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The 2020 Steelers from A to Z: Chris Wormley

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 1:45pm
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Breaking down every player one-by-one alphabetically on the Steelers current 90-man roster

We have made it. The final instalment of our 90ish-part series which will break down each player of the Steelers current 90-man (now 80-man) roster in alphabetical order. This series will encompass many aspects of each players game and their current role with the team. At the end, I’ll give some projected stats as well as their chances to make the 53-man roster.

Let’s take a look at former Baltimore Raven:

Chris Wormley

Position: IOL
Height: 6’ 5”
Weight: 300 lbs
College: Michigan
Draft: 3rd round 74th overall in 2017 (Ravens)

2019 Stats

16 Games played
7 Games Started
33 Tackles
1.5 Sacks
2 Passes defended
2 Tackles for loss
6 Quarterback hits

Contract remaining

Expires in 2021
$2,133,000 salary cap number (1.1% of total cap)
$0 Dead money
$2,133,000 Savings if cut

Likelihood of making the roster

Near lock. The only thing keeping me from making Wormley a definitive lock for this team is his extremely cuttable contract, say a guy like former XFLer Cavon Walker completely outperforms him at camp then the Steelers would have no punishment towards the cap. That being said the Steelers did move a 2021 fifth round pick for Wormley and cutting him before he plays a single snap would hurt. Wormley should be a nice rotational/depth piece for this team and will see a fair bit of playing time.

2020 projection

I foresee Wormley putting up a similar stat line and impact to that of which he brought the the Baltimore Ravens in 2019. He’s not stealing starts from Cameron Heyward or Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu is still ahead of him on the depth chart so I think a modest stat line in a fair prediction. And, if Wormley wanted anymore motivation he is also in a contract year.

Projected stats:

16 Games played
1 Games Start
30 Tackles
1 Sack
1 Passes defended
2 Tackles for loss
5 Quarterback hits

Summary

When the Steelers made a trade with the Baltimore Ravens I was legitimately shocked. The Steelers never make deals with any of their rivals, so when they dealt a fifth rounder for Wormley (+a conditional pick) it got my attention. After all the Ravens dealt there own fifth round pick for Pro Bowl defensive tackle Calais Campbell. Obviously the Steelers must see something they really like out of Wormley because they did pay a higher then normal price to land the rotational player. Perhaps the long term plan is to extend Wormley past the 2020 season on a substantially cheaper deal than what Cam Heyward will cost, but we are a long time away from anything like that taking place. It will be interesting to see what he brings to the defense in 2020.

Previously Highlighted

Ola Adeniyi
Marcus Allen
Tyson Alualu
Trajan Bandy
Zach Banner
J.T. Barrett -Cut
John Battle
Jordan Berry
Saeed Blacknall
Breon Borders
Chris Boswell
Antoine Brooks Jr.
Isaiah Buggs
Devin Bush
Deon Cain
Kam Canaday
Chase Claypool
Josiah Coatney -Cut
James Conner
Anthony Coyle
Jordan Dangerfield
Amara Darboh
Carlos Davis
David DeCastro
Christian DiLauro
Kevin Dotson
Bud Dupree
Eric Ebron
Terrell Edmunds
Trey Edmunds
Matt Feiler
Minkah Fitzpatrick
Zach Gentry
Ulysees Gilbert III
Derwin Gray
Joe Haden
J.C. Hassenauer
Quadree Henderson -Cut
Dewayne Hendrix -Cut
Cam Heyward
Alex Highsmith
Mike Hilton
Devlin Hodges
John Houston -Cut
Anthony Johnson
Diontae Johnson
Jarron Jones
John Keenoy
Tyree Kinnel -Cut
Christian Kuntz -Cut
Justin Layne
Leo Lewis
James Lockhart
Paxton Lynch
Dan McCullers
Vance McDonald
Anthony McFarland Jr.
Henry Mondeaux
Christian Montano -Cut
Alexander Myres
Steven Nelson
Spencer Nigh -Cut
Chuks Okorafor
James Pierre
Maurkice Pouncey
Kevin Rader
Dax Raymond
Ben Roethlisberger
Mason Rudolph
Jaylen Samuels
Tuzar Skipper
Wendall Smallwood
Juju Smith-Schuster
Benny Snell Jr.
Robert Spillane
Cameron Sutton
Ryan Switzer
Calvin Taylor
Stephon Tuitt
Alejandro Villanueva
Corliss Waitman
Cavon Walker
James Washington
Derek Watt
T.J. Watt
Kerrith Whyte
Vince Williams
Stefan Wisniewski

4 Ben Roethlisberger contract scenarios to lower his 2021 salary cap number

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 12:30pm
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With a major jump up to $41 million in 2021 in a year the salary cap may be going down, the Steelers need to find a way to get that number under control.

I read a solid article by Micheal Beck the other day discussing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his contract for 2021 and the importance of a contract extension to lower his salary cap number. If the NFL salary cap contracts from the 2020 figure of $198 million down to the projected $175 million amount, Pittsburgh would have to cut $22.5 million in salary by mid-March to get cap compliant according to OTC The six-time Pro Bowler would account for 23% of the team’s salary cap with his $41 million cap hit. What can be done to change that figure?

Before we get into what the options are, we need to look at the structure of his contract and what they can move around and what cannot.

Base Salary (P5) $4 million: The veteran minimum for players over 10 years of service is $1.3 million, so only $2.7 million can be spread out in future years. Not guaranteed.

Prorated signing bonus $22,250,000: This is money that has already been paid out and cannot under any circumstances be shifted to future years. Fully guaranteed and is the dead money amount.

Roster bonus $15,000,000: Not guaranteed so can be shifted towards future years.

2021 cap number: $41.25 million

Cap savings if cut, traded, or retires: $19 million

Scenario #1: Ask Roethlisberger to take a pay cut

In reality, the Steelers could ask Roethlisberger to take a straight pay cut. If he would agree to such a move, the team would save $17.7 million against the cap if he would agree to a max value cut. The 38-year-old has always received market value contracts and I would put the possibility of him taking a full pay cut at zero.

Scenario #2 Trade Roethlisberger

Cap savings would be $19 million while dead money would stand at $22.25 million. Depending on how the 2020 season transpires would affect the trade market for a 39-year-old quarterback.

Scenario #3 Cut Roethlisberger

Cap savings would be $19 million while dead money would stand at $22.25 million. If the future HOF QB ends up being injured or a shell of himself, this could be a real possibility.

Scenario #4 Contract extension

A contract extension can be exceedingly tricky to pull off before the 2021 season because of how it would have to be structured. How much new signing bonus money would be included if any? How much of his 2021 non-guaranteed money would be shifted to the future?

I will use the blueprint of his last contract extension (An additional two years tacked on past 2021) as the framework for a new contract. Will he ask for another $37.5 million signing bonus? He has never taken a hometown discount, but for this exercise he does and gets $19 million for a signing bonus. He will also convert $17 million from 2021 P5 salary into a signing bonus for cap relief purposes for a total of $36 million.

I did not include the structure in future years because they do not matter for this exercise. I am trying to show not only his cap hit for 2021 but the ginormous amount of prorated signing bonus money in future years as well.

How would his new extension look for 2021?

Base salary: $1.7 million

Prorated signing bonus for 2021: $34.25 million (this includes the $22.25 million mentioned before which the team cannot escape, then would be $12 each additional year))

2021 cap hit: $35.95 million

Cap saving: $5.3 million

Even if Roethlisberger were to bypass that $19 million in new signing bonus money under this scenario, his 2021 cap number would decrease by $11.33 in 2021.

I do not think he would accept either scenario as he has taken nothing less than market value from the team. His 2015 contract made him the second highest paid quarterback by the annual average and topped the list in terms of guaranteed money. His last extension made him the third highest paid quarterback in the NFL.

If Roethlisberger were to get a $40 million signing bonus and shift $17 million of P5 money into the signing bonus, his 2021 cap would remain the same.

I made no bones about not liking his last extension, nor am I a fan of the team offering a new one. I dread thinking about life after Roethlisberger, but I hate thinking about dismantling the team to keep an aging quarterback with an extensive injury history.

Matt Feiler embodies the versatility required to be an NFL lineman

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 11:52am
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Being undrafted and trying to find his place in the NFL, the more Feiler could do the better.

The NFL is full of superstars. Guys are drafted in the first round and go onto long careers each year. But the average length of an NFL career is right around three seasons. For most who are trying to make it on the largest stage when it comes to professional football, the journey is not an easy one.

