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Black and Gold Links: With NFL GMs fired this offseason, it makes Kevin Colbert’s tenure impressive

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/10/2019 - 4:30am

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, mainly mandatory minicamp, there is no shortage of news.

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how with another NFL team firing their General Manager (GM) this offseason, it only makes Kevin Colbert’s tenure with the team that much more impressive.

Let’s get to the news:

  • If you hadn’t heard the Houston Texans were the latest team to fire their GM this offseason, following the trend of the New York Jets. With every GM who gets canned, it makes Kevin Colbert’s tenure with the Steelers that much more impressive.

GM changes underscore Kevin Colbert’s longevity with Steelers

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

On an otherwise slow NFL news day Friday, the Houston Texans made the surprising decision to fire general manager Brian Gaine, and the New York Jets concluded their GM search by hiring Joe Douglas.

These personnel decisions illustrate the stability the Pittsburgh Steelers have enjoyed with Kevin Colbert calling the shots atop the team’s football operations.

Colbert is entering his 20th season with the organization and 10th with the title of general manager. Among the 32 NFL franchises, Colbert ranks fourth in longest tenure with his team – third in terms of being his team’s highest profile decision maker.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • One of the defenders who could be expected to have a big 2019 season, especially after getting a new contract last year, would be Stephon Tuitt. Time for ‘Do It Tuitt’ to step up!

Steelers expect Stephon Tuitt to provide bigger splash in 2019

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Steelers would be thrilled if fellow defensive end Stephon Tuitt follows the same career trajectory in 2019.

Tuitt will be entering his third year after signing a $60 million second contract on the eve of the 2017 season opener. What followed were two solid, yet unspectacular statistical seasons for the former second-round draft pick.

This year, the Steelers are hoping Tuitt can provide the kind of splash that justifies his lavish contract. Tuitt’s $13.642 million salary cap figure ranks third on the team, trailing only Heyward and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

“I’d like to see it in Year 1, but Tuitt has gotten a bad break a couple of times,” Heyward said after a recent voluntary workout. “Whether it was injuries or stuff happens, I’ll never take anything away from him. I know what he brings to the table.

“He’s very athletic. He runs to the ball. When he puts it all together, there’s not a lot of guys that can stop it.”

To read the full article, click HERE

Moncrief calls life alongside Ben ‘fantastic’

By: Hunter Homistek, DKPittsburghSports

Now, Moncrief will work with a future Hall of Famer in Ben Roethlisberger, and he’s loving the experience alongside No. 7 so far.

“He’s great — fantastic, honestly,” Moncrief said. “Just the way he throws the ball, the way he sees things before it happens, it’s fun to play with him. You never know when you’ll get a ball, so you gotta run everything full speed no matter if you’re on the backside or not. He’ll come to you just to see what you’re doing.”

So all that said, does Moncrief feel he made the right decision in coming to Pittsburgh to play with Roethlisberger and company?

“Oh yeah. Most definitely.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • JuJu Smith-Schuster isn’t taking this No. 1 wide receiver thing lightly. He is already planning on handling the media differently, but now is focused on mentoring young wide outs too.

JuJu Smith-Schuster working to become role model for young wideouts

By: Darrin Gant, ProFootballTalk

The Steelers wide receiver was back to work this week after his viral prom weekend, but showing up to work is nothing new for him. In fact, he’s been at every day of voluntary work this offseason in an effort to become a bit of a role model for the young receivers surrounding him.

“It’s very important,” Smith-Schuster said, via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “There are some new guys on the team, and building that chemistry and that connection means a lot. Me just being here, being around other guys, shows I’m ready to play, I’m all about the team, I’m all about us. We’re here for one reason.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness





: https://t.co/sG5oQAOaST pic.twitter.com/rZY7BzkhjN

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 9, 2019

Playmaker.#GoodJuJu | @TeamJuJu pic.twitter.com/rC2FUmndM9

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 9, 2019

Our rookies took a trip to the Mel Blount Youth Home to work with local kids. pic.twitter.com/LC5IkXR5AA

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 8, 2019

Alejandro Villanueva earns MBA from Carnegie Mellon

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/09/2019 - 12:00pm

After four years of hard work, the Steelers offensive tackle has finally completed his studies at the renowned local college

Having spent four years in the U.S Army and served three tours in Afghanistan before beginning a career in NFL, it would be fair to say that Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva has had a relatively unique journey to becoming a professional football player. But when the former Army Ranger first signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, he had little idea that he would ever sign a multi-million dollar contract with an NFL team.

Even when signed to a two-year futures contract with the Steelers worth close to $1 million in 2015, Villanueva was far from confident he had a future in the league, but it did at least give him enough money to be able invest in his future.

By enrolling in the prestigious Tepper School of Business at local Pittsburgh university Carnegie Mellon, Villanueva figured he could translate his big pay day in Pittsburgh into an education while attempting to make the team. As he would explain to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic.

“I never thought I was going to make it in the NFL. The odds in the NFL to make it aren’t very good. I felt that the reason why I was here was so I could afford to go to business school.”

Four years on and Villanueva not only has an even bigger contract with the Steelers than he could ever have imagined, but as of last week, has now also earned his MBA.

The task was not without its challenges, but it should come as no surprise to learn that the man with the military background was more than willing to put in the extra effort required.

“Carnegie Mellon was a great opportunity where I wouldn’t have to leave football to do it. I took (business school) very seriously up until Week 6 when I went from doing my homework at the hotel to having a full-time job and a lot of attention (needed to be) put on the game. Those first two years were very difficult.”

And while some might have decided all the additional hard work was not worth it once he signed a four-year deal worth $24 million in 2017, quitting was never an option that Villanueva considered.

“After the contract, I realized that I had to finish it because I spent a lot of money in tuition the first two years. It did cross my mind that I shouldn’t put as much effort into an exam after the contract, but I never thought about quitting or not finishing the program.”

With his MBA now complete and a career in the league seemingly secure for the next few years at least, the offensive tackle still has no intention of taking it easy, telling Kaboly that he is now considering enrolling at a technical college to learn how to build engines. No one should bet against him succeeding in that field either.

Devin Bush passing tests in offseason workouts, but the true test still awaits

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/09/2019 - 9:56am

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ prized draft pick has been turning heads throughout OTAs, but everyone knows the true test still awaits.

Devin Bush isn’t the biggest man on the football field. Standing at 5’11” tall and weighing 234 pounds, Bush finds himself literally looking up at many of his defensive teammates while he is in the midst of a veteran defense primed for a step forward in 2019. Just don’t think Bush is intimidated as he looks to start the season as the starting ILB for Keith Butler’s defense.

Coming into a new team can be a challenge, but Bush has handled himself as well as anyone can expect throughout Organized Team Activities (OTAs). With no pads on, Bush is flying around the football field showing off his 4.4 40-yard dash speed, and the athleticism which the Steelers coveted to trade up and draft him with the 10th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

But again, this is football in shorts, as Mike Tomlin calls it. Nonetheless, there is still something which can be gleaned from these workouts. Just ask Bush’s teammates.

“He’s not the biggest guy, but he definitely walks with a presence, walks with a purpose,” T.J. Watt told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler of Bush. “He’s taken on a good role in knowing all the plays and being able to call some plays for us.”

Bush’s speed has been probably the most notable aspect of his game, at least according to Watt.

