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Podcast: The biggest Steelers issue isn’t a return of a healthy Ben Roethlisberger

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/16/2020 - 5:45am

In a brand new show titled ‘Yeah, I said it’, we talk about some burning topics surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There are a lot of questions surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers heading into 2020, and some consider Ben Roethlisberger’s health to be the biggest question. But what if the team’s lack of depth is the biggest issue.

This is where the newest BTSC podcast “Yeah, I Said It” comes in. My co-host on ‘The Standard is the Standard’, Lance Williams talks about why he can’t stand the entire NFL Draft “experience”.

Time to deliver the goods on the latest show.

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!

Check out the audio below:

Feel free to give us your thoughts on the topic in the comment section below, and don’t forget to follow us on all our audio platforms by following the links below:

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

Black and Gold Links: No setbacks for Ben Roethlisberger in his rehabilitation

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/16/2020 - 5:00am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 NFL Draft is officially over. After finishing last year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, have another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done 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 Ben Roethlisberger is continuing to progress through his rehabilitation, per Mike Tomlin.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Mike Tomlin spoke to fans recently on a SteelerNation Unit call, and he gave an update on Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab.

Mike Tomlin: ‘No bumps in the road’ for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Mike Tomlin provided a brief update Thursday on the status of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his recovery from right elbow surgery in September.

“He’s doing great thus far,” Tomlin said on a 15-minute conference call with fans. “He’s in great physical condition. Rehabilitation in regards to the injury itself is going well. I hear nothing but positive reports from that standpoint. There have been no bumps in the road.”

Roethlisberger is about eight months removed from surgery that ended his 2019 season after two games and six quarters. Roethlisberger turned 38 in March and will be entering his 17th NFL season.

Roethlisberger resumed a light throwing program in February.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Kevin Colbert understands Ben Roethlisberger could just walk away from the game, but his dedication is keeping him coming back.

Colbert praises Ben: ‘He could easily walk away’

By: Hunter Homistek, DKPittsburghSports

Did Kevin Colbert and the Steelers even consider shaking up their quarterback room through free agency or the NFL Draft?

“No. Nuh-uh.”

That was Colbert responding to the question from Mark Madden Wednesday on 105.9 The X. Throughout the interview, several themes became clear:

The Steelers have faith that Ben Roethlisberger will not only be ready for Week 1 but can be better than we’ve seen him in recent years.

Mason Rudolph, Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges and Paxton Lynch are at the ready if that isn’t the case.

This is how Colbert and company want it to be. This is by choice.

Oh, and one more:

Roethlisberger isn’t fat and out of shape. At all.

“I know where Ben is,” Colbert said. “I know where he’s been in his career, and I never worried about his conditioning. When he shows up at a training camp, he’s ready to go, and he knows how to prepare himself. The amount of work that he’s gotten in previous training camps — it’ll be different, again, whenever we get in because he’ll still be in a semi-rehab state — but I have no concerns about him [and his] physical conditioning.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Steelers fans shouldn’t expect another Devlin Hodges to emerge prior to 2020.

Finding another ‘Duck’ unlikely in 2020

By: Dale Lolley, DKPittsburghSports

The progression of Devlin Hodges from tryout participant at rookie minicamp to starting quarterback for the Steelers was one of the stories that gripped fans not just in Pittsburgh, but across the league in 2019.

Plenty of people got caught up in the rags-to-riches nature of the story, as Hodges went from being a player who was not only not drafted by any NFL team, but also not signed by one in the aftermath of the draft.

He was instead one of the handful of players who accepted an invitation to rookie minicamp who caught the eye of the coaching staff, earning a spot on the 90-man roster. From there, he continued to progress to the point where he was starting for the Steelers in a Week 6 victory by the team in Los Angeles against the Chargers.

It marked the first of three-straight victories in games started by Hodges, something that put him in beyond rarified air. No undrafted quarterback in a non-strike season had won his first three NFL starts in the Super Bowl era.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • BTSC articles you may have missed...

The 3rd, and final, installment of the Anthony McFarland Film Room

A complete breakdown of “Envelope Gate”

What would a new contract for Chris Wormley look like?

Don’t want to hear what James Harrison has to say? Don’t ask him questions

Mike Tomlin addresses two defensive 2019 draft picks

Art Rooney, and James Harrison, deny the reports on “Envelope Gate”

  • Social Media Madness

Powering in @benny_snell pic.twitter.com/hSBvUaZAps

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 15, 2020

We asked our rookie class what their favorite pregame meal is! Whose would you choose? @PALottery pic.twitter.com/ny4xqSZNW0

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 15, 2020

.@AnttMacc_ is excited to be a Steeler!

Full : https://t.co/XC2zSy6kY2 pic.twitter.com/As8Z10XS3f

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 14, 2020

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions: Offseason, Vol. 19

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/15/2020 - 5:45pm
Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

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

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

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

The rules haven’t changed...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

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

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

1. Who do you think is the most overrated member of the 2020 Steelers?

2. Which player would you say will have a BREAKOUT in 2020?

3. A topic I’ve been wanting to ask here: What are your thoughts/expectations Justin Layne heading into 2020? Just quality depth, or a future starter on the way?

4. What is the ONE thing the Steelers need to do better on defense to make their unit truly elite?

5. Who would be on your Steelers Mount Rushmore? Remember, there FOUR presidents on Mount Rushmore. Explain why you chose who you did!

6. A lot of talk during these open threads circulate around food. What are some of your best BBQ recipes/rubs/meals to cook on the “barbie”?

Stay safe out there, and hopefully you use BTSC the same way I do — as a getaway from the madness.

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

A complete breakdown of James Harrison’s response to the envelope backlash

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/15/2020 - 2:30pm
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The former Steelers OLB has made waves, and it is time for a complete breakdown of what has gone down.

Unless you have been living under a rock over the last day or so, you have probably heard James Harrison’s comments on Barstool Sports’ Going Deep podcast that Mike Tomlin “handed him an envelope” after he was fined $75,000 for his 2010 hit on Cleveland Browns’ receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.

Harrison has been receiving quite a bit of backlash for his remarks as people have been comparing the situation to Bountygate and claiming the league should investigate the matter. Appalled by what he has been seeing, he took to social media this morning to defend himself and Coach Tomlin.