Enter Steelers offensive lineman Matt Feiler. Undrafted out of Bloomsburg, Feiler was simply doing all that he could to catch on with any NFL team. Originally signed as a UDFA by the Houston Texans following the 2014 draft, Feiler spent his first year on the Texans practice squad. After going through training camp again with Houston in 2015, when he did not make the 53-man roster he wound up on the practice squad in Pittsburgh instead. The 2016 season saw Feiler briefly promoted to the active roster for the Steelers only to end up back on the practice squad several weeks later. But from 2017 on, Feiler earned his spot on the 53-man roster.

Feiler spent 2017 getting a few snaps on offense as well as special teams in four different games before getting the start in Week 17 as some of the starters were resting. It was the 2018 season when Feiler made 10 starts at right tackle for the injured in Marcus Gilbert when Feiler’s career jumped to the next level.

It was another great UDFA story where a player worked hard and made the necessary adjustments to bring value to a team and grow as a player. And when the opportunity presented itself, Feiler grabbed it and didn’t let go.

Coming into the NFL, Feiler started off at tackle but quickly got acclimated to playing guard. When it comes to a reserve offensive lineman, versatility is everything. By being able to play almost anywhere along the offensive line, Feiler made himself a great asset as a reserve on game day.

In an interview with Pittsburgh media on Friday, Feiler spoke about his comfort playing a variety of positions along the offensive line. As reported by Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, Feiler is getting accustomed to playing more reps at guard.

Matt Feiler said he has always felt the most comfortable at tackle coming into the NFL, but the more reps he got at guard coming into the league he didn't have a preference. He said it's just getting accustomed to it.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 21, 2020

The 2019 season saw Feiler starting all 16 games, 15 at right tackle and one at left guard. The versatility Feiler offered as a reserve has now come around to benefit the Steelers as a starter. The team can simply plug-in their best options wherever knowing Feiler can get the job done in multiple spots. And according to Steelers’ offense of line coach Shaun Sarrett, Feiler was willing to play wherever needed.

OL Coach Shaun Sarrett said Matt 'Anchor' Feiler played at a high level at tackle last year and didn't bat an eyelash when they asked him to move inside.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 21, 2020

While some may be critical of the move of Feiler to right tackle based on his abilities, it really comes down more to the rest of the Steelers offensive line. Both Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor each have two seasons with the Steelers and have seen playing time. As coach Sarrett also said, with the limited offseason of 2020, it made sense to start off with their offensive line using players who have more experience with the Steelers as reported by Dale Lolley of DK Pittsburgh Sports.

Steelers offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett said the decision to move Feiler to LG had to do with the loss of offseason. Makes it the easiest move. They've seen Feiler play G. Saw the other two guys play OT before. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 21, 2020

Who knows exactly what the 2020 season will bring for the Steelers offensive line. The unit is looking for a bounce back compared to their 2019 output. And with the retirement of Ramon Foster, the Steelers have multiple options when it comes to starting in Week 1 due to Matt Feilers versatility.

Sometimes the journey of finding a spot in the NFL can bring the unexpected. But with Matt Feiler being as versatile as possible in order to bring the most to the team as he was coming through the ranks, it may be the exact versatility the Steelers need to make their 2020 offensive line the best it can be.

Steelers Training Camp 2020: Live news and updates 8/21

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 11:30am
handout photo

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and padded Training Camp practices are underway! Follow along with BTSC as the players start to hone their skills and prepare for the 2020 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, and the rabid fans awaiting their chance to watch the black-and-gold, are prepared for the real training camp to start, and that comes with the first day of actual padded practice.

The Steelers are finally back to practicing, even it is at Heinz Field, and the pads are on!

If you’re stuck at work, or at home, follow along with those on the scene at Heinz Field for the best pictures, video and news coming straight from the practice field in Pittsburgh, PA. Don't miss a minute of the action!

Today's practice is at 12:45 p.m. EST, and will be followed by Mike Tomlin addressing the media. Follow along with live updates in the Twitter feed below.

Check the LIVE feed below:

(Editor’s Note: When the live feed is released, it will be placed here.)

And for live reports from reporters on scene:

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Podcast: Does the Steelers defensive line live and die with Cam Heyward?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 11:00am

BTSC’s Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis talk news of the day, Steelers receivers and more, while mixing in fun and frivolity like only they do.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has undergone a reawakening as of late. One of the reasons that the pass coverage has vastly improved, besides talent in the secondary, is the pressure from up front. The clear leader of the defensive line is Cameron Heyward. But if the player in the last year of his contract was out of the lineup, how much would the defense as a whole suffer? This is the subject that will be discussed and speculated on in the newest edition of the BTSC family of podcasts.

As always, it sure is a good time to get on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-Gold and there you have the topic for the BTSC podcast The Steelers Preview with Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis. Join the triumphant trio as they combine the down all things Steelers and with shenanigans galore.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Does the Steelers defensive line live and die with Cam Heyward?
  • Is there an irreplaceable defensive lineman on the Steelers?
  • Trivia
  • Q&A

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.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Steelers sign Ray-Ray McCloud, release Saeed Blacknall

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 10:02am
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly adding a return man/wide receiver to their offseason roster.

There was some speculation as to whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers would make a roster move Thursday on their day off. The expectation was if they did make a move, it would be at the tight end position.

After Dax Raymond injured his ankle earlier in the week, and the Steelers worked out a tight end yesterday, the thought was if a move was to be made, it would be at that position.

Think again.

The Steelers are reportedly signing wide receiver and return man Ray-Ray McCloud. This per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network:

The #Steelers are signing WR Ray-Ray McCloud, source said.

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 20, 2020

The head scratching aspect of this transaction for the Steelers is how the team feels they need help at the wide receiver/return specialist. The team currently has Kerrith Whyte Jr., Diontae Johnson, Ryan Switzer and even JuJu Smith-Schuster who all have experience returning both punts and kickoffs.

There could be an injury a player spawning this move, but as of now it is time to learn more about the player the Steelers are reportedly acquiring.

McCloud is a speedy receiver who also doubles as a return specialist, and has spent the majority of his professional career with the Buffalo Bills. However, he did have a stint with the Carolina Panthers in 2019 before being cut.

McCloud was drafted in the 6th round out of Clemson in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. Playing in 10 games, McCloud had 5 catches for 36 yards his rookie season along with 4 punt returns and one kickoff return.

Following his second training camp with Buffalo, McCloud did not make the Bills 53-man roster and was claimed by the Carolina Panthers off of waivers. In 6 games, McCloud had no targets as a receiver but had 10 punt returns as well as 8 kickoff returns. Released in October of 2019, McCloud rejoined the Bills on the practice squad for the remainder of the season. Signing a futures contract with Buffalo for 2020, McCloud was released at the end of January as the Bills cut down to 80 players.

UPDATE

To make room for McCloud on the team’s roster, they have parted ways with former Penn State receiver Saeed Blacknall.

We have signed WR Ray-Ray McCloud and released WR Saeed Blacknall.@BordasLaw https://t.co/xKEXnJ7DfC

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 21, 2020

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC or the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they continue to roll through Training Camp at Heinz Field and prepare for the 2020 regular season.

What if Steelers fans were wrong about Ryan Switzer?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 9:45am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Receiver Ryan Switzer has many people who doubt his ability to become a valuable member of the Steelers offense. What if those people are wrong? That would make for an even better story.

“What do you think of Ryan Switzer?” is a question I get asked occasionally. “The heck with him!” is generally my response. “Even as a person?” they often follow up with. “Maybe,” I usually say all unprepared to go there.

Yeah, sure, maybe there are reasons to hate Ryan Switzer, the person. What are they? I can’t think of any at this very moment. He seems like a good dude. He’s a family man. He’s all nice on Twitter and stuff (I just started following him during the making of this article). But you know how it is. You can’t admit you’re wrong about an opinion. That’s especially the case on the various social media platforms, where the strategy employed by many is to just do the rope-a-dope until you wear your opponent out (or they block you).

Back to Switzer, the receiver, and his worthiness of remaining a Pittsburgh Steeler—that’s really the purpose of this article. He’s a guy who’s spent the past offseason being raked over the coals for not being all that good. Why? Because Switzer really wasn’t all that good last year, as he tallied just eight receptions for 29 yards. His YAC (yards after catch), where were they? His ability to be a true play-maker, where was it? His impressions of Julian Edelman and Wes Welker? He really didn't do them all that well.

Sure, Ben Roethlisberger missed all but six quarters of the 2019 regular season, but Switzer came into his third year as a professional averaging just 8.6 yards on 59 career receptions—an average that now stands at an even eight yards per reception after 2019.

It’s no wonder people have spent an entire offseason trying to find reasons to hate Switzer.

The most common thing we point to—besides Switzer’s total lack of anything even remotely resembling production in 2019—is, well, not nepotism, but whatever it is they call it when the franchise quarterback befriends you.

