncrief seem to be locks to make the 53 man roster. As a quick reminder, Mark Barron does not calculate in the compensatory formula because he was released by the Rams. The compensatory system is set up to compensate teams for losing players when their contracts have expired, not when teams release a player with one or more years remaining.

As for the players the Steelers lost in the 2019 off-season, here is a quick recap of where they stand with their teams:

Le’Veon Bell

Although he did not play in Week 1 of the preseason, Bell’s contract and all of its guarantees make it where the Jets have no choice but to keep him on the roster. Bell is listed as the Jets starting running back, plus his four year, nearly $53 million contract would have too much dead money to handle. The biggest factor when it comes to Bell will be his playing time in 2019, either by choice or by injury, and if it lowers his value.

Jesse James

Signing a $22.6 million for five years with the Detroit Lions, James would carry a significant cap hit if he were to be released. If for some reason the Lions would cut ties with James, the Steelers should be calling his agent right away. The odds of James being cut are highly unlikely, especially since he is currently listed as the first tight end on the Lions depth chart ahead of rookie T.J. Hockenson. In Week 1 of the preseason, James caught his only target for a 16-yard gain.

L.J. Fort

The most likely candidate to affect the Steelers compensatory draft pick by being released would be L.J. Fort. By releasing either Fort or Andrew Sendejo, the Philadelphia Eagles could gain an additional fourth-round selection along with the third and fourth round picks they are already projected to receive. Currently, Fort is listed second on the Eagles’ depth chart at outside linebacker behind Zach Brown. Fort played in the Eagle’s Week 1 game of the preseason and logged four tackles.

In order to get a better grasp on L.J. Fort’s status, Brandon Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation had this to offer in regards to Fort’s status with the Eagles.

“L.J. Fort is having a solid camp/preseason with the Eagles. He’s actually getting some first team reps since projected starters Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill are both dealing with injuries. Bradham is expected to be ready by Week 1 but Grugier-Hill could be out until late September or early October. Fort’s presence as a veteran defender who can also contribute on special teams should allow him to stick on the 53-man roster. Not to mention the fact that Eagles general manager Howie Roseman previously called Fort a “target free agent” and backed up those words by signing Fort to a deal worth $1.9 million guaranteed.”

So as it stands at this moment, the Steelers are still projected to receive a third-round compensatory pick in the 2020 NFL draft. As factors change throughout the 2019 season, Behind The Steel Curtain will continue to update any possible developments when it comes to compensatory value regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Steelers Ola Adeniyi reportedly undergoes surgery

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 11:52am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a now-deleted post, Adeniyi reported having an unknown surgical procedure

In a since-deleted Instagram post, Steelers outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi underwent an unknown surgical procedure this morning.

Steelers OLB Ola Adeniyi had surgery this morning per his social media account. No information provided by the team yet. Adeniyi had a tremendous 3 weeks at Saint Vincent for training camp.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) August 16, 2019

While surgery does not necessarily mean Ola’s season is over, it is difficult to speculate anything at this point until the exact procedure is announced. In 2018, Adeniyi began the season on injured reserve and returned to the Steelers active roster on December 1 following the Week 12 game against the Denver Broncos. Ola dressed for only one game in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Chargers. His entire 2018 season consisted of nine defensive snaps and one combined tackle.

It appears that Steelers outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi is recovering from surgery this morning (though his social media posts have been deleted) https://t.co/UknewougIf pic.twitter.com/2TdPRTWgVM

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) August 16, 2019

In Week 1 of the preseason against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Adeniyi registered four tackles and impressed with his special teams coverage. Throughout training camp, Adeniyi was noticed for his performance both in drills and team activities creating a lot of buzz surrounding his upcoming 2019 season.

Ola goes up against Okorafor and wins both matchups. More of a challenge than Hawkins but still Adeniyi looks good in pass rush drills. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 1, 2019

There were many people inside the organization as well as countless fans who had high hopes for Adeniyi’s contributions to the Steelers in 2019. While his exact status for the season is still to be determined, it appears at least some time with the Steelers will be missed.

With Adeniyi’s availability for the 2019 season now in question, the outside linebacker position will be one to watch closely in the next three preseason games. While T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and Anthony Chickillo all remain on the Steelers as the only outside linebackers on the Steelers roster for most of 2018, it is difficult to imagine the team going with such few options at the position for another season. Rookies Tuzar Skipper and Sutton Smith, both coming out of the Mid-American Conference, may now be given a greater opportunity to find their way onto the Steelers 53-man roster.

Skipper, a former teammate of Adeniyi’s from Toledo, earned his way to Latrobe after impressing the Steelers as a tryout player for rookie mini camp. In the Steelers Week 1 preseason matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Skipper registered a sack. As for Sutton Smith, he was a sixth round draft pick for the Steelers out of Northern Illinois but has battled injuries this preseason.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for updates as this story continues to develop.

Ranking the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers roster heading into Preseason Week 2: The Offense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 10:52am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking each player at their position after the first preseason game.

Just like my defense power rankings, I’m ranking them by what I’ve seen on film, ignoring draft investment and contracts. This is not a 53 man roster prediction.

On to the film reactions and rankings.

Quarterback

Josh Dobbs: Had some nice passes and is dynamic when he runs. Looked like his pocket presence has improved, but still a ways from good. Drops 1 spot.

Mason Rudolph: Better footwork and pocket presence than I was seeing in camp film, and his passes had nice touch on them. Good outing for Rudolph. Moves up 1 spot.