View this post on Instagram

Wow y'all really comparing what I said to BOUNTYGATE?!? Mike T. Has NEVER paid me for hurting someone or TRYING to hurt someone or put a bounty on ANYBODY! If you knew the full story of what happened back then you'd know that BS fine for a Legal Play wasn't even penalized during the game. The league was getting pressure because the first concussion lawsuits were starting and they had to look like they cared about player safety all of a sudden. Before that they had been SELLING a photo of THAT SAME PLAY FOR $55 on the NFL website with other videos of the NFL'S GREATEST HITS that the league Profited On back then. When the league had to start pretending like they cared about player safety they took all those things down off their website and they started fining guys ridiculous amounts for the same plays they used to profit off of. EVERYBODY knew it - even these same media people and all the fans that were sending money to me and the team to cover the fine. AGAIN AT NO TIME did Mike T. EVER suggest anybody hurt anybody or that they'd be rewarded for anything like that. GTFOH with that BS!!! #receipts

A post shared by James Harrison (@jhharrison92) on May 15, 2020 at 7:40am PDT

If you listen to what he actually said in the interview, it’s pretty obvious that he meant Tomlin gave him the envelope to cover his fine. In no way, shape, or form was he saying that Tomlin paid him to hurt Massaquoi or any other player for that matter.

Harrison made it a point in his post to highlight the fact that the only reason he was fined in the first place is because it was at a time when the league was under pressure due to an increasing amount of concussion lawsuits being levied against them. If you go back and look at it, the play didn’t even draw a flag during the game. So was it a case of the hit actually being too brutal or the league just trying to save face?

Harrison also exposed the NFL for profiting off of his hit by selling pictures and videos of the collision on their league websites. Considering how severely he was fined for his actions, he claims it is quite hypocritical of the league to be using that exact play to make money for themselves. And it is. The league should have either fully condemned the hit and never put it online or left Harrison alone in the first place. There is no way to justify fining a man for the same play that the league, in turn, used for profit.

Perhaps the best part of Harrison’s post was where he stated that media members and fans from all over were sending him money to cover his fine. Some people thought at the time that he was being over-punished, so to see all the support he was receiving behind the scene is pretty amazing. Steelers’ Nation has always had a reputation for sticking with players through thick and thin, and this just goes to show that sentiment rings true.

Overall, Harrison said most of what we already knew. The league has never been consistent in their discipline and it is absurd to compare this situation to Bountygate. Coach Tomlin was never paying anyone to hurt other players and Harrison wasn’t entirely in the wrong for his actions. I think, at this point, it’s time to put this story to rest. Case closed.

Let’s Make A Deal: A new contract for Mike Hilton

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/15/2020 - 12:35pm
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

If the Steelers and Wormley came to terms on a new contract before he plays his first game in the black and gold, what would it look like?

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 offseason has progressed appropriately since the beginning of the league year. With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, the Steelers were able to restructure contracts, offer tenders, use the franchise tag, sign free agents, make their draft selections, and get their undrafted rookie free agents under contract. With a focus on getting their draftees under contract in the coming weeks, the Steelers will also be looking to sign some players to either a new contract or a contract extension.

While some of these new deals may not come until the summer, it’s not out of the question for player representatives and the Steelers to be working on something now. With that said, which Steelers going into the last year of the current deal are likely to be given a new contract before the 2020 season begins?

Rather than focus on all the players, let’s tackle one at a time. With each player, it will first be determined if they should receive a new deal along with how much would be a fair contract to both parties. This exercise is meant to just be fun and speculative as we all get to play general manager and salary cap guru for a day. The biggest question with the remaining players is if a contract would be better before this season or next offseason.

If you wish to give a basic contract answer without diving too deep into numbers, simply skip over the italicized section. If you are the kind of person who would like to see how the contract would affect the salary cap, here it is...

Coming up with an exact contract can be tricky. Rather than get into roster and work out bonuses or different amounts per season, we’re going to estimate the salaries as simply as possible. For whatever deal the player gets, the first year will have all but $1 million put into a signing bonus which will get spread over the life of the contract. For example, if a player were to sign a three-year contract for $10 million per year, the first year would have a $1 million base salary and a $9 million signing bonus. Therefore, the bonus would be spread out to $3 million over each season where the player would count $4 million dollars for 2020 and $13 million for the other two years.

One other factor which needs to be considered is if the player brings any dead money from the previous contract. To account for this in a simple manner, throw it into the salary cap hit for the first year of the players deal. Using the above example, if a player had $4 million in dead money on their last contract, the salary cap hit for their first year would be $8 million.

After looking at a deal for: Cam Heyward, Bud Dupree, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, James Conner, and Mike Hilton, now let’s see what kind of contract Steelers’ fans would like to work out with Chris Wormley now rather than play the 2020 season before making a decision.

Chris Wormley

Age: 26
Years: 3
Draft: 3rd round, 74th overall (Baltimore)
Previous Contract: Rookie deal
2020 salary cap hit: $2.133 million
Dead Money: None

Here are the top contracts average per year (AYP) at the 3-4 DE position according to overthecap.com:

Aaron Donald: $22.5 million
J.J. Watt: $16.7 million
Leonard Williams: $16.126 million (franchise tag)
Kawann Short: $16.1 million
Jurrell Casey: $15.1 million
Stephon Tuitt: $12 million

Wormley ranked 63rd among all qualifying NFL defensive interior linemen in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus. Here are the players under contract beyond their rookie deals who ranked closely to Wormley:

t-61. Rodney Gunter: $6 million
t-61. Christian Covington: $1.5 million
t-63. Sheldon Rankins: $7.69 million (5th-year option)
t-65. Maliek Collins: $6 million
t-65. Corey Peters: $4 million
68. Brandon Williams: $10.5 million

Notes: The whole notion of giving Wormley a new contract before he plays with the Steelers may be far-fetched, but with the salary cap hit of over $2 million it’s not the team-friendly deal many thought the Steelers would be getting since he was on his rookie contract. Wormley’s 2020 salary cap number is more than Minkah Fitzpatrick, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Stefen Wisniewski. If the Steelers worked out a small extension in order to lower his cap hit for 2020 it could make sense, but there’s no reason to break the bank for player who has yet to put on the Steelers’ uniform.

So now it’s deal time! Perhaps the first question should be a completely different game show: Deal or no deal? Should the Steelers look to sign Chris Wormley before he even plays for the team in the 2020 season? If so, what should the deal look like? Please leave your response with the number of years and the average salary per season in the comments below.

Next time on Let’s Make A Deal: Cameron Sutton.

Art Rooney, James Harrison blatantly deny Bountygate comparison 

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/15/2020 - 11:05am
Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers owner, James Harrison, and his representation have all chimed in on the alleged “envelope” incident.

Thursday afternoon, James Harrison was on the Barstool Sports “Going Deep” podcast to discuss his former playing days with the Pittsburgh Steelers with his old teammate Willie Colon.

During the interview Harrison told the story of how he had received an “envelope” from head coach Mike Tomlin after his hit on Cleveland Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. Harrison was eventually fined $75,000 for the hit on the Browns wideout.

While some thought Harrison’s comments were about Tomlin handing him money for the fine, the better assumption was the Steelers could have had a program in place for defenders knocking players out of the game, similar to the “Bounty Gate” scandal with the New Orleans Saints.

Many across the NFL landscape are speculating, but Steelers President Art Rooney II decided to try and get ahead of the rumors by releasing a statement.