That’s right, Roethlisberger and Switzer are now buds, they’re boys, they hang—don’t tell Antonio Brown this, but Roethlisberger may have even invited Switzer to his house...and during a pandemic. The belief is that the only reason Switzer has stuck around, and will continue to stick around through the current training camp and 2020 regular season, is because Roethlisberger has and will continue to insist upon it.

But what if we’re wrong about Switzer? What if the 2017 fourth-round pick out of North Carolina who spent a season with the Cowboys and a cup of coffee with the Raiders before they traded him to Pittsburgh in 2018 simply needed time to grow, to mature? What if he also needed the backing of an influential quarterback? What if he needed a champion in the form of, well, a two-time Super Bowl-champion, someone who knows a thing or two about what it takes to play receiver in the NFL—and receive passes from a future Hall of Fame quarterback?

Maybe Roethlisberger sees something in the 5’8” receiver that we don’t. Perhaps this belief will motivate Switzer to achieve bigger and better things in the NFL. We already know it has helped motivate him this offseason to (say it with me) get into the best shape of his life. We also know Switzer has looked great during the early stages of Steelers training camp at Heinz Field, where he has already reeled in multiple touchdown passes.

Will Switzer ultimately become a valuable member of the Steelers offense despite the presence of so many more proven and dangerous weapons—including four fellow youngsters in the receiver room?

I don’t think he will. I don’t think the Steelers have room on their roster for a receiver who is five-feet nothing and weighs 100-and-nothing.

And you can quote me on that. Why? Every great underdog story needs its doubters (mainly for the movie clips), and I won’t mind being wrong about Ryan Switzer.

Devin Bush gives first-hand glimpse as to what Eric Ebron can do in the offense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 8:44am
Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The second year inside linebacker knows first-hand how Eric Ebron can elevate an offense.

The inside linebacker position is a position which physically requires a lot. The ability to step up into the hole and stop the run, but also the athleticism to play in space and cover the field from sideline to sideline.

On top of that, the position has changed drastically the past two decades. The giant inside linebackers with the neck collars are things of the past. In their place are linebackers who look more like hybrid safeties, and can run like receivers.

Think Ryan Shazier.

With the change in offenses, the defense must change as well. Offenses are using athletic, flex-type tight ends to exploit matchups over the middle of the field. The way the Steelers have countered these changes is trading up in the 2019 NFL Draft to select Devin Bush out of Michigan.

Bush played a ton as a rookie, and is using that experience to help him be a better player, and communicator, in 2020. But as Bush prepares for the upcoming season, he is tasked to stopping a player the Steelers acquired in free agency. A player who brings a unique skill set to the offense.

That player would be one Eric Ebron.

During a Zoom call with reporters Friday, Bush talked about just how difficult it is to cover Ebron. In doing so, he gives a glimpse to how Ebron can impact the Steelers’ offense this year.

This per Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Steelers LB Devin Bush on new TE Eric Ebron: "He's very elite with his athleticism and how rangy he is. He has receiver-like movements, his cuts are receiver-like, his speed, the way he catches the ball, he's good at using his body. He's a mismatch with any position."

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) August 21, 2020

Ebron is not new to the NFL, but how he can be utilized in the Steelers’ offense certainly will be. It has been years since the team has had a tight end who has the athleticism of Ebron. Heath Miller was a fan favorite, and an amazing tight end, but he was never a threat to run by a defensive back.

The Steelers thought they had this type of player when they signed Ladarius Green in free agency, but his health truly prevented the fan base from ever seeing it come to fruition.

Now they have Ebron, and Bush can already see the kind of mismatch he will be for opposing defenses.

This per Brooke Pryor of ESPN:

Devin Bush says TE Eric Ebron is "a mismatch with any positions you put him at" because of his long arms and ability to run routes.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 21, 2020

Like Green, Ebron has had injury issues the past few seasons. Most recently was an ankle injury which hindered his production in 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts. The year prior it was Ebron who was a Pro Bowl player putting up double-digit touchdowns.

As with most players, health is always the biggest concern.

James Conner is great, when healthy.

Stephon Tuitt is tremendous, when healthy.

You get the picture, but it seems as if Steelers teammates, mainly the man tasked with trying to cover Ebron on occasion during this training camp, is already seeing what he can do for the offense this season.

And his comments should get fans excited...

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the upcoming 2020 regular season.

Ulysees Gilbert turning heads at Steelers training camp is just what the doctor ordered

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 7:15am
Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Ulysees Gilbert lll is enjoying a strong start to his second Steelers training camp.

Training camps have officially opened for business across the NFL, but at times it can be hard to tell. Garnering meaningful information from these top secret practices is akin to drawing blood from a turnip. Truly a effort in frustration for those on the outside looking in.

Morsels of information trickle out of camp each day, but only if you know where to look. The small group of selected press in attendance have been clearly instructed what is allowed and what isn't. The Steelers brass are closely monitoring all the festivities from their vantage point.

One of the best sources of unencumbered information is individual player's Zoom or virtual interviews. Whether it's Vance McDonald praising Big Ben's recovery from elbow surgery, or Joe Haden warning that the opponents are going to have a problem on their hands with Chase Claypool this season, the players don't seem to have the same restrictions as everyone else.

I heard two tidbits of information about Steelers second year ILB Ulysees Gilbert lll on Tuesday, one from a press release and one from his Zoom interview after practice.

It seems that Gilbert has been flying around the field making plays right out of the gate this training camp, just like he did last season. His ability in pass coverage and to play sideline to sideline have been well documented. He demonstrated those abilities in Tuesday's seven on seven session.

Gilbert made a diving interception after blanketing the speedy Kerrith Whyte in coverage. His coverage was so tight actually that he plucked the ball right off Whyte's hands when he slightly bobbled the ball. He also achieved excellent coverage on his other responsibilities throughout the session per reports.

His performance was so impressive that one member of the press in attendance said he not only looked like the logical first inside linebacker off the bench, but like he had starter potential in the future.

That is a meaningful distinction, something that seemed unlikely for the undersized sixth round draft pick out of Akron.

After the Steelers brilliantly traded up to select the much needed Devin Bush out of Michigan with their first round pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, I was beyond stoked for two reasons. The first reason was because I had been praying for the Steelers to have the opportunity to select one of the Devins, and they got their man. Secondly, I thought the stars were aligned for the Steelers to select ILB David Long out of West Virginia in a later round.

Long seemed like the perfect backup for Bush, with both men having similar size and skill sets. I didn't want the Steelers to make the same mistake with Bush that they did with Ryan Shazier. If you are going to build your defense around a inside linebacker with elite movement skills, you better have a backup with similar abilities. The Steelers definitely didn't have such a backup after Shazier's injury, and their defense suffered mightily as a result.

I knew the Steelers had to have realized that was a mistake, and they would be interested in selecting Bush's understudy if available. My thought process was accurate, but I just had the wrong player in mind. David Long looked like a real baller for the Tennessee Titans last season, but I am thrilled to have Gilbert.

Gilbert flashed enormous potential during training camp last season, and during the preseason games. So much that he earned a roster spot. I felt comfortable with Gilbert as a valued backup. He was a strong special teams contributor to start the season, before a back injury derailed him midseason.

Gilbert's abilities jump off the film in my opinion, although I readily admit it is a small sample size. I used to feel that Gilbert was the perfect backup for Devin Bush, and in ways I still do, but apparently Gilbert plans on being far more than just a backup.

8 players who were highlighted in the Steelers first two padded practices

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 6:00am
handout photo

With close to 80 players participating in the Steelers first two live practices this week, here are 8 which stood out to the limited media in attendance.

With fans unable to attend training camp in 2020, the Pittsburgh Steelers are offering a practice report each day written by the few members of the media who are able to view each day’s session. So far, two reports have been published from the two padded practices out of 14 the Steelers will hold before their Week 1 match up against the New York Giants on Monday, September 14.

From those reports, which players are getting the most buzz so far? Is there anyone who has stood out for the limited media in attendance on one or both days? Here are eight of the players highlighted and some of the things which have been said about them.

Ben Roethlisberger

Of course the Steelers franchise quarterback is going to be the talk of the town coming off of elbow surgery. Not only was Rothlisberger talked about throughout many of his drills, he was specifically mentioned in hooking up with a pass to Chase Claypool in the end zone on Monday as well as rekindling his relationship with JuJu Smith-Schuster on Tuesday.

T.J. Watt

The Steelers’ Defensive Player of the Year candidate from last season made his presence known right away on Monday by standing out in the “backs on backers” drill and followed up with some tackles in the 11-on-11 period. Watt was also mentioned on Tuesday by working with rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith and teaching him some footwork before getting into some “close disagreements” with Zach Banner later in practice.

