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Steelers vs. Panthers: Second-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 8:15pm

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2018 preseason is here with the Steelers and Panthers locking horns in Week 4. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field for the fourth, and final, time in the 2018 preseason as they prepare to face off against the Carolina Panthers in Week 4 of the preseason.

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. Panthers Preseason Week 4: 2nd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 8:07pm

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

Not to be outdone by the high-powered Steelers backup offense, the Panthers put together an impressive drive of their own to start the second quarter. 12 plays, 81-yards and before you knew it the score was 14-7.

With the quarter featuring more punts than plays made, two really sketchy personal foul calls on the Panthers’ defense on a Pittsburgh drive put the Steelers in the red-zone again. However, the Steelers weren’t able to convert the gift into nothing more than a Boswell field goal to make the score 17-7 with 5-minutes left in the half.

The next Carolina possession resulted in an Ola Adeniyi strip sack which was recovered by Keion Adams, setting up the offense just outside the red-zone with 1:50 left in the half.

We're feeling a little déjà vu...@Love_Ola_9 knocks it loose, @civilSAVAGE1 picks it up. pic.twitter.com/hkacM4scZk

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 31, 2018

Mason Rudolph took over at quarterback, and on 3rd-and-20, after what fans thought was a Damoun Patterson touchdown was overturned, Rudolph hit Tevin Jones for a touchdown strike.

.@TswaggJones getting comfortable in the end zone. pic.twitter.com/GTjZ7j9ims

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 31, 2018

After a defensive foul on the extra point try, the Steelers chose to go for the two-point conversion, and Rudolph was able to scamper into the endzone to make the score 25-7 heading into halftime.

Steelers vs. Panthers Preseason Week 4: 1st quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 7:09pm

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 and Carolina Panthers have an annual tradition in the preseason. For the majority of Mike Tomlin’s tenure in the NFL, the Steelers and Panthers have met up in the 4th week of the preseason.

They did so on Thursday night with the starters watching, and players like Joshua Dobbs and Marcus Allen out to prove they are worthy of a roster spot when the team cuts their roster from 90 players to 53 by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.

The Steelers started with the football, and newly acquired Ryan Switzer delivered a 20-yard return to get the game underway. As Dobbs went under center, it was his mobility which created opportunities for the offense, but once they moved across midfield it was Dobbs’ arm which started to move the football.

After strikes to Justin Hunter and Bucky Hodges the Steelers were set up with 1st down inside the 10-yard line. On second down, Dobbs kept the ball on a zone read play and leaped into the endzone for the Steelers touchdown.

It's a bird!
It's a plane! pic.twitter.com/jgWfhbkqqW

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 30, 2018

Chris Boswell’s extra point gave the Steelers an early 7-0 lead.

After a Ryan Switzer fair catch, Dobbs went deep to Justin Hunter for a big completion and putting the Steelers into Carolina territory. After a Damoun Patterson reverse, Dobbs hit Tevin Jones for the Steelers’ touchdown. 3-play drive, 1:35 to travel 86-yards for the score.

.@josh_dobbs1 ➡️➡️➡️➡️ @TswaggJones

PIT 14 | CAR 0 pic.twitter.com/pszw3jYt32

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 31, 2018

Boswell tacked on another point-after to make the score 14-0.

The Panthers were driving at the end of the first quarter.

Steelers vs. Panthers: First-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 5:48pm

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2018 preseason is here with the Steelers and Panthers locking horns in Week 4. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field for the fourth, and final, time in the 2018 preseason as they prepare to face off against the Carolina Panthers in Week 4 of the preseason.

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!

Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2018 90-man roster and jersey numbers, preseason Week 4

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 5:36pm

Our updated 2018 roster list includes all the jersey numbers allocated to players for the Steelers’ fourth preseason game of the year against the Carolina Panthers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to rest several of their key starters against the Carolina Panthers in their fourth preseason contest of the year, and for 39 names on the roster, it could be the last live game action they see this season. The Steelers must reduce their roster to its 53-man limit by 4 pm on Saturday and many of the players on the sidelines Thursday night will be looking for a new job in the coming days. .

Only one change has been made to the roster since Pittsburgh last took to the field, with wide receiver Ryan Switzer replacing Justin Thomas. Switzer has been given the same jersey number that Thomas had been carrying throughout training camp and he’ll be wearing No. 18 against the Panthers.

After some of the returning veterans in the secondary opted for new numbers this offseason, there are changes to be aware of this year with Joe Haden, Sean Davis and Mike Hilton all sporting different looks. For those struggling to keep up with all of the new shirt numbers, our updated roster list should help you keep track of who’s who.

Not every jersey number is exclusive to only one player, and there a handful of names who will be carrying the same number on offense and defense in preseason. For example, running back James Conner and defensive back Jamar Summers will both wear No. 30, while Parker Cothern and Larson Graham are both wearing No. 61.

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 is sure to free-up a few more jerseys, and it would be a surprise if there weren’t a few more number changes before the regular season begins.

5 players to watch in Steelers vs. Panthers Week 4 Preseason

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 1:20pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be on the gridiron Thursday night, and it’s time to narrow the focus to five players we’ll keep a close eye on when they play the Panthers.

Football is back, sort of, and although the upcoming Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Carolina Panthers game in Week 4 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.

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

1. Bud Dupree — OLB

If Dupree suits up Thursday, fans’ eyes will be glued to No. 48 to see if he can continue to show flashes of first-round talent. While Week 4 of the preseason isn’t the best place to gauge improvement and overall talent, Dupree has a lot to prove before fans stop referring to him as “Dud” rather than Bud.

2. Marcus Allen — Safety

Fans haven’t seen much of Allen throughout the preseason due to an injury, and time is running out on the Penn State product. If he wants to make the team, and not settle for a practice squad designation, he needs to step up in a big way and force the coaching staff into an easy decision — putting him on the 53-man roster.

3. Joshua Dobbs — QB

Dobbs is getting the start on Thursday night, and while Mike Tomlin says it is because the team wants to give out even chances between all four quarterbacks, I wouldn’t be shocked if it is to see if a team is willing to make an offer for Dobbs’ services. On the day after Brett Hundley and Teddy Bridgewater were both dealt for draft picks, the Steelers could possibly swing a 5th or 6th round pick for Dobbs if he plays well. If not, he will likely be hitting the market on Saturday afternoon.