Devlin Hodges: He was a good 4th string QB, but his arm, decision making, footwork and pocket presence are all behind Dobbs and Rudolph. He isn’t a real threat to either at this point. No movement.

My current QB rankings:

1. Ben Roethlisberger
2. Mason Rudolph
3. Joshua Dobbs
4. Devlin Hodges

Running Back

Benny Snell: Really struggled early, making poor reads, failing at chip blocks, stumbling over his own feet. The line was blocking really well on almost every run he had throughout the game, and he lost yards early and later did better but was still disappointing. He looked good catching the ball. Looking at the blocking I kept waiting for Snell to slip through the hole or power through an arm and break a big run, but he never did. I was surprised to see him not break tackles at all. Late in the game he started driving defenders for a few yards, but even against third stringers he wasn’t breaking loose. Really hoping it was just a rough first day for Benny. Drops 1 spot.

Trey Edmunds: Whiffed badly on one pass block, but he showed up in several blitz pickups and threw some knockout blows on chip blocks. Was a more decisive and effective runner than Snell although not a receiving threat at all. There is no excuse for Snell to be behind Trey Edmunds and I expect Snell to correct the situation, but for now Edmunds moves up 1 spot.

My current RB rankings:

1. James Conner
2. Jaylen Samuels
3. Trey Edmunds
4. Benny Snell Jr.
5. Travon McMillian

Fullback ranking:

Roosevelt Nix got one snap, no one else played FB.

1. Roosevelt Nix

Tight End

Xavier Grimble: He was used almost exclusively as a blocker and was impressive, taking on LBs and DEs and winning every matchup. Didn’t move, but increased his hold on the #2 spot.

Christian Scotland-Williamson: Sad he didn’t get to play more, he did a good job blocking, even if he doesn’t get low easily. He didn’t show up in the passing game in his limited time. Hamstring injury crushes his chances of building on it. Drops 1 spot

Zach Gentry: Looked good for the most part, had some impressive blocks, including driving a 300 lb DT with starter experience backwards, but he also struggled when he didn’t have a good start to the block. His route running, awareness and hands lived up to his college tape, and he played a part blocking downfield a few times. Moves up 1 spot.

Kevin Rader: Did not have a good game, one of his first snaps he was driven into Switzer knocking them both out of their routes. He got beat on several blocks as well. Drops 1 spot.

My current TE rankings:

1. Vance McDonald
2. Xavier Grimble
3. Zach Gentry
4. Kevin Rader
5. Travis Wood
6. Christian Scotland-Williamson

Wide Receiver

James Washington: Had a great game as a receiver, showed improved ability to create separation, flashed his great hands and big catch ability, and stood out throughout the game as a blocker, on run plays and on returns. Moves up 1 spot.

Ryan Switzer: Was surprised by how much he played, didn’t show much as a route runner and didn’t record a catch, but I believe he had a drop. Expected to see more growth from him in his routes. Drops 3 spots.

Tevin Jones: Physical receiver with decent route running and good hands. Didn’t do enough to move into the top 6, played ST but didn’t show up much. He’s another Cobi Hamilton. Moves up 1 spot.

Johnny Holton: Speed really showed on his long catch and run, on ST as a gunner and in drawing a pass interference call. He’s got a great shot of filling DHB’s role on ST and his role as a depth deep threat like DHB was in his first few seasons here. Having a 5th WR enter the game with speed to burn and great yards after catch threat is a headache for the defense. Moves up 4 spots.

My current WR rankings:

1. JuJu Smith-Schuster
2. James Washington
3. Donte Moncreif
4. Diontae Johnson
5. Johnny Holton
6. Eli Rogers
7. Tevin Jones
8. Ryan Switzer
9. Diontae Spencer
10. Trey Griffey
11. Brandon Reilly

Offensive Line

Some players will be listed at multiple positions.

Chukwuma Okorafor: Had a tough game, rushers attacked him high, getting hands in his chest and neck area and driving him back. When he sat back on that they went around him. His guy blew up plays far too often. Drops 1 spot.

B.J. Finney: Didn’t have a good game, got beat a high percentage of plays he was engaged 1v1. Needs to bounce back, but his job isn’t really at risk. Drops 1 spot.

Fred Johnson: The most impressive performance of the night, he was great in pass protection and in the run game. He also played most of the game, from the first snap into the 4th quarter. He lived up to the recent hype, but it was clear that early on Finney was focused on helping his side in 4 man rushes.

Zach Banner: Impressive game. Struggled a bit with speed and finesse, and while he played most of the game he didn’t face any legit NFL pass rushers. Three times a Tampa Bay DT timed the snap and drove into Banner hard before he got out of his set, and he was able to absorb the hit and keep it from wrecking the play each time. Moves up 2 spots.

Patrick Morris: Stalwart at Guard in this game, not as great at Center. Drops 1 spot at Center, moves up 2 spots in Guard.

Jerald Hawkins: Showed awareness and skill, but was pushed around and driven backwards regularly. Drops 2 spots

J.C. Hassenhauer: Not a good guard at all, was driven back and beaten often. Looked better at Center the short while he was there. Moves up 1 spot at Center.

Derwin Gray: Played Guard for a few plays at the end, looked solid. Drops 2 spots at Guard because of the order they got in and how well others did.