Vance McDonald

One play of note on Monday was Vance McDonald having a deep contested catch on the sidelines against safety Terrell Edmunds.

Terrell Edmunds

Speaking of Edmunds, although he gave up the catch to McDonald on Monday, he was specifically noted on Tuesday for having some big hits during the team period as well as drills. It was also noted Edmunds had a nice day at practice on Monday as well.

Chase Claypool

As mentioned with Ben Roethlisberger, Chase Claypool made a leaping catch from Roethlisberger in the corner of the end zone which also drew the praise of cornerback Joe Haden. Claypool followed it up with another catch from Rothlisberger on Tuesday described as “a nice twist and catch on a back shoulder fade.”

Ryan Switzer

In Tuesday’s report, Ryan Switzer was noted for making a nice 10-yard touchdown catch from Roethlisberger.

Zach Banner

Tuesday’s report brought a number of things in regards to Zach Banner. The already mentioned “close disagreements” with T.J. Watt came after Banner had a nice drill blocking Bud Dupree, Henry Mondeaux, and Carlos Davis all on different occasions.

Saeed Blacknall

The journeyman wide receiver out of Penn State was noted in Tuesday’s practice for making “an impressive special team stop” which caught the eye of both Mike Tomlin and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

While there are numerous plays which could be highlighted throughout any given practice, this was a brief summary of specific things noted by the media in attendance. Although it doesn’t quite give the same feeling as being a training camp and seeing the players yourself, getting some news about some of our favorite members of the black and gold is better than nothing.

Podcast: Potential Steelers trade fodder

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 5:30am

Jeff Hartman brings an AM studio show to the BTSC family of podcasts with the latest episode of our newest offering “Let’s Ride“.

The past couple seasons, the Steelers have made trades whether it be in training camp or right before the regular season. This is something that seems to be a given in recent team lore. With potential free agents and some players that the team feels can garner draft capital or other talent in a transaction, there may be Steelers in their last couple of black-and-gold weeks. This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts. Join Co-Editor Jeff Hartman with his show, “Let’s Ride” as he wonders aloud about Kevin Colbert’s dealing potential.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Steelers trade fodder
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-Gold.

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: The young, and wise, JuJu Smith-Schuster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/21/2020 - 4:30am
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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

It has been a one-of-a-kind offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020. With the start of training camp now behind us, it looks like we’ll have to wait until opening weekend to see the Steelers take the field. Just because the NFL has cancelled the preseason doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how JuJu Smith-Schuster, although young, is wise beyond his years.

Let’s get to the news:

  • JuJu Smith-Schuster isn’t old, but he sure is wise.

Still young, JuJu Smith-Schuster brings Steelers ‘wisdom’

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

JuJu Smith-Schuster’s public persona largely is built via platforms such as TikTok, Instagram Live and his personal Youtube channel. On them is portrayed a fun-loving young man who plays video games, dances and engages in other exuberant hi jinks.

It’s an image that’s gained the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver millions in endorsements and made him one of the NFL’s most marketable players.

It’s an identity that could be described as outgoing, jovial, carefree or, in Smith-Schuster’s own parlance, “lit.”

Now, contrast those descriptors with some of the words coach Mike Tomlin used this week when describing what Smith-Schuster brings to the Steelers.

“Experience.” “Wisdom.” “Guidance.”

“He’s very sturdy,” Tomlin said. “Strong hands. He’s a very good combat-catch guy. But I’m more concerned about the intangible things that his journey to this point brings.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Why a fast start is essential for the Steelers in 2020.

Tim Benz: September Mourn! Steelers need to get off to faster start in 2020

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Here’s one way the Steelers need to get better in 2020.

And no, this has nothing to do with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returning. Because he’s been on the field for much of this problem in recent years.

The issue is starting better in September. The Steelers’ failure to win a playoff game — or reach the postseason at all — the last three years can be directly traced to bad starts in the first month of the regular season.

Since the opening of 2017, the Steelers are 4-6-1 in the month of September. Stretch that to include the first five weeks of each season, and the Steelers are 6-8-1 to begin these three campaigns that have led to their playoff-victory drought.

Last September, the Steelers went 1-3. They lost the first two games with Roethlisberger as the starting quarterback before he was replaced at halftime by Mason Rudolph in a Week 2 loss versus the Seattle Seahawks. Then the club lost a fourth quarter lead in San Francisco. And they needed to surprise the Cincinnati Bengals with the wildcat in Week 4 to scrape out a win.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • “He’s a Watt.” What else is there to say?

Camp Blog: ‘He is a Watt

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

He is a Watt: It doesn’t take a lot to get special teams coordinator Danny Smith excited. Enthusiasm and energy are part of his natural DNA.

But when talking about new fullback Derek Watt, who has made a career out of being a special teams standout, that excitement goes to another level.

“He is a Watt. He is a Watt,” said Smith. “His mom and dad ought to be writing books and we should all be reading it.”

Smith is salivating just thinking about what he can do with Watt on special teams this year after he signed with the Steelers this offseason, joining his brother T.J. Watt in black and gold. Watt was a Pro Bowl special teamer with the Los Angeles Chargers and the prospect of what he can bring to the Steelers gets Smith blood pumping.

“He is special. He just is,” said Smith. “His makeup, his understanding of the game, his work habits, he is special. That is what makes him special. I’ve got plans for him. he has been successful in this league. We hope to continue that success.

“I am glad we got him.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • BTSC articles you may have missed...

The Steelers bring in a new, very fast, wide receiver

Will a “bubble” work in the NFL Playoffs?

2020 could be a defining year for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Can the Steelers “Be like water” in 2020?

The difference between James Conner and Benny Snell from a running style

Some players Mike Tomlin mentioned after Wednesday’s camp practice

Ryan Switzer is turning heads? What?!

  • Social Media Madness

“don’t look now @_BigBen7, but I think @_TJWatt is staring at us.” pic.twitter.com/lbTpVtoFl7

— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) August 19, 2020

Mike Tomlin on NFL Films! #Steelers pic.twitter.com/Wbn04KAC9K

— BlitzburghVideos (@BlitzVideos) August 20, 2020

Getting ready to make people miss @JamesConner_ | #SteelersCamp pic.twitter.com/2zhPEnmmMq

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 19, 2020

Typical @tpolamalu #tbt pic.twitter.com/ECAe1VTEWs

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 20, 2020

visor szn pic.twitter.com/Q6qaB70AZA

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 19, 2020

Podcast: Ike Taylor predicts No. 7 brings home trophy No. 7

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/20/2020 - 5:25pm

In an exclusive interview, BTSC talks with Steelers legend Ike Taylor

With the Steelers in camp at Heinz Field, there are so many story lines being written for the 2020 season. Keeping tabs as always is Steelers great Ike Taylor. Look and listen in on BTSC as they talk to the two-time Super Bowl Champ about his thoughts on the 2020 Men of Steel and looks back on his phenomenal 12-year career in Pittsburgh.

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!

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.

Pittsburgh Steelers ‘Digit Dynasty’: Who wore the number best? No. 51-75

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/20/2020 - 3:35pm
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Steelers have a rich history, but looking back at their jersey numbers it makes you wonder, “Which player wore the numbers 51-75 best?”

In Parts One and Two of Steelers Digit Dynasty, BTSC examined the best of the best to wear the numbers from 0-50 in franchise history. This time around, our journey takes us through No. 75. We will answer such burning digital questions like:

  • Will Dave DeCastro’s career accomplishments place him as the all-time best six-sixer?
  • Will both members of the broadcast team who played in Pittsburgh earn the Digit Dynasty honor for their numbers?
  • Are all members of the Steel Curtain honored in this space?

In the third installment of the four-part “Digit Dynasty” series, we recognize the best Steelers players in franchise history to wear numbers 51 to 75.

We will see. Let’s take a look.

Part Three: Numbers 51-75

Note: Years provided came from The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 Media Guide

No. 51 LB James Farrior (2002-2011) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Steelers 2004 MVP remains one of the best free-agent signings in team history. The man known as “Potsie” was a key contributor to the success of the defense in the 2000s. Farrior had 730 tackles, 30 sacks, 8 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries at his inside linebacker position during his time in the Steel City. James was honored by twice being selected to the Pro Bowl.

Other Notables: LB Loren Toews 1973-1983, LB Carlos Emmons 1996-1999, LB Sean Spence 2012-2015 and 2017

Current Wearer: LB Tuzar Skipper

No. 52 C Mike Webster (1974-1988) Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Webster was the iron man of the Steelers for so many years. Playing for 15 years in the black-and-gold, Mike no longer be the longest-tenured Steelers player ever when Ben Roethlisberger started his 16th season last September. A member of the legendary, 1974 class, Webster anchored the line that protected Steelers passers and ball-carriers through four Super Bowl titles. “Iron Mike” was named All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl nine times. He achieved the rare feat of being named to The NFL All-Decade team for both the 70s and the 80s. Along with being enshrined in Canton, both the league and the franchise named him to their 75th Aniversary All-Time teams. Unfortunately, Webster was also the first NFL player diagnosed with CTE, and Steelers Nation mourned his passing in 2002 at age 50.