4. Mason Rudolph — QB

Rudolph’s preseason has been a mixed bag of goods. He looked solid in Week 1. Not so great in Week 2, and in Week 3 he barely had time to breathe before feeling the pressure of the Titans’ pass rush. Rudolph will likely see a half in the preseason finale, and all fans want to see is the progression continue with their young rookie quarterback. The hope is this is Rudolph’s only game time this year, and the hope is he ends the preseason on a high note.

5. Ryan Switzer — KR/PR/WR

Switzer was recently acquired from the Oakland Raiders, and in his second year he finds himself on his third NFL team. Switzer is a slot receiver, but the Steelers also want his prowess as a return man. While Switzer won’t be playing much offense, he is preparing to at least be the primary kick and punt returner vs. Carolina. Time to see what this young kid from Charleston, WV is made of.

4 Steelers roster-bubble players who must show up vs. Carolina

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 11:55am

On Thursday night, some players will be fighting for a place on the 53-man roster. Will they make the team?

The fourth week of the preseason is upon us and this will be the last week for players to prove they belong on the 53-man roster come Week 1 when the Steelers face the Cleveland Browns.

Most positions already seem solidified, but about five spots remain up for grabs on Thursday either for savvy veterans or young, upstart rookies to make the roster.

Here are four guys on the roster bubble who need to show up in a big way:

Marcus Allen

The fifth-round rookie out of Penn State has missed half of the preseason, and now he’s fighting for a roster spot with numerous other defensive backs right there with him. Four safeties are virtually guaranteed to make the roster. Terrell Edmunds, Morgan Burnett, Sean Davis, and Nat Berhe seem like relative locks for the 53-man roster, either for their safety play or, in the case of Berhe, their talents on special teams.

Due to Berhe’s shortcomings as a safety, it seems likely the Steelers will keep five safeties. That leaves Allen in a competition with Malik Golden and Jordan Dangerfield, who both have had their ups-and-downs this preseason.

If Allen has a good game against the Panthers, I’d consider him likely to be on the roster. If he doesn’t, he may find himself on the practice squad and vying for a roster spot next season.

Allen’s skillset is purely that of a strong safety. A strong run defender, but mediocre in coverage, Allen best spot on the roster would be in the box as a backup for Morgan Burnett and Terrell Edmunds, rather than as a backup for Sean Davis. If they want to go the versatility route, Jordan Dangerfield seems much more likely to make the roster as the third-string Strong Safety and Free Safety. If they truly want Edmunds to play only in the Strong Safety role and want a true Free Safety, then Malik Golden seems likely to get the nod for the roster.

By missing time, Allen hasn’t gotten to show off his talents, and a byproduct of that is allowing others to possibly sneak onto the roster in his place. But I trust Allen’s complete strong-safety skill set over Dangerfield’s and Golden’s. That’s what I believe will get him a spot on the 53-man roster.

Prediction: 53-man Roster

Jordan Berry

This one might be more controversial, but given Mike Tomlin’s comments on Matt Wile possibly having a shot at the roster, Berry needs to have a consistently good game on Thursday.

I don’t think his job is in jeopardy as much as some seem to believe, but nonetheless, his punting has been inconsistent for the entire time he’s been in Pittsburgh. This preseason has been no exception for the inconsistency of Berry’s punts, and he should be looking over his shoulder at Wile.

Wile himself has had a decent preseason, but thus far, he’s traveled around the league as a camp-body punter to no avail. Given the way Berry has punted this preseason, Wile has a chance, but a slim one at that. That’s why Berry absolutely must be given the edge, considering his punting has shown more impressive flashes.

Prediction: 53-man Roster

Fitzgerald Touissant

I love me some Fitz Touissant. The guy is a survivor and he came into this preseason looking better than ever. While he’s not any good on kickoffs, Touissant has shown more burst and balance this preseason than ever before in his career. If Fitz were to be our third-string running back this season, I wouldn’t be dissatisfied.

But he’s up against stiff competition in rookie Jaylen Samuels. Touissant is a better runner than Samuels, but Samuels is a far better receiver, and he continues to improve as a runner and blocker. Samuels’ vision has improved and, last week versus the Titans, Samuels broke out to show what he can do.

With the Steelers now seemingly keeping six wide receivers, it seems hard to envision a scenario where both Touissant and Samuels make the 53-man roster. Both guys are completely different players stylistically, but only one can make the roster. Touissant and Samuels should both have ample opportunities to prove themselves on Thursday.

I love how Touissant has come out looking better this year; I just don’t believe it’ll be enough. Advantage Jaylen Samuels.

Prediction: Cut Touissant, add Jaylen Samuels to the 53-man roster

Ola Adeniyi

If Adeniyi doesn’t make the roster, he’s easily going to be the toughest cut of them all. As a player, he’s had a good training camp and his success carried over to the preseason games. He’s been stellar in all the areas they have needed him to be, but he hasn’t shown all that much on special teams.

If there’s one reason why he will be cut, it’s because his special teams value is little or none. That’s why Anthony Chickillo and Keion Adams will absolutely make the cut. If the Steelers plan on keeping five OLBs, it’s obvious Adeniyi will make it — but will they?

If they choose to only keep nine LBs, they have to choose between Adeniyi, L.J. Fort, and Tyler Matakevich. Out of those, Matakevich is likely safe due to his special-teams prowess alone. Fort is an athletic play-maker, or at least has shown this preseason he can be just that, so he too has made himself a tough cut. However, Adeniyi has arguably been the best pass rusher this preseason, and has a high possibility of being poached.

This leaves the Steelers with the option of cutting either Coty Sensabaugh or Brian Allen and carrying five CBs, or going with only four safeties, either of which option seems undesirable.

Regardless, I believe the Steelers make the sacrifice in the secondary and cut Coty Sensabaugh, thus enabling them to keep Adeniyi on the 53-man roster.

Prediction: 53-man Roster

Breaking down the Salary Cap implications from Chris Boswell’s new contract

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 10:34am

The release of the figures involved in new the deal signed by Chris Boswell show a contract that will have cost the Steelers less than $300K in additional salary cap space in 2018

Following an update to the NFLPA public salary cap report on Wednesday, the new contract numbers for Chris Boswell have finally hit the account and it would appear the extension has cost the Pittsburgh Steelers less than $300,000 in additional cap space in 2018.

