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ESPN highlights Justin Layne as one of 15 rookies who will make an instant impact in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 6:45am

The Steelers third-round draft pick was named as one to watch in Mel Kiper’s latest look at the 2019 NFL Draft.

After moving up 10 spots in round one to select Devin Bush, it is not hard to pinpoint the Pittsburgh Steelers most significant selection of the 2019 NFL Draft, with the Michigan linebacker becoming the first player the team has chosen in the top 10 since picking Plaxico Burress with the eighth overall selection of 2000.

Expected to be given every opportunity to prove he deserves to be the starter on opening day, it seems reasonable to believe that Bush will see extensive playing time during his debut season, even if he begins the year behind Mark Barron in Week 1. But while the coaching staff will be eager to get their top draft pick on the field, it is likely to be less straightforward for the rest of the names selected this year, with several veteran players projected to be ahead of them on the depth chart.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that Bush should be the team’s most impactful rookie in 2019, but if Mel Kiper of ESPN is to believed, that distinction might ultimately end up belonging to Justin Layne this year.

In an article listing his top 15 rookie who will make an instant impact in their debut season, it was the third-round pick from Michigan State who Kiper chose to highlight from the Steelers, passing over his former college rival from Michigan for the honor.

“I was surprised Layne lasted this far into the draft. I put him at No. 29 in my final mock draft, and I thought he’d go in the top 40. I love this fit in Pittsburgh, where the team brought in free agent Steven Nelson, and former first-rounder Artie Burns took a step back last season. The Steelers intercepted only eight passes in 2018, and Layne, a converted wide receiver, had 19 pass breakups over the past two seasons. Every team needs cornerback depth in this pass-happy era of the NFL.”

With Joe Haden seemingly a lock for one of the starting cornerback roles and recent free agent signing Steven Nelson expected to have a significant head start for the other, snaps are likely to be limited for Layne behind this pair. And with Mike Hilton the presumed starter in the slot, the young cornerback would need to make the most of every opportunity he does get if he is to have the impact Kiper predicts.

As something of a favorite among many of the draft experts, Layne appears to be receiving more hype than most of the Steelers 2019 selections. But if forced to make a bet on which of the team’s rookie would have the greatest impact in their debut season, it would be hard imagine that many others would pick anyone else but Bush.

Podcast: What are reasonable confidence levels and expectations for the Steelers in 2019?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 5:35am

Discuss all things Steelers and beyond as BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo comment on the latest news of Steeler Nation and gauge the possible ceilings of the coming season.

The draft is over and minicamps are opening all around the NFL and fan bases of every NFL team have expectations and established confidence levels already. But what is reasonable?Join Bryan Davis and Anthony Defeo from BTSC for the extravaganza known as “Steelers Hangover”.

Check out a rundown of the show:

  • Fact or Fiction
  • Expectations for draft picks and free agent acquisitions.
  • Confidence levels.
  • and MUCH MORE!

Check out the show below!

You can get all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Black and Gold Links: For Justin Layne and Zach Gentry, their positional transitions aren’t complete

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 4:32am

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

With the 2019 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 season is fast approaching, and the news surrounding the black-and-gold is far from over. As the team now turns their attention to more offseason workouts, OTAs and minicamp, there is no shortage of news.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how two members of the 2019 draft class, Justin Layne and Zach Gentry, still have work to do as they continue their positional transitions.

Let’s get to the news:

  • If you have done your homework on Justin Layne and Zach Gentry, you would know how the two players used to play other positions. Gentry was a quarterback and Layne a wide receiver. Now, they are a tight end and a cornerback. Getting drafted is amazing, but their transitions are far from complete.

Steelers draft picks Justin Layne, Zach Gentry ‘still learning’ after college position switches

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Gentry, a New Mexico native, was ranked the No. 8 pro-style quarterback in the country for the Class of 2015. He ended up a 6-foot-8 tight end for Michigan.

And Gentry wasn’t the only Steelers middle-round draft pick who was a four-star recruit who ended up switching positions. Third-rounder Justin Layne was the top-rated wide receiver in Ohio when he committed to Michigan State in 2015 as part of the next year’s class.