Check out the statement below, via ProFootballTalk:

Steelers president Art Rooney II, on James Harrison's claim that he received "an envelope" from Mike Tomlin: "I am very certain nothing like this ever happened. I have no idea why James would make a comment like this but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this."

— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 14, 2020

The statement reads:

“I am very certain nothing like this ever happened. I have no idea why James would make a comment like this but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this.”

This would be expected from the team owner/president, but James Harrison’s agent, Bill Parise, took it a step further when he was asked if he had any knowing of Harrison receiving payment for dirty hits.

Absolutely not. Never happened,” agent Bill Parise told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I would have known that. It didn’t happen.”

Just recently, Harrison added more details to the situation via his Instagram account and vehemently denies any comparison to “Bountygate.”

View this post on Instagram

Wow y'all really comparing what I said to BOUNTYGATE?!? Mike T. Has NEVER paid me for hurting someone or TRYING to hurt someone or put a bounty on ANYBODY! If you knew the full story of what happened back then you'd know that BS fine for a Legal Play wasn't even penalized during the game. The league was getting pressure because the first concussion lawsuits were starting and they had to look like they cared about player safety all of a sudden. Before that they had been SELLING a photo of THAT SAME PLAY FOR $55 on the NFL website with other videos of the NFL'S GREATEST HITS that the league Profited On back then. When the league had to start pretending like they cared about player safety they took all those things down off their website and they started fining guys ridiculous amounts for the same plays they used to profit off of. EVERYBODY knew it - even these same media people and all the fans that were sending money to me and the team to cover the fine. AGAIN AT NO TIME did Mike T. EVER suggest anybody hurt anybody or that they'd be rewarded for anything like that. GTFOH with that BS!!! #receipts

A post shared by James Harrison (@jhharrison92) on May 15, 2020 at 7:40am PDT

For Steelers fans, this is one of those stories which you wish would just go away, but the fact remains this is far from over. Could Roger Goodell and the NFL look into this and do a full-blown investigation? It is possible.

In other words, stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2020 regular season.

Mike Tomlin talks up a pair of 2019 Steelers’ defensive rookies

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/15/2020 - 9:30am
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

In a special phone call taking questions from Steelers fans through Steelers Nation Unite, Tomlin discuss the rookie seasons of Devin Bush and Justin Layne and their expectations for 2020

On Thursday afternoon, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin participated in a fan forum phone call through Steelers Nation Unite. Tomln answered a variety of questions ranging from the recent draft to what he has been doing with his time during the current stay-at-home order (Spoiler: It’s watching Netfix).

One particular question about both the cornerback and inside linebacker positions gave Coach Tomlin the chance to talk about a pair of 2019 rookies and how the Steelers are looking for them to contribute during the upcoming season.

“We took Devin Bush a year ago and as a 20-year old and he logged a bunch of snaps for us,” Tomlin stated. “We feel good about the overall trajectory of his play. Sometimes when you feel like you have a need, it doesn’t necessarily mean going out and getting a new component, it’s about the improvement of the component you have.”

While some in Steelers’ Nation may feel the Steelers are lacking at the inside linebacker position, especially based on the question, 2019 was one of the best seasons the Steelers have had at the position since the loss of Ryan Shazier. With Devin Bush starting 15 games and playing a high number of snaps, it is hopeful he can continue to grow in both ability and playing time for the 2020 season.

“We’re excited about him taking a significant step between year one and year two as a quality inside linebacker for us,” Tomlin continued, “being an all situations type player, and to be the type of player to play to a Pro Bowl caliber level the way Ryan Shazier did.”

Coach Tomlin also took the opportunity, since the quarterback position was mentioned, to bring up 2019 third-round draft pick Justin Layne.

“We’re really excited about Justin Layne in the same way. He was a rookie a year ago and was inactive early on, but carved out a role for himself as a special-teamer.”

Although Layne did not play a single defensive snap in 2019, his progression throughout the season on special teams made him a valuable asset as the season progressed. By the end of the year, Layne had supplanted Artie Burns in earning the active roster spot on game day.

Tomlin continued describing Layne’s progress in 2019 and their hopes for the 2020 season.

“He’s going through the natural participation and developmental process,” Tomlin stated. “He really distinguished himself in a positive way in a practice setting over the second half of the year. Those are usually signs a guy is going to take a step in his second year. We’re exited about him and his development and what he can bring to us at the cornerback position, just like we’re excited about the development of Devin Bush and him taking a significant step off a solid rookie campaign he gave us at linebacker.”

Although both playing on the defensive side of the ball, Bush and Layne had significantly different rookie seasons. With Bush being a top-10 draft pick, he was thrown into action early on. As for Layne, his development was not a trial by fire but rather working through practice and showing himself on special teams. Although both players should see vast improvements in their second seasons, Bush will look to be a main staple at the linebacker position while Layne will serve as a valuable back up to either Joe Haden or Steven Nelson.

A transcript of the entire phone call can be seen courtesy of Teresa Varley by clicking the link below to Steelers.com.

Coach Tomlin spoke about Ben Roethlisberger's health in the @SteelersUnite Huddle. #SNUHuddle

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 14, 2020

Film Room, Part 3: Anthony McFarland is the Steelers new Weapon-X: 2019 and beyond

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/15/2020 - 7:45am
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

What happened to Anthony McFarland in 2019 and what to expect in 2020.

Anthony McFarland Jr. rushed for 520 yards in the last three games of 2018, then in 2019 he only rushed for 614 yards. While he had a high ankle sprain he also only missed one game, and clearly he didn’t live up to the hype that followed the Ohio State game in 2018.

This is going to have a lot of clips, so let’s jump right in and look at McFarland’s 2019 season and see what happened, and how his injury affected his play, starting at the beginning when he was healthy.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB to the bottom of the screen.

McFarland was a nightmare for a LB to cover in man. He is going to be a mismatch for a lot of LBs in the NFL. You can also see this offense is more traditional, no wing backs in 2019.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

This is as good as any run he made in 2018. Two jump cuts and two changes of direction. He doesn’t just jump to his right to start the run, he turns his hips and bursts outside, before jump cutting again, landing squared up to the goal line and with one downfield block he’s gone.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

A nice little RB out route, and McFarland shows again that he’s that break a tackle and he’s gone type of RB.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

McFarland avoids the penetration, then shows his lateral speed and creative running.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

These cutback runs were deadly in 2018 and again in 2019. Everyone shows a run to the right, but he gets a lead blocker in the other RB, and the edge defender is too wide and McFarland goes inside to go outside for another big gain.