Salary cap specialist Ian Whetstone of Steel City Insider was the first with the figures behind Boswell’s new deal, confirming a contract worth $19.72 million over five years that included a $6 million signing bonus. Whetstone is also reporting roster bonuses in 2018 worth $1.295 million, another in 2019 worth $2 million and a third in 2020 worth $1 million. Boswell will also receive base salaries of $705,000 in 2018, $1 million in 2019, $1.375 million in 2020, $3.085 million in 2021 and $3.26 million in 2022.

Originally due to earn $2.914 million under the terms of the restricted free agent tender he signed earlier in the year, Boswell’s new contract will have only used up an extra $286,000 in salary cap space this season. The NFLPA currently lists Pittsburgh as being $2,937,347 under the cap, but that figure does not include a restructure to the contract of Vance McDonald’s that reportedly happened on Tuesday. Taking that move into account, the Steelers should have $5,119,847 in available funds at the time of writing.

To celebrate his new deal, Boswell decide to buy his offensive lineman some personalized luggage and the big guys up front seemed extremely happy with their gifts. As seen in an Instagram video posted by Marcus Gilbert.

Bold and bizarre predictions for Steelers vs. Panthers preseason Week 4

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 9:22am

BTSC’s Nostradumbass predicts tonight’s final preseason game with the NFC South Carolina Panthers.

It’s Week 4 of the preseason and members of Mike Tomlin’s team will all have different agendas. Some are looking to rest, get healthy, fine-tune their game for Week 1 and audition for other teams. After a promising showing in last week’s exhibition win at home, Steelers Nation will be getting their first look at Ryan Switzer and their final ganders at certain Black-and-gold hopefuls. Many guys like Matthew Thomas, Ola Adenyi, Malik Golden and Keion Adams will make their final push to make the team, while veterans like Tyler Matakevich, Daniel McCullers and L.J. Fort will be working to stay.

With all of these storylines and more, I’ve compiled a list of predictions (some basic and some utterly idiotic) to look for in tonight’s contest.

  • Joshua Dobbs will perform solidly with a touchdown pass and one rushing. It will all be a showcase for other teams looking for an upgrade at QB3.
  • Some yinzers will have high and unrealistic expectations of Dobbs’ worth and think he’s worth a three or a four in 2019. Others will form a higher opinion of him and call for his tenure to be extended over Mason Rudolph.
  • Ryan Switzer makes his Steeler debut and dazzles with long returns, but none for a score.
  • Getting a majority of the night’s carries, Jaylen Samuels does reach the end zone for the first time.
  • Meanwhile, Quadree Henderson and Fitzgerald Toussaint are seen updating their LinkedIn profiles in the third quarter.
  • Farrington Huguenin and Lavon Hooks both register a sack in a desperate attempt to crack the 53.
  • Le’Veon Bell drops a new rap track at halftime regarding his ETA to the Steel City called “Only I Know”.
  • R.J. Prince makes a drive-killing penalty forcing Craig Wolfley to openly weep the demise of his camp phenom on the radio broadcast.
  • Dashaun Phillips picks off a Panther passer.
  • To fire up a listless crowd in the third quarter, PA announcer Larry Richert invites fans to participate in a flossing dance-off on the big screen. Unable to contain himself, JuJu Smith-Shuster jumps in the stands to get his Fortnite funk on — and is incensed when he loses to a fourth grader from Cranberry Township.
  • The Steelers win 24-20 to close out the preseason at 3-1. However, there is no rejoicing.

...

Will any of this actually happen? I’ll bet at least one or two. Heck, maybe every one of them. Be sure to post your predictions — basic or bizarre — below.

2018 NFL Preseason: Steelers vs. Panthers Week 4 replay time and date

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 8:14am

A majority of the fan base won’t get to watch the game live, so we’ll keep you abreast of when and where it’ll be aired for your viewing pleasure.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base is ridiculously large, and when it comes to watching the Black-and-gold on TV, no one wants to miss a minute.

While many fans, like yours truly, pony up the money for DIRECTV NFL Sunday Ticket to watch every regular season game from the comfort of our own homes, the package doesn’t include preseason games.

The NFL Network, another channel not promised to everyone with a television and cable, promises to air every preseason game, but only a select few are aired live and in real-time. The Steelers almost always grab one of those live broadcasts, but their Week-4 preseason game against the Carolina Panthers isn’t one of them.

While the Steelers will be battling the Panthers, fans who tune into the NFL Network will get to watch the Cleveland Browns battle the Detroit Lions on Thursday night.

YEAH!

Have no fear! According to the NFL Network’s preseason schedule, the Steelers and Panthers game will be re-aired in its entirety on Friday, August 31st, at 10 a.m. EDT. So, set your DVRs to record so you can watch and analyze those 4th- and 5th-string performances! Might want to make sure you catch the re-air with the NFL forcing teams to have their roster trimmed from 90 to 53 player by 4 p.m. ET Saturday.

What to do if you don’t want to miss the game? There are several ways you can still watch it. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, you will get to watch the game live. You can pony up the cash for the NFL Game Pass, which airs all preseason games live. Then there are those questionable, streaming sites. It’s against our community guidelines to post streaming links in the comment section below, and realize that we here at BTSC do not endorse any of these links and are not responsible for any issues due to using them.

So, how will you be watching the game?

Why an 18-game NFL regular season is really bad idea

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 7:05am

Jerry Jones thinks adding two extra games is a smart idea, which should tell you exactly how dumb this idea is.

If you had the authority to tangibly and forever alter a longstanding NFL paradigm, which one would you choose? Would you do away with meaningless, fart-in-the-wind “incentives” and introduce fully-guaranteed contracts, thereby ensuring that NFL players are compensated in the same manner as their peers in the NBA, the NHL, and MLB? Would you encourage the players to engage in constructive political dialogue, even if doing so means alienating sizable pockets of your team’s fanbase? Would you draft legislation dictating that all new stadiums must be domed arenas and erected at least 30 miles from downtown-proper in order to pacify the incredible infrastructural strain caused by 70,000 additional bodies descending on and departing from a given city on game day? Would you, despite the absurdity in doing so, expand the schedule?

