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Troy's plays were legendary

Steelers.com News - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 9:00am
When Troy Polamalu retired, it was goodbye to an incredible athlete.

Mike Mayock to talk NFL Draft with fans

Steelers.com News - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 8:30am
Fans can get their questions answered about this year's NFL Draft and more.

Steelers finally bring in some offensive players for official Pre-Draft visits

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 7:55am

It took them long enough, but the Steeers finally brought in some offensive players for official pre-draft visits.

You didn’t think the Pittsburgh Steelers would only bring in defensive players for pre-draft visits, did you?

Well, if you did you were likely saddened on Monday when news broke of the players who were invited to the team’s headquarters for those awesome pre-draft visits.

Draft visitors for 4/9: RB Reggie Bonnafon. from Louisville; FB John David Moore from LSU; WR Richie James from Middle Tennessee State

— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) April 9, 2018

Official Pre-Draft Visitor List:

Louisville RB Reggie Bonnafon
LSU FB John David Moore
Middle Tennessee State WR Richie James

The Steelers certainly brought in some playmakers on this most recent wave of prospect visits. Louisville running back Reggie Bonnafon and Middle Tennessee State wide receiver Richie James are certainly players to watch on Day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft. Both positions, wide receiver and running back, could use depth and these two players would certainly fit the bill.

As for John David Moore, the Steelers are certainly not in the market for a full back, they just gave Roosevelt Nix a new contract this offseason, so, no. But they can always use special team demons, like Nix, who can make plays in all the different phases of the special teams game.

The Steelers now have hosted 13 players on pre-draft visits, and you can keep tabs with all official pre-draft visits with the BTSC Pre-Draft Visit Tracker.

The irony of the Steelers signing a free agent nicknamed "The Missile"

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 6:55am

It's funny and a bit of a contradiction that Nat Berhe, a special teams ace the Steelers signed on Friday, is nicknamed "The Missile."

On Friday, the Steelers announced the signing of safety Nat Berhe, formerly of the Giants, to a new contract that will bring him to Pittsburgh for the 2018 season.

While Berhe’s formal position is that of safety, he brings home the bacon thanks to his stellar work on special teams.

Berhe’s propensity for making life miserable for return men started in his rookie season of 2014, when New York selected him in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. For his tackling abilities and hard-hitting style, Berhe quickly earned the nickname of “The Missile.”

When I first heard of Berhe’s nickname shortly after his signing with Pittsburgh, I didn’t think anything of it. However, as I processed things a bit more in my middle-aged brain, I thought, “How can any player be nicknamed “The Missile” in this day and age of player safety, safety that, as far as the NFL’s future is concerned, begins with the head and goes down from there?”

After all, with the league recently adopting the targeting rule starting in 2018--a rule that will penalize a player for lowering and leading with his helmet--the last thing an NFL player should want is a nickname that implies he does exactly what a missile would do if it was launched at a target--hit it head-first.

However, after I processed things a bit more in my old brain that will officially be closer to 50 than it will be to 40 in about a month or so, I thought, “Nah, Nat probably just earned his reputation based on his sure tackling more so than by leading with his helmet.”

But then I watched his official highlight video, and the very first tackle on said video showed Berhe lowering his head as he crashed into a Redskins’ running back.

And then I read Jeff Hartman’s article on Berhe, where he quoted Big Blue View’s Ed Valentine:

”He moved into the starting lineup in 2016 when Darian Thompson got hurt, but lasted only two games before he was felled by a concussion. He ended up with multiple concussions that season, and the way he plays concussions are always a concern. I’m not sure how many he has had overall.”

Yikes.

Can you say Ladarius Green?

Obviously, you remember Green’s less than stellar one year in Pittsburgh when, after coming over from the Chargers in the spring of 2016 to be the Steelers replacement for Heath Miller as well as their answer to the growing population of mega-athletic tight ends in the NFL, he only played in six of a possible 19 games due to multiple concussions he suffered in San Diego combined with the one he sustained against the Bengals on December 18,.

Green is now an afterthought in Pittsburgh--a forgettable and regrettable free agent acquisition--and the Steelers go out and sign a new free agent who very well might wind up with the same fate in 2018?