Anthony McFarland didn’t get a lot of touches in the season opening demolition of Howard, then put up 120 yards and 3TDs on 16 touches in a beat down of the then 21st ranked Orangemen. Maryland followed that with a close loss to Temple in which McFarland ran for 132 yards and 1 TD on 26 carries. McFarland injured his ankle in the Temple game, but the coaches said they realized he was hurt in the next game, against Penn State.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

McFarland wouldn’t put up many yards against Penn State, but he did have this run, where he does a great job of working through traffic for 12 yards.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

This is a good run, but you see McFarland get run down from behind, something that you didn’t see in 2018 or the early games of 2019.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

This was a nice catch and run against Purdue, but this was it for his good pays in that game, and you can see it didn’t require any cuts. Outside of this catch and run, MdFarland gained 6 yards on 5 touches, and would miss the next game against Indiana.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

Here McFarland makes a nice catch while running backwards and a fluid turn after the catch. I also like seeing him leak out of the pocket, something the scheme didn’t include in 2018.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the slot receiver to the top of the screen.

He didn’t do this much at all, but it is good to see that he was prepared to run a route from the slot, even if it is a simple in route and his in cut is way too slow allowing the DB to come in and break up the pass. This shows he did get practice doing this, and that is good.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

Watch how he slows down before the cut, he’s putting as little lateral pressure on his ankle as he can. Some of the scouting reports on him talked about how he’d struggle to slow down into his cuts, and they probably watched film of him after his injury.

The defense didn’t always give him time to slow down though.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

Here he has to cut faster, and the ankle can’t do it.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

And again, this was one of his best moves in 2018, run right at the penetrating edge, then jump cut up field past him. The second clip in this article is a great example, but after the Temple game he couldn’t do it. It stood out to me that they tried to do it against Nebraska, he must have been feeling better.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

The jump cut isn’t strong there, but it still works, and you can see the speed is coming back, he wasn’t breaking runs like this most of the season, he would get caught or angled out of bounds. It is good to see him blow past the angles again.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

I love this run, it combines his jump cuts with the vision and patience to move through traffic he flashed in the Penn State game (6th clip in the article). If you want to know what could cause Reggie Bush to say Anthony McFarland could be better than LeVeon Bell, this is the kind of run Bush was thinking of. And honestly, that’s some crazy upside, because he shows that kind of patient, vision based running that Bell was so good because of, but where Bell had more power, McFarland has breakaway speed.

To be clear, I don’t endorse that statement at all, but I can see the same things that would cause a person to think that.

It stands out like a giant neon sign that the two times he recorded more than 30 carries in a two game span he either struggled mightily afterwards or was injured. LeVeon Bell was one of the Elite RBs in league while averaging 19.8 carries a game over 62 games in 5 years. Anthony McFarland is not going to be that kind of RB.

Anthony McFarland Jr. ran for 255 yards on 60 carries in the 8 games (7 he played in) after his injury against Temple (4.25 yards per carry).

In the first three games (one a blowout he played sparingly in) and the season finale against Michigan State, Anthony McFarland ran for 359 yards on 54 carries (6.65 yards per carry).

Seven of his 9 TDs came in those 4 games as well.

This is the second draft in a row the Steelers have drafted a player who had lower numbers in their pre-draft season due to injury, then showed up at the end of the season in their last game.

In that Michigan State game Anthony McFarland also did something he hadn’t done at all in his college career, he returned a kickoff.

That’s a solid return, and was clearly meant to show NFL teams that he is capable of it. In 2018 Ty Johnson was the kick returner, and he was great at it and also looking to make it in the NFL. When Ty Johnson was out of the way McFarland was the #1 RB and the teams top offensive weapon, he wasn’t going to be the kick returner.

One thing I kept wanting to include was his pass blocking, but these posts have been really long so I kept cutting it. So here are three plays that show his strengths in pass blocking. Anthony McFarland is the RB in all 3.

Good job to step up and give the QB room, he is ready to help with the first blitzer, then easily reads and picks up the twist, absorbing the impact.

Here no one is there to help him, and while three defenders converge on his QB, McFarland takes the first one, and while he’s not going to stand him up, he is able to redirect the rush to the side to keep his QB clean and Maryland picks up a first down.

And that’s Anthony McFarland blocking Chase Young. I used this one because it is Chase Young, but one of his better attributes in blocking is carrying an edge around the arc.

McFarland shows intelligence in reading blitzes, and he can absorb a hit when he has time to get set, but he won’t hold that block for long. He can buy your QB a second, just don’t expect more than that.

Conclusion

McFarland is a dynamic runner when he’s got fresh legs and good blocking. He doesn’t need great holes, but when he gets a great hole, he can turn it into a big play.

McFarland also shows some receiving ability, experience as a wing back, and untapped potential as a kick returner.

This is why I call him the Steelers new weapon-X, because he is in position to be used in multiple ways, and the addition of Matt Canada to the staff, and the versatility on the roster makes me think he is going to get a chance to be that kind of player.

Kick returner, a change of pace runner who can come in and abuse a tired defense, but where he is really interesting to me is the potential for the Steelers to throw some wing back plays into the playbook.

Line him up at RB, then run him out to a wing back position, and he could be running a route, blocking or running. Which is the role Canada was starting to use him in early in 2017 before he jumped into the top of the RB rotation. It isn’t an every game type of strategy, but if you are facing a team with less disciplined DEs, or ones that are used to just rushing the QB (Chase Young comes to Pittsburgh week 13) could be vulnerable to some Jet sweeps, and a few of those gaining yards gives a whole new thing for defenses to prepare for. If he can play in the slot that works even better.

Imagine a trips alignment where McFarland is the inside WR (essentially an H-Back), you can run a jet sweep out of that. Or you put McFarland at RB, a tight end on one side and trips with Diontae Johnson as the inside WR and motion McFarland out to wing back outside the TE. You can jet sweep with McFarland or Diontae Johnson in that situation, threatening to run to either side out of empty. It just adds so much new threat to the field.

I’m not going to make any prediction for yards or TDs, because it may not be possible to implement too much this off-season. But after the excitement about what Eric Ebron and Derek Watt could bring to the offense, Anthony McFarland brings a whole new element, and opens up some interesting possibilities.

If you don’t want to hear what James Harrison thinks, don’t interview him

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/15/2020 - 6:30am
Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images

No matter what you may think about James Harrison, when he speaks he always has something interesting to say.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a sports fix of any kind. When you’ve been in a country where team sports have been totally shut down for going on two months, well, that makes it quite difficult.

But I did just listen to the recent Going Deep podcast on Barstool, where the hosts, Steven Cheah and former Steelers offensive lineman Willie Colon (BTW, Willie is damn good as a podcast/radio-type person) interviewed former Steelers outside linebacker, James Harrison.

In terms of pandemic sports fixes, it was my The Last Dance (I don’t get ESPN).

Full disclosure: I just listened to it before sitting down and writing this. So I’d like to share my impressions as best I can without direct quotes (although, they’re quite easy to find on the Internet machine).