That last one is the hill that hayseed oil goblin (and emperor of the Dallas Cowboys) Jerry Jones is willing to die on. Jones wants an 18-game schedule, dagnabbit, and he's convinced that implementing it will impose no deleterious health outcomes on the players whatsoever. He’s got the research to prove it, by God! From 105.3 The Fan in Dallas:

“I think, candidly, it’s [an expanded regular season] probably physically better for players than it is to have the longer preseason, the longer practicing. Our studies show that we actually have a ramped-up injury situation with players during preseason as opposed to the injury factor in the regular season.”

Now in fairness to Jones, he did indicate that the validity of these vague, unsourced findings is “debatable,” which is probably a fairly accurate assessment. In fact, I’m actually inclined to agree that the preseason is noticeably more hazardous than the regular season—after all, preseason games feature myriad no-name or unheralded players who are doing absolutely everything in their power to make the final 53-man roster, injury implications be damned. Like, Antonio Brown (if he were playing) probably isn’t going to waste his time laying out for a wobbly pass or fighting for extra yardage in the preseason, but an undrafted receiver is sure as anything gonna put his neck on the line, enthusiastically darting across the middle of the field and catching a poorly-thrown slant before getting assassinated by some late-round free safety who’s doing his absolute best to make his own team.

But, c’mon; to suggest that doing away with two preseason games and adding two regular- season ones would magically “create a safer game for players”—as Jones dopily claimed in this interview—is flatly ridiculous. The preseason should definitely be shorter—two games is probably ideal, but going to three I think is fine—but adding real, actual games of consequence in their place is not an acceptable alternative. Many starters—and most superstars—play extremely sparingly in the preseason, giving way to unproven youngsters and role players with chips on their shoulders, so adding two additional games would put a ton of mileage on the guys who people actually want to pay to see. An 18-game schedule would precipitate another full season on players’ odometers by the time they reach year nine. That’s crazy! If you think the running back market is stagnant and undervalued now, just wait until a 27-year-old back with 108 starts under his belt hits free agency. Even the Jets would laugh Le’Veon Bell out of the building.

Also, I hardly think that players would support an expanded schedule, especially if it exacerbates their injury risk (even if this isn’t completely accurate, it would certainly increase their general fatigue, which I assume the players would, you know, not want), shortens their careers, and negatively impacts their longer-term earning potential. It’s hard to draw too many apt parallels between professional sports and “the real world,” but adding two extra games that the players didn’t ask for is kind of like your employer issuing a directive that states “Actually, you will now be required to work two Saturdays a month.”

So, yeah, adding a 17th and 18th game is objectively stupid and benefits precisely no one except the owners, who would stand to make a fortune from the additional revenue that two extra games is certain to generate. That being the case, though, I’d expect the schedule to balloon to 18 games by 2022 at the latest.

Six Steelers’ Slobberknockers: A half-dozen questions for BTSC fans to discuss on game day 

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 6:06am

As the Steelers prepare for their final preseason game, we’ve got the questions and you’ve got the answers.

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 Pittsburgh Steelers fans — but a cut above.

Q1: Would you rather see Joshua Dobbs or Mason Rudolph start against the Carolina Panthers?

Q2: Will Dobbs be traded or will the Steelers try to stash him on the practice squad? What round pick would Pittsburgh receive for Dobbs in a trade?

Q3: Is there any kind of performance Dobbs can put up at Heinz field on Thursday that allows him to make the final 53?

Q4: What kind of performance would you expect to see from Dobbs that would warrant signing him to the practice squad?

Q5: Is there any player who’s still fighting for his spot on the roster tonight, or is the roster set?

Q6: Which player are you are focusing on more than any other tonight?

Steelers fans will be glued to their TVs 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 early in the game at Heinz Field 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.

Jeff Hartman, editor here at BTSC, has been working very hard getting the YouTube subscriber base up with his fantastic live podcasts. The channel is closing in on 1,000 subscribers — so please follow this link and subscribe and like the videos there. At the time of writing this article, the YouTube channel was at 993 subscribers. Rumor has it, the one thousandth subscriber will win either two tickets to the KBO (Korean baseball league) All Star game (In 2023.) or a candlelight supper for two at Whataburger with Chris Collinsworth. (Only available for redemption at the Casa Grande, Arizona location.)

Steelers vs. Panthers preseason Week 4: Time, TV Schedule and game information

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 5:29am

All the information you need to know to keep up with the action from the Steelers’ last preseason game of the year against the Carolina Panthers

The Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Carolina Panthers for the 16th consecutive year in the preseason on Thursday night and the matchup should be an important encounter for a number of players still fighting for a roster spot.

Although preseason contests with Carolina are an annual affair, the two sides have met only six times during the regular season dating back to 1996. While the Panthers won the first game, they haven’t won one since, and Pittsburgh currently enjoys a 5-1 record over them. Pittsburgh is 2-0 against Carolina since Mike Tomlin took control of the team in 2007.

Joshua Dobbs is expected to start for the Steelers, and the evening could end up being his showcase event for any teams still searching for a backup quarterback, if rumors about potential trade interest in him are legitimate.

Preseason Week 4:

Game: Carolina Panthers @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Date: Thursday, August 30

Kickoff: 7.30 p.m. ET

Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

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.

Inactives:

The Steelers are expected to rest several veteran names for the contest, but the team has not officially announced which players that will be. With tight ends Vance McDonald and Xavier Grimble still unable to practice in the run-up to the game, neither is expected to play on Thursday night. Mike Tomlin suggested he was holding the door open for all the other names nursing injuries to be able to suit up against the Panthers, but it remains doubtful that names like T.J. Watt will see much, if any action.

Report: Joshua Dobbs a possible trade target for a number QB needy teams

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 2:35pm

If a report by Ian Rapoport is to be believed, there are a number of teams around the league who might be enquiring about the availability of the Steelers backup quarterback on Wednesday

With the Pittsburgh Steelers extremely unlikely to keep four quarterbacks during the regular season, the chances of Joshua Dobbs remaining in Pittsburgh beyond Saturday are looking increasingly bleak. However, if a report from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is to be believed, there is a chance he might be gone even before then.