“He’s quicker than snot,” Watt said. “He’s been flying around and making a lot of good plays.”

“He’s been flying around, especially seeing him in the seven shots period. He’s high intensity, doing a good job covering people,” Mason Rudolph said. “You can see his athleticism, and he’s learning quick.”

All high praise for the team’s prized draft pick, but let’s not kid ourselves. The true test for Devin Bush will not be in OTAs, not mandatory minicamp this week, but when the team puts the pads on in late July/early August for training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

“He showed really quickly he’s going to be able to fit in well with the defense with that group of guys,” Vance McDonald said. “When you look at him, you don’t expect him to be as quick or as agile as he is. There’s a couple of things he needs to work on: being more vocal, because of the role Coach Tomlin wants him to fit into quickly, and the expectation of him doing that. But that’s still such a young thing. You never want to overstep, especially when the pressure is on. I think that will come, especially in Latrobe as he gets the pads on.”

Training camp has been the make or break moment for several draft picks in years past, but with Bush’s draft status, and his pedigree, it seems like a good chance he will step up and show out more than shy away and be a disappointment. Then again, only time will tell how Bush will handle the rigors of NFL life in a few months.

When football in shorts ends, and padded practices begin, somewhere in that mix will be when the Steelers will truly see what they have in Devin Bush. As for me, I can’t wait to see No. 55 flying around the football field.

A Letter From The Editor: What makes a die hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/09/2019 - 8:10am

In this week’s letter, I wonder what are the criteria to claim to be a die hard black-and-gold fan.

There are certain public situations which make my wife cringe when I am around. These vary in significance and stature, but one of the most severe is when I am around someone who says, “I’m a die hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan!”

The reason for the awkwardness is my wife is always concerned they won’t match my level of fandom/knowledge.

Before I go any further, I should say that my current situation is different than most. I am someone who is paid to write about the team on a daily basis. Therefore, I am forced to know all the draft picks, where they played college football, those on the 53-man roster bubble and the last time the Steelers had a losing season, 2003.

I have to know these things...it is part of my job. But it makes me wonder what actually makes someone a die hard fan? What is the criteria?

We have all been around the fan who is wearing a Rod Woodson jersey and declares before the game starts they are the biggest Steelers fan of them all. When the kickoff occurs disappointment kicks in when they don’t even know any wide receivers not named JuJu Smith-Schuster, which they promptly butcher the last name...among many others.

You know, the fan who constantly yelled “Martavious Bryant” at the television screen while pining for more “Cowher Power”.

I have no problem with these fans. If you support the black-and-gold, then you are part of the family. You might be a long lost cousin, but you are still in the family. But this brings me back to the question at hand. What is the criteria to declare yourself a die hard fan?

Before getting into that, let me first tell you a list of things I don’t think make you a die hard fan. Having any of these doesn’t mean you aren’t a fan, but, in my opinion, doesn’t give you a free pass into the ‘die hard’ club:

  • The number of jerseys you own
  • Whether you have a ton of Steelers garb on your vehicle
  • Having a man cave with Steelers stuff in it
  • Getting a Steelers tattoo

I could go on, but you get the picture. But defining what a die hard Steelers fan does look like is even more difficult. Why? Because it is different for everyone. For me, the criteria is always based more on knowledge than anything else.

When I started writing here, not as the editor but as a contributor, it was a truly humbling experience. This site houses the most knowledgeable readers/commenters on the internet. They will bring any newbie to his/her knees, but will always build them back up and encourage them to continue to comment and be a part of this rabid Steelers community.

The people who frequent BTSC throughout the year are most definitely die hards. There is no offseason for these fans. They don’t disappear during the offseason and then get re-engaged when September rolls around, but are there for free agency, the draft, OTAs, minicamp and then training camp. No off days.

To me, there is nothing more awesome than meeting someone who is a Steelers fan who knows the team as well as I do. Someone who can talk at length about the battle at right tackle, knows who used to play there, where they went via trade, what the compensation was and who is among those vying for the one vacant spot on the Steelers’ offensive line.

I leave those discussions thinking, “Now that guy/gal is a die hard fan.”

Again, I don’t put down fans who don’t know all nine drafted players in the 2019 NFL Draft, or how T.J. Watt consumes roughly 5,000 calories a day in the offseason to prepare him for the rigors of an NFL season. Instead, I just encourage them to find the site, to read the site and maybe become a part of our close knit community.

We have all had these interactions with fellow fans before, but I wonder...what is your criteria for someone who could be labeled a die hard fan? Let me know in the comment section below! I look forward to reading your responses!

Steelers rookies lend a helping hand to a Steelers legend before mandatory minicamp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/09/2019 - 6:30am

The 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers rookies did a good deed in the Pittsburgh community this offseason.

In an effort to highlight some of the good the Pittsburgh Steelers do in the community, the 2019 rookies went to a very well-known players’ youth home to help work with some students in need.

So often in our culture today the attention given to professional athletes off their field of play is almost strictly negative. But there is still plenty of good happening, and it is up to sites like this one to highlight those actions.

Recently, the Steelers’ rookies went to the Mel Blount Youth Home to work with the young adults, and they did more than just talk the kids. They put them through a workout.

Players like Benny Snell Jr., Derwin Gray and other newcomers to the black-and-gold put these athletes through the ringer. Warm ups, sprints and plenty of team-building and competition to not only help them bond as a draft class, but introduce them to the Steelers fan base.

Check out the video of the event below:

Our rookies took a trip to the Mel Blount Youth Home to work with local kids. pic.twitter.com/LC5IkXR5AA

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 8, 2019

Black and Gold Links: How productive can Bud Dupree actually be in this defense?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/09/2019 - 5:04am

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 what kind of production fans can expect from Bud Dupree not only in 2019, but in Keith Butler’s defense.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Bud Dupree is a player fans love to bash. As a first round draft pick he hasn’t lived up to the hype, but it doesn’t mean he can’t continue to improve and show success. What can fans actually expect from Dupree in 2019?

Carter’s Classroom: How good can Bud be?

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

Bud Dupree was drafted as the 22nd overall pick back in 2015 to bring a resurgence to the Steelers’ pass rush. That hasn’t happened, as the most sacks he had in a season was six in 2017. And without a signed contract with the Steelers after this season, Dupree knows he has to make this season count.

I wrote about Dupree’s progress in 2018 when I graded the linebackers. Dupree cited Mike Tomlin turning him loose as the reason for his improvement in the middle of the season. I expect Dupree to be allowed to rush closer to his own preferences rather than the teaching Joey Porter was pushing in recent years.

Dupree has always been a speed rusher who prefers to beat his man around the edge by being quicker off the ball. But he’s had a hard time mixing that with the need to take sharper angles to create the bend necessary to challenge offensive tackles that wait for the deeper speed rush.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • A new change to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ coaching staff seems to be blending well with a coach from last year.

Bradley, Austin meshing with new secondary

By: Dale Lolley, DKPittsburghSports

It seems you can go home again.

At least that’s the case for Steelers defensive backs coaches Tom Bradley and Teryl Austin. The two men come from different areas of Western Pennsylvania — Bradley from Johnstown, Austin from Sharon — but the football coaching community is a small one. And in this case, it led Bradley and Austin back together again this year when the Steelers hired the latter.

Again?