But the 6-3 Layne was moved to defense midway through his freshman season; Gentry likewise had abandoned quarterback for tight end by the time he hit the field as a redshirt freshman.

As somewhat-raw prospects with higher ceilings because of the relative lack of experience at their drafted positions, Layne and Gentry fit a profile of players the Steelers sometimes tend to be drawn to come draft time.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The Steelers have the need...the need for speed. While this is a quote from the movie Top Gun, it also can be true for the team’s defense. Thanksfully, both Mark Barron and Devin Bush will be a nice injection of speed into the group.

Bush, Barron inject speed in middle of defense

By: Dale Lolley, DKPittsburghSports

When the Steelers went into training camp in 2017, their depth at inside linebacker consisted of Tyler Matakevich backing up both the Mack and Buck positions manned by Ryan Shazier and Vince Williams, respectively.

But one of those things was not like the other, something the Steelers found out the hard way when Shazier suffered a severe injury to his lower spine Dec. 4 that year in a game at Cincinnati.

Unfortunately for them, Matakevich suffered a shoulder injury in that game, as well, forcing the Steelers to sign Sean Spence off his couch and also use L.J. Fort in that spot. It was a less than ideal situation and one that helped lead to a playoff loss to the Jaguars.

The team attempted to place a Band-Aid on that position in 2018, signing veteran Jon Bostic to slide into the spot beside Williams and adding safety Morgan Burnett to play a linebacker role in the dime package.

That didn’t work, either.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Many among the Steelers fan base wanted the team to address the safety position at some point in the NFL Draft. Someone they may have forgotten about was none other than Marcus Allen.

Allen: ‘When it was game time, it hurt’

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

If there is one thing Marcus Allen learned his rookie season, it’s that that he doesn’t want to experience something like it ever again.

“It definitely was tough,” said Allen. “Something that I’ve never experienced before. Throughout my whole football career I’ve never had to sit the bench and wait for my opportunity. It was new to me. It definitely humbled me and matured me more. It made me want to grind even harder because I know the ropes and I know what it takes to become that starter and become who you want to be in the league.”

Allen, one of the Steelers sixth round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, was on the active roster all season. But when game day rolled around, the young safety was anything but active. In 14 of 16 games Allen was on the inactive list, playing only against the Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals.

“It was definitely a mental challenge because you fall for something for so long and then to not be able to play all year,” said Allen. “When it was game time, it hurt. But it just make you stronger. That’s what Coach (Mike) Tomlin talks about all the time, going through things that make you stronger. Football teaches you a lot.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Ryan Shazier, the entrepreneur?!

Alba Tull, Ryan Shazier debut fitness facility in Sewickley

By: Stephanie Hacke, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Fresh off of his Friday night wedding, Shazier said it was important for him to be at Ramp ‘N’ Rize’s opening the next day. Along with being a shareholder in the fitness studio, he also is close friends with the Tull Family, who he said attended his wedding.

“We always had a really close relationship, and they’ve always been supportive of me and the community. I definitely wanted to be involved,” he said.

His new wife couldn’t make it to the opening of Ramp ‘N’ Rize, as the couple had about 40 family members still at their house on Saturday, Shazier said.

Shazier echoed Tull’s sentiments that Sewickley is a great place to debut Ramp ‘N’ Rize.

“The people in Sewickley, I feel like, they definitely want to stay constant in their health and they definitely want to grow when it comes to working out. I think it’s a great place to start out,” he said.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Do. Or do not. There is no try. pic.twitter.com/4URbvPrHGW

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 5, 2019

3️⃣0️⃣ balled out in 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣8️⃣#UltimateHighlight | @JamesConner_ pic.twitter.com/FbKoRcjzNh

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 5, 2019

That 1️⃣st touchdown feeling pic.twitter.com/mhJwJKh4jR

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 6, 2019

#HappyBirthday @CamHeyward! pic.twitter.com/IVBaMdVKEL

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 6, 2019

UDFA P.J. Locke reaches out to former Steelers safety Ryan Clark for advice

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 2:08pm

The undrafted free agent out of Texas has turned to the Super Bowl XLIII winner for advice since signing with the Steelers.