My current OL rankings:

Tackle:

1. Alejandro Villenueva
2. Matt Feiler
3. Zach Banner
4. Chuks Okorafor
5. Derwin Gray
6. Jerald Hawkins
7. Damian Prince

Guard:

1. David DeCastro
2. Ramon Foster
3. Matt Feiler
4. Fred Johnson
5. Patrick Morris
6. Derwin Gray
7. Garrett Brumfield

Center:

1. Maurkice Pouncey
2. B.J. Finney
3. J.C. Hassenauer
4. Patrick Morris

Combined:

1. David DeCastro
2. Maurkice Pouncey
3. Alejandro Villenueva
4. Ramon Foster
5. Matt Feiler
6. B.J. Finney
7. Fred Johnson
8. Zach Banner
9. Chuks Okorafor
10. Patrick Morris
11. Derwin Gray
12. J.C. Hassenauer
13. Jerald Hawkins
14. Damian Prince,
15. Garrett Brumfield

...

Feel free to share your thoughts on who looked good in preseason game 1, and to tell me where I’m horribly wrong.

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 9:31am

Coach Tomlin addressed the media and answered questions before the final practice open to the public in Latrobe for 2019.

In his final press conference in Latrobe for the Steelers’ 2019 training camp on Thursday, head coach Mike Tomlin briefly addressed the media and answered questions. Coach Tomlin was asked about specific players in regards to their recent play and his expectations for the upcoming game on Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs. This list isn’t to suggest these players were the only ones who stood out, but highlights players about whom Tomlin was asked questions.

Mason Rudolph

As expected, Mason Rudolph will start Saturday night against the Chiefs. Ben Roethlisberger not going to play. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 15, 2019

Much like last season, Mason Rudolph is starting the Week 2 game of the preseason, this time at Heinz field. After a great showing last week, Rudolph is getting the chance to work with many of the first-team players for the Steelers, as well as face the first defense put on the field by the Kansas City Chiefs. This could be his only start of the preseason depending on what Tomlin decides for Week 4, and Rudolph is poised to make the best of his opportunity.

Coach Tomlin was asked if he’s seen Rudolph’s aggression.

“I have, and I know that that’s his intentions. I think one of the things that really attracted us to him out of Stillwater was that level of aggression. The way that he attacked the defense vertically and threw the ball. I know that that’s his style, that’s his demeanor, and it’s showing more and more consistently.”

Tomlin was also asked if he had any expectations of Rudolph working with the starters.

“I don’t know that there’s a black or white answer to that. I just believe in quarterback play regardless of what group they’re in. If they’re doing their job and doing it at an acceptable level, they’re capable of moving their group.”

Cameron Sutton

Cam Sutton with an interception of Dobbs on overthrow ends it for the second team offense #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 14, 2019

One of the players who has constantly been mentioned about having an impressive training camp is Cam Sutton. Playing throughout the defensive secondary, the third year player is hoping to carve out an important role for the 2019 season. Nestled in the same draft class as T.J. Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner, Sutton is ready to prove his worth in the NFL.

Coach Tomlin was asked about the areas Sutton has improved the most.

“Details and increased versatility. He’s always been a detailed guy, he’s always been versatile, but I have seen an upswing in both. I think those are positive attributes to his resume when he came out of Tennessee and as he gets into his career has proven to be legitimate and real.”

Diontae Johnson

Rudolph just threw a beautiful ball down the left sidelines to Johnson. Beat Layne on the play. #Steelers

— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) August 15, 2019

With Coach Tomlin stressing that a player’s best ability is their availability, it is paramount for Dionte Johnson to get onto the field Saturday night. Missing last week’s game, Johnson has been working his way back in order to show the Steelers’ coaching staff what he can do “in stadium.” While his spot on the roster should not be in danger as the Steelers’ second pick in the 2019 NFL draft, earning a helmet on game day would become more difficult if Johnson’s health continues to be an issue.

After saying he hasn’t seen enough of Johnson, Coach Tomlin was asked if he needs to be on the field more.

“He was yesterday, and he will be today. For a lot of young guys, particularly battling nagging injuries, it slows their growth and development and it slows us to get an opportunity to get to know them. But not anything unusual about that.”

Matt Feiler

Matt Feiler is pulling away with starting right tackle job. Okorafor will compete with him. #Steelers

— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) August 9, 2019

Although nothing has been officially announced, the battle for the starting right tackle position is over. Matt Feiler has shown he’s the best right tackle on the Steelers to a point where he’s rarely played in his starting position due to filling in at guard for most of training camp. Once the starting job is announced before the start of the regular season, Feiler will be one of three former undrafted free agents starting on the Steelers offensive line along with Alejandro Villanueva and Ramon Foster.

Coach Tomlin was asked if Feiler has played more at guard because of injuries or because of his abilities at the position.

“We like some of these young tackles. They’ve done well in the groups they’re working in, so we want to get a chance to evaluate them against stiffer competition, but at the same time, we want to give him reps and keep him ready to go. He’s guard capable so he’s able to serve both masters, if you will, by doing so.”

Other News and Notes:

Tomlin said Mason Rudolph will start vs KC Saturday night. Josh Dobbs will relieve him.

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) August 15, 2019

Tomlin said he expects to use more starters this week #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 15, 2019

Tomlin said the sand is running through the hourglass for guys trying to make an impression. #Steelers

— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) August 15, 2019

Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here:

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin previews Saturday's matchup against the Chiefs. https://t.co/lC1JdNh6Or

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 15, 2019

The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiving corps is coming into focus

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 8:21am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A survey of what the team is likely to do, and who it will choose to do it

A few weeks ago CHISAP pointed out that 11-personnel (three WR’s, one TE, and one RB) has become the Steelers’ dominant formation by a large margin. We’ve also seen how Offensive Coordinator Randy Fichtner wants, above all else, to have multiple ways to attack different defenses in different weeks. I believe things are shaking out enough to identify how the current roster of offensive weapons will be used to fit those preferences.