No. 53 C Maurkice Pouncey (2010-Present) Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Pouncey carries on a long line of excellence at the center position. The 8-time Pro Bowler and 5-time All-Pro was the winner of the Joe Greene Award in 2010. Pouncey is so valuable to Ben Roethlisberger, the QB reportedly voted for him as team MVP in 2017.

Other Notables: LB Dennis “Dirt” Winston 1977-1981, Brian Hinkle 1982-1993, LB Clark Haggans 2000-2007

Current Wearer: C Maurkice Pouncey

No. 54 LB Hardy Nickerson (1987-1992) Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Nickerson spent six productive years in Pittsburgh before joining the Bucs. During his Steeltown days, Nickerson recorded 9.5 quarterback sacks. After leaving the Steelers, Nickerson was a five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro in Tampa. He is also a member of the NFL’s All-90s team.

Other Notables: WR/DE Val Jasante 1945-1951, LB Marv Kellum 1974-1976, LB Zack Valentine 1979-1981, LB Donta Jones 1995-1998, LS Mike Schneck 1999-2004, LB Andre Frazier 2007-2010)

Current Wearer: LB Ulysees Gilbert III

No. 55 LB Joey Porter (1999-2006) Photo By Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Nick-named “Peasey,” the linebacker was a whirling dervish of a pass-rusher for eight years at Heinz Field. Porter was named a Pro-Bowler and All-Pro on three occasions. The 2002 Steelers Co-MVP was the first player in NFL history to record 70 sacks and 10 interceptions. A member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team and the Steelers’ All-Time Team, Porter was the vocal leader of the Super Bowl XL champions. He finished his Steelers career fifth all-time with 60 sacks, 10 interceptions and 8 fumble recoveries. Porter, who once was shot below the buttocks outside of a club in Denver in 2003, only missed two games due to the incident. Joey was relieved of his duties in 2019 as outside linebackers coach for the Steelers.

Other Notables: OT Jon Kolb 1969-1981, LB Jerry Olsavsky 1989-1997, LB Arthur Moats 2014-Present

Current Wearer: LB Devin Bush Jr.

No. 56 C Ray Mansfield (1964-1976) Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The man known as “Ranger” during his playing days started his career with the Steelers as a defensive tackle. Mansfield, who could place-kick also, was best known as a center during his 13-year Steelers tenure. The two-time All-Pro was a Super Bowl IX and X champion. Ray passed away at the young age of 55 when he suffered a heart attack while hiking in 1996.

Other Notables: LB Robin Cole 1977-1987, LB Mike Vrabel 1998-2000, Chukky Okobi 2001-2006, LB LaMarr Woodley 2007-2013

Current Wearer: LB Alex Highsmith

No. 57 (Tie) G Sam Davis (1967-1979) /LB Mike Merriweather (1982-1987) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images Photo by Charles Aqua Viva/Getty Images

Davis was a solid protector in his 13-year career with the Steelers. The offensive lineman is a veteran of Super Bowl’s IX,X,XIII and XIV.

Merriweather was a dominant sack-man for the Steelers, highlighted by 15 in 1984. Sitting out in 1988 due to a contract dispute, Mike was traded to the Vikings in 1988 for a No. 1 pick that netted T Tom Ricketts.

Other Notables: C/LB Frank Sinkovitz 1947-1952, C Ed Beatty 1957-1961, LB Jerrol Williams 1990-1992, LB John Fiala 1998-2002, LB Clint Kriewaldt 2003-2007

Current Wearer: LS Cameron Kanaday

No. 58 LB Jack Lambert (1974-1984)

Lambert might be considered as the most intimidating player ever to play the game. The face of the Steel Curtain defense, Lambert was elected All-Pro eight times and to the Pro Bowl nine times. Twice a Steelers’ team-MVP, Jack had 1,479 tackles, 28 interceptions and 23.5 sacks. The 1974 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and 1976 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is a member of the Steelers’ All-Time team and the NFL’s 70s and 80s All-Decade Team. Though his number has never been retired, neither has it ever been issued to another Steelers’ player. Jack Lambert is a 1990 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

No. 59 LB Jack Ham (1971-1982) Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Hailing from the great Pennsylvania city of Johnstown, Jack Ham is ranked as one of the best ever to suit up. Both an 8-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro, Ham played 12 years with the Steelers and holds the record for most forced turnovers as a linebacker with 53. His 32 career interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries rank him seventh and second respectively among all-time Steelers. He is a member of the Steelers All-Time team and the NFL’s 70s All-Decade Team. The Penn State grad is the Black-and-gold’s long-time color analyst and he’s also a minority owner of the minor-league hockey team, the Johnstown Tomahawks.

No. 60 DT Dale Dodrill (1951-1952 and 1954-1959)

Dodrill spent eight years in Pittsburgh Steelers gear. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and an All-Pro. Dale is a member of Pittsburgh’s 75th Aniversary team. He recorded 11 fumble recoveries and 10 interceptions wearing the black-and-gold.

Other Notables: DE Ben McGee 1964-1972, OL Brian Blankenship 1987-1991, LS Kendall Gammon 1992-1995, LS Greg Warren 2005-2016

Current Wearer: C J.C. Hassenauer

No. 61 G Tyrone McGriff (1980-1982) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The only “Mr. Irrelevant” to make the list, Tyrone McGriff was the final pick in the 1980 draft, when it still went 12 rounds. Tyrone played three years in Pittsburgh at guard. In 1983, McGriff joined the Michigan Panthers of the USFL and was a starter on their championship squad. Sadly, McGriff passed away at age 42 with a heart ailment.

Other Notables: C Sean Mahan 2007, C Fernando Velasco 2014

Current Wearer: OL Stefan Wisniewski

No. 62 G Tunch Ilkin (1980-1992) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Turkish-American tackle played 13 years as a member of the Men of Steel. Ilkin went to two Pro Bowls as a Steeler and was considered a locker room leader. Ilkin Served as Vice-President of the NFL Player Assosciaton from 1989 to 1994. Tunch is still a very valuable member of the football family, serving as the team’s color commentator on radio broadcasts since 1998.

Other Notables: G Mike Sandusky 1957-1965, OL Roger Duffy 1998-2001, C Justin Hartwig 2008-2009

No. 63 C Dermontti Dawson (1988-2000) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Hall of Fame snapper was originally drafted as a guard. Dawson was a dominating center, anchoring the line in the 90s, making seven straight Pro Bowls and being named to the 90s All-Decade team. Nicknamed “Dirt” for his propensity to grind opposing players into the ground, Dermontti was inducted as an immortal in Canton in 2012 and is a member of the Steelers All-Time Team.

Other Notables: Ernie Holmes DT 1972-1977

No. 64 DT Steve Furness (1972-1980) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The replacement for Ernie Homes on the Steel Curtain defense, Furness was a very effective pass rusher for the Steelers. Accumulating 32 sacks in his time in PIttsburgh, Furness ended his career as a Detroit Lion for one season in 1981. Furness returned to the Steelers in 1992/1993 as a defensive line coach. Sadly, the 4X SB Champ passed of a heart attack in 2000 at the age of 49.

Other Notables: DT Chuck Hinton 1964-1971, DT Edmund Nelson 1982-1987, C Jeff Hartings 2001-2006, C/G Doug Legursky 2009-2012 and 2015

Current Wearer: C John Keenoy

No. 65 OT John Jackson (1988-1997) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

John Jackson served the first ten years of his career in Pittsburgh. Playing at left tackle, Jackson was a valuable bodyguard for Steel City quarterbacks. Jackson prevented turnovers by recovering five fumbles on offense in his career. He started against the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX.

Other Notables: DL Tom Beasley 1978-1983, OL Ray Pinney 1985-1987, G Alan Faneca 1998-1999

No. 66 G Alan Faneca (2000-2007) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Faneca is one of the best offensive lineman in team history. In 10 seasons with the Steelers, Faneca was a seven-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro. Alan also was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 2000s and the Steelers 75th Aniversary team. One of the defining plays of Faneca’s career was the pulling-block to spring Willie Parker on his 75-yard touchdown ramble in the 21-10 victory over Seattle in Super Bowl XL. Down by more than 100 pounds since his playing days, Faneca looks far from the player who wore No. 65 during his first two seasons of 1998 and 1999. Big Al is on the verge of Canton and could earn HOF recognition in the very near future.