Below are my thoughts:

  • Harrison is clearly the Jack Lambert of the modern era. He’s going to tell you what he thinks and how he feels about each and every subject. Only difference, Harrison is obviously more willing to share his thoughts about his playing career, whereas it’s hard to say where Lambert even is these days.
  • The love Harrison had (and still has) for legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was quite apparent throughout this interview. In fact, the love the entire defense—the Steelers team, as a whole, really—had/has for LeBeau was/is remarkable.
  • As Harrison put it, there was never an issue with LeBeau’s famed 3-4 zone-blitz defense—if the defense got beat, it was on the players, not the scheme.
  • Harrison, an undrafted free agent in 2002, talked about the huge chip he developed in 2007. This was due to the new head coach, Mike Tomlin, releasing Joey Porter, which led to Harrison believing he would immediately step in and be the starter at right outside linebacker. Only problem, Tomlin’s first two draft picks were Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley. Harrison had to battle with Timmons throughout the early days of training camp. Timmons suffered an injury during camp, missed several weeks and was moved to the inside after Harrison spent those weeks being the James Harrison we would soon come to know and love. In my opinion, it was perceived slights like this—much like with Hines Ward, who often talked about how hurt he was when the Steelers used first-round picks on receivers early in his career—that drove Harrison to get the most out of his abilities and perhaps become the stubborn and rebellious figure he was throughout his NFL career.
  • Deebo being Deebo, he wasn’t shy when sharing stories about the hard-partying the players did during his early years with the team—he repeatedly cited 2002-2006. He talked about how the players would go out just about every night and drink until practically the next morning. However, the commitment to team was still so strong among the players involved that showing up on time for weight training, meetings and practices was never an issue. What really popped for me was that these were Bill Cowher’s teams (in case you don’t know, Cowher is the guy in the meme saying he’s going to come back and straighten things out). Does this mean Cowher didn’t have control over his players? Not really. After all, they appeared in two AFC title games and won a Super Bowl during this time. What this tells me is professionals really can separate work and play.
  • However, Harrison talked about ultimately wising up and taking care of himself a little better. Perhaps, not coincidentally, this occurred right around the same time he elevated his play to the point of being voted Defensive Player of the Year in 2008—score one for the “Football 24/7” crowd.
  • I think my favorite part of the interview was Harrison’s recounting of his 100-yard interception return in Super Bowl XLIII. As most fans know, Harrison was supposed to blitz on the play. However, he realized at the last second that he would never get to Kurt Warner in time to even disrupt his throw. Therefore, he faked a blitz, which helped free up Woodley, who was rushing from his inside (the replay shows it was actually Timmons). As Harrison told it, as soon as he intercepted the pass, he thought it would be clear sailing to the end zone. Obviously, that was rather ambitious for a big, burly outside linebacker. Maybe Deshea Townsend thought so, too, which may have been why he was practically trying to rip the ball out of Harrison’s grasp. The funniest part was Harrison saying, “Get away from me and go block somebody!” I don’t know if Harrison actually said this during the run-back, but it would have been perfectly reasonable for a defensive back to ask for the ball in that situation (those guys are the lightest and fastest players on the defense); for him to refuse to do it and yet still manage to take it the distance, well, it doesn’t get any more James Harrison than that.
  • Harrison talked about how he became the poster child for the league’s war on head shots—a battle the NFL took up with great enthusiasm starting in 2010. The way Harrison put it, he didn’t have any intentions of cleaning up his act—even if he did get fined $225,000 that season. The most interesting aspect of that part of the interview was Harrison’s admission that opposing players would come to him and offer to pay his fines for helmet hits. In other words, they were more willing to endure a concussion than a knee injury, because they felt like that was a bigger threat to a long career. I’m not sure if that sentiment is still a popular one among today’s players, but let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised.
  • Harrison talked about going to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to contest his fines with general manager Kevin Colbert by his side. According to Harrison, Colbert was just as rebellious and contentious during this meeting as Harrison was. Harrison said he didn’t win this appeal, but that Tomlin handed him an envelope soon after—the implication being that this fine was covered by the coach or team. I thought that was an interesting revelation by Harrison, especially when you consider the lukewarm nature of his relationship with Tomlin.
  • But maybe the relationship between coach and player was much hotter when the player was one of the coach’s top stars. Years later, when Harrison was repeatedly brought back after briefly retiring, may have been when things truly started to cool between he and Tomlin. Harrison signed a one-year deal to play for the Steelers in 2017. But much like a decade earlier, Pittsburgh went outside linebacker in Round 1 and selected T.J. Watt with the 30th pick. As Harrison put it, he was promised a certain number of snaps that season—40-60 percent—but barely registered any thanks to the team going younger at his position. Watt and Bud Dupree were the starters and remained the starters the entire year. As is well known, Harrison did whatever he could to get cut in 2017—sleeping in meetings, faking injuries and going home if he didn’t dress for games—accusations he fully admitted to during the interview. When it comes to this part of Harrison’s career, I’ll never agree that he did the right thing by basically forcing his way off the team. Harrison was offered a contract to be a Steeler in 2017. And unless the amount of snaps he would get were written into the deal (newsflash: Nobody does that), he wasn’t justified in acting the way he did. Older players get pushed out by rookies all the time—promises or no promises. It’s the circle of life in the NFL. Harrison wouldn’t be the first veteran to think he had more left to give in the twilight of his career.
  • Harrison touched on the close nature of the Steelers locker room early in his career, and how that seemed to change in 2011 or 2012. Of course, that may have just been a generational perception of someone who was approaching his late-30s and trying to bond with 22-year olds. Harrison also mentioned how the guys would go out and party 25-30 at a time during his early days, and how that dwindled down to two or three by the end. Was that a sign of a lack of team closeness, or just life for a professional athlete in the social media age? After all, a player can’t even pretend to drink a shot on Twitter without people going nuts—imagine if half the Steelers football team was spotted at a club in 2020.

Finally, if you haven’t taken the time, give the interview a listen. It’s linked in the second paragraph. Say what you want about James Harrison, but the man is always entertaining and insightful.

Podcast: Predicting the Steelers 53-man roster, post 2020 NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/15/2020 - 5:30am

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

The 2019 season is now over, and with the Pittsburgh Steelers now in the offseason, it is time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

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

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Predicting the Steelers 53-man roster, post 2020 NFL Draft?
  • Steelers Trivia
  • NFL Draft Breakdown: Antoine Brooks, LB/S, Maryland
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

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

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

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

The After Party podcast will be published in audio platform after 3:00 p.m. ET, and the audio can be found below:

There was no party this evening...it will return next week!

Black and Gold Links: Steelers rookies are preparing to jump on the “moving train” of offseason workouts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 05/15/2020 - 4:30am
Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 NFL Draft is officially over. After finishing last year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, have another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done 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 how the Steelers’ 2020 rookies are preparing for life in the NFL without having the hands-on experience.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers are like all other 31 NFL teams who are trying to get their feet wet without being able to physically go through the rigors of their new lives.