While the Pittsburgh Steelers did not add a safety to the roster via the draft this year, they did increase their numbers at the position with the signing of two undrafted free agents. And with just four veterans safeties currently on the team, the chances of Dravon Askew-Henry or P.J. Locke making the final 53-man roster are arguably much better than they might have been in past years.

Making the transition from the college to the professional ranks is a daunting task for any college prospect, let alone a UDFA, but it would appear that former Texas product Locke may have something of a head start on the competition thanks to the help of a former member of the Black and Gold.

When responding to a post from a fan about Locke on social media, former Steelers safety Ryan Clark revealed that the young prospect had already reached out to him since signing with Pittsburgh, a move that could pay dividends in the long term.

@PjLocke4 Has already reached out to me. I have so much respect for this kid already. Soon as he signed we connected! He is gonna work his butt off. Trust me. Hope he is so much better than I was https://t.co/tGYnOi0smd

— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) May 6, 2019

An undrafted free agent himself in 2002 when he signed with the New York Giants as a rookie, Clark should be well positioned to advise Locke in his debut season with the Steelers. His insights into the qualities that Mike Tomlin will be looking to see from the young player should also be invaluable, not to mention the knowledge he can pass on about playing safety in the NFL.

Calling himself a sponge in response to Clark’s post, Locke is clearly eager to learn as much as he can from the Super Bowl XLIII champion, planning to train with him later in the offseason.

You know it big bro! Im a sponge and i will soak up as much knowledge as possible from you. Leaving nothing on the table! & for sure have to set times to come train with you! https://t.co/8sTRdFkJP2

— James "PJ" Locke III (@PjLocke4) May 6, 2019

Locke will compete with Askew-Henry, Jordan Dangerfield and Marcus Allen for a backup role behind presumed starters Terrell Edmunds and Sean Davis, with former AAF signings Jack Tocho and Kameron Kelly also likely to be in the mix at safety.

Best free agent players still available with compensatory deadline set to pass on Tuesday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 12:05pm

With the second wave of free agency set to start on May 7, we take a look at some of the more talented names on the open market.

With the passing of the compensatory draft pick deadline for 2019 set for May 7, the NFL is likely to see a second wave of free agency begin on Tuesday. And if the Pittsburgh Steelers have any plans to sign some of the names still available, there is a good chance they will need to move quickly this week or risk seeing the player sign elsewhere this year.

For teams like the Steelers who expect to receive additional draft picks in 2020 to make up for the free agents they lost this offseason, the opportunity to sign players without them counting against the formula that determines compensatory draft selections can be an important date on the calendar. Seemingly in line for a third-round selection next year to compensate for the loss of Le’Veon Bell to the New York Jets, based on current projections from OverTheCap.com, Pittsburgh is one of nine teams expected to receive one of the highest compensatory draft picks available in 2020.

A lack of salary cap space would seem to suggest that the Steelers will not be significant players during this second round of free agency, but there are still plenty of players looking for new homes who could be in high demand elsewhere.

Quarterback

Sam Bradford, Matt Cassel, Josh Johnson, Colin Kaepernick, Josh McCown, Brock Osweiler, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith.

Running Back

Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, Jeremy Hill, Chris Ivory, Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris, Bilal Powell, Stevan Ridley, Darren Sproles, Charcandrick West.

Wide Receiver

Dez Bryant, Michael Crabtree, Pierre Garcon, Dontrelle Inman, Jermaine Kearse, Brandon LaFell, Rishard Matthews, De’Anthony Thomas, Mike Wallace, Terrance Williams.

Tight End

Antonio Gates, MarQueis Gray, Jermaine Gresham, Michael Hoomanawanui, Lance Kendricks, Lee Smith, Dion Sims, Maxx Williams.

Offensive Line

Jeff Allen, Joe Barksdale, T.J. Clemmings, Chris Clark, Cameron Fleming, Jonathan Cooper, Garry Gilliam, Ryan Groy, Ulrick John, Andy Levitre, Jordan Mills, Marshall Newhouse, Jermey Parnell, Donald Penn, Mike Remmers, Tyler Shatley, Josh Sitton, Quinton Spain, John Sullivan, Travis Swanson, Jared Veldheer, Josh Wells, Chance Warmack, Stefen Wisniewski.