This is the second time Bradley and Austin have worked together. In 1991, Bradley, then an outside linebackers and special teams coach at Penn State, was on staff when Joe Paterno made the move to bring in a young former Pitt star who had just completed his playing career after a brief stint in the World League of American Football with the Montreal Machine.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Hate the preseason? Think it is too long? Roger Goodell seems hell bent on shortening this part of the NFL calendar.

Roger Goodell repeats stance to shorten preseason

By: Herbie Teope, NFL.com

According to Wawrow, Goodell drew on discussions he had with coaches around the league before concluding the current span of preseason games is not required to evaluate players before the start of the regular season.

Goodell told reporters the league should strive to accomplish tasks at a high level, “and I’m not sure preseason games meet that level right now,” via Wawrow.

The length of preseason action comes up every summer, of course, but Goodell entrenched in an idea that the exhibition games need to be cut from four games could eventually effect change.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Sean Davis finally got back to the field during the last week of OTAs, and he has a plan on how to improve his game, and the defense’s game, heading into the 2019 regular season.

Back with a plan

By: Mike Prisuta, Steelers.com

“Yeah man, it’s been a while since we played together,” Davis explained. “Just choppin’ it up, talking about the year, talking about practice today and trying to get better.”

Davis anticipates having a better feel entering his second season at free safety.

His first campaign after switching from strong safety resulted in one interception for Davis and eight for the Steelers.

“I was trying to get the hang of things, and maybe I was more focused on being the last man back there rather than playing aggressively,” he said. “But obviously one interception isn’t enough for me. How many did we have as a unit? Eight is not enough for all of us, that’s definitely been a point of emphasis.

“For me personally, I’m just trying to get better, learn different angles, read the quarterbacks a little bit better and just perfect my craft. One interception is not acceptable, so definitely gotta get more than that this year.”

To read the rest of this article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Phase 3️⃣ is a wrap.

Minicamp pic.twitter.com/Mc9fIFsRlm

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 8, 2019

Doing whatever it takes.

: https://t.co/T2tqxP5ggF pic.twitter.com/vCIrn45HHv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 8, 2019

Benny Snell Jr. to prove to the Steelers he is more than just a power running back

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/08/2019 - 1:05pm

When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Benny Snell Jr., they knew they got a pure power running back. Snell is out to prove he can do more than just power running.

With Le’Veon Bell now a member of the New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Steelers running backs all have their own areas where they excel. James Conner, probably the most complete of the Steelers running backs, is best suited for a one-cut downhill style of running attack. In contrast, Jaylen Samuels proved last year he might lead the group in versatility. With the ability to run routes and catch passes out of the backfield, Samuels is a matchup nightmare for the opposition.

Then there is rookie Benny Snell Jr.

Snell Jr. was labeled as a bruising power runner coming out of Kentucky, but after rookie minicamp and Organized Team Activities (OTAs) Snell is out to prove he is more than just a power running back, but an all-around talent to help round out the stable of backs.

“I can block, run, catch; whatever they say, I’ll be happy to do,” Snell told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review after an OTA session. “I want to see the field as soon as possible.”

Maybe Snell is following the path of some of the other rookies in how they are taking a ‘the more you can do’ approach to not just making the 53-man roster, but to seeing the field sooner, rather than later.

Snell, who stands 5-feet 10-inches tall and weighs roughly 245 lbs., set school records running the football, but didn’t do the same catching the ball out of the backfield. In his final year at Kentucky, Snell caught 17 passes for 105 yards. Over this three years in college Snell registered just 29 receptions for a whopping 216 yards and no touchdowns.

Not that this part of his game isn’t strong, maybe just not showcased while in Kentucky, but if Snell wants to see the field as a rookie he will need to show he is capable of pass blocking, catching the ball as well as running the ball effectively at the professional level. Even Snell knows how the game changes from the college level to the NFL, he has seen it already in offseason workouts.

“The game is really fast,” Snell said. “It’s like, you just got to be able to go at your own pace but you have to be able to learn and get better everyday — because if you don’t get better every day, everyone will pass you by. So, it’s really about always learning from each experience.”

For Snell, and the rest of the rookies, the next step in the process is mandatory minicamp on June 11-13, but it is what follows which is the true test. Training Camp. When the pads go on and the cans and cannots are deciphered in front of coaches and fans alike.

I have a feeling Benny Snell Jr. can’t wait for those hot days at Saint Vincent College to prove himself.

Mason Rudolph looking to make ‘huge strides’ from his rookie season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/08/2019 - 11:30am

The Steelers second-year quarterback spoke to reporters about the improvements he has made to his game since his rookie season and his comfort in the offense

While Mason Rudolph may have no shot of unseating Ben Roethlisberger as the Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback in 2019, he will enter training camp with every intention of taking the backup job away from Josh Dobbs.

Without the benefit of a dedicated quarterbacks coach like many of his peers around the NFL enjoy, Rudolph has been forced to take it upon himself to find help with his game from outside the organization. Working under the tutelage of Tom House, a former major-league pitcher known as “The Throwing Doctor,” the second-year player is reportedly looking even stronger at OTAs this offseason.

And when speaking to the media after practice on Thursday, Rudolph was clearly much happier with the improvements he has made since his rookie season. As reported by Josh Rowntree of 93.7 The Fan.

“I thought I improved a lot, just comfortability ... Personally, I feel I threw the ball very well, I took care of the ball, barely any turnovers - especially in the red zone. That was an emphasis for myself. Speed everything up in the red zone, make sure my ball placement’s good. We’re giving guys a chance to make plays. I thought I did that and was accurate.”

“That’s always been my motto. Let’s be, not just be a little bit better, but make huge strides from the previous year. Whether it was high school or college and that’s what I’ve done this year. From a protections standpoint and general knowledge of the offense ... 100 times better than it was last year.”

With Roethlisberger present for each day of OTAs but not always practicing, there has plenty of chances for Rudolph to run with the first-team. And in the battle to be the No.2 quarterback on the roster, the young player appears to be relishing the opportunity to impress.

“It’s awesome. It’s different faces, especially the number one oline, it’s good to hang out with the for a change and get in the huddle with those guys. They’re always fun and fun to be around. But whoever you’re getting reps with out here, you get a chance to maximize your rep every single day and that’s the way I look at it.”

Noting he had seen a lot more time with the starting unit in year two, Rudolph suggested to reporters that he was starting to earn the trust of offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner

“Randy feels more comfortable with me and my knowledge and that I’m going to go in there and run the play and execute. I think that’s just what happens in year two. It’s been great, it’s awesome to be with those first guys, very valuable.”

The full interview can be heard here, with Rudolph opening up more about the work he has been doing this offseason with names like Jaylen Samuels and Darrius Heyward-Bey away from team facilities and his thoughts on the new crop of rookies.

Former Steelers QB Landry Jones among players attending XFL Summer Showcase

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/08/2019 - 10:00am

Hoping to resurrect his football career in the fledgling XFL, Landry Jones is one of several former Steelers who took part in a combine style event in Dallas for the new league on Friday

After a disappointing end to the inaugural season of the Alliance of American Football, it would be fair to question how much of an appetite football fans will have for the XFL in 2020. Much like the failed AAF, the returning league will feature eight different teams and many well-known coaches in charge of rosters containing several former NFL players.