Tight Ends Are Pretty Much Locked
  • TE Vance McDonald (6’4”, 287 lbs.) McDonald may play as many snaps this year as Big Ben. Why would you ever take him off the field? He is the #1 guy by such a wide margin that Steeler fans who insist on seeing the glass half full live in dread of yet another injury. He’s also entering the prime of a Tight End’s career, since they typically mature a little slower than other positions. That suggests he will be even better in 2019 than he was last year. I expect a Pro Bowl showing if he doesn’t get hurt.
  • McDonald will be backed up by the ever-improving Xavier Grimble (6’4”, 251 lbs.). The X-Man is also hitting his NFL stride, and the coaches will judge based on body of work even if a certain portion of the fan base prides itself on an elephantine memory for fluke mistakes at inopportune times. I prefer to focus on all the good things he did earlier in the play-that-should-be-ignored.
  • The 12’3” rookie Zach Gentry has an inside track on the TE3 position subject to competition from the 12’4” English newbie Christian Scotland-Williamson. Okay, yes. I may have exaggerated that by a hair. But I really doubt that either man will get any material snaps in his rookie year that aren’t oriented toward his jump ball advantage, and maybe not even then if they don’t learn to block at the level required by Pittsburgh’s team philosophy. Neither is likely to earn a hat any time soon. (For you sticklers out there: Gentry is officially listed at 6’8”, 265 lbs., and CSW at 6’9”, 274 lbs.). Happy now?
Running Backs Too
  • RB James Conner. We fans would love to see a measured load, but can you name a situation where you think anyone else would help the team as much? Let alone better?
  • The backups are going to be Jaylen Samuels (weaker as a pure runner, excels as a multitalented threat) and Benny Snell (a hard running, charismatic rookie). Snell has a chance to absorb some snaps but he will have to keep improving before he will close the very obvious quality gap that exists at this point).
  • Trey Edmunds (Terrell’s older brother) mounted an early push for time but seems to have fallen back a bit.
The Corps of Wide Receivers THREE ALL-AROUND RECEIVERS WHO ARE LOCKS:
  • Juju Smith-Schuster (6’1”, 215 lbs.) Going into Year 3, JJSS has emerged as an all around, established star who makes a phenomenal “big slot” but has also the chops to play outside. He plays bigger and faster than he measures and, like McDonald, could easily play every snap. Juju will earn constant double- and triple-teams until his running mates prove that they can beat single coverage, but his performance in the preseason suggests that he’ll get his targets and catches nevertheless.
  • Donte Moncrief (6’2”, 216 lbs.) A veteran free agent who has established instant rapport with Roethlisberger, Moncrief has true, deep threat speed and size but that isn’t the only part of his game. No one doubts that he can also play “big slot” even though he profiles better on the outside. Double Juju too often and Moncrief will kill you. Unless...
  • James Washington (5’11”, 213 lbs.) gets you first. Washington is a 2nd-year, all-around WR known for gumby arms, great leaping ability, and a superb combat catch ability that stands out even against NFL competition. His rookie year was handicapped by the need to raise his route running to NFL standards, the slow process of really learning to understand an NFL offense, and the simple fact that AB and JJSS absorbed such a high percentage of targets. Reports and signs from the preseason suggest that he’s over those humps and is ready to embark on an even more Hines Ward-ish career than Juju’s.

Let’s pause for a minute at this point to emphasize something basic: JJSS, Moncrief and Washington are “do it all” talents with better than NFL-average size, speed and hands. None of them are 4.3 burners, and none are 6’5”, but all three manage to be close enough to handle those roles quite well, thank you very much. How many opponents have three cover-Corners who won’t be overwhelmed by the spectrum of challenges that all three of those assets present? Very. Bloody. Few. Maybe even none.

There is zero reason to believe those three won’t be used on the field together. It isn’t a typical 3-WR look because their extended skill sets don’t fit our cute expectations about ‘typical roles.’ E.g., there is no way to reliably point to the deep threat, the chain mover, and the slot guy. So. Bloody. What? Put those three together and you have a potent, nasty package that will be extremely hard to defend, especially when you factor in their combined (and proven) ability to contribute as run blockers in the running game. For this reason I fully expect Moncrief and Washington to be WR2.a and 2.b. Or vice versa. Unless pure quickness is called for in a particular situation, in which case...

THREE SCAT-RATS, TWO OF WHICH ARE LOCKS:

Tom Brady has proved how potent the superball types can be when paired with a top QB who can get them the ball on time and on target. Absurd COD (change of direction) skills can be all but unstoppable in the slot, where they can’t be jammed (slot receivers don’t crowd the line) and have two-way routes turn whatever the cover-corner does into a mistake. “Cover me inside and I will zag out; cover me outside and I will zig across.”

The Steelers won’t “need” that skill set. See the discussion above. JJSS, Washington and Moncrief can beat CB’s in so many ways that adding a specialist won’t always make sense. But don’t forget how OC Fichtner likes to switch things up. For this reason, plus the benefits inherent in veteran leadership, I expect the team to keep at least two of the following three players. Doing so would give the flexibility to run 11 Personnel with every flavor from “JJSS + Two Bigs” to “JJSS + Two Quicks.” Factoring in the variations from shifting around the TE and RB group would provide almost every type of threat an offensive mind could dream up.