Rookies are getting ready for football

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

Steelers rookies embarked on Day 2 of the team’s virtual rookie minicamp on Saturday, and the most important aspect for all of them is getting an understanding of the playbook while they are working from home.

“Going through an experience like this I think it’s just a matter of time, how much you can soak in from the coaches,” said safety Antoine Brooks, the team’s sixth-round pick from Maryland. “It’s how much can your brain absorb, a lot of information from the coaches and can it stay there.”

His former Maryland teammate, and now current Steelers teammate, Anthony McFarland also knows that picking up the playbook is the most important aspect of what has become an odd offseason due to restrictions because of COVID-19. McFarland knows that they can’t fall behind just because they are learning on their iPads instead of in person, and he is doing his part to make sure he stays on top of everything.

“I don’t see it as behind. Ultimately everyone is in the same boat, you can’t do too much,” said McFarland, the running back taken in the fourth round. “Everybody is doing virtual. I don’t see it as being as behind. Being in the NFL they expect you to still come into camp, know the plays, know where you are lining up. At the end of the day you can’t fall behind. You really can’t fall behind. I don’t look at it like that. I feel like everybody is in the same boat across the league. You have to get in the playbook every day, not just in meetings, but after meetings.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Speaking of rookie camp, what does it look like in the virtual sense?

Rookie minicamp in a virtual world

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

The cold, raw, rainy weather in Pittsburgh, a day more reminiscent of November than May, would have made for a miserable day for the Steelers to hold their rookie minicamp.

But given the alternative, it might have been a welcome respite for the team’s rookies.

The Steelers held their first day of rookie minicamp on Friday, all of it in a virtual world. The on-field drills that have become the norm were completely replaced by virtual meetings, with the players together for their first time to get a look at the playbook.

“I want to get a good grasp on the playbook after this,” said second-round pick Chase Claypool. “Obviously you can’t get the whole playbook in a few days. Just a good grasp on the concepts, the terminology. That is what I learned today, those basic things, and we are going to progress as days go on.

“It’s definitely different. We have a couple of different websites that we use to get in and out of meetings that has information and stuff. They were able to supply me with an iPad that has some of the basic terminology and stuff, but not the entire playbook. It’s kind of hard to dissect it that way. That is what this rookie minicamp is for. It’s definitely a unique experience.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Odds set for ‘MNF’ booth. Antonio Brown is actually on the board.

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Football fans can actually bet on who will be the next color commentator in the “Monday Night Football” booth.

By some stroke of insanity, former Steeler Antonio Brown is on the board via Sportsbetting.ag.

With odds of 100/1.

I know. I thought they’d be greater when I read the headline, too.

Would you bet $100 on Antonio Brown becoming the next “Monday Night Football” announcer? I wouldn’t. But I might pay $10,000 to make it happen.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • BTSC articles you may have missed...

The state of the Steelers OLBs with Tuzar Skipper

Kevin Colbert is still perfectly fine with the Steelers’ QBs

2 members of the Steelers made PFF’s Year 2 breakout list

What would a new deal for CB Mike Hilton look like?

Continuing the breakdown of Alex McFarland, Part 2

  • Social Media Madness

Passed Physical. Running and cutting with no pain finally. I promise u this gone be something to watch. ✌

— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) May 14, 2020

Juju spending some time at Ben’s house #Steelers #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/pnyhnmGb8l

— AroundThe412 (@AroundThe412) May 14, 2020

.@AnttMacc_ is excited to be a Steeler!

Full : https://t.co/XC2zSy6kY2 pic.twitter.com/As8Z10XS3f

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 14, 2020

Don't blink @3williethadude9 | #tbt pic.twitter.com/37iMN4Sayd

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 14, 2020

Podcast: The state of the Steelers OLBs, exclusive interview with Tuzar Skipper

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/14/2020 - 2:05pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

In the latest episode of the BTSC podcast, “The Live Mike” we give you the latest injection of black-and-gold news.

The 2019 season is long gone, and with the Pittsburgh Steelers now in the offseason, it is time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Live Mike. On this show BTSC contributor Michael Beck breaks down all things Steelers leading into the offseason.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The state of the Steelers OLBs
  • Interview with Tuzar Skipper
  • Interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Joe Rutter
  • Interview with the Steelers Fan of the Week
  • and MUCH MORE!

Mike Beck walks you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold. Be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

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

You can listen to the audio in the player below:

Kevin Colbert continues with his confidence in the Steelers’ quarterback situation

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/14/2020 - 12:30pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

In an interview with Mark Madden on 105.9 the X, Colbert explained the Steelers’ curent philosophy at the QB position

On Wednesday afternoon, Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert joined radio host Mark Madden on 105.9 the X. Madden and Colbert discussed numerous issues with the Steelers, ranging from preparation to for this year‘s draft to the Steelers current situation at a variety of positions.

One particular position Madden inquired of Colbert was about the Steelers quarterback situation. Madden brought up how numerous media organizations are continuing to talk about the Steelers quarterback position and a possible addition whether it was through the draft or free agency. Madden asked Colbert directly if the Steelers ever intended to change anything at the position this offseason.

“No,” Colbert replied, choosing not to mince words. The Steelers GM then went on to explain their philosophy at the quarterback position and how it has evolved throughout Ben Roethlisberger‘s time in Pittsburgh.

“Look, throughout Ben’s career this whole situation has changed and I’ve spoken about it. When Ben was a young player, we chose to have more experienced players behind him. As he matured and moved along in his career, we always wanted to have a young, ascending player. We’ve done that with Landry Jones and Joshua Dobbs. And now with…”

In one of the more comical moments of the interview, Colbert struggled to remember the name of the Steelers current back up quarterback— Mason Rudolph. With some help from Madden, Colbert made light of the situation.

“Don’t tell Mason I forgot about him,” Colbert laughed.

With the interview going out live across the airways and available through various platforms, I can safely include the quote without feeling I have breached the confidence of the Steelers front office.

Colbert continued to discuss the Steelers’ depth at quarterback both for the 2019 season and how it is shaping up to help the team in 2020.

“In Mason’s situation, we felt good about what he was able to do last year, as well as Devlin (Hodges). Those two guys were put in a tough situation. They made the best of what they could do. Again, we talk about Mason’s record was 5-3 and Devlin’s record was 3-3 as starters. Could we have won more? Could we have won less? Sure. There was all kind of different factors that went into that. But we were comfortable with it last year and we’re comfortable with it this year.”

Although Colbert seems to acknowledge the Steelers offense was quite anemic at times in 2019, he also appears to understand that replacing a Super Bowl-winning quarterback is not an easy task for a young player to step in and thrive. When employing a quarterback the level of Ben Roethlisberger, especially at this point in his career, it is difficult to not have a huge drop off to the next player. The gap in production on the depth chart is not necessarily a reflection of the other players as much as it is the excellence of Ben Roethlisberger.