On Friday, the XFL gave potential viewers and indicator of the sort of talent they could expect to be watching next spring with the first of eight Summer Showcase events they plan to hold in each of the league’s host cities. An invitation-only workout that included former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones among other notable names.

XFL Summer Showcase today at Maverick Stadium in Arlington. Some of the notable players expected to participate: Landry Jones, Aaron Ripkowski, Trevone Boykin, Lance Dunbar, Kony Ealy, Christine Michael, Sterling Moore, Ahmad Dixon, Marqueston Huff, Frank Alexander, Ondre Pipkins pic.twitter.com/SDi9fO1nYe

— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) June 7, 2019

As per the full list of players in attendance on Friday, Jones was far from the only name with Black and Gold connections going through his paces in Texas, with running back Daryl Richardson, tight end Cameron Clear and defensive backs Dashuan Phillips and Brandon Dixon also among the players taking part.

Here's The full roster for today's Summer Showcase in Dallas... pic.twitter.com/jA8tm31l2Y

— XFL To BHAM - Official Page (@XflTo) June 7, 2019

As per the XFL, the showcase event will include:

  • Height, weight, and additional measurements for each player
  • Light Combine-like athletic testing, including the 40-yard-dash and shuttle drills
  • Individual positional workouts and 1-on-1 drills, led by XFL Coaching Staff
  • Private, additional workouts with XFL Coaching Staff, as needed
  • Provide player interviews and background information, as needed
  • Players will receive boxed lunch upon completion of XFL Summer Showcase

The next event will be held in Houston on Saturday and will feature at least one more former Steelers player in wide receiver Demarcus Ayers, most recently seen playing for the San Antonio Commodores of the AAF.

.@WillThrill25, @DAYERS_LOE and @noceilings27 will all be in attendance at tomorrow's @XFLHouston Summer Showcase, where they will go through a series of drills in front of #XFL coaches and scouts. pic.twitter.com/ny6TxLxTCN

— XFL (@xfl2020) June 7, 2019

The remaining showcase events on the schedule:

  • Houston: June 8th - TDECU Stadium
  • New York: June 14th - Sprague Field Carlisle Rd
  • Washington DC: June 15th - The St. James Complex
  • Los Angeles: June 21st - Veterans Memorial Stadium
  • Seattle: June 22nd - Memorial Stadium
  • Tampa Bay: June 29th - Raymond James Stadium
  • St. Louis: July 13th - Lou Fusz Training Facility

Apparently, I’m a Steelers writer that likes to stir the pot, and that’s just fine

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/08/2019 - 8:09am

Am I a Steelers writer that likes to stir the pot? What subject is too controversial to write about? Mike Tomlin? Le’Veon Bell? Antonio Brown? Ben Roethlisberger? Where is the line?

“He just likes to stir the pot! That’s his shtick, and he’s probably watching us go at one another and laughing hysterically.”

That’s a typical comment I see when one of my edgy and pot-stirring Steelers articles gets published on Behind the Steel Curtain.

But what is considered edgy? What is considered controversial? What is stirring the pot? Am I really a part of the media that reaches those that truly matter (not that you don’t matter, but you know what I mean)? And when I write, like I did last week, that Ben Roethlisberger should have kept quiet and not asked rookie Zach Gentry to wear a number other than old pal Heath Miller’s 83, do you think Big Ben read that? If so, I have a message for Roethlisberger: Hey, Ben, I dare you to block me on Twitter like you have half the free world. I’ll check your account after this is published to see just how deep my big spoon goes into the pot when I stir my controversial sauce.

Anyway, I obviously know which topics are controversial.

For example, that thing that was always in the news two years ago that had everyone in an uproar.

I won’t mention it by name, but let’s pretend some players began wearing polka dot underwear during NFL games, and this really upset a bunch of people. “How dare these players wear polka dot underwear!”

Other people were like, “What does it matter what kind of underwear a player has on during a game? It’s really nobody’s business.”

But the offended believed this fashion choice to be disrespectful, while others simply didn’t want a player throwing his choice of underwear in their face while they tried to watch a game. “I watch football to escape underwear!”

And then the CEO of Fruit of the Loom got in on the act and demanded all players wear plain boxers. This just made matters worse, as some players vowed to go commando during games.

This led to just crazy rhetoric and propaganda, such as, “I heard half of these players don’t even tip the proper amount on takeout orders!” Sure, this had nothing to do with polka dot underwear, but that’s how far out of control everything had gotten.

And whenever I, or even writers who didn’t like to stir the pot, wrote about this subject, it led to comments and discussions that had nothing to do with the NFL or even underwear. “I blame the hippie generation for introducing us to free love and bell bottoms in the 1960s!”

It just made for an ugly scene at BTSC, which is why it’s a good thing that particular subject isn’t broached very often these days.

So, I’ll give you that. I often liked to stir the pot with the whole players wearing polka dot underwear thing.

As for everything else Steelers-related? Come on.

How is writing about which player wears what number stirring the pot? How is writing about Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell stirring the pot? How is wanting Mike Tomlin to remain head coach a controversial topic? Aren’t we all fans? Firing the head coach, that’s pretty big.

What if I say I'm rooting for Bud Dupree in 2019? Is that poking the bear aka the people that hate his guts and don't want him to post double-digit sacks for some strange reason? Why would you not want that? Is rooting for Bud going to divide the readers?

Back to the pot stirring. Am I stirring the pot in the Steelers locker room with these subjects or just in your house?

If it’s your house, well, while I do realize you’re a huge Steelers fan, and I certainly appreciate your readership here at BTSC (we all do, really), you’ll have to forgive me for going all William Shatner in that classic SNL Trekkie convention skit from the mid-80s when I say....get a life, will you! I mean, for crying out loud, it’s just a football team. I mean, look at you. How old are you? What have you done with yourself? Move out of your parents’ basement!

Sorry, that was a recreation of the pot-stirring Tony. You know, like the guy who wrote about the polka dot underwear in 2017?

I promise not to stir the pot for the remainder of the 2019 off-season, regular season, postseason and the Super Bowl where the black and gold will live long and prosper!

Go Steelers!

Steelers Facts designed (but not guaranteed) to impress your friends and family

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/08/2019 - 6:30am

One BTSC writer tries to beat the monotony of the Steelers offseason with little known facts about he Steelers. Caution: Amazement and astonishment are not proven outcomes with most parties.

As a Steeler site, BTSC prides itself on breaking news, coverage, stats, commentary, satire, predictions and more. I try to dip my feet into all of those sections of the river. But sometimes I feel that we lose sight of the humans behind the helmets. With that in mind, I’d like to add some fun and the triumph of the human spirit to my regular duties at BTSC with the Steelers Fun Fact of the Day on every week day.

Here we go. But first a warning: You will not get the next fifteen seconds of your life back, but you’re already invested so enjoy.