The ability to shift from big, beat-em-up mode into flashy, where’d-they-go mode will leave Fichtner chuckling with delight, and opposing defenses battling weekly migraines.

  • Diontae Johnson (5’10”, 183 lbs.) DJ emerged from the 2019 draft with a reputation for absurd COD skills, well developed route running skills, some wiry strength, and a special ability to beat press coverage when shifted outside... For A College Receiver Against College Opponents. The early signs are encouraging. Make no doubt. I believe Johnson has already shown enough to claim one of the two “superball/return” slots. But I also believe that we need to apply some cold water to overblown, post-draft expectations that he was brought in to replace the disgraced HOF-level departure. The bottom line truth is that Diontae Johnson is a rookie and that matters. Hope all you want, but no one should “expect” him to perform as well as either of the vets who are described below. That is doubly true because the Super Bug slot receiver role requires all-but-telepathic levels of communication with the QB, and that in turn relies on a superior class room understanding of how NFL offenses and defenses work.

Thus I have real doubts about whether Johnson can earn any material snaps in the first half of the season, and I hope for little more than progressive improvement in the back half. But don’t mistake me for a hater! I believe with even more strength that Diontae Johnson will flat out erupt onto the scene in 2020. And it isn’t because of any specious AB comparisons.

The things that I see holding Rookie DJ back can all be fixed with a year of hard, expertly assisted work. He really needs to rebuild his body to NFL (let alone Tomlinesque) standards; to learn how to read and react to NFL defenses in sync with his QB; and to learn how to study film at a level that will let him attack NFL Corners with NFL precision. He will also benefit a lot from working with coaches who can help him refine his natural route running genius in a way that will eliminate the tell-tales that NFL opponents will use against him. Improve any of those areas and Sophomore DJ will be a scary young man. Improve all four and... [public giggling is to be discouraged].

  • Ryan Switzer (5’8”, 185 lbs.) Switzer, who has become a personal friend of his QB, is a classic “slot WR” superball who also returns kicks. His entire game revolves around extraordinary COD skills. Yes, he’s a one trick pony in that regard; but it’s a darned good trick. Word on the street says he has worked hard to learn the offense at an even deeper level, which should help him to excel even more in his scat-rat, slot receiver role.
  • Eli Rogers (5’10”, 187 lbs.) Cut, rinse, and repeat. I could cut and paste the Eli Rogers description from Switzer’s, except he is two inches taller, two pounds heavier, has built his rapport with Roethlisberger for an extra year or two, and may be a quarter-inch less shifty.

Time to pause again. Will the Steelers keep all three? I suspect they might. There are too many advantages to be reaped from doubling up on the COD specialists against particular teams that might have a slightly bigger and less-quick style of defense. Yes, that would be a perfect way to ease the rookie into his future role. But why assume it? Pittsburgh has a number of other young receivers with some promise but I contend there is no “missing role” that is waiting to be claimed by some specific physical stereotype. The team’s top-5 will have plenty of height, especially if you factor in the TE’s; an abnormal level of tough guys; plenty of possession receivers; several viable deep threats; and more scat rats than you can shake a stick at. The only way for the rest of the unit to make the 53 will be to beat out the veterans (Switzer and Rogers) mano-a-mano, and that won’t be easy to do.

THE GROUP TRYING TO OUST EITHER SWITZER OR ROGERS FROM THE WR6 POSITION:
  • Johnny Holton (6’3”, 190 lbs.) Holton has a slight edge here because he has better deep speed (4.42) than anyone else on this list. But while that speed is excellent even for NFL receivers, it isn’t Mike Wallace or Martavis Bryant weird. There are some Corners he won’t be leavin’ just because he managed to be even. That said, Holton did look particularly good at the end of the first preseason game. I was encouraged. But we can’t forget that he couldn’t be more than an “almost...” guy for several other teams. Let’s wait and see.
  • Tevin Jones (6’2”, 225 lbs.) Another tall receiver who’s shown serious deep-threat (4.38) speed, but hasn’t done enough to make it off the practice squad in any place he’s been. Has he improved? Perhaps. Jones has also looked very promising in his limited snaps against B- and C-grade talent. But to make this team he will need to do more than just improve. He will need to be so much better that his upside will offer more than the loser of the Rogers/Switzer competition. That is a deep row to hoe.
  • Trey Griffey (6’3”, 192 lbs.) Griffey looks almost identical to Holton on paper but isn’t quite as straight-line fast. He’s been good enough to make a lot of practice squads, but can he step up? Yes, he’s tall; but he’s only an inch taller than Moncrief and he’s 20 pounds lighter than any of the three projected starters.
  • Diontae Spencer (5’8”, 170 lbs.) The super-fast Canadian Football superstar. He’d have a major chance to make the team if he wasn’t 15-20 pounds lighter than the other scat rats. Football up north is a much wider-open game that gives extra room for Speed to elude Size and avoid Strength. We’ve seen way too many men with that profile fail on an NFL field. I wish the young man nothing but the best. It would be awesome if he proved to be the exception that proves the rule. But I’ll bet on one of the veterans to win that competition.
  • Brandon Reilly (6’2”, 200 lbs.) Who? No disrespect. He’s got enough of everything to attract the notice of Buffalo, Detroit (twice), and Dallas as well as the Steelers. So he’s clearly a far better athlete than I ever was, and lord knows will ever be. But it’s hard to see what he’d bring that this overloaded roster does not already have.