Other Notables: LB Myron Pottios 1961-1963 and 1965, OL Bruce Van Dyke 1967-1973, OL Ted Petersen 1977-1983, DE Donald Evans 1990-1993, OL Tom Newberry 1995, OL Jim Sweeney 1996-1999, G David DeCastro 2012-Present

Current Wearer: G David DeCastro

No. 67 DT Gary Dunn (1976-1987)

The two-time Super Bowl champion in XIII and XIV was a mainstay on the Steelers’ defense for 12 seasons. Dunn, who was named an All-Pro in 1984, had 18 sacks and nine fumble recoveries during his Steeler days.

Other Notables: T Duval Love 1992-1994, DE Kimo von Oelhoffen 2000-2005

Current Wearer: DE Calvin Taylor

No. 68 DE L.C. Greenwood (1969-1981) Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The man with the golden shoes wore them to prevent mistaken identity. PA announcers would credit Joe Greene for some of Greenwood’s tackles, so to correct that, he would lift his legs in the air every time he made a play in order to get his proper due. The man known as “Hollywood Bags” is not in the Hall of Fame, but truly deserves to be. In 13 seasons with the Steelers, the 6’6” Greenwood was a dominant member of the Steel Curtain. He was named to six Pro Bowls and was honored twice as an All-Pro. His 73.5 sacks has him second on the Steeler career list, 4.5 of them came in one 1979 game against the Browns. L.C. is a member of the Steelers’ All-Time Team and the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team. He passed away at age 67.

Other Notables: G Brenden Stai 1995-1999, OL Kendrick Vincent 2001-2004, G Chris Kemoeatu 2005-2011, LT Kelvin Beachum 2012-2015

Current Wearer: OT Anthony Coyle

No. 69 G/T Ariel Solomon (1991-1995)

A tenth-round draft pick in 1991 out of Colorado, Solomon was mostly a backup in Pittsburgh. He spent five years with the Steelers.

Other Notables: DL Gabriel Rivera 1983, NT Steve McLendon 2010

Current Wearer: OG Kevin Dotson

No. 70 DT Ernie Stautner (1950-1963)

Stautner was the first person to have his number retired by the franchise. The Hall of Fame D-lineman played in the trenches for 14 years, earning 10 All-Pro honors and was named to the NFL’s 50th Anniversary all-time team. After his retirement as a player, Ernie spent 34 years in coaching.

No. 71 OT Charlie Bradshaw (1961-1966)

Left tackle Charlie Bradshaw went to two Pro Bowls as a Steeler in 1963 and 1964. Not related to Terry Bradshaw, Charlie served as the head of the NFLPA. Legend has it that Bradshaw was booed so much by Pitt Stadium fans dissatisfied by team play, that Art Rooney suspended player introductions.

Other Notables: T Gordon Gravelle 1972-1976, T Tom Ricketts 1989-1991, DL Orpheus Roye 1996-1999, T Flozell Adams 2010

Current Wearer: OT Matt Feiler

No. 72 G Gerry Mullins (1971-1979) Photo by James Flores /Getty Images

”Moon” spent his entire NFL career in Pittsburgh. A fourth-round pick in 1971, Mullins helped protect Terry Bradshaw and open holes for Franco Harris in all four Super Bowls of the 1970s. Mullins’ pull on a sweep helped Harris score in Super Bowl IX. “Moon” also recovered an onside kick in Super Bowl X.

Other Notables: DT Joe Greene 1969, T Leon Searcy 1992-1995, T Wayne Gandy1999-2002, OL Barrett Brooks 2003-2005, OL Darnell Stapleton 2007-2009, OL Cody Wallace 2013-2015

Current Wearer: OT Zach Banner

No. 73 OL Craig Wolfley (1980-1989) Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

”Wolf” played ten years in Pittsburgh, mostly at left guard. Arriving after the Super Bowl years of the 70s, Craig was a key factor on a team that went to the playoffs four times during the 80s. In 1981, Wolfley competed and placed fifth in the World’s Strongest Man competition for the United States. He is currently a sideline reporter for Steelers broadcasts.

Other Notables: OL Ray Mansfield 1963-1967, OL Justin Strzelczyk 1990-1998, OL Kendall Simmons 2002-2008, OL Ramon Foster 2009-2019

Current Wearer: DT Carlos Davis

74 OT Frank Varrichione (1955-1960)

Varrichione was a crushing blocker for the Steelers in the 50s. Playing at right tackle, Frank went to four of his five Pro Bowls as a Steeler.

Other Notables: OL Dave Reavis 1974-1975, OL Ray Pinney 1976-1982, OL Terry Long 1984-1991, OT Willie Colon 2006-2012, OL Chris Hubbard 2014-2017

Current Wearer: OT Christian Dilauro

No. 75 DL Joe Greene (1970-1981) Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

The selection of Joe Greene in 1969 marked the beginning of the Steelers’ Renaissance. The first draft pick of the Chuck Noll era, Greene wore No. 72 as a rookie. The following year, he switched to No. 75 and only fans wearing replicas have worn it since. Greene is considered the poster child of the 70s and was featured on the “One for the Thumb” campaign. “Mean Joe”, the cornerstone of the Steel Curtain defense, was named First-Team AFC 11 times, to the Pro-Bowl ten times and All-Pro eight times. The four-time Super Bowl champ was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1969 and twice was named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He’s a member of the NFL’s 75th Aniversary Team and the Steelers All-Time Team. Joe was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2014, Greene became only the second Steelers player to have his number retired. His iconic Coke commercial is considered one of the best Super Bowl ads of all time. Today, Joe Greene remains with the Steelers in an advisory position.

These are the digits that define the decades...who will be next?

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Digit Dynasty Series

Report: Steelers signing wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/20/2020 - 2:23pm
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly adding a return man/wide receiver to their offseason roster.

There was some speculation as to whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers would make a roster move Thursday on their day off. The expectation was if they did make a move, it would be at the tight end position.

After Dax Raymond injured his ankle earlier in the week, and the Steelers worked out a tight end yesterday, the thought was if a move was to be made, it would be at that position.

Think again.

The Steelers are reportedly signing wide receiver and return man Ray-Ray McCloud. This per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network:

The #Steelers are signing WR Ray-Ray McCloud, source said.

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 20, 2020

The head scratching aspect of this transaction for the Steelers is how the team feels they need help at the wide receiver/return specialist. The team currently has Kerrith Whyte Jr., Diontae Johnson, Ryan Switzer and even JuJu Smith-Schuster who all have experience returning both punts and kickoffs.

There could be an injury a player spawning this move, but as of now it is time to learn more about the player the Steelers are reportedly acquiring.

McCloud is a speedy receiver who also doubles as a return specialist, and has spent the majority of his professional career with the Buffalo Bills. However, he did have a stint with the Carolina Panthers in 2019 before being cut.

McCloud was drafted in the 6th round out of Clemson in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. Playing in 10 games, McCloud had 5 catches for 36 yards his rookie season along with 4 punt returns and one kickoff return.

Following his second training camp with Buffalo, McCloud did not make the Bills 53-man roster and was claimed by the Carolina Panthers off of waivers. In 6 games, McCloud had no targets as a receiver but had 10 punt returns as well as 8 kickoff returns. Released in October of 2019, McCloud rejoined the Bills on the practice squad for the remainder of the season. Signing a futures contract with Buffalo for 2020, McCloud was released at the end of January as the Bills cut down to 80 players.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC or the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they continue to roll through Training Camp at Heinz Field and prepare for the 2020 regular season.

The 2020 Steelers from A to Z: Stefen Wisniewski

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/20/2020 - 1:45pm
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Breaking down every player one-by-one alphabetically on the Steelers current 90-man roster

We are in the penultimate installment of our 90ish-part series — assuming the roster does not change before we are complete — which will break down each player of the Steelers current 90-man (now 80-man) roster in alphabetical order. This series will encompass many aspects of each players game and their current role with the team. At the end, I’ll give some projected stats as well as their chances to make the 53-man roster.

Let’s take a look at two time Super Bowl champion:

Stefen Wisniewski

Position: IOL
Height: 6’ 3”
Weight: 305 lbs
College: Penn State
Draft: 2nd round 48th overall in 2011

2019 Stats

11 Games played
2 Games Started

Contract remaining

Expires in 2022
$1,237,500 salary cap number (.6% of total cap)
$187,500 Dead money (Through the end of the deal)
$1,050,000 Savings if cut

Likelihood of making the roster

Lock. Stefen Wisniewski wasn’t brought in to fight for a roster spot, he really wasn’t brought into to compete for a starting job either. Wisniewski was signed to plug the hole left behind by B.J. Finney when he left in free agency. Having a back up offensive lineman that can play every interior three position is a huge asset to a team. It allows the Steelers to simply place Wisniewski at any position in the event of an injury and not have to play musical chairs with its entire offensive line. No one else on the roster has this skill set, and that alone paves the way for Wisniewski’s roster spot.