Rosie Nix lost his job on cable television

Really? Back in 2014 and going by Roosevelt Nix-Jones, the Pro Bowl fullback was an undrafted free agent out of Kent State. A defensive lineman for the Golden Flashes, Roosevelt switched to linebacker because of his lack of NFL size for his college position. However, the Falcons switched RNJ to the fullback position. Nix was shining in training camp with his agility and toughness. Rosie even hit a blocking sled so hard, he broke it. However, with the HBO cameras in camp to record the Hard Knocks* series, GM Thomas Dimitroff and HC Mike Smith summoned the young player in and informed him that they were not retaining his services and were letting him go as their first cut. Nix handled the disappointing news with class and grace, while his teammates were shocked and upset on camera regarding his early departure. Nix hooked on with the Cleveland Gladiators of the AFL. But the next season, the Steelers signed him as a linebacker. They then switched Nix back to fullback because of overwhelming depth at the lb position. But his odds were still long with Will Johnson entrenched at the position. Nix did stand out as a special teams player and won a job on the 53 man roster. In 2017, Nix was named to the Pro Bowl and has become a valuable part of the team. The rest is Steeler history that started with a televised audience watching a young athlete get his dreams shattered on HBO.

Cam Heyward was fined by the NFL for honoring his deceased father

If you want a good reason to hate what Roger Goodall and the suits of the NFL stand for, it is this ridiculous story. The top pick of the Steelers in the 2011 draft out of Ohio State, Heyward was very well known before his arrival in Pittsburgh. His father, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, was a legendary player for the Pitt Panthers and a veteran of five NFL teams. Sadly, Ironhead succumbed to bone cancer after an eight-year battle in 2006. In 2015, then a five-year vet, Cam decided to honor his father and raise cancer awareness by displaying his dad’s nickname in eyeblack on his face during games. Doing it during the NFL’s October Breast Cancer Awareness campaign seemed logical to most, but apparently the NFL doesn’t benefit from honoring a former player that died from a different form of cancer and fined Heyward for uniform violations.

Heyward and the league reached an agreement that the would reduce his nearly $18K in fines if he agreed to stop the tribute and honor his dad in a different way. Cam formed a partnership with eyeblack.com and raised money for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Southeastern Brain Tumor Foundation. Cam still wears eyeblack every game, albeit blank, as a tribute to his dad.

There you go. While these stories aren’t breaking news or hard-hitting and informative stats, I hope that my inner-Clavin* sparks your inner C&C Music Factory* and are “Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm”

It has been brought to my attention that some of my pop culture references that I frequently use are not known by all. So here is a reference guide.

  • HBO’s Hard Knocks is a series that captures an all access look at a specific NFL team in training camp.
  • Cliff Clavin was a character on the hit NBC television series Cheers that aired from 1982-1993. Played by John Ratzenberger, Clavin was a mailman with a penchant for spouting off useless trivia.
  • C&C Music Factory was an American recording act that hit big in 1990 with “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now). They also had a hit about curiosity with 1991’s “Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm”.

Black and Gold Links: The best news coming from OTAs? No injuries

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/08/2019 - 5:00am

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 the best news out of Steelers OTAs is the fact they haven’t suffered any big injuries — unlike 2018.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Steelers have a lot to celebrate after Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and nothing greater than the fact they didn’t suffer any big injuries throughout the workouts.

Unlike 2018, Steelers escape OTAs with healthy roster

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Five things we learned about the three-week organized team activities that the Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up Thursday:

1. Good health

Ask any coach, and he or she likely will tell you the most important thing about OTAs is getting through it without incurring any significant injuries.

Unlike last season, the Steelers got through their nine voluntary workouts (plus a trip to Topgolf) unscathed.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The Steelers picked up Bud Dupree’s 5th year option for 2019, but would you believe Dupree didn’t know the team could have pulled the deal?

Bud Dupree unaware Steelers could have pulled 5th-year option

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Told that the option afforded to first-round draft picks was only guaranteed against injury prior to March 13, as was the case with linebacker Ryan Shazier in 2018, Dupree professed innocence.

“I never had no thoughts of (them) taking it back,” Dupree said. “All the conversations I had with everybody – the coaches on the staff, the GM – we never had a conversation on why they would take it back, or (if there was) a disappointment or anything in that nature.

“Once they told me they picked it up going into my fourth year, I just knew it was for the long haul.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Jordan Berry has some competition...again...but will this year be any different in regards to the result?

Rookie Ian Berryman latest to take on Jordan Berry in quest to be Steelers punter

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

When the draft ended early in the evening April 27, Ian Berryman nervously sat through some excruciating moments.

“It felt like an eternity,” said Berryman, then a recent graduate of Western Carolina, “but it was probably like 5 minutes after the draft they called.”

The “they” was the Pittsburgh Steelers. And the reason the Steelers called was to sign Berryman to an undrafted free-agent contract.

“I had a few other offers, but here is probably where I just felt the best fit,” Berryman said. “The Steelers wanted to sign me to a contract, and I am forever blessed for that.”

To read the full article click HERE

Former Steelers backup QB Landry Jones among the names the XFL is promoting for its combine

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

This June, he will be taking part in what is effectively a scouting combine for the XFL.

The XFL returns in 2020, and the cities for each of the eight teams that will begin play for the spring league are the sites for what it is calling the Summer Showcase.

The league’s official Twitter account has been teasing these events, at which invited players will have their heights, weights and other measurements taken in addition to be asked to run through football and other athletic drills, plus be interviewed by league personnel.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Phase 3️⃣ is a wrap.

Minicamp pic.twitter.com/Mc9fIFsRlm

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 8, 2019

for the . pic.twitter.com/ga8IWQBqCO

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 7, 2019

Our players, coaches and staff spent this afternoon packing meals for @IAmFCE to help those served by the @PghFoodBank.#SteelersHuddlefor100 pic.twitter.com/53cj2Cn1C0

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 7, 2019

pic.twitter.com/Jomc3pQqGp

— TJ Watt (@_TJWatt) June 8, 2019

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Edition, Vol. 23

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/07/2019 - 5:43pm

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

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

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

The rules haven’t changed...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

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

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

1. If there was ONE position which you think the Steelers should look for help when rosters start to get trimmed down, what position would it be and why?

2. At season’s end, who has more yards rushing? Jaylen Samuels or Benny Snell Jr.?

3. Give me your cornerback depth chart before Week 1 of the 2019 regular season...

4. This past week on the ‘Steelers Preview’ podcast we broke down Sutton Smith. Do you Smith as anything more than a glorified camp darling in 2019? Please explain your answer...

5. Of all the bad quarterbacks who have taken snaps as a member of the Steelers, which makes you cringe the most?

6. a) OVER/UNDER Defensive Interceptions in 2019 — 12
b) OVER/UNDER Offensive Interceptions in 2019 — 13

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

Revenge can certainly be a motivating factor for the Steelers in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/07/2019 - 1:17pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers have some scores to settle in 2019.

There are some who believe motivation shouldn’t be necessary for players who are getting paid millions to play a game. I can see this side of the story, but there are always those circumstances when extrinsic motivation can certainly come in handy.

Being labeled an underdog can be enough to motivate players, just ask the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, but getting revenge on an opponent certainly is another way to motivate a team. The 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers, will have their share of opportunities for revenge this upcoming season.

The dictionary definition of revenge is as follows:

the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.

If you think back to the past few months/seasons, the Steelers will have ample opportunity to seek out revenge.

The first area to hopefully feel the wrath of the 2019 Steelers is the national sports media - all those people who have bashed the Steelers, Mike Tomlin, the organization and Ben Roethlisberger throughout the offseason - the media members who predicted the Steelers won’t make the playoffs and their playoff window is officially closed. The Steelers can deliver a big slice of humble pie to those media members by going out and taking care of business.