Edge Rusher

Sam Acho, Connor Barwin, Kony Ealy, William Hayes, Michael Johnson, Dion Jordan, Matt Longacre, Josh Martin, Pernell McPhee, Derrick Morgan, Nick Perry, Shane Ray, Frostee Rucker, Derrick Shelby, Frank Zombo.

Defensive Line

Ezekiel Ansah, Allen Bailey, Andre Branch, Tyeler Davison, Dominique Easley, Rodney Gunter, Ziggy Hood, Ricky Jean-Francois, Michael Johnson, Zach Kerr, Corey Liuget, Earl Mitchell, Malik McDowell, Stacy McGee, Domata Peko, Ahtyba Rubin, Danny Shelton, Ndamukong Suh, Muhammad Wilkerson, Al Woods.

Linebacker

Jon Bostic, Josh Bynes, Jeremy Cash, Jamie Collins, Brock Coyle, Will Compton, Nate Palmer, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Kelvin Sheppard, Manti Te’o.

Cornerback

Morris Claiborne, Brent Grimes, Vontae Davis, Davon House, Captain Munnerlyn, Coty Sensabaugh, Orlando Scandrick, Sam Shields, Kayvon Webster, Shareece Wright.

Safety

Mike Adams, Eric Berry, Tre Boston, Nat Berhe, Johnathan Cyprien, Kurt Coleman, Chris Conte, Marcus Gilchrist, Kendrick Lewis, Mike Mitchell, Reggie Nelson, Ron Parker, Glover Quin, Darian Stewart.

Currently listed with $4,816,131 in available salary cap space, as per the NFLPA public salary cap report on Monday, the Steelers should be able to afford most of the names still on the open market, barring one or two exceptions. But with a nine-man draft class still to sign that is projected to cost around $3million this year, any significant signings would require the team to create some additional cap space to cover their draft selections.

ESPN NFL Draft expert Todd McShay calls CB Justin Layne his favorite of the Steelers draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 10:52am

Everyone has their own opinion on the Steelers’ 2019 draft class, but ESPN expert Todd McShay has one particular player he liked out of the 9 players.

No matter what we do in life, we all have our favorites. Whether it is our favorite NFL team, the music we listen to or the foods we eat. It is natural to have a favorite.

But what about players which are drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Yes, even there we all tend to have our own personal favorites, and we aren’t alone. ESPN’s NFL Draft expert Todd McShay went through all 32 NFL teams’ draft picks and picked out his favorite of the bunch.

What makes a player be considered for the “best pick” or a “favorite”? McShay explains here:

Remember: “Best pick” does not necessarily mean “best player.” Team needs, the value a player presented in comparison to my board, and any trades related to the pick all factor in here. New 49ers pass-rusher Nick Bosa is obviously the top prospect, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is the Niners’ best pick of the weekend in Nashville. (Spoiler: He’s not).

With that said, here is who McShay likes the most out of the Steelers’ 2019 draft class:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State (Round 3, No. 83 overall)

Joe Haden is in a contract year, and Artie Burns just hasn’t done a whole lot despite being a high pick in 2016. So corner is a sneaky need for the Steelers. And they got Layne 30 spots past where I ranked him. Even with Steven Nelson in black and yellow, Layne should push for a top-three job right out of the gate. He is a press corner who can read receivers and then turn and run with them very well.

The Devin Bush pick received serious consideration here, as he will be the face of the defense without Ryan Shazier. But the value on Layne was just too good. The Michigan State corner needs to get stronger still, but he has a high ceiling.

When you think about the nine players the Steelers brought in throughout the 7-round selection process, you have to ask yourself which pick was your favorite. But before answering right away, you have to ask yourself how you deem a player your favorite? Do you follow McShay’s thinking? Or do you follow a different path to finding your favorite draft pick?

Let us know which pick was your favorite, and why, in the comment section below!

The Pittsburgh Steelers team that never was will try again in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 9:10am

This year’s Pittsburgh Steelers team needs to finally realize what type of team they intended on being last season.

Sometimes you just never know what might have been. The 2017 Pittsburgh Steelers appeared destined for glory. They were winning seemingly every close game, many in heart stopping fashion. The ball was bouncing their way and they were closing in on home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Then, as life is prone to do, everything changed.