Hey, I’m not saying Berhe won’t be a great addition. Special teams is one of those areas few people worry about until the unit comes up to bite their favorite football team in the fall or winter.

Its just funny.

It’s kind of like signing a defensive lineman nicknamed “The Torpedo” shortly after the NFL made a rule that prohibited tackling a quarterback below the knees.

It’s like signing a linebacker nicknamed “The Claw” just a few weeks after the NFL announced it would be placing a greater emphasis on face mask penalties.

It’s also just plain confusing for fans and illustrates quite nicely how the NFL has always been a huge contradiction.

We’re being trained to not like helmet hits, but we’re also being told we should be happy about a special teams ace with a nickname that not only explains his style of play, it explains the many concussions he’s suffered during a career that’s not even five years old.

I’m not saying it’s a bad signing by any stretch.

I’m just sayin’....there’s a football player named “The Missile” in 2018?

Seriously?

Important offseason dates approaching for the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 5:38am

Spring workouts are right around the corner!

While most complain about the length of the NFL offseason, there are stops along the way which help satisfy our hunger for football news. It all starts with free agency and the new league year, then bleeds into the NFL Draft and finally training camp.

But even between those big events are smaller events which help pass the time. After all, football in shorts is better than no football at all, right?

The coaching staff will have the opportunity to work with their players for the first time, and for new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, new defensive backs coach Tom Bradly, new defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and new wide receiver coach Darryl Drake, this will be their first time working with their new players in a formal setting.

It all starts next Monday, April 16th, when the players report for the official offseason workout program.

Get the full breakdown below:

April 16 — Off-season workout programs begin.

Phase I: Two weeks of Strength, conditioning and rehabilitation only.

Phase II: Three weeks of on-field workouts/instructions but no full-team drills.

Phase III: Four weeks of organized team activities (resemble in-season no-contact practices).

Throughout the OTAs there are some important deadline for restricted free agents. They are below:

April 20 — Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.

April 25 — Deadline for prior club to exercise Right of First Refusal to restricted free agents.

Finally, the big show happens on April 26th (Thursday) when the 2018 NFL Draft kicks off!

April 26-28 — 2018 NFL Draft, Arlington, Texas.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on the news and note throughout the offseason, all focused solely on the black-and-gold.

Asked and Answered: April 10

Steelers.com News - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 5:00am
Another installment of Bob Labriola answering your questions about the Steelers and the NFL.

The tradition continues

Steelers.com News - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 7:00pm
The Art Rooney Awards Dinner continues to be a Pittsburgh staple.

Steelers add three offensive linemen to their 90-man offseason roster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 4:15pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers have added some bodies along their offensive line.

The NFL allows teams to carry 90 players on their official offseason rosters. With the inflation from 53 to 90, there are a lot of new names and faces which come with these transactions.

To be blunt, many of the players added to the offseason roster are nothing more than training camp bodies.

Yes, for every Mike Hilton, who turned a ‘camp body’ type deal into a starting role, there are at least a dozen players who stick around training camp long enough to allow the team to play out the preseason before becoming unemployed again.

The Pittsburgh Steelers added three offensive linemen who fit this bill recently.

This per Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports.com:

The #Steelers have signed offensive tackles Joseph Cheek and Larson Graham and center Parker Collins to a one-year contracts. Camp bodies. Kick the tires.

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) April 9, 2018

Offensive tackles Joseph Cheek and Larson Graham join center Parker Collins s the players who were given one-year contracts.

The Steelers begin their official offseason workouts in one week (4/16), and these players will help provide depth at an area the team could desperately need some. Stay up-to-date on all of the Steelers’ offseason transactions right here with Behind the Steel Curtain.

Steelers sign Duquesne graduate Larson Graham and two other linemen

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 3:22pm

The Steelers signed three offensive linemen to free-agent contracts Monday. Tackles Joseph Cheek and Larson Graham and center Parker Collins came to terms on one-year deals.

Steelers sign three to roster

Steelers.com News - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 2:55pm
The Steelers added depth to their offensive line.

Giving back to those who gave so much

Steelers.com News - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 2:25pm
The Steelers and Alejandro Villanueva show veterans they 'are not forgotten.'