The trade of #Packers QB Brett Hundley likely won’t be the last backup QB trade. Among the names being discussed by needy teams: #AZCardinals’ Mike Glennon, #Saints’ Tom Savage, #Steelers’ Josh Dobbs

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 29, 2018

After Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley was traded to the Arizona Cardinals on Wednesday for a a sixth-round draft pick, Rapoport claimed on Twitter that there were a number of teams in need of a backup passer discussing the possibility of trading for Dobbs.

Given the quality of the quarterbacks who have been traded around the league in years past, it is not beyond reason to believe there are teams out there who consider Dobbs a viable candidate to be the third option on their depth chart. Selected by the Steelers in the fourth-round of the 2017 NFL draft, it seems doubtful that Pittsburgh would receive much more than a sixth-round pick in return this year if they were willing to trade him. However, there can be little question that Dobbs has shown improvement this offseason and deserves the opportunity to find a home with a team in 2018, even if it is not in Pittsburgh.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN is reporting that Dobbs is not the only Steelers’ quarterback some teams are interested in and it might not be completely beyond the realm of possibility to believe that someone could offer Pittsburgh enough to persuade them to part with Landry Jones, although unlikely.

Week promises to be eventful for Steelers QB picture. Dobbs starting last preseason game says team still evaluating him. Dobbs and Landry Jones have garnered interest from some NFL teams, I'm told, but Jones a tough trade b/c of experience. So many scenarios can play out

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 29, 2018

With Dobbs set to start the Steelers’ last preseason game of the year, a strong performance against the Carolina Panthers might yet convince the coaching staff they could afford to live without Jones, assuming there is a team willing to offer enough for him.

Steelers 53-man Roster Prediction: A final projection before Preseason Week 4

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 12:55pm

With just three days left until the Steelers must reduce their roster to 53 players, we make one last attempt at predicting the names who will make the team

The Pittsburgh Steelers must name their initial 53-man roster of the year by 4 p.m ET on September 1 and it would appear that most of the key positions on the team are already set in stone. Very few of the returning starters from 2017 are in danger of losing their jobs and most of the open roles on the team have been filled by the veteran free agents signed during the offseason.

As usual, any rookie selected in the first two days of the draft is guaranteed a roster spot and there should be very few surprises when the Steelers finally confirm the players they are releasing after the game against the Carolina Panthers. However, that does not mean that names on the fringe of the squad have nothing to play for on Thursday, with one or two places on the Opening Day roster still up for grabs against the Panthers.

While a number of the roster projections published on a variety of websites in the past few days seem to think Pittsburgh will keep four quarterbacks in 2018, I struggle to believe the team will opt to keep Joshua Dobbs, regardless of his solid play this offseason.

In my one and only attempt of the year at predicting the Steelers’ final 53-man roster, Dobbs is joining names like Ola Adeniyi, Marcus Allen and Damoun Patterson on the waiver wire come cut down day, barring a last-minute trade.

Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones and Mason Rudolph are the most logical names to go with at quarterback and while Dobbs has clearly shown some progress this offseason, there is little about his game to suggest he is a better prospect than Rudolph. Even as a strong advocate for the trade Jones faction of Steeler Nation, there is seemingly no chance the coaching staff opts to let him go this offseason. That does not stop me from hoping that Dobbs does something spectacular on Thursday night to convince the Steelers otherwise.

While Le’Veon Bell, James Conner and Roosevelt Nix have been locks for their positions all offseason, rookie Jaylen Samuels is the first wildcard of training camp I could see making the roster. A lot could still depend on the division of labour against Carolina, but it would appear the team has given Samuels every chance to impress at the expense of Stevan Ridley and Fitzgerald Toussaint. Perhaps not talent the veteran backs are as a pass blocker, Samuels might offer the team more value as a pass catcher. Should he receive the bulk of the carries one again on Thursday, Samuels could lock up the third running back role with a strong performance.

The late arrival of Ryan Switzer seems to dictate the Steelers will be keeping six wide receivers this year. Although Patterson was a standout performer early in the preseason, the arrival of Swift suggests his best shot with the team is on the practice squad. The remainder of the group were never really in doubt this year.

If not for injuries, the tight end group would only feature three names, but the long-term absence of Vance McDonald and a torn ligament in the thumb of Xavier Grimble should mean Pittsburgh will begin the season with four players at the position. Jesse James will mostly likely be the starter once again by default and Bucky Hodges gets a roster spot, albeit until his teammates return to the field.

To accommodate an extra tight end, the most logical move appears to be going with eight along the offensive line, and the healthy returning veterans from 2017 are all locks to retain their roles. It would not be a surprise to see the team add another tackle before the year begins, but that might have to wait until McDonald and Grimble return to action and could come at the expense of Hodges.

Daniel McCullers has been surprisingly motivated in preseason and I surprise myself by saying he deserves his place on the roster this year. Although some of the younger faces in camp along the defensive line have shown promise at times, no one has really stood out enough to suggest they could take the jobs of the returning veterans.

The same cannot be said of the linebackers group and there should be at least one new face on the roster this season. Undrafted free agent Matthew Thomas has displayed a level of speed and athleticism that is sadly lacking in the rest of the group and his coverage skills might already be a notch above most of the returning veteran inside linebackers. Jon Bostic has been solid if unspectacular through three preseason games, but his position with the team was never really in doubt.

Tyler Matakevich might not have taken the leap forward many might have hoped, but his special teams play alone guarantees him a place in the roster. L.J. Fort has shown improvement this offseason and is another value contributor on special teams the Steelers are sure to keep.

T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree and Anthony Chickillo were locks to make the roster at outside linebacker, but there was always some doubt who the fourth name would be. Given his standout performances as of late, Adeniyi would seem like the obvious candidate for job, but Keion Adams has been performing equally well in preseason with perhaps fewer splash plays. A big game by Adeniyi against the Panthers could yet win him the job, but my money is on Adams at this stage.

Coty Sensabaugh was a candidate to be released earlier in the year, but has looked far more comfortable after a full offseason with the team under his belt. As well as the veteran names have performed in limited action, none of the younger faces in the secondary have done much to stake a claim for a job. Injuries have prevented Marcus Allen from making a serious run at a roster spot and he should be offered a place on the practice squad.

Even if the Steelers should replace punter Jordan Berry, the only chance of that happening is if a name like Trevor Daniel is let go by the Houston Texans before Saturday.