First, their best defensive player lays on the field, unable to move his lower extremities, after suffering a life altering, career threatening injury. Then they ascend to the height of exhilaration, only to plummet to the deepest of frustration a moment later, after a potentially game winning touchdown catch somehow didn't actually happen. That had to be like getting one of those fake winning lottery tickets but nobody told you it was a joke till after you called in to quit your job.

One devastating injury and one overturned call completely altered the Steelers path to the Super Bowl. Now their playoff opponent would be the worst matchup for them possible, even before Shazier's injury. The rest is history.

The 2018 season would be different. Put all that bad juju behind them and move forward. Somewhere around this time Kevin Colbert decided he was a riverboat gambler extraordinaire so he repeatedly tried his luck, and lost. There never appeared to be a sense of urgency to fill the huge gaping hole left in the middle of the Steelers defense after Shazier's injury. After the draft came and went without any potential replacement even selected, Colbert gambled he could find a suitable replacement from the NFL free agent bargain bin, or maybe that player was already on the roster. Anybody call for a red headed overachiever to save the day? Wrong again.

All through the distractions of free agency, draft evaluations, Shazier's rehabilitation, and coaching staff changes some intense contract negotiations with a certain superstar running back were going nowhere fast. After realizing a long term deal was unlikely, Colbert gambled again and slapped the franchise tag on the table. Surely the player would sign the tag, play out the season, and move on to greener pastures. I feel certain that Colbert assured himself that nobody in their right mind would walk away from that much guaranteed money to prove a point, but he was wrong again.

The uncertainty of the situation fragmented the locker room and revealed cracks in the Steelers foundation previously unseen. The cracks only worsened with pressure and the drama flowed out freely. A season that at times showed such promise ended up collapsing under the strain of expectations and discord. The season that was to be never materialized.

Kevin Colbert appears to be done with gambling. After this off season started with the Steelers drama dominating the front page news, Colbert traded the source of that drama, and arguably his best offensive weapon, away for the best return possible due to the extenuating circumstances. He has never looked back. Instead the Steelers organization have thrown their support behind their future HOF franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger, both in word and deed. Contract extension successful, resulting stability and sanity achieved.

So what does the future hold for today's Pittsburgh Steelers? I believe this year's team will be a better representation of what last year's team was supposed to be.

About three years ago the Steelers made a renewed commitment to evaluating the character and leadership qualities of any potential draftees. The results have been impressive, but this year's draft class is particularly strong in those aspects.

Based on the makeup of the new additions, it is apparent that the Steelers intend to return to their roots so to speak. The individual skill sets of the incoming free agents and draftees suggest a conscious effort to strengthen the middle of the defense and improve the overall balance of the offense.

For the first time in a long time, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense can focus on improved execution over coddling egos. They will need to learn to play together as a cohesive unit, but the talent is undeniable at every level. They definitely have an impressive stable of running backs that seem tailor made for some smash mouth football. Snell may be too good to keep off the field.

If Devin Bush can live up to his press clippings, then the Steelers defense very well could be elite once again. Some turnovers would be nice, but like somebody commented on a thread the other day, forcing a punt is a change of possession too.

We'll never know what might have been, but I for one like the direction the Steelers are going.

Predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers 53-man roster: Post-NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 7:55am

While the Steelers currently have 90 players on their offseason roster, it is time to take a stab at who will make the 53-man roster.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are just settling in with their 90-man offseason roster. The roster which has some former AAF players, Undrafted Rookie Free Agents, rookie draft picks and those veterans we all know and love.

But at the end of training camp the team has to narrow their roster from 90 players down to 53. While some might think the practice of predicting the roster is premature, think again. Myseld and Dave Schofield have put together our predictions below.

Above each section you will see whether the prediction is mine, Jeff’s, or Dave’s. That way, if you want to criticize us, you can take aim at the correct target in the comment section below.

Here goes nothing...

Offense

Quarterback (3)

Dave:

Ben Roethlisberger, Joshua Dobbs, Mason Rudolph

Analysis: The only question is who will end up in the number two spot, Dobbs or Rudolph?