Veterans receive a special surprise

Steelers.com Videos - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 2:22pm
Alejandro Villanueva and Heinz Field team up to drop off televisions and refrigerators at Veterans Place Washington Boulevard.

Veterans receive a special surprise

Steelers.com Videos - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 2:22pm
Alejandro Villanueva and Heinz Field team up to drop off televisions and refrigerators at Veterans Place Washington Boulevard.

Veterans receive a special suprise

Steelers.com Videos - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 2:22pm
Alejandro Villanueva and Heinz Field team up to drop off televisions and refrigerators at Veterans Place Washington Boulevard.

Leighton Vander Esch visited the Steelers on Saturday for pre-draft visit

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 1:45pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted their biggest name player to date when Leighton Vander Esch visited the team facility Saturday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to bring in prospects for official pre-draft visits leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. They have hosted a number of defenders, but not those big name players getting attention in mock drafts, etc. — until Saturday.

It is being reported by Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the team brought in Boise State inside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch for an official pre-draft visit over the weekend.

Leighton Vander Esch visited the UMPC Rooney Sports Complex Saturday for a top-30 visit, according to an industry source. The Steelers reportedly had dinner with Vander Esch the night before his pro day last week as well.

The Steelers have a huge need for an inside linebacker, and Vander Esch certainly looks as if he fits the proverbial bill. He is big and has the tangible skills to roam the middle of the field, as shown by his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine.

While most feel the ultimate decision will be between Vander Esch and Rashaan Evans of Alabama, the Steelers are doing their homework on both. The team was present at the Boise State Pro Day, and took the linebacker to dinner the night before his pro day as well.

What does all this mean? Nothing really. The Steelers got to take a closer look at Vander Esch at their own facility. While these garner a lot of attention from fans, it can simply be the team doing diligence on prospects.

Interestingly enough, Mike Tomlin has talked openly about how he never turns down an opportunity to watch, and meet, with as many prospects as he can — even if there is no chance they will be available when the team selects in the first round. He mentioned meeting Joe Haden and Morgan Burnett during the draft process, and his knowledge of them helped the team in a big way when they brought them in as free agents.

Keep up-to-date with all of the Steelers pre-draft visitors, rumors and meetings with the BTSC Pre-Draft Visit Tracker.

Top inside linebacker prospect Leighton Vander Esch visited the Steelers on Saturday

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 12:38pm

The Steelers are looking for an inside linebacker in the draft later this month, and one of the top inside linebacker prospects in the draft took a visit to the Steelers over the weekend.

Mock Draft Monday: Steelers experience an upgrade in their secondary

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 11:45am

The Steelers’ defense needs to be upgraded, and in this 3-round mock draft the secondary gets a face lift.

Everyone who knows anything understands the Pittsburgh Steelers need defensive help in the 2018 NFL Draft. This has been covered enough, but the focus of that coverage has always been with two positions in mind: Safety and Inside Linebacker.

While I can’t disagree with the focal point being up the middle of the defense, it also should be noted there have been several analysts who believe the Steelers could still be in play for a high round cornerback.

It seems foolish to think about with Joe Haden, Artie Burns, Mike Hilton, Cam Sutton and plenty other names still on the roster, but the future of the position could be one which requires attention now. Reality states Haden might not be back after the 2018 season, and who would take his place? Sutton is still very much an unknown, and Hilton, entering a contract year, thrives solely in the slot.

Maybe drafting a cornerback high wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.

This is exactly the thinking from Dane Brugler of NFL Draft Scout in his latest 3-round mock draft. The Steelers do attack the defensive side of the football, in the first two rounds, but maybe not the positions many expect.

Take a look at Dane’s selections for the Steelers, and his explanation:

Round 1

28. Pittsburgh Steelers — Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

The addition of Joe Haden helped, but cornerback is still one of the weak spots on the Steelers’ roster. Alexander, who is skill-set similar to Haden, might be undersized, but he plays bigger with his athleticism, toughness and ball skills.

Round 2

60. Pittsburgh Steelers — Justin Reid, FS, Stanford

While he doesn’t have a dominant trait, Reid is well-rounded and will compete for immediate snaps.