Can the Steelers avoid the road to Mamby-Pamby Land in 2018?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 11:45am

As the kickoff for the Steelers’ 2018 regular season draws near, it’s time to reflect on the key importance of choosing the right path forward.

We were really lucky and fortunate in the ‘70s because we got a group of not only good football players, but good people — a group that wanted to be together and wanted to be the best. (Chuck Noll)

What exactly spells the difference between a championship NFL season and one that’s best forgotten? In reality, there’s not much separating the league’s 32 teams these days strictly in terms of player recruitment, overall athletic ability or coaching. So why are there still 12 NFL teams — comprising 37.5 percent of the league — that have never won a Lombardi Trophy? In otherwise great sports towns such as Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Atlanta, why have the local NFL franchises put their loyal fans through decades of utter futility? Talk to any football fan from those cities and you’ll hear a litany of would-haves and should-haves spiced with sundry profanities. And prior to the mid-1970s, those very same gripes could often be heard echoing through the streets of the Steel City.

Probably the most frustrating experience of all is when a team knocks on the door to glory repeatedly over a period of time without ever gaining admission to the championship circle. Just ask any long-in-the-tooth Minnesota Vikings fan about that. In 1969 — the same year I graduated from high school — the Vikings lost their first of four Super Bowls 23-7 to Hank Stram’s Kansas City Chiefs. Then in January 1974, the Vikings were defeated 24-7 by the Miami Dolphins under Don Shula in Super Bowl VIII. The following year in Super Bowl IX, of course, the Pittsburgh Steelers ended four decades of futility by stuffing Fran Tarkenton and his teammates 16-6 on the strength of a superb defense whose nickname would later become part of the title to a well-known and successful sports website. Two years later, as the coup de grace, the Oakland Raiders led by John Madden trounced Minnesota 32-14 in Super Bowl XI.

Minnesota’s legendary head coach, Bud Grant, thus owns the singular misfortune of seeing his team lose four Super Bowls, despite being the most successful coach in Vikings history and the third most successful professional football coach overall (behind only Don Shula and George Halas). Including Grant’s successful coaching career in the CFL before he was named head coach for the Vikings, he compiled a combined 290 wins in both the Canadian and U.S. professional leagues.

Having spent the period of 1996-2005 living in the Cincinnati area, I’ve had some exposure to the even more debilitating effects that perennial doormat teams have on their fans. In addition to the Bengals, this notorious group includes the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills and L.A. Chargers — franchises that collectively have exactly zip to show for decades of blood, sweat and tears.

In Cincinnati, this futility has reached hideous proportions, creating a psychology nearly identical to the one I recall growing up in Pittsburgh during the 1960s. While they might start each new season filled with hope and great expectations, in the back of their minds — or maybe in the pits of their stomachs — Bengals fans fully expect the inevitable onset of catastrophe from year to year. Things have gotten so bad in the Queen City nowadays that even the Bengals’ front office appears resigned to losing in perpetuity because it continues renewing Marvin Lewis’s contract. This despite his 125-112-3 career record in regular-season games and 0-7 record in the playoffs. Undaunted by past failures, Lewis is preparing to start his 16th year as the Bengals’ head coach.

You’ll encounter very much the same hopeless psychology in Cleveland and Detroit — cities where few fans honestly expect the home team to do anything but stink up the gridiron on game days. And speaking of psychology, just when they finally thought they’d scaled the mountain, the Atlanta Falcons folded like a cheap pup-tent in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. In some ways, that demoralizing choke-job might have done more to ruin the Georgia franchise’s chances to ever win a Super Bowl than anything else that could have happened.

Teams that inhabit the NFL’s version of Mamby-Pamby Land have certain distinguishing traits which invariably conspire to frustrate their inflated expectations. One of the most obvious of these traits — with the notable exception of Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati — is the often-excessive pressure exerted on newly-minted head coaches to take awful teams and begin winning very soon, lest they lose their jobs. Consider that, in 2018, Falcons’ Head Coach Dan Quinn starts only his fourth year with the team; Hue Jackson kicks off his third year with the Browns; Matt Patricia begins his rookie year as the Lions’ head coach; and Sean McDermott is only in his second year coaching the Buffalo Bills — as is Anthony Lynn with the Chargers.

Despite the fact that, if many in Steelers Nation had their way, Mike Tomlin currently would be coaching in some other NFL city, experience shows that, when you start playing musical chairs with head coaches, it usually marks either the beginning or the continuation of a downward spiral for the franchise. On the opposite extreme, Cincinnati seems to be the only organization willing to play the continuity theme to the hilt, regardless of never winning or even coming close to a Super Bowl title under the Lewis regime.

The other big factor which stands out with the doormat franchises is their utter lack of team cohesion. If you go down the line from Buffalo all the way to Chargers Country (and points in between), you’ll mainly find a motley collection of soap-opera stories with various actors tortured by nagging insecurities, substance abuse and feeling unappreciated or otherwise disconnected from their parent organizations. But so far — and for the most part — the Steelers left that sorry tradition behind more than four decades ago. Those of us old enough to recall how badly the 1960s Steelers sucked never want to return to those dark, hopeless days. And if the vaunted “standard” means anything in Pittsburgh, it means we’re never going back there — ever! As Dan Rooney and Chuck Noll both emphasized during their illustrious careers, without that crucial sense of togetherness, your team simply isn’t going anywhere.

When you look at the NFL’s most successful franchises including the Steelers, Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers and New York Giants, you see football organizations that have built reputations for stability and implementing the key factors necessary to win league championships. When any of these perennial contenders hires a head coach, they implicitly trust their own instincts and show the patience which allows their new head coach to truly make the team his own.

That’s why Mike Tomlin was given the opportunity to succeed and also why he’ll be kicking off his 12th season in the Steel City. In Green Bay, Mike McCarthy will start his 13th season with the Packers; Jason Garrett begins his ninth season in Dallas; and —last but not least — Bill Belichick launches his 19th season with New England. Meanwhile, the Giants and the 49ers appear to have fallen off of the wagon in recent years. New York is starting over with rookie coach Pat Shurmur and San Francisco’s head coach Kyle Shanahan is starting only his sophomore season.