Colbert went on to discuss Roethlisberger‘s return and the Steelers expectations for the 2020 season.

“And we’re even more comfortable in really believing that Ben will come out of this in a more healthy manner and maybe even as a better player. Sometimes you take a full year off, and sure they’ll be some rest, but with his years experience that won’t be too big of an issue once he gets up and running in a practice setting. He’ll have a year of rest on his legs and his body and we’re comfortable that his arm will recover and he’ll be who he was and maybe even more than.”

With the return of Roethlisberger, Colbert is hopeful the other young quarterbacks on the depth chart can continue to grow, including former first round pick Paxton Lynch.

“But in the meantime,” Colbert concluded, “We hope that Mason and Devlin continue to show some improvement as well as a guy like Paxton Lynch who has first-round talent. We didn’t really get to see him because we got him later last year.”

The Steelers have not wavered in their confidence in the quarterback room for 2020 throughout the NFL draft or free agency. As long as Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and playing, the back-up position can be used to help grow and develop a young quarterback. Should Rothlisberger be unable to play for an extended period at any point in the season, don’t be surprised if the Steelers look to free agency to help the position at that time.

The entire interview between Mark Madden and Kevin Colbert can be heard on iHeartRadio.

Mark Madden's interview with Kevin Colbert on 105.9 the X. #Steelers https://t.co/0wKLesUaMC

— Blitzburgh (@SteelBlitzburgh) May 14, 2020

The Steelers have 2 players on the PFF list of players to break out in Year 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:05am
Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

PFF gives two Steelers sophomores high praise as they head into Year 2 of their NFL careers.

What exactly would be the definition of a break out season? As it pertains to the NFL, it would be when a player takes a huge step forward in production on the field. While some rookies burst onto the scene, several take some time to get acclimated to life in the pros. Pro Football Focus recently released their list of Year 2 players who could make a splash for their respective teams.

For fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers, you will be proud to know they have two players on the list! None other than inside linebacker Devin Bush and wide receiver Diontae Johnson. Check out what they had to say about the tandem, and why they made their list:

WR DIONTAE JOHNSON, PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Diontae Johnson had 680 receiving yards and five touchdowns as a third-round rookie last year, so you could make the case that he’s already broken out. But when you consider what the quarterback situation was like in Pittsburgh with no Ben Roethlisberger, you will soon appreciate how much more there is to come. Johnson is an extremely slick route-runner and was regularly open only to see the ball miss him completely. He snagged 91% of the catchable targets thrown his way and broke 18 tackles after the catch, second among all rookies. Mason Rudolph (53.0) and Devlin “Duck” Hodges (45.8) each posted lowly PFF grades, so if Johnson gets a full season of quality passing play from a healthy Roethlisberger, we could see him evolve into one of the better receivers in the game.

LB DEVIN BUSH, PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Again, depending on how you measure these things, you may believe Devin Bush has already hit the ground running in the NFL. He led all rookie linebackers with 84 solo tackles and 22 assists (by PFF’s more accurate, double-checked count), but his overall grade was just 62.9. This is in large part due to the onerous responsibilities the Steelers place on their linebackers, which can expose them to consistently tough situations. Bush acclimated well in his first year, and so well, in fact, that with a full year in the system, he could kick on and look like one of the best in the league in 2020. Bush surrendered five touchdowns in coverage, two more than any other rookie linebacker, and was also penalized twice as much as any other first-year linebacker. But the plays he did make suggest he could develop into something special, maybe as soon as Year 2.

Some people love PFF, and others can’t stand their metrics. Either way, I believe most would agree both Johnson and Bush have all the makings of stars in the league, and Year 2 might be the year the switch gets flipped on and they begin to perform at a high level.

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2020 regular season.

Let’s Make A Deal: A new contract for Mike Hilton

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/14/2020 - 9:45am
Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

If the Steelers and Hilton were to come to deal this offseason rather than play under the Restrictd Free Angent tender, what would it look like?

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 offseason has progressed appropriately since the beginning of the league year. With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, the Steelers were able to restructure contracts, offer tenders, use the franchise tag, sign free agents, make their draft selections, and get their undrafted rookie free agents under contract. With a focus on getting their draftees under contract in the coming weeks, the Steelers will also be looking to sign some players to either a new contract or a contract extension.

While some of these new deals may not come until the summer, it’s not out of the question for player representatives and the Steelers to be working on something now. With that said, which Steelers going into the last year of the current deal are likely to be given a new contract before the 2020 season begins?

Rather than focus on all the players, let’s tackle one at a time. With each player, it will first be determined if they should receive a new deal along with how much would be a fair contract to both parties. This exercise is meant to just be fun and speculative as we all get to play general manager and salary cap guru for a day. The biggest question with the remaining players is if a contract would be better before this season or next offseason.

If you wish to give a basic contract answer without diving too deep into numbers, simply skip over the italicized section. If you are the kind of person who would like to see how the contract would affect the salary cap, here it is...

Coming up with an exact contract can be tricky. Rather than get into roster and work out bonuses or different amounts per season, we’re going to estimate the salaries as simply as possible. For whatever deal the player gets, the first year will have all but $1 million put into a signing bonus which will get spread over the life of the contract. For example, if a player were to sign a three-year contract for $10 million per year, the first year would have a $1 million base salary and a $9 million signing bonus. Therefore, the bonus would be spread out to $3 million over each season where the player would count $4 million dollars for 2020 and $13 million for the other two years.

One other factor which needs to be considered is if the player brings any dead money from the previous contract. To account for this in a simple manner, throw it into the salary cap hit for the first year of the players deal. Using the above example, if a player had $4 million in dead money on their last contract, the salary cap hit for their first year would be $8 million.

After looking at a deal for: Cam Heyward, Bud Dupree, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, and James Conner, now let’s see what kind of contract Steelers’ fans would like to work out with Mike Hilton now rather than play the 2020 season before making a decision.