Jeff:

Analysis: No disagreement here...

Running Back (3)

Dave:

James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell Jr.

Analysis: The drafting of Snell bumped Trey Edmunds off the 53. These three should be the guys.

Jeff:

Analysis: Seems the team has their stable of running backs.

Fullback (1)

Dave:

Roosevelt Nix

Analysis: The only thing to make this change would be an injury.

Jeff:

Analysis: Rosie Nix for the win!

Wide Receiver (6)

Dave:

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer

Analysis: With who they have going into camp, there isn’t any need to keep more than these six.

Jeff:

Analysis: I agree the team keeps six receivers this season, barring injury. Me agreeing with Dave so much so far is making me sick.

Tight End (3)

Dave:

Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Zach Gentry

Analysis: Unless they pick up someone else, these are the three.

Jeff:

Analysis: I believe the Steelers will add another tight end to the mix, but at this time they have to be on the offseason roster to predict them making the 53, so I’ll have to agree with the above trio.

Offensive Line (9)

Dave:

Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor, Jerald Hawkins, B.J. Finney, Zach Banner

Analysis: Very similar to last year, only Hawkins was on the IR and not the 53. Hopefully Derwin Grey can get to the practice squad.

Jeff:

Analysis: Derwin Gray’s only shot at making this roster is if there is an injury at a position ahead of him.

Total Offense: 25

Defense

Defensive Line (5)

Dave:

Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs

Analysis: If Buggs can unseat McCullers as the back-up nose tackle, the Steelers only need to keep five players due to position flexibility.

Jeff:

Analysis: I agree with Dave only because I hope the Daniel McCullers experiment in Pittsburgh has finally reached its end. However, a part of me feels Buggs could be the next Joshua Frazier.

Outside Linebacker (5)

Dave:

T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo, Ola Adeniyi, Sutton Smith

Analysis: They only kept three for most of last year, but their depth this year will help with special teams.

Jeff:

Analysis: While I think Sutton Smith makes the roster, I don’t see Smith actually playing OLB barring an injury. The shocker pick would be Keion Adams showing out in his third year.

Inside Linebacker (5)

Dave:

Vince Williams, Mark Barron, Devin Bush, Tyler Matakevich, Ulysses Gilbert III

Analysis: They carry five players with Gilbert because of special teams value. He’ll battle with Matakevich for a game-day helmet.

Jeff:

Analysis: If there is a shock here it would be Matakevich getting cut if Gilbert shows out. But for what Matakevich lacks in talent, he makes up for in awareness and brains. I don’t see him getting cut.

Cornerback (6)

Dave:

Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Artie Burns, Cameron Sutton, Justin Layne

Analysis: Hopefully Artie Burns finds his head again and can be a serviceable back up. If so, Sutton beats our Brian Allen for the last spot.

Jeff:

Analysis: The Steelers don’t want to admit a huge mistake like drafting Artie Burns, so they will keep him on the roster. But if there is going to be a surprise here it would be a potential trade involving Burns if he proves to be playing well in the preseason.

Safety (4)

Dave:

Sean Davis, Terrell Edmunds, Marcus Allen, P.J. Locke

Analysis: I included Locke making the team as a UFA with him and Allen beating out Jordan Dangerfield. With a couple corners and one linebacker who can play safety, they only keep four.

Jeff:

Analysis: I don’t have Locke making the team over Dangerfield. It doesn’t change the overall number of players making the roster, but Dangerfield has the experience on his side.

Total Defense: 25

Special Teams

Specialists (3)

Dave:

Chris Boswell, Jordan Berry, Kameron Canaday

Analysis: I wish it would be anybody else (even Canaday has too many holding penalties), but I don’t see them getting beaten out.

Jeff:

Analysis: While I wish the team would move on from both Boswell and Berry after such horrible years, their current contracts will likely keep them in Pittsburgh for another season. Let’s just hope 2018 was a blip on the radar.

Total Team: 53

At this stage of the game, you can see Dave and I don’t differ very much when it comes to our predictions for the upcoming 2019 roster; however, a lot can change after minicamp and OTAs coming up. This is when we will take another stab and update our predictions!

Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

After running the Pittsburgh Marathon 5k, I now realize the Steelers are better athletes than me

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 6:39am

It was a great weekend, as I set a personal record running the Pittsburgh Marathon 5k on Sunday. But it sure did give me a whole new appreciation for what professional athletes—including the Pittsburgh Steelers—put their bodies through on a daily basis.

I ran in the Pittsburgh Marathon 5k on Saturday, and I know what you’re going to say, “Oh, great, another one of those ‘Forty-something white guys joking about how out of shape he is’ articles. What does this have to do with the Steelers? Must be a slow news day.”

Touche. But I don’t care.

Anyway, back to my story. I not only ran in the Pittsburgh Marathon 5k, I set a personal record of 29:48—or a 9:37 minute per mile pace, if you will. Now, I’m not sure if you know how fast that is, but it’s the kind of pace a forty-something white guy who likes to write funny articles about running would have.

I’m not exactly bragging about my pace, either, because had it been one second faster, I would have hurled. I know this because it took everything in me to not hurl for the 20 or 30 seconds that followed me crossing the finish line. Worse than almost hurling was seeing all the little kids who not only finished with faster times than me, they looked bored after they were done—as if they were just running so they could have something to do in between games of Fortnite or whatever.

So what does this have to do with the Steelers? Nothing, other than it gives me a whole new appreciation of what they must put their bodies through in order to just get out there and compete every Sunday. It finally makes me realize, on the cusp of my 47th birthday, that they may actually be in better shape than me.

I mean, who am I to judge the athleticism of D.K. Metcalf, he of the the single-digit body fat and He-Man physique? “Sure, he’s ripped and fast, but did you see his three-cone drill at the Combine? Dude is totally uncoordinated,” I say right before turning on my steps counter and taking a brisk walk around the block in order to meet my daily goal of 500.

How can I question the dedication of any Pittsburgh Steeler? Can you imagine the work ethic even the most average player must have? Can you imagine the dedication to nutrition? Like even the big linemen probably have to avoid eating too many donuts in order to prevent their internal organs from turning on them. I’ve got some nerve, me with my 49 percent body fat and half a liver from drinking beer after every six-mile run, still being angry at Mike Wallace for skipping OTAs back in 2012.

Thinking back to Casey Hampton’s heyday, forget the one or two times he failed the conditioning test that opens every training camp. How did he—a 325 pound man nicknamed “Big Snack”—not fail that thing every single time? I can’t even make it through a Kenny Loggins song at spin class without thinking I’m going to die (“Highway to the danger zone!”). Even big Hamp was a great athlete (in his own unique way, of course).

How can I ever post those videos of Lawrence Timmons vomiting on the field? His hurling was likely the result of getting punched in the gut by a 300-pound behemoth, while my almost hurling was the result of not taking it easy on the pizza.

I’m so far from being an actual athlete at this point, I’m not having fantasies of scoring the game winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. My fantasies involve pickup games and a Nerf football—even in my dreams, I worry about breaking my fingers on a real ball and having to miss work.

How can I mock non-Super Bowl achievements like conference championships and division titles and reduce them to mere participation trophies (“This generation is weak!!!!!”) when my bedroom doorknob is filled with participation medals from all those 5 and 10ks I ran in over the years?

OK, I think this lesson about the fitness of average civilians as compared to even the most average professional athletes will resonate with most fans, and they’ll go easy on the Twitter devices this training camp.

Haha, yeah right. That fatty Ben Roethlisberger better come to camp in shape!

Podcast: Setting expectations for the Steelers 2019 NFL Draft class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 5:32am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers season is over, but the news is just starting to heat up. With a surge of Steelers news, 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 flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers, including a fun game of “True or False!”

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Recapping the Ben Roethlisberger contract extension
  • Setting expectations for the 2019 draft class
  • Will Devin Bush live up to the hype?
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams 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.

Steelers News: Does Ben Roethlisberger need some ‘tough love’ from his coaches?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 4:35am

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

With the 2019 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 season is fast approaching, and the news surrounding the black-and-gold is far from over. As the team now turns their attention to more offseason workouts, OTAs and minicamp, there is no shortage of news.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at whether Steelers coaches, mainly Mike Tomlin, need to be a little tougher with the franchise quarterback in the future.