While the Steelers don’t play the Oakland Raiders this season, you better believe Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster want nothing more than to go out and light the world on fire, proving not only to themselves, but to fans everywhere how the Steelers weren’t made by Antonio Brown, but Antonio Brown was made by Roethlisberger and the Steelers.

Mike Tomlin certainly can dish out a little bit of revenge in a lot of ways. Silencing his critics who claim he won with Bill Cowher’s players, always loses to sub-par teams and has lost control of his locker room by getting back to the big dance would go a long way towards cementing his own legacy within the organization.

But let’s not forget the actual product on the field. There are several games on the Steelers’ 2019 schedule which will give them an opportunity to right some wrongs done in the 2018 season.

Let’s take a look:

Week 1 at Patriots

Yes, I realize the Steelers beat the Patriots last year, but they are still the Patriots, and they are the defending Super Bowl champions. What better way to exorcise the demons than by ruining the party at Foxborough in Week 1.

Week 5 vs. Ravens

It’s the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. Do I need to say any more? This will be the first meeting between the two teams with Lamar Jackson entrenched as the starter, and if the Steelers are hoping for a season sweep of their rivals, this is a game they must-win.

Week 6 at Chargers

Everyone remembers the 2018 game at Heinz Field vs. the Los Angeles Chargers, where the officiating crew completely forgot to watch the offensive tackle jumping offsides. Time to seek some revenge in 2019.

Week 11 at Browns

Remember the Week 1 tie in 2018? Yeah, it still doesn’t sound right. Baker Mayfield and the media’s new favorite team, the Browns, will be facing off against the Steelers for the first time in 2019. Steelers can set the tone early.

Week 16 at Jets

The Le’Veon Bell game. While Bell’s departure wasn’t as messy as Brown’s, he still didn’t show up when the team expected him last year. This will be the defense’s first crack at cracking Bell on the field as a member of the Jets.

Did I miss something? Is there another area of the Steelers which is ripe for some revenge? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

Pouring over Ben Roethlisberger’s Touchdown to Interception Ratio and what it says about 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/07/2019 - 11:58am

Additionally, recent touchdown stats from Steeler tight ends are addressed

Compiling statistics can take hours upon hours in order to find the proper numbers. To save you the trouble, here are some of the best statistics about the Steelers from the past few weeks.

I will begin with a few statistics of my own before going on to other various Steeler sources. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @STLRSuperFanDad in order to get some of BTSC’s geekiest stats.

Here is a highlight of the past several “Stat Geek” segments from the Steelers Preview Podcast:

Ben Roethlisberger’s touchdown to interception ratio:

Highest: 3.56 (32/9) in 2014 (16 games)

Lowest: 0.782 (18/23) in 2006 (15 games)

Over 3.00:

3.25 (26/8) in 2012 (13 games)

3.40 (17/5) in 2010 (12 games)

Super Bowl Winning Seasons:

1.89 (17/9) in 2005 (12 games); 3.33 (10/3) in playoffs

1.13 (17/15) in 2008 (16 games); 3.00 (3/1) in playoffs

Last 4 Seasons:

2.13 (34/16) in 2018 (16 games)

2.00 (28/14) in 2017 (15 games)

2.23 (29/13) in 2016 (14 games)

1.31 (21/16) in 2015 (11 games)

Regular Season Career:

1.91 (363/190)

Playoff Career:

1.25 (30/24)

Touchdowns scored by Steelers tight ends:

2018: 6 (McDonald: 4; James: 2)

2017: 5 (James: 3; McDonald: 1; Grimble: 1)

2016: 6 (James: 3; Grimble: 2; Green: 1)

2015: 3 (Miller: 2; James: 1)

2014: 5 (Miller: 3; Palmer: 1; Spaeth: 1)

2013: 1 (Miller: 1)

2012: 10 (Miller: 8; Pope: 2)

Heath Miller’s 8 touchdowns in 2012 is the most of any Steeler in a season by a tight end. Vance McDonald’s 4 touchdowns in 2018 has him tied for 11th all-time for the Steelers.

The 3 seasons Ben Roethlisberger has reached the Super Bowl (2005, 2008, and 2010), he was tied for his fewest regular season TD passes of his career (17).

— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) May 22, 2019

The Steelers have had 9 seasons with 50 or more sacks, but they’ve never had 3 seasons in a row with 50. Their back-to-back 50+ sack seasons were in 2017 & 2018 and in 2001 & 2002. Unfortunately in 2003, they followed their streak with only 35 sacks.

— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) May 19, 2019

The Steelers were No. 1 in receiving as a team last season in the AFC North.

Which reshuffled unit earns the top spot in 2019?? pic.twitter.com/gwQZNHfoR6

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 6, 2019

Slot cornerbacks are hard to come by and ever-so valuable in today's NFL

PFF's Ben Cooper examines the value of Pittsburgh's Mike Hilton and why the team should invest in him sooner rather than later:https://t.co/YzAN4DYZtl pic.twitter.com/88Ze5nNZlV

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 4, 2019

The #Steelers want to spread the ball around following the departure of Brown. The team believes they have at least 9 viable pass-catching options (via @JFowlerESPN)

The PIT offense has the weapons to be the most explosive in the #NFL and the OL to help them do it. pic.twitter.com/9kTktS2CTE

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) June 3, 2019

James Conner's versatility was on full display last season! He averaged 10.1 yards after the catch, sixth among RBs pic.twitter.com/tujjtrDHK6

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 3, 2019

Pittsburgh had the highest team pass-blocking grade in the AFC North a season ago, just ahead of the Browns as they finished No. 2 and 3 in the NFL, respectively. pic.twitter.com/dbYnkXFHRl

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 3, 2019

The highest graded #Steelers defenders by season in the PFF era!

Get access to the PFF database back to 2006 with PFF Elite: https://t.co/l3pIHtzwv9 pic.twitter.com/bqhY7Tliwp

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) May 28, 2019

During the 2018 regular season, the teams who had the lowest pressure rate allowed:

1. Pittsburgh
2. New England
3. New Orleans pic.twitter.com/SgKnz60v9n

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 24, 2019

The Steelers narrowly edged the Ravens for top overall team grade in the AFC North from the 2018 season. pic.twitter.com/s8zZvB1YPi

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 22, 2019

Pittsburgh led the way in the AFC North in terms of team offensive grade from the 2018 season pic.twitter.com/klY7TO9U5J

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 22, 2019

Steelers RB Benny Snell's yards after contact, per carry, per direction pic.twitter.com/EZEIGciscZ

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 19, 2019

Lacking leadership last year, Steelers are awash with volunteers in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/07/2019 - 10:33am

The Steelers appear to be taking the issue of leadership very seriously this offseason

The issue of leadership within the Pittsburgh Steelers organization has been a hotly discussed topic this offseason, with questions raised about multiple members of the team from Art Rooney II to the players in the locker room. And while the team has been harshly criticized at times by some in the national media, it would be fair to say that some of the observations are not completely without merit.

If the first few weeks of organized team activities (OTAs) are any indication, it would appear that the doubts of the outsiders have been heard loud and clear in the locker room, with leadership seemingly the new buzzword among the players. Not only have the more obvious names like Ben Roethlisberger, Ramon Foster, Joe Haden and Cameron Heyward spoken openly and often about a need for them to step up more in 2019, several of the younger players on the roster are also embracing the idea of becoming a leader.