2020 projection

The best case scenario wouldn’t see Wisniewski receiving any playing time at all. But unfortunately injuries are a certainty of every NFL season and at the very least Wisniewski will get a handful of snaps in every game. Don't expect a Pro Bowl season out of the free agent signee, but winning a third Super Bowl title in his career would be a nice compromise.

Projected stats:

12 Games played
2 Games started

Summary

The signing of Stefen Wisniewski is an awesome story for the Pittsburgh area native. He’s started for teams across the NFL, hoisted Lombardis in Philadelphia and Kansas City, and now has the opportunity to play for his home town team. Winning one more Super Bowl where he grew up would be the cherry on top of a career that has already spanned a decade.

This was a savvy move for Kevin Colbert and company. B.J. Finney had priced himself out of Pittsburgh and the team brought in someone with a similar skill set at a fraction of the cost. Considering this is just a two-year deal, this was by far the safest deal signed in the 2020 offseason.

Previously Highlighted

Ola Adeniyi
Marcus Allen
Tyson Alualu
Trajan Bandy
Zach Banner
J.T. Barrett -Cut
John Battle
Jordan Berry
Saeed Blacknall
Breon Borders
Chris Boswell
Antoine Brooks Jr.
Isaiah Buggs
Devin Bush
Deon Cain
Kam Canaday
Chase Claypool
Josiah Coatney -Cut
James Conner
Anthony Coyle
Jordan Dangerfield
Amara Darboh
Carlos Davis
David DeCastro
Christian DiLauro
Kevin Dotson
Bud Dupree
Eric Ebron
Terrell Edmunds
Trey Edmunds
Matt Feiler
Minkah Fitzpatrick
Zach Gentry
Ulysees Gilbert III
Derwin Gray
Joe Haden
J.C. Hassenauer
Quadree Henderson -Cut
Dewayne Hendrix -Cut
Cam Heyward
Alex Highsmith
Mike Hilton
Devlin Hodges
John Houston -Cut
Anthony Johnson
Diontae Johnson
Jarron Jones
John Keenoy
Tyree Kinnel -Cut
Christian Kuntz -Cut
Justin Layne
Leo Lewis
James Lockhart
Paxton Lynch
Dan McCullers
Vance McDonald
Anthony McFarland Jr.
Henry Mondeaux
Christian Montano -Cut
Alexander Myres
Steven Nelson
Spencer Nigh -Cut
Chuks Okorafor
James Pierre
Maurkice Pouncey
Kevin Rader
Dax Raymond
Ben Roethlisberger
Mason Rudolph
Jaylen Samuels
Tuzar Skipper
Wendall Smallwood
Juju Smith-Schuster
Benny Snell Jr.
Robert Spillane
Cameron Sutton
Ryan Switzer
Calvin Taylor
Stephon Tuitt
Alejandro Villanueva
Corliss Waitman
Cavon Walker
James Washington
Derek Watt
T.J. Watt
Kerrith Whyte
Vince Williams

NFL considering a “bubble-like” scenario for 2020 playoffs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/20/2020 - 12:30pm
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Come January, the NFL may step up their COVID-19 procedures for the postseason.

In a report by Kevin Seifert of ESPN, the NFL is considering a number of possibilities in order to better limit the exposure of COVID-19 when it comes to the 2020 postseason, including New Orleans Saints’ head coach Sean Payton’s idea of holding the playoffs in a “bubble.”

Lots of topics on today’s NFL call with Dr. Allen Sills and EVP Troy Vincent. Most interesting to me: Vincent said @SeanPayton advanced idea of a playoff bubble during the league’s most recent competition committee meeting.

— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) August 19, 2020

The NFL chose not to go with a bubble approach for the regular season this fall as the extent of the time and personnel appeared to be unrealistic. As stated by Siefert in his article on the proposal of playing in a “bubble-like” scenario for the postseason, the NFL instead went with what they called a “virtual football bubble” due to their rules and protocols in relation to COVID-19.

But when it comes to the postseason, being able to create a bubble-like environment should be more attainable due to a smaller time frame and reduced number of teams. Although the league is not sure exactly what they legally can do, they are considering all options at this time.

Of course, there are two major factors on opposite ends of the spectrum which could affect how the NFL proceeds with the 2020 post season.

First, the league has to get there. Whether it be the entire regular season or one which is somewhat cut short much like other professional sports leagues, the NFL and all associated personnel including coaches, players, and team employees must stick with the strict guidelines in order to ensure games are able to be safely played. If problems arise and the NFL cannot pull off their regular season, protocols for the playoffs become irrelevant. But on a positive note, the number of players currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list is in the single digits league wide.

Two players removed today, and one player added, to the @NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list. Net total of 9 players currently on the list. pic.twitter.com/nk6WQiWpqW

— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) August 19, 2020

Second, it is unclear what health regulations will be come January. While it is prudent for the NFL to have a plan in place, ongoing regulations and CDC recommendations have changed so much over the last six months, it would be naïve to believe things will be the same five months from now come January.

So can the NFL pull off the bubble-like approach for their postseason? With much larger rosters and team personnel, it would be much more difficult than the NBA or NHL although they have seen great success in the approach. But if some cities are able to have fans in the stands for their NFL games, I’m sure playing in the postseason on a neutral field is not something scheduled home teams would like to see. Of course, this is assuming the NFL would take the neutral-site approach like the NBA and NHL.

Ultimately, the 2020 postseason will go down much like the NFL’s 2020 regular season has for the last six months with a “wait-and-see” approach. If the guidelines set forth by the NFL and Players Association are keeping players safe and the regular season can go off without a glitch, there would be a little reason to change things up for the postseason. But if the NFL’s current approach does not work, talk of a postseason may be a moot point.

Here are some other other Covid-related items reported by Seifert including sideline personnel and testing of players who have already been positive for COVID-19:

* Vincent confirmed that commissioner Roger Goodell has formed a COVID-19 advisory board to help make some decisions during the season that normally would fall under the competition committee’s purview. Vincent declined to name the members of the board, but said they would help Goodell make decisions about potential schedule changes, postponements, cancellations and other issues that could be a conflict of interest for the competition committee’s members.

* The NFL tweaked its protocol to eliminate testing for any person who was known to have tested positive in the past 90 days. The change reflects new CDC guidance that previously infected people retain immunity for at least three months. Although they won’t be tested, those people will still be required to follow mask and other personal protective equipment protocol.

* The league distributed travel and game-day protocols to teams this week. In order to minimize the number of people on the field before a game, the league has barred cheerleaders, mascots, sideline reporters and fans from the field at all times.

* Sills said that the league is following advancements in saliva testing but gave no indication that it would switch from its current protocol of PCR tests. “Anything we do has to be filtered through the lens of having the most accurate and efficient test that we can,” he said.

* Sills said that feedback has been “mixed” on a plastic mask designed by Oakley that attaches to helmets and is designed to minimize spread of the virus during practices and games. Concerns about the breathability of the mask have led Oakley to develop a new version that will soon be distributed, Sills said.

* There has been no decision on whether the league will continue to conduct daily COVID-19 testing during the regular season, Sills said. The NFL and NFL Players Association testing agreement expires Sept. 5, after which they will have to decide whether to extend the daily tests or, if infection rates remain low, reduce them to every other day.

Seifert’s full article on the possibilities the NFL is exploring for the postseason can be viewed HERE.

2020 could be a defining year for the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/20/2020 - 11:15am
handout photo

Despite not being Super Bowl favorites, the standard is still the standard for the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers. This may be the last chance for the organization to achieve its ultimate goal with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin leading the way.

It’s easy to kick someone when they’re down.

As it pertains to the Pittsburgh Steelers, they’ve seemingly been down for a number of years. They’ve been down in terms of making the playoffs, which they haven’t since 2017. They’ve been down when it comes to winning playoff games, which they haven’t done since the 2016 season. They’ve been down in the eyes of their fans, considering they’ve only won three postseason games since the last time they went to the Super Bowl, which hasn’t occurred since the first year of the previous decade.

And, oh yeah, they’ve been down in terms of actually winning a Super Bowl, something that hasn’t happened around these parts for 12 years.

Winning the next Super Bowl has and will always be the goal of the Steelers and the greatest desire of their fans. When it hasn’t happened for a while, people start to ask why. They start to question things, namely the head coach and whether or not he’s the right man to lead the way. Actually, when it comes to Tomlin, the questions about his abilities as head coach began to crop up not too many years after Pittsburgh’s 27-23 victory over the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

Like any head coach in the National Football League, Tomlin has his detractors—many of whom will never give him credit no matter what. But he also has his supporters—many of whom will always look for excuses.