So, do you see anyone there who’s likely to beat out a competent veteran for the WR6 position? I do not. Holton and Jones have the best chances because of their physical assets, but I don’t see either’s odds as particularly good. Rogers and Switzer may have overlapping skill sets. They do. There’s no arguing that fact. But it is a skill set the team can use, and both men have the inestimable bonus of knowing their QB well. One of the two will probably get insulted on a weekly basis by receiving no helmet on game day. But oh well. Such is life. And if someone does, God forbid, get injured, there will be little doubt that both of these quicksters have the ability to be a more-than-viable next man up.

Think I’m crazy? Or just missing something? Bring it on. There’s a Comments section waiting to hear from you.

Steelers 2019 Training Camp Recap: Camp goes out like a lamb with another weather shortened session

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 7:26am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers were back on the gridiron for another training camp practice, and we’ve got the recap for you!

The Pittsburgh Steelers had their last training camp practice Thursday, and while there are times it is still considered “football in shorts”, the team has had plenty of news coming from these workouts heading into the preseason.

Maybe it was fitting the Steelers’ 2019 camp ended the way it did, with an altered schedule and a couple weather shortened practices. After dealing with the death of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, the team looked as if they wanted nothing more than to get out of Latrobe, PA as fast as possible.

Nonetheless, the team still had work to do, but before all of that took place the media were finally able to speak to some players who had yet to speak to the media about the loss of coach Drake, and what he meant to them.

Here is Ryan Switzer talking about Drake and how the loss can both impact his teammates, but also how it could eventually help motivate the 2019 Steelers.

.@Switz talks about what Coach Drake meant to him and his teammates. pic.twitter.com/fDXdyOPAKf

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 15, 2019

Ben Roethlisberger also spoke with media for the first time in weeks Thursday, and he didn’t just talk about how coach Drake impacted his life in the short amount of time he spent with the Steelers, but his young wide receivers and what this camp has been like compared to others.

Check out the full media session below:

.@_BigBen7 talks about the wide receivers, Devin Bush, what Coach Drake meant to the team and more. pic.twitter.com/9kBxS3Zhqu

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 16, 2019

This wasn’t the only thing which took place at practice Thursday. The weather shortened practice saw the kickers get plenty of work.

Check out the breakdown by Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

The kickers were put to the test Thursday before the threat of lightning forced practice to wrap up an hour earlier than scheduled.

Boswell and Wright, the undrafted free agent who is challenging to unseat the incumbent kicker, each made 6 of 7 tries while kicking from distances spanning between 33 and 52 yards.

• Each kicker was successful from 33 yards, the equivalent of an extra point.

• Boswell boomed his 52-yard try through the uprights. Wright’s attempt from 52 was short and wide left.

• Each kicker converted from 40 yards.

• In a “mayday” drill in which special teams coach Danny Smith counted down from 12 seconds, Boswell missed his 52-yard attempt wide left. Wright sneaked his 52-yarder over the crossbar.

• Boswell and Wright each connected successfully from 33 and then from 42 yards.

• The “mayday” drill was run again from 52 yards. This time, Boswell made his attempt as did Wright.

Landry Jones news

For those who are pining for Landry Jones news, the former Steelers quarterback was one of the first players to sign an XFL contract with the upstart league.

Former #Steelers QB Landry Jones is the first player to sign an XFL contract. The XFL will sign 7 other leading QBs before its inaugural player draft in Oct & each team’s coach will select his QB just prior to the draft.

— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) August 15, 2019

This wraps up the 2019 Steelers training camp, and the team now will head back to Pittsburgh for the rest of the Preseason and the 2019 regular season.

PODCASTS VIDEOS

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin previews Saturday's matchup against the Chiefs. https://t.co/lC1JdNh6Or

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 15, 2019 PHOTOS

After turning down my interview request at noon, JuJu rallies big-time at practice. pic.twitter.com/CeHTFTriFw

— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) August 15, 2019

That’s it for #SteelersCamp 2019!

Thanks for everything, @MySaintVincent pic.twitter.com/0EixNKH7tN

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 15, 2019

JuJu Smith-Schuster spotted a fan with a JuJu bobblehead and decided to greet him during a dead moment in practice, which ended abruptly at around 4:30 p.m. due to weather. pic.twitter.com/4bNFBCoKoB

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 15, 2019

The passing of Darryl Drake is probably the first major tragedy for many of the Steelers young WRs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 6:35am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s easy to forget that the Steelers receivers are mostly young and inexperienced. Therefore, the sudden loss of their position coach, Darryl Drake, is likely a life-altering moment and something they may not be able to process for quite a while.

“Coach Drake always called us his sons. He didn’t have any boys. He always called us his sons. We took that at the beginning of camp. He just called us his sons.”

Those words, courtesy of the team’s official website, were spoken by Steelers receiver Ryan Switzer, as he addressed the media on Thursday in the days after the tragic and sudden death of receivers coach Darryl Drake, who passed away Sunday morning at the age of 62.

Switzer, in his second season in Pittsburgh, had a hard time holding back tears as he spoke to reporters, which was also the case on Tuesday, following a team prayer right before the start of the first training camp session since Drake’s death.

As Switzer wiped away the tears on Tuesday, he was consoled by second-year receiver James Washington. JuJu Smith-Schuster, the third-year man and presumptive leader of the receiving corps, hasn’t been his usual jovial self, and he is taking the loss of his position coach as hard as anyone else.