Let’s get to the news:

  • With the dismissal of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, ‘Team Turmoil’ is hopefully done for good in Pittsburgh. But you can’t wonder if Ben Roethlisberger isn’t partly to blame for the trials and tribulations. Should the coaching staff be harder on the franchise quarterback?

Which quarterbacks most need the Belichick treatment?

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

Martellus Bennett became the latest former Patriot to peel back the curtain regarding the extent to which coach Bill Belichick gives the business to quarterback Tom Brady. Which provided the impetus for a PFT Live draft on Friday.

Which NFL quarterbacks would most benefit from being treated that same way?

Big Cat and I went back and forth on the subject, three rounds each. As usual, Big Cat found a way to stress fracture the rules, while also finding a way to mess with me.

To read the full article, and watch the video, click HERE

  • The last pick of any class is often forgotten, but don’t tell that to Derwin Gray.

‘They trusted me, believed in my ability’

By: Mike Prisuta, Steelers.com

Why you should be excited about seventh-round pick Derwin Gray:

He’s been recognized by his program: Gray, a 6-foot-4, 320-pound offensive tackle, was named Maryland’s best offensive lineman in 2017.

He’s potentially a position-flexible player: “Derwin Gray was the starting left tackle for Maryland,” General Manager Kevin Colbert assessed. “Derwin is a big, thick guy. He’s always been a tackle at the collegiate level. Coach can address it as well, but he’ll start off at tackle for us. His body type means that he can probably move inside and be a guard.”

Head coach Mike Tomlin was on the same page regarding Gray.

“He’s been a tackle but definitely has some guard physical characteristics that we would be interested in looking at, as well,” Tomlin said.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The last Alabama defensive tackle the Steelers selected, Joshua Frazier, didn’t pan out too well. Will Isaiah Buggs be different?

‘He can get to the passer’

By: Mike Prisuta, Steelers.com

Why you should be excited about sixth-round pick Isaiah Buggs:

He rolled with the Tide: Buggs, 6-foot-3, 306 pounds, led Alabama with 9.5 sacks in 2018 (fourth in the SEC). The Crimson Tide finished fourth in the nation in sacks per game (3.0, 45 total). Buggs also had 13.5 tackles for a loss (second among Alabama defenders), two forced fumbles and three passes defensed last season.

He stepped up when and where it was necessary: Buggs tied for second on the team with six tackles in the National Championship Game against Clemson.

“Buggs plays both inside and outside,” General Manager Kevin Colbert said. “Buggs’ role increased this year due to some injuries that Alabama had. He ended up coming through for the Crimson Tide.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

The time @jharrison9292 TOOK OVER against the Ravens:

10 tackles. 6 QB hits. 3.5 sacks. 3 forced fumbles. 1 fumble recovery. 1 interception (Nov. 5, 2007) @steelers pic.twitter.com/I9PAHHD0oD

— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) May 5, 2019

Happy Birthday to my BROTHER @JamesConner_ Can’t wait to get on the field with him on Sunday’s again... Y’all show him some love!! pic.twitter.com/ahTjrcjoLq

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) May 5, 2019

#HappyBirthday @JamesConner_‼️ pic.twitter.com/qQlFj3m3h4

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 5, 2019

Beginning of Cinco de Mayo..... a few hrs Later!! pic.twitter.com/BHTYPoWGeP

— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) May 5, 2019

The weather didnt stop the 40k+ Runners that participated in today Pittsburgh Marathon. Congratulations to all runners especially those who participated in the @UPMCHealthPlan Half Marathon.#PGHMarathon#MOVEPittsburgh#USATFHalfChamps
#13.1#UPMCHealthPlan pic.twitter.com/Q2TU6YEBM9

— Charlie Batch (@CharlieBatch16) May 5, 2019

Fun times! pic.twitter.com/iW4vhIJdVS

— Charlie Batch (@CharlieBatch16) May 5, 2019

Two of my favorites!
Happy Birthday @Ike_SwagginU pic.twitter.com/asM9Rlj78Y

— Brett Keisel (@bkeisel99) May 5, 2019

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