Believe it or not, if Tomlin had to agree with one group of Steelers fans, he’d likely side with his constant detractors. Why? Like them, his standards are incredibly high. In fact, the most famous of all the Tomlinisms is “The standard is the standard.” Fans long ago knew what that phrase meant—Super Bowl or bust—and they’ve never let him forget it.

He wouldn’t want it any other way. Tomlin has said on many occasions that he’s only had one successful season as the Steelers head coach, a job he’s held since 2007, and it’s no mystery as to which season he’s referring to.

Will 2020 finally be the year Tomlin has a second successful season and the Steelers have a seventh?

It depends on a number of factors, starting with the franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who spent all but six quarters of the 2019 campaign down and out after suffering a major elbow injury in Week 2.

To the surprise of many, the Steelers defense, a unit that had been beleaguered for quite some time, rose up in Roethlisberger’s absence and became the strength of the team, something that carried it to eight improbable victories. There were suddenly defensive superstars all over the place, from T.J. Watt, to Bud Dupree, to Joe Haden, to Steven Nelson, to Cam Heyward, to the newly-acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick. Not only was the defense still getting after opposing quarterbacks to the tune of 54 sacks, with 38, it finished number one in takeaways.

Opportunistic, a fierce pass-rush and pretty darn stingy in the points department, too. That’s right, the Steelers allowed only 18.9 points per game—or just under two points more than the weekly goal of Dick LeBeau’s legendary units many years earlier.

Yes, the quarterback play of both Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges left a lot to be desired. Yes, the offense was mostly abysmal. Yes, the Steelers achieved their eighth victory in early December and, much like the previous season, collapsed down the stretch after having the inside track on a postseason berth.

But 2019 was a little different than 2018, right?

Tomlin’s supporters said yes, while his detractors still said #FireTomlin.

Again, though, if you were to ask Tomlin, he’d likely side with the detractors.

Last year, despite its Cinderella feel, was not the standard.

Will a returning Roethlisberger, even at the age of 38, even after undergoing major elbow surgery that included the reattachment of three tendons, be the difference?

It says here that he will. It says here that the Steelers, even minus long-since departed superstars Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, may have their most complete football team since that aforementioned last Super Bowl appearance a decade ago. The Steelers may not have a Killer B at receiver or a Killer B at running back, but they should have enough offensive weapons to make life difficult for opposing defenses, provided Roethlisberger is back.

Will he be all the way back? I’m not sure what that even means. But if Roethlisberger can be the best version of himself at the age of 38, that may be enough. If he can lead the offense to roughly a touchdown more than the 18 points a game it averaged in 2019, that may be more than enough.

Why? You can’t have your most complete football team in a decade without a great defense. It says here the defense has yet to peak and it may have a few more years of dominance left in it before it does.

The Steelers of the mid-1980s started to fade into obscurity not long after Terry Bradshaw retired in 1984. That was a half-decade removed from Pittsburgh’s first major Super Bowl run.

Bradshaw had already been in the NFL for a decade by the time the Steelers 1970s Super Bowl run came to a close. As for Roethlisberger, he was still in his 20s when the second Super Bowl run ended in 2010.

Maybe that’s why it still feels like it hasn’t ended yet. Maybe that’s why the Steelers have held on and remained competitive for so many years after Super Bowl XLV.

Those who keep kicking the Steelers while they’ve been down—namely, those in the national media who feel as if the likes of the Chiefs, Ravens and even the Bills have passed them by with younger teams and younger franchise quarterbacks—seem to want them to remain where they’ve been the past two Januarys—at home.

But it doesn’t matter if the Steelers aren’t the favorites to win the AFC or even the AFC North in 2020. It doesn’t even matter that the season will be conducted during a pandemic that will likely prevent fans from attending any games.

The only thing that matters is the standard is still the standard in Pittsburgh. If the Steelers don’t achieve that ultimate goal and desire in 2020, what happens after that could shape the team’s course for many years to come.

That’s a lot to think about. That’s a lot of pressure on a proud organization and a proud head coach.

The Steelers and Mike Tomlin wouldn’t want it any other way.

Super Bowl favorites or not, the standard is still the standard in 2020.

Podcast: Will the 2020 Steelers get back to running the North?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/20/2020 - 11:00am

With “The Standard is the Standard” being retired, Michael Beck and Geoffrey Benedict break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold from the week that was.

Since the AFC North Division came about in 2002, the Pittsburgh Steelers have led with championships by capturing eight. However, the Baltimore Ravens have won the last two division crowns. No team has won three in a row since the inception of the grouping. Can the Steelers get back to their rightful perch as the division flag bearers? That leads to the topic of discussion for Beck In Black. This subject and more will be pondered on the latest episode from the BTSC family of podcasts. As always, it is a good time to talk everything Steelers.

Michael Beck takes the Wednesday helm alongside Geoffrey Benedict with the BTSC offering, Beck In Black. On this week’s show, Mike and Geoff take a look at the Bengals, Browns and Ravens, as well as their twist on all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Steelers have tough decisions to make at receiver and cornerback
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Michael and Geoffrey 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.

Part 1:

Part 2:

The Pittsburgh Steelers need to "Be like water" this season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/20/2020 - 9:45am
Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers coaching staff would be wise to study the teachings of Bruce Lee and strive to "Be Like Water".

Sometimes my affinity for MMA and combat sports bleeds over into my articles about my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. Recently, I was reminded of a quote from Master Bruce Lee that made me envision a future article about the Steelers, and I quickly made note. The famous quote was as follows;

"Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend".

Do you know what franchise has done the best job of adhering to this mindset? The New England Patriots. They have won six Lombardi Trophies since the turn of the century behind the brilliant coaching of Bill Belichick and the unassuming excellence of Tom Brady. Let me further explain my rationale.

Not once during their Super Bowl winning seasons would even their most staunch supporters have claimed that they had the most talented overall roster in the NFL that season. They actually lost the Super Bowl on a couple of occasions where that claim was arguable.

It's actually hard to believe that Randy Moss never won a Super Bowl in his career, not even when he was teamed up with Brady and dominating the league. Just wanted to throw that out there, now let's get back on point.

So how did Bill and Tommy Boy manage to win six Lombardis? Through the brilliance of simplicity and taking ego out of the equation.

Many coaches outsmart themselves, taking a already successful play and saving it for later in the contest, like a game of cat and mouse. Not Belichick. He will run basically the same play over and over again until the opponent figures out a way to defend it, then he will adjust accordingly. It is never shocking to see a running back, or some other role player, have a huge game in Belichick's system.

If the Patriots' original plan proves futile, then Bill implements Plan B. Every move has a counter move, every attack has a defense. His halftime adjustments are the stuff of legend. Simply put, Belichick is playing chess while the opposition is still learning checkers.

I know what you are thinking. It sounds so simple, why doesn't everybody do it? Because you have to have the creativity and personnel blessed with the football IQ necessary to pull it off. Easier said than done.

Most successful coaches are of the mindset "If it ain't broke why try to fix it?" They strictly adhere to a plan that has brought them success in the past. Therefore they become predictable and much easier to defeat. Rigid if you will, not like water.

Last season the Patriots didn't have the horses needed to win the race. Even Picasso needed paint with which to paint. Due to Gronk's impromptu and short lived retirement, injuries, and suspensions, Belichick had his brush but not enough paint to work another masterpiece. I am going on record right now predicting that the New England Patriots will win the AFC East yet again this season, even with all the opt outs and the loss of Tom Brady.

The Steelers have a loaded roster this season, from top to bottom. They are being overlooked and underrated across the board, from the national sports media to surprisingly some in our very own community. That is perfectly fine, the Steelers have enjoyed great success in past seasons where they were seemingly being disrespected. Big Ben and company relish the underdog role.

For the Steelers to win it all this season and shock the sports world, they need the coaching staff to learn a lesson from Bruce Lee's teachings and Bill Belichick's example. Don't be stubborn and rigid, be flexible and creative.

It makes perfect sense to rely on your starters, because starters are starters for a reason obviously, but don't be afraid or resistant to utilizing your talented depth pieces, especially when the opportunity presents itself and the matchup calls for such a maneuver. That may require a platoon system at running back, or sticking with the hot hand in the moment.

Creativity on both sides of the ball is optimal, and is anything but predictable. The Steelers have a roster blessed with moveable pieces that should prove to be a nightmare matchup problem for the opponents, and a coaching staff with a proven track record of creativity on both offense and defense.

Now they just need to put it all together and go with the flow. Be like water!

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