Drake’s passing was obviously a huge blow, both professionally and personally, as head coach Mike Tomlin described it on Tuesday. Drake was a well-respected coach, not only in the NFL, but in the college ranks, where Tomlin first befriended him over two decades ago.

But Drake wasn’t just respected for his work with receivers, he was respected for how he treated them.

And that’s why it has to be especially hard for these guys.

Something resonated with me as Switzer spoke with the media on Thursday. He mentioned that this was the first death of anyone he’s ever been close to. Switzer is 24 years old and married.

Smith-Schuster entered the NFL two years ago as a 20-year old who didn’t know how to drive. Washington just turned 23 in the spring. Diontae Johnson, a third-round pick out of Toledo in the 2019 NFL Draft, is also 23 and has yet to play a single down of professional football—preseason or otherwise.

It’s easy to forget that, in many aspects of life, a lot of these guys are just babies and likely haven’t been touched by something so tragic as the sudden loss of a relative/friend/coach/mentor.

I was just days shy of my 22nd birthday when I experienced it for the first time—and I was expecting it.

I can’t even comprehend enduring what those guys did over the weekend. Imagine an entire team living on a campus—coaches, players, trainers, doctors, etc. You’re in your early-20s, you go to sleep thinking about nothing but work and play, and you wake up the next morning to the news that a family member, a coach, a mentor, has died without warning.

How do you process all that goes along with a sudden death?

As Switzer’s emotions told us on Thursday, maybe you can’t process it, not at that age, not when it’s likely your first time.

As fans, it’s easy for us to go on social media and say things like, “They need to dedicate this season to Coach Drake and bring home a seventh Lombardi!” But that’s how we view just about everything Steelers-related. It’s always our goal.

For a player, especially a young one, he may look at things a bit differently.

Smith-Schuster is expected to be a leader, but now he has to do it without his leader.

Washington is expected to make a big leap this year, but now he has to jump without the only receiver coach he’s ever known at the professional level there with a safety net just in case.

Switzer said on Thursday that he trusted Drake, that trust is something other teams and coaches have betrayed a few times so far in his young football career. Switzer may or may not be in another fight to stay on an NFL roster. Where does he stand? What are his chances? He’ll have to figure all of that out without his football father to guide and reassure him.

In many ways, what the Steelers young receivers are going through right now is a learning experience that they can lean on for the rest of their lives.

The sad irony for these young receivers as they mourn their tragic loss, is the man they’re mourning was probably the first person they would have turned to to help them process such a life-altering event.

Podcast: Previewing the Steelers Preseason Week 2 game vs. the Chiefs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 5:30am

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

The 2019 season is upon us!! With the Pittsburgh Steelers now in the preseason, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Preview. On this show Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis break down all things Steelers leading into the offseason.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Steelers Stat Geek
  • Steelers vs. Chiefs Preview
  • The ever popular Either/Or segment
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, Bryan Anthony Davis and Dave Schofield 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.

Black and Gold Links: Mike Tomlin keeps cards close to the vest when talking about Steelers’ injuries

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 5:01am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers returned to the gridiron when they reported back to training camp. With practices underway, the news surrounding the black-and-gold is just starting to heat up. As the team prepares for the coming season, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the season starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Mike Tomlin didn’t really give a good glimpse into the team’s injuries heading into the Week 2 Preseason game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Wanting to know the latest update on the Steelers’ walking wounded? Well, don’t expect to get the low down from Mike Tomlin.

Mike Tomlin offers vague injury updates for Saturday’s second Steelers preseason game

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Though Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he expected more players to play Saturday than did in last week’s preseason opener, he was vague in disclosing any information on most of the injury news regarding players.

Safety Sean Davis again practiced Thursday and is expected to make his preseason debut at Heinz Field against the Chiefs. Center Maurkice Pouncey was in uniform (on a non-padded practice day) but appeared to be in a limited capacity. With his 10-year NFL veteran status, it would be shocking if Pouncey played Saturday.

Among those who again sat out practice were guard David DeCastro, cornerback Joe Haden, linebacker Vince Williams and tight end Christian Scotland-Williamson. Interior offensive lineman B.J. Finney did not practice a day after he left a session for what Tomlin said were heat-related issues.

Four members of the rookie draft class — linebacker Devin Bush, receiver Diontae Johnson, tight end Zach Gentry and linebacker Sutton Smith — are dealing with injuries. Johnson and Bush are expected to play Saturday after practicing Thursday, and Smith’s return to practice suggests he could, too.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Diontae Johnson hasn’t been available much this preseason, but when he has he has been turning heads.

Diontae Johnson impressing Steelers with his skills, frustrating them with his injuries

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

It was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-round pick who most impressed during their first preseason game.

Will their second pick from this year’s draft shine in their second game?

Like first-rounder Devin Bush did in his NFL preseason debut last week, Diontae Johnson has mostly wowed teammates and coaches with his talents. But for Johnson, that’s only happened when he’s taken part in training-camp practices at Saint Vincent.

That participation has been far from a daily occurrence, mostly because of a groin injury. And Johnson, the quick and shifty receiver who was taken near the top of the third round out of Toledo, also missed much of summer organized team activities because of injury.

“You’d like to see him on the field,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, “because then you can kind of see what he can and can’t do.”

The rest of the organization and Steelers fans likely second that notion. Everyone could get what they wish for Saturday night when the Steelers host the Kansas City Chiefs in preseason game No. 2.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The last training camp practice was built around the kickers.

Steelers Inside the Ropes: Kickers take center stage at final camp practice

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Coach Mike Tomlin’s intention is to have kickers Chris Boswell and Matthew Wright alternate attempts Saturday when the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Kansas City Chiefs in their second preseason game.