Conscious of the fact that he is now one of the longest serving wide receivers on the team and the clear No. 1 of the group, JuJu Smith-Schuster spoke about the subject at length during the first week of OTAs, despite still being one of the youngest players on the roster.

“Yeah, it is weird, being 22, but having that many games played, being a role model for that room, I’m pretty sure I can take on that challenge and that’s what I’ve been doing. You know, being the leader and just trying to, you know, contribute like everybody else.”

“With the experience that I’ve played at this point, age is just a number. I’ve played enough games under my belt where I’ll be able to take on this. It’s just another challenge that we’ve got to deal with.”

“I’m already vocal. I’m just vocal just in person, that’s how I am. There’s no need for me to go out of my way and yell at the guys. We’re all adults here. We all know what’s right from wrong. Everyone just works. Everyone has a voice in the room. It’s not just mine.”

“I like to have a little voice. Being a young guy in a room, being 22, I feel like my dog, a French bulldog, you know, just barking at everybody. But at the same time, they’ve got dogs too, so they can bark. I like that role.”

Stopping short of calling himself a leader, James Conner also acknowledged his relative experience in a young running back room, telling Teresa Varley of Steelers.com that he would rise to the challenge as needed.

“It’s something that just happens, I just go about my business, and when I can help someone I will. If that is a leader role, it is.”

Given those two members of the 2017 draft class are already preparing to assume leadership roles, it should perhaps come as no surprise to learn that the first player selected that year is also looking to take on that mantle in 2019 as well. T.J. Watt spoke in detail about his plans to be an example to the younger players on the team when talking to reporters.

“Just trying to build that leadership role and be a guy the younger guys can look up to. Be a tone setter for the defense and the whole team. This time of year is really big. My rookie year I was really big on staying quiet and just working. My second year trying to prove myself, and I feel like I still haven’t fully proven myself. I feel like through what I have done around here, everyone sees the work I do and I can get in a leadership role and have a voice on this defense.”

T.J. Watt talks about becoming a leader, working on his pass rush, building chemistry this time of year and more. pic.twitter.com/3ULmuf7fqs

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 29, 2019

Vance McDonald also talked about stepping into a leadership role with Dale Lolley of DK Pittsburgh Sports, the veteran name at the top of a very young and inexperience tight end group.

“It’s good. We got three young guys, I think, that have a shot to make rosters, whether it’s here or somewhere else. Man, I know what it’s like. It seems like just yesterday that I was a rookie or, you know a second-, third-year guy, so it’s always enjoyable to pass along knowledge.”

“At the end of the day, I’m trying to make our room the best that it can possibly be. I think that’s what it requires in order to play good, team football. I have to unselfishly approach those guys; like, if I were to go down or X were to go down or anybody, our room can still be effective. I just want to approach those guys like I can fill in seven years of knowledge, so I’m going to help them out any way I can.”

This sentiment was also echoed by both Mike Hilton and Sean Davis. Hilton may still be patiently waiting for a long term contract, but that has not impacted his willingness to pass on his knowledge to the younger players. As reported by Chris Adamski of TribLive.

“I know, especially in our room, I am trying to take on more of a leader role, trying to be more vocal while also take accountability for myself.”

The fourth-year safety also clearly aware of his veteran status among a young safety group.

“Time flies, It’s crazy. I’m an older guy now ... Guys look up to me to help them, teach them stuff and know that coach is looking to me to do that. Time is flying — and my role has changed tremendously.”

With so many young players at key positions groups, the Steelers will need veteran leaders across the roster if they are to be successful in 2019 - and it is reassuring to see that so many players appear willing to fill the void. Hopefully learning from the past mistakes of supposed leaders like Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, this new crop of veteran leaders is saying all the right things when it comes to accountability and leading by example. Should this continue when the going gets tough during the regular season, Pittsburgh might finally be able to put the criticisms behind them.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have attempted to address their need for speed

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/07/2019 - 8:45am

The Pittsburgh Steelers realized they needed to address some speed issues at multiple positions on the field after last season. Playing speed that is.

It happens every year like clockwork. Every incoming rookie confesses that their greatest challenge is adjusting to the speed of the professional game. This statement comprises much more than pure foot speed however. It references the pace of the action that requires a massive amount of information be processed almost instantaneously. The insane quickness off the snap, not just by the skill position players, but also by the behemoths that make up the offensive and defensive lines, always takes some time to adjust to for any rookie.

Each season multiple NFL franchises learn a valuable lesson. Not all speed is created equally. There is foot speed, and then there is playing speed. Playing speed is always far more valuable.

Every year we all become enamored with the NFL Combine, aka the Underwear Olympics. It graces us all with some semblance of football to obsess over during the long off season. Undoubtedly the most discussed individual drill is the forty yard dash. Players predict their individual times and challenges are made. Players can conceivably make themselves millions of dollars with a impressive performance, or cost themselves millions with a disappointing forty time. The big question for any NFL decision maker is does the forty time even matter for some players? For every yes vote there are just as many maybes.

For some players, speed is their greatest weapon. Players like Chris Johnson, Deion Sanders, Tyreek Hill, and Darrell Green all ran insanely fast forty times and that speed was evident every time they stepped on the field. In a league filled with large, fast individuals these players were obviously the fastest player in any game they participated in. Their forty times perfectly matched their playing speed. That isn't always the case. For every John Ross there is a Jerry Rice.

John Ross is a wide receiver from the University of Washington that became a first round draft pick for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017 after running the fastest official forty time in Combine history. Ross was credited with a blistering 4.22 forty and the Bengals started drooling like Pavlov's dog. The only thing faster than Ross' forty time was his ability to get injured after being selected by the snake bit Bengals. All joking aside, the record breaking forty hasn't been evident when Ross has managed to see the field.

Living legend and undisputed greatest receiver in NFL history Jerry Rice is at the completely opposite end of the spectrum. Rice was an accomplished receiver out of small school Mississippi Valley State who's biggest question mark was his foot speed. His forty times were reportedly in the 4.7 range, which would be pedestrian for a tight end, absolutely dismal for a wide receiver. The San Francisco Forty Niners were more concerned with his playing speed and still chose him in the first round of the 1985 Draft. The rest is history.

Jerry Rice was the rare individual that didn't lose any speed once he was in uniform. If anything, he was even faster once you added adrenalin into the equation. Watching him run was a thing of beauty. There was no wasted motion. Jerry's head was perfectly still, even at full speed. This allowed him to watch the ball all the way into his hands, something nearly impossible for some players. Their heads bounce around like Ace Ventura driving that monster truck. Rice admitted he ran faster on the field because he was always scared of being caught from behind, something that seldom ever happened. Rice's forty time proved to be irrelevant.

Sometimes a forty time can have actual have merit and be a precursor of things to come. Former Steelers first round selection Jarvis Jones ran a markedly slow forty that raised a huge red flag for many teams. Questions arose as to whether his college production was a byproduct of superior play design and execution more so than his athletic attributes. Sadly, the Steelers learned that lesson the hard way.

The Steelers have committed to a renewed focus on playing speed with the players they drafted this year and picked up during free agency. Their free agent additions all have displayed excellent playing speed previously and the ability to utilize it.