Round 3

92. Pittsburgh Steelers — Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky

There wasn’t an explanation from Brugler on picking a quarterback in the third round, but BTSC’s own 58Steel took to social media to find out why he would project a developmental quarterback in the third round after spending a fourth round pick on Joshua Dobbs, another developmental quarterback, last year.

Part of it is I think Dobbs is terrible

— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 7, 2018

There you have it...pretty simple reason as to why he thinks the Steelers could take a signal caller on Day 2 of the draft process.

What do you think of the picks? Do you see the Steelers following this lead? Or is this a joke of a mock draft? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold.

Watt ready to take the next step

Steelers.com News - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 10:00am
With a year under his belt, T.J. Watt is ready to do more in the defense.

Talented players fall in the NFL Draft without reason, just ask the Steelers and David DeCastro

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 9:39am

Sometimes, players with histories of injury or off-field incidents who have top-five talent end up falling deep into the first round of the NFL Draft, or even into lower rounds. Even so, many years a player falls for what seems like absolutely no reason. Two of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ best players over the last quarter-century are exactly “that guy.”

In every NFL draft, there are players you just know will be drafted in the top five or ten positions. Until, of course, they aren’t.

In 2004, the Pittsburgh Steelers held the 11th pick in a draft in which three quarterbacks were considered near-consensus top-10 picks: Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. In fact, many had Roethlisberger ranked ahead of Rivers, who ended up going as the fourth overall pick in one of the stranger openers to a draft, ever.

True, in the few days just before the draft, some were beginning to mock Roethlisberger to the Steelers. Still, there were enough teams in the top 10 that needed help at quarterback that it would likely be wishful thinking to believe a top quarterback would fall to Pittsburgh.

Until he did. And, after three Super Bowl appearances and two wins, he’s almost a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Eight years later, Stanford guard David DeCastro was expected to be a possible top-five pick, and top-ten at worst. Despite guards not often being drafted in the top half of the first round, he was viewed as being just that good. And he has been exactly that, as he is an All-Pro who consistently grades out among experts as the very top of the top tier of NFL guards.

For the Steelers, who picked 24th in that draft.

Draft after draft, someone falls. And we aren’t talking about Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jalen Smith or the Steelers’ Stephon Tuitt, who were both top-ten talents whose drops out of the first round were clearly attributable to injuries. We’re talking about guys whose falls seemed inexplicable and exceedingly unlikely at the time, as they were passed up by teams who had clear needs at their positions.

Retrospect is sometimes useful in diagnosing, but predicting ahead of time is often an act of futility. For DeCastro, it’s possible that bias against guards in the top 15 to 20 picks played a role. For Roethlisberger, perhaps the drama that unfolded between Eli Manning and the Chargers had teams shying away from further quarterback picks, allowing the Steelers to draft Roethlisberger. Because we so rarely get a glimpse into the decision-making processes of various general managers, it’s hard to understand the past and, therefore, judge the future. But no one said we can’t try.

There are some candidates to fall in the 2018 NFL draft. Linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Rashaan Evans could easily fall, especially if quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph end up being drafted earlier. It could also be affected by how much weight teams put on fellow linebacker Leighton Vander Esch’s combine performance, which could end up intriguing a team enough for Vander Esch to supplant, say, Evans, in particular. Or maybe those runs on quarterbacks and linebackers pushes cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Josh Jackson down, and some team views Jackson as the better fit. In that case, the bottom half of the draft order could see someone like Ward, who is expected to be off the board by the 15th pick.

Or, maybe, the questions about quarterback Josh Allen’s mechanics and accuracy simply drop him out of the top five to seven picks. If that happens, and he is viewed closer to Jackson in skill, we could even see Jackson leap-frog Allen as general managers get gun-shy when it comes time to actually pull the trigger. Cold feet during the draft isn’t exactly an unheard-of phenomenon.

In the end, mock drafts are rarely consistently correct beyond the first three to five picks. But we can typically peg a pick into a window of a handful of picks. Still, there is usually that one player who defies the odds and ends up falling to, or even through, the bottom of the first round without obvious reason. Who that may be in 2018 is, of course, anybody’s guess.

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