Circumstances, however, could lead to Tomlin changing his mind.

“We have a couple more days of work,” Tomlin said Thursday before the team’s final practice at Saint Vincent. “We will challenge them some here in these settings, and the outcome of those challenges may dictate otherwise.”

The kickers were put to the test Thursday before the threat of lightning forced practice to wrap up an hour earlier than scheduled.

Boswell and Wright, the undrafted free agent who is challenging to unseat the incumbent kicker, each made 6 of 7 tries while kicking from distances spanning between 33 and 52 yards.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin previews Saturday's matchup against the Chiefs. https://t.co/lC1JdNh6Or

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 15, 2019

JUST RELEASED

The new Steelers-edition Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 is now at the Steelers Pro Shop!

Plus, we're giving you free shipping when you purchase the shoe.

SHOP NOW: https://t.co/vRKf0iNcEq pic.twitter.com/khGb6JdWuH

— Steelers Pro Shop (@SteelersShop) August 15, 2019

.@_BigBen7 talks about the wide receivers, Devin Bush, what Coach Drake meant to the team and more. pic.twitter.com/9kBxS3Zhqu

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 16, 2019

Can't leave #SteelersNation empty-handed! @joehaden23 pic.twitter.com/3AGbFe5SvQ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 15, 2019

#SteelersCamp ☑️

you at @heinzfield on Saturday‼️@joehaden23 pic.twitter.com/HAlmvbHLIz

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 15, 2019

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 4:30am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

All the information needed to watch or listen to the Steelers second preseason game this Saturday against the Chiefs at Heinz Field

It may not be football that counts, but exhibition football is better than no football. The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to continue their 2019 preseason on Saturday night when Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, and the rest of the Kansas City Chiefs invade Heinz Field in Week 2.

This will be the last chance for Steelers fans to see their team at Heinz Field before the regular season kicks off in less than a month. Although most starters did not see the field in Week 1, Coach Mike Tomlin has already said more of the starters will be used in Week 2.

Ben Roethlisberger has been the only player indirectly ruled out for the game, as coach Tomlin did not say specifically he would not suit up but did not list him on the progression of the quarterback rotation. Mason Rudolph has been listed as the starter for the first time in a game at Heinz Field, followed by Joshua Dobbs and Devlin Hodges. Players such as Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro who have not practiced this will will also likely sit out, but others who are not nursing injuries are likely to see limited action. Can Devin Bush and Uylsees Gilbert III follow up their Week 1 performances with another strong showing? Can Justin Layne show marked improvement? Will Steelers fans finally get to see Dionte Johnson in stadium?

All of these questions will be answered throughout the rest of the team’s preseason. Get all the information you need so you can enjoy the Week 2 showdown below:

Preseason Week 2:

Game: Pittsburgh Steelers vs, Kansas City Chiefs

Date: Saturday August 17

Kickoff: 7:30 P.M. ET

Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

Weather: Live weather update

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

Outside of the Pittsburgh are: Broadcast LIVE! on NFL Network.

Online: NFL Game Pass offers live out-of-market NFL Preseason games and replays of every game during the season with a paid subscription. NFL Game Center will update the action on a play-by-play basis. The Watch NFL Network mobile app on Apple or Andriod will carry the game live for anyone who is subscribed to the NFL Network channel. A login through you TV provider will be required.

Radio: Steeler Nation Radio with Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin, and Craig Wolfley. 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.

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 and Lance Williams.

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/16/2019 - 4:30am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

All the information needed to watch or listen to the Steelers second preseason game this Saturday against the Cheifs at Heinz Field

It may not be football that counts, but exhibition football is better than no football. The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to continue their 2019 preseason on Saturday night when Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, and the rest of the Kansas City Cheifs invade Heinz Field in Week 2.

This will be the last chance for Steelers fans to see their team at Heinz Field before the regular season kicks off in less than a month. Although most starters did not see the field in Week 1, Coach Mike Tomlin has already said more of the starters will be used in Week 2.

Ben Roethlisberger has been the only player indirectly ruled out for the game, as coach Tomlin did not say specifically he would not suit up but did not list him on the progression of the quarterback rotation. Mason Rudolph has been listed as the starter for the first time in a game at Heinz Field, followed by Joshua Dobbs and Devlin Hodges. Players such as Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro who have not practiced this will will also likely sit out, but others who are not nursing injuries are likely to see limited action. Can Devin Bush and Uylsees Gilbert III follow up their Week 1 performances with another strong showing? Can Justin Layne show marked improvement? Will Steelers fans finally get to see Dionte Johnson in stadium?

All of these questions will be answered throughout the rest of the team’s preseason. Get all the information you need so you can enjoy the Week 2 showdown below:

Preseason Week 2:

Game: Pittsburgh Steelers vs, Kansas City Chiefs

Date: Saturday August 17

Kickoff: 7:30 P.M. ET

Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

Weather: Live weather update

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

Outside of the Pittsburgh are: Broadcast LIVE! on NFL Network.

Online: NFL Game Pass offers live out-of-market NFL Preseason games and replays of every game during the season with a paid subscription. NFL Game Center will update the action on a play-by-play basis. The Watch NFL Network mobile app on Apple or Andriod will carry the game live for anyone who is subscribed to the NFL Network channel. A login through you TV provider will be required.

Radio: Steeler Nation Radio with Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin, and Craig Wolfley. 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.

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 and Lance Williams.

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