The draft picks are still an unproven lot, but early reports have been encouraging. LB Devin Bush's game is predicated on his excellent speed, both timed and functional. Initial reactions have proven anything but disappointing. Draftees like Diontae Johnson and Benny Snell Jr were highly successful, skilled college performers who's only real concern entering the draft was their timed speed. Both young men displayed throughout their college careers the superior quickness, balance, and playing speed necessary to have a productive professional career.

Only time will tell, but I for one am looking forward to when they throw on a uniform and start popping some pads. Then we will see where some adrenalin can take us.

Steelers OTA Recap, Day 10: Diontae Johnson looking to build on offseason workouts into 2019 success

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/07/2019 - 7:23am

Time to check in on what went down at the UPMC Practice Facility for Organized Team Activities.

The Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up their 10th, and final, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) session, and in doing so those 2019 NFL Draft picks have been put through the proverbial ringer.

Learning new playbooks, being pushed to the limits mentally and having to adapt to the speed and style of the National Football League. Judging by the success, or should I say failure, of many draft picks across the league, not everyone can handle the transition.

Steelers fans have been waiting patiently to hear from all nine of the Steelers’ draft picks throughout the three week OTA process, and on the last day they get to hear an in-depth interview with their second pick, former Toledo WR Diontae Johnson.

Take a look, and listen, at Johnson had to say with his first OTAs under his belt, now preparing for his first minicamp and eventually training camp.

.@Juiceup__3 is focused on making every day productive headed into his first NFL season. pic.twitter.com/mzJesVbUb9

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 6, 2019

Fans have heard a lot from Rudolph so far this offseason, and of course the quarterback is saying all the right things, but one thing is for sure — Rudolph will be given every opportunity to win the backup spot behind Ben Roethlisberger.

Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph says he’s gotten ‘a lot’ more first-team reps this year than last when Ben Roethlisberger gets rest, isn’t concerned with how long he might need to wait to play meaningful snaps. pic.twitter.com/MfiYgwGJ2N

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) June 6, 2019
  • Recapping OTAs

Check out Charlie Batch’s thoughts on Steelers OTAs and where the team is headed as they approach the 2019 regular season.

.@missi_matthews & @CharlieBatch16 talk about what to expect as the team heads into minicamp, Ben Roethlisberger and more. pic.twitter.com/CZsN4unF5t

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 6, 2019
  • Actual football drills!

Take a look at some speed and pursuit drills here...don’t look now but it actually looks like football!!

Last OTA for the #Steelers today. Mandatory Mini Camp starts next Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/oFKC7VK72z

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) June 6, 2019

Linebacker vs. ball carrier drill. Mike Tomlin paired T.J. Watt with receiver Eli Rogers, and Watt didn’t disappoint. pic.twitter.com/ta7a00ogC6

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) June 6, 2019

VIDEOS/PHOTOS

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gives the wide receivers instruction during OTA’s Thursday, June 6, 2019, at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, Pittsburgh. pic.twitter.com/qEmSSbKMoN

— Peter Diana (@peterdianapghpg) June 6, 2019

Podcast: Is Sutton Smith nothing more than another glorified camp darling?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/07/2019 - 5:32am

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

The 2019 NFL Draft is over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for a fresh, new season — so it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

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

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • 2019 NFL Draft Breakdown: Sutton Smith
  • Steelers News
  • The ever popular Either/Or segment
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, Bryan Anthony Davis and Dave Schofield walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

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

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

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

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

Black and Gold Links: Is 2019 Keith Butler’s last chance to prove his worth as a coordinator?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/07/2019 - 4:34am

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 2019 might be Keith Butler’s last shot at proving his worth as the defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The one thing people who defend Keith Butler say, and those people are few, is how Butler has suffered a serious injury at a very important position in his defense. The injury to Ryan Shazier was significant, and now with Devin Bush and Mark Barron in the fold Butler doesn’t have a crutch to stand on heading into this season.

Carter’s Classroom: Butler’s last hope?

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

Keith Butler has a lot more to work with this season than he has in his past years as defensive coordinator. Along with a stronger secondary, he has an assortment of linebackers who can bring heat on the quarterback from different spots.

We can talk about T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree another day, but today is about the inside linebackers. Primarily, Devin Bush and Vince Williams.

You’re all familiar with Williams’ resume as an interior pass rusher. His eight sacks in 2017 and 4.5 sacks in 2018 have boosted a defense scrambling for answers. Williams relishes the opportunity to rush the quarterback, especially when he matches up with a running back.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The Steelers could use a better secondary in 2019, and they doubled down on the coaching there when they added former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to their coaching staff.

Kevin Gorman: It’s time Steelers made coaching secondary a priority

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh Steelers addressed many positions of need through free agency and the NFL Draft, whether it was signing Mark Barron, Donte Moncrief and Steven Nelson or selecting Devin Bush, Diontae Johnson and Justin Layne.

One of the most important offseason acquisitions was hiring Teryl Austin as secondary coach, adding another veteran voice to join Tom Bradley in teaching coverage techniques to the Steelers cornerbacks and safeties.

“It’s two different voices but both of them are trying to get that same (message) to us and same techniques to us,” Steelers nickel cornerback Mike Hilton said. “It’s a good thing for us, and it’s going to help us in the long run.”

It’s about time. This was long overdue.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Steelers fans have heard from almost all of their rookies, but one who we haven’t heard much from is Ulysees Gilbert from Akron.

‘Mack’ linebacker Ulysees Gilbert focusing on the details as rookie at first Steelers OTAs

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Gilbert is working to establish a niche among a position group that boasts three starter-level players in Vince Williams, Mark Barron and first-round pick Devin Bush, in addition to an established backup and special-teams standout in Tyler Matakevich.

But Gilbert isn’t looking too far ahead, not stressing over his chances of making the 53-man roster or practice squad. Right now, he’s just giddy to be taking part in OTAs.

“It’s just a blessing to be out here with all the vets,” Gilbert said. “Just to get to run around with some of the players you always watch as a kid, is just a surreal feeling. I am just happy to be here.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The Steelers helped out the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank Thursday by creating meals for those in need. Here are some videos/photos from the event:

Doing it for the community.@JamesConner_ | #SteelersHuddlefor100 pic.twitter.com/6NeNyqsQsl

— Steelers Community Relations (@SteelersCR) June 6, 2019

Let’s do this‼️#SteelersHuddlefor100 pic.twitter.com/sD5TKjeshp

— Steelers Community Relations (@SteelersCR) June 6, 2019

Time to make some meals!

We are participating with @IAmFCE to pack over 15,000 meals to help support @PghFoodBank.#SteelersHuddlefor100 pic.twitter.com/pZHZsd9Tgd

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 6, 2019

#Steelers players, coaches and staff packing 15,000 meals right now as part of the @NFL’s 100 million minutes of volunteerism. Head coach Mike Tomlin looked over at one of his (mostly) hairless players and asked, “Why is Ryan Shazier wearing a hairnet?!” #SteelersHuddlefor100 pic.twitter.com/8aQGvRxxtq

— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) June 6, 2019
  • Social Media Madness

#critical pic.twitter.com/6iHd3lhB53

— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) June 6, 2019

See ya @RodWoodson26 | #TBT pic.twitter.com/YmF04ssfNQ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 6, 2019

Missi sits down with Steve Nelson to talk about his adjustment to the team, the speed of the defense, Coach Austin and more.@missi_matthews | @Nelson_Island pic.twitter.com/P8c9tajFxr

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 6, 2019

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