As for the Steelers, they appear to be standing at a crossroads — with one sign pointing towards that elusive Stairway to Seven, while the other sign marks a well-traveled route to Mamby-Pamby Land. I know you’ve all seen the TV commercial featuring the tough drill-sergeant, so you’re aware that the road to this undesirable location is paved with good intentions but poor performances and hurt feelings that make everyone feel sad. It’s a middling place where everyone gripes and solicits sympathy for their contract demands; turf toe; the Commissioner; the referees; their number of targets (or carries) per game, etc., etc.

But in the Steel City — unlike a number of other NFL towns — we’ve already got the coaching and front-office stability necessary to win another Lombardi Trophy. What’s less certain is whether the Black-and-gold can avoid taking that wrong turn which puts them on the road to Mamby-Pamby Land. Those six shiny trophies on display at Steelers headquarters make a strong argument that Pittsburgh remains one city where the standard truly does remain as the standard.

Players and fans of the Black-and-gold will find out soon enough which path we’ve chosen. The Steelers will be facing some tough competition in 2018, as well as some lesser teams which have improved themselves significantly during the offseason. As the coming season grinds onward, we’ll see whether both the team and Steelers Nation as a whole are willing to pay the price of hanging together, so that we don’t all hang separately. It’s this solidarity of purpose which very well might be the difference and the true key to the Steelers’ 2018 season.

Steelers’ young ILBs might prove to be a blessing in disguise

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 9:44am

Kevin Colbert admitted the Steelers were targeting a couple of inside linebacker prospects during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. At one point they even tried to trade up to pick one of them, but to no avail. But their failure might prove to be a blessing in disguise.

Sometimes you have to thank God for unanswered prayers. Oftentimes it turns out you didn’t really want what you thought you wanted at the time. Maybe you’re attending your 20-year high school reunion and run into a old flame you haven’t seen in years. You look at them and then look over at your spouse and think, “I dodged a bullet there!” Funny thing is, the old flame might be thinking the same thing about you.

Whatever the situation, the truth is always clear looking back because hindsight is 20/20. We’ve all been guilty of banging the table, so to speak, vehemently hoping for the Steelers to select certain players. Every day, on at least one comment board, someone proclaims “I knew they should have...” about a particular player or situation. We’re more than happy to point out the occasions when we’re proven right, but in no hurry to admit when we get it wrong. That’s human nature and we all can relate.

The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to select an inside linebacker prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft, a position widely considered their biggest area of need, even though they confessed to trying to trade up in the first round to do so. Then, round after round, the Steelers adhered to their best-player-available philosophy, and we can only assume the Steelers’ brass never felt any linebacker candidates fit this description. Their failure to select a linebacker prospect at any point in the draft was widely considered unacceptable throughout Steelers Nation.

But I believe this presumed failure may end up being a blessing in disguise. This firestorm might just have a silver lining because even a horror story can have a happy ending, right?

Undrafted free-agents Matthew Thomas and Ola Adeniyi have been camp darlings and pleasant surprises. They’ve each flashed some serious potential in the preseason contests and they appear to have earned consideration for roster spots. Thomas’ impressive speed and athleticism brings a much needed element to the equation and serves him well in special-teams duties. His position versatility increases his value and may enable the Steelers to retain L.J. Fort, a player who appears much improved since last season and has had a strong camp and preseason. It appears the light may finally have come on for Fort, himself a strong athlete.

These are all positive developments, and they couldn’t have come at a better time for a franchise that has a dirty little secret. For an organization renowned for their linebacker play, the Steelers are surprisingly poor at drafting linebacker talent in the first round. If you look back at the all-time great Steelers linebackers, you might be surprised to learn that none of them was drafted in the first round. I know I sure was.

Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Andy Russell, Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland, Joey Porter, James Harrison, etc. This list is filled with Hall of Famers and all-time great players, but not a single first rounder among them. Also consider that among many solid starters such as Mike Merriweather, Jason Gildon, Bryan Hinkle, David Little and Clark Haggans, none of them were first-round picks.

Actually the Steelers have only drafted six linebackers in the first round in their history, and four of those have happened in the past six years. It’s been a mixed bag of results.

Robin Cole from the University of New Mexico was selected in 1977. He would go on to have a productive career with the Steelers. Cole was a two-time Super Bowl champion and was even an All Pro selection for the 1984 season. He was a solid, if not spectacular, pro and proved to be a fringe, first-round talent.

The Steelers didn’t select another first-round linebacker for thirty years, not until they took Lawrence Timmons from FSU in 2007. The Law Dog proved to be an excellent pick, worthy of his first-round selection. He was a disruptive run stopper who help lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl title in 2008 and he was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2014.

The Steelers took OLB Jarvis Jones from Georgia in 2013 in an ill-advised reach to boost their pass rush. Jones had tested poorly at the combine and there were concerns he lacked the athleticism to excel at the next level. Those concerns proved to have merit as Jones struggled with injuries and the expectations accompanying his lofty draft status. Sadly, Jones career would have to be labeled a bust.

Ryan Shazier’s selection out of Ohio State in 2014 was another excellent first-round pick. Though undersized, his amazing speed allowed him to play sideline to sideline and he quickly became the Steelers main playmaker on defense. Ryan was a Pro Bowl selection in 2016 and 2017, and was on his way to Defensive Player of the Year consideration last season before his devastating injury. Nobody knows what the future holds for Shazier as a player, but he’s proven to be a awesome person and inspirational teammate. A true Pittsburgh Steeler.

The jury is still out on the two first-round linebackers currently on the roster — 2015 selection Bud Dupree from Kentucky and 2017 pick T.J. Watt from Wisconsin. Thus far, Dupree has failed to produce at a level worthy of his draft position, and questions remain as to whether he can reach such a level. Watt had a strong rookie year, and he’ll look to build on that success this season. He appears to have the drive and work ethic needed to take the next step in his development. Watt may hold the key to the ability of the Steelers’ defense to show improvement this season and beyond.

In the meantime, the Steelers might have stumbled on some quality linebacker depth this preseason, and they didn’t need to use a first-round pick to do it.

Analyzing the Salary Cap implications for the Steelers after Vince Williams’ extension

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 8:36am

The release of the official figures included in the deal signed by Vince Williams show a contract that will only cost the Steelers an additional $700K in salary cap space in 2018

The numbers behind the new contract the Pittsburgh Steelers executed with Vince Williams last week officially hit the books on Monday, and it would appear the deal hasn't used up too much of the team’s limited salary cap space in 2018.

As first reported by salary cap specialist Ian Whetstone of Steel City Insider, the figures posted on the NFLPA contract database confirm a contract worth $20.6 million that included a signing bonus worth $6.4 million. Base salaries of $800,000 in 2018, $2.2 million in 2019 and $4 million in 2020 and 2021 are accompanied by roster bonuses worth $300,000 this season and $2.9 million the following year.

While the base salary that Williams was originally due to earn under the terms of his previous contract has become part of this new deal, the pre-existing, prorated signing bonus amount of $500,000 must still be accounted for this year. This results in a prorated bonus figure of $2.1 million for 2018, as per the graphic above.

The contract might lack the literal guarantees that a player like Le’Veon Bell would probably have wanted to see, but the structure of the deal effectively guarantees Williams he will not get cut before 2020 and, more likely, not until 2021, if at all. Cap savings of only $1.9 million in 2019 against dead money of $4.8 million or savings of $2.4 million in 2020 against dead money of $3.2 million offer Williams more than enough security, given the way the Steelers normally do business with their veteran players.

Originally set to cost the Steelers $2.5 million against the cap this season, this new deal has effectively used up only an extra $700,000 of the team’s limited salary-cap space. The NFLPA public salary cap report currently has Pittsburgh listed as $3,266,053 under the cap, but that figure should change in the coming days when the numbers behind the new contract for Chris Bowell officially hit the account.

Stephon Tuitt’s performance against the Titans was extremely encouraging

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 7:26am

For a Steelers’ defense that’s going to need all the help it can get in 2018, Stephon Tuitt’s performance against the Titans on Saturday was a welcome tonic.

It was a year ago at this time that Steelers’ defensive end Stephon Tuitt was said to be poised to take that next step — and for someone with his enormous talent and potential, that could only mean to the top of his profession.

And during the short time he was in the game against the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Week 1, he looked like he was just too dominant for anyone to stop.

Unfortunately, Tuitt soon left the game with an unspecified injury which later that evening would be revealed to be a torn biceps. I found out about the injury from Bryan Anthony Davis, who was alerted to it while we were discussing Pittsburgh’s 21-18 victory during the Final Score podcast, and I must say, I felt kind of sick.

This was the type of injury that legendary defensive end Aaron Smith sustained years prior, and caused Smith to be placed on Injured Reserve. So I just naturally assumed Tuitt would suffer the same season-ending fate.

Surprisingly, though, Tuitt missed only a few weeks and wound up playing in 12 games last season. But they weren’t a great 12 games — only two sacks and 19 tackles — so one had to wonder just how healthy he was following his return from the injury.

This is why it wasn’t a shock when Tuitt admitted in May to playing all of 2017 with the injury not fully healed.

It all made sense, Tuitt’s regression last season, a season that not only came with great expectations, but also came on the heels of his contract extension.

Speaking of surprises, I was kind of stunned to hear a vocal minority of fans imply that Tuitt had become a bit complacent and perhaps even lazy following his big payday, a la LaMarr Woodley, a criticism I’m not even sure was fair to the Steelers’ once-dominant outside linebacker.

But Tuitt, a man of high character, lazy and complacent? Granted, it was a small minority of fans (we always hear from the negative minority), but still.

That’s why Tuitt’s performance against the Titans on Saturday was so awesome to witness. In the time he was in the game, Tuitt seemed to make a habit of winding up in Tennessee’s backfield, as he recorded two tackles (both for losses), a quarterback sack and two quarterback pressures.

Afterwards, he was named the Player of the Game by the KDKA broadcast team; and I don’t know if it’s an official award for the Steelers Radio Network, but they basically said the same thing on WDVE.

Does this mean Tuitt is the most indispensable Steeler defender? No. It just means he’s one of many talented Steelers’ defenders, and without the services of Ryan Shazier, a man considered worthy of the “indispensable” label, it’s going to take a village to make Keith Butler’s unit excel in 2018.

If the Stephon Tuitt of Saturday is closer to the pre-injury Stephon Tuitt of last summer rather than the post-biceps injury Stephon Tuitt of last fall and winter, the Steelers’ defense has a chance to be better this season. And if it’s going to take a village, a healthy Stephon Tuitt seems like a good citizen to have around this year.

Report: Steelers create over $2 million in salary cap space by restructuring contract of Vance McDonald

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 6:19am

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Steelers have restructured the contract of tight end Vance McDonald

As is often the way, the Pittsburgh Steelers are short on available salary cap space with the start of the regular season drawing near, but if a report by Adam Schefter of ESPN is to be believed, the team might have made a move to address the issue on Monday.

According to Schefter, the front office has apparently opted to restructure the contract of tight end Vance McDonald, creating over $2 million in additional salary cap space.

Steelers are freeing up over $2 million in salary-cap space by converting about $3 million of TE Vance McDonald’s base salary into signing bonus for this season, per league source. More flexibility for Steelers.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 28, 2018

Originally set to earn a base salary of $3.7 million in 2018, the most the Steelers would be allowed to restructure of McDonald’s contract this year would be $2.91 million. Assuming the team have opted for the maximum restructure available, the move will have saved Pittsburgh $2,182,500. It will also have added $727,500 to each of the remaining years of his deal and have left him with a cap hit of $2,316,250 this season.

For anyone hoping that McDonald would be a surprise release before the start of the regular season, this move effectively ends that dream. However, it does not necessarily guarantee him a job with the team in 2019. Even with this restructure, cutting McDonald before next year would save the team $3.645 million and create $2,182,500 in dead money.

As always, it is important to note that a restructure is not a reduction in salary for the player concerned, rather a change to the way his salary is paid. The player still earns exactly the same amount he was originally set to receive and the move is merely a financial procedure that defers a debt into future seasons for accounting purposes.

Prior to this restructure, Pittsburgh was $3,266,053 under the cap according to the NFLPA public salary cap report as of Monday. A number that does not include the recent extension for Chris Bowell. With the cost of the practice squad and numbers 52 and 53 on the roster still to be accounted for come Opening Day, the extra cap space the Steelers have created will be used to cover any impending costs and to provide the buffer the team likes to carry for emergencies during the regular season.

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