Mike Hilton

Age: Turned 26 in March
Years: 4, including practice squad
Draft: Undrafted
Previous Contract: $645,000 as an exclusive rights free agent
2020 salary cap hit: $3.295 million (2nd round tender)
Dead Money: None

Here are the top contracts average per year (AYP) at the cornerback position according to overthecap.com:

Darius Slay: $16.683 million
Byron Jones: $16.5 million
Xavien Howard: $15.05 million
James Bradberry: $14.5 million
Patrick Peterson: $14.01 million

There is no reasonable belief Hilton would be worthy of a top-end contract. What gets tricky is there is no official designation of a “slot” or “nickle” cornerback in the NFL, so we’ll look at two different things to help put more perspective to where Hiltion lies among other NFL corners. First, Hilton ranked 44th among all qualifying NFL cornerbacks in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus (which is a debatable process for players in the secondary, so keep that in mind). Here are the players under contract beyond their rookie deals who ranked closely to Hilton:

34. Chris Harris Jr.: $8.5 million
39. Patrick Peterson: $14.01 million
41. Jimmy Smith: $3.5 million
46. Trae Waynes: $14 million
49. Mackensie Alexander: $4 million
52. Malcolm Butler: $12.25 million

The other issue to consider is Hilton does not play position which he’s considered an “every down player.” Playing only in defensive sub packages, perhaps another gauge would be looking at the number of snaps Hilton played (671) in 2019. Here are the players under contract beyond their rookie deals who played between 650 and 690 snaps at cornerback last season:

655- Jonathan Jones: $7 million
659- Michael Davis: $3.295 million (RFA tender)
676- T.J. Carrie: $1.0475 million
683- Pierre Desir: $3.75 million

Notes: While it seemed wise for the Steelers to give Hilton a second-round tender as a Restricted Free Agent, signing Hilton beyond 2020 may also come down to Cameron Sutton (who will be featured later). 2020 could turn into a year where both players show their worth to the Steelers in order for only one to get a contract beyond this season. This issue was recently covered on BTSC by Shannon White, which can be viewed HERE.

So now it’s deal time! Perhaps the first question should be a completely different game show: Deal or no deal? Should the Steelers look to sign Mike Hilton before the 2020 season? If so, what should the deal look like? Please leave your response with the number of years and the average salary per season in the comments below.

Next time on Let’s Make A Deal: Chris Wormley.

The Pittsburgh Steelers announce dates and times for their 2020 preseason schedule

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/14/2020 - 9:26am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Although the opponents and weeks were previously known, game dates and times have now been set

One week ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to announce their entire 2020 regular-season schedule. At that time, the preseason games were also announced by week with the exact date and time still to be determined. The wait is now over as the Steelers announced today the information for their preseason games.

Our 2020 preseason schedule has been announced!

MORE: https://t.co/xi8cL64TlG pic.twitter.com/273hDGnMT0

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 14, 2020

Not included in the announcement is the Hall of Fame Game scheduled for Thursday, August 6, 2020 in Canton Ohio against the Dallas Cowboys. Both the NFL and Hall of Fame are still hoping to hold the game when scheduled, but being each team’s extra exhibition game could make the contest expendable if conditions have not progressed enough due to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, the Steelers Week 2 contest against the New Orleans Saints at Heinz Field had already been announced to be Sunday, August 23 at 8 PM as part of a national broadcast on FOX. The Steelers other three preseason contests will all be covered locally on KDKA-TV.

The Steelers first game scheduled at Heinz Field for 2020 will be Week 1 of the preseason on Friday, August 14 at 7:30 PM against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although unsure if he will even dress for the game, it will be the first game for new Buc’s quarterback Tom Brady.

For Week 3 of the preseason, the Steelers are scheduled to travel to New York to face the Jets on Friday, August 28 at 7:30 PM. The game will come 18 days before the Steelers are scheduled to travel back to New York to face the Giants to open this season on Monday Night Football.

For the 18th straight season, the Pittsburgh Steelers will finish up the preseason facing the Carolina Panthers, this time in Charlotte. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM on Thursday, September 3, 2020.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

Film Room, Part 2: Anthony McFarland is the Steelers new weapon X: 508 yards in 8 days.

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/14/2020 - 7:45am
Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

A deeper look at the final three games of Anthony McFarland’s 2018 season.

In part 1 of this film room series on the Steelers 4th round pick Anthony McFarland Jr. we looked at the start of his college career, and saw on tape the tools and skill set he would showcase in back to back 200 yard rushing games.

It is important to note that Maryland’s incredible depth at RB was running thin by week 10 of 2018. Starter Ty Johnson would attempt to return against Indiana but only get 5 touches before being forced to end his season. His backup from 2017 was out, along with several other runners that had produced to this point. Maryland was down to McFarland and Tavon Fleet-Davis, one of their main receiving and rushing wing backs as reliable options at RB. That set the stage for an Anthony McFarland focused offense that would put up yards but ultimately fail to win a single game.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

This is how you take advantage of your offensive line clearing a big hole for you, you break some tackles and flip the field. McFarland hits the hole fast, and then gets low real quick to get through two defenders, here’s a zoomed in look at it.

His ability to get low quick and the balance coming out of his spin move are both impressive.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

The run game success has the defense focused on all the movement and pulls Matt Canada is throwing their way and they forget to cover Anthony McFarland on this route. A nice adjustment to an under thrown ball by McFarland for the 2-pt. conversion.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

This is the Matt Canada effect. Look at the alignment of the defense. Indiana is so worried about outside runs that the closest non-lineman to this inside run is 7 yards away at the snap. Credit McFarland for seeing the defender coming to fill the nice big lane to his left and taking the smarter route. While there is a DE to meet him, the momentum is all in McFarland’s favor and he drives for 6 yards after contact.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the wing back to the bottom of the screen.

And here we see why teams get so focused on outside runs. A well run wing back sweep takes two steps before the snap and, if the runner is fast enough, the edge doesn’t even need to be blocked. #9 for Indiana starts moving with McFarland, and ends up pushing him out of bounds after a 14 yard gain on 4th and inches. All McFarland needed to do was evade the edge defender on this play, and he does it with quick reflexes and great balance.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

The impressive part of this play is McFarland’s hips. He can sidestep and keep his shoulders squared up-field, and he is able to turn his hips quickly to get outside, and then turns back up-field quickly and accelerates.

Against Indiana Anthony McFarland ran for 210 yards on 29 carries. That yardage wasn’t from big chunk plays, McFarland had a lot of 7-15 yard runs in that game. The big runs would come the next week against the #9 team in the nation, Ohio State.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

Less than a minute into the game, and McFarland puts the Terrapins up a TD. Big plays like this one always involve the defense messing up, like the safety that was up too far on Willie Parker’s 75 yard Super Bowl run. In this situation the outside defender is #3. He takes 2 steps with the wing back’s motion, and with a double team taking out the DE, it’s a clear path for McFarland to score.

And for those of us who prefer to judge speed on the football field, it takes 8 seconds for McFarland to run 80 yards once he hits the 20 yard line and accelerates. He’s plenty fast.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

The Buckeyes aren’t going to get beat outside like that again. . . and similar to Indiana they commit too heavily outside and McFarland takes it B gap, where again he has one tackle to avoid, and he does. Brendon White (#25 OSU) took over safety for this game because he was their most sound tackler, but it wasn’t enough on this play. McFarland is nearly tripped up, but is able to jump out of the tackle. The impressive thing is when he lands he is squared up and explodes forward. Notice the DE’s on this play, against Iowa and Michigan State the DEs were key to thwarting Matt Canada’s offense, Ohio State’s DEs were losing battles in this game, and McFarland ran all over them.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

On this play #86 gets penetration, doesn’t commit outside or inside, and is able to shed the block to stop McFarland for no gain to bring up 3rd and 2.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

Matt Canada calls the same exact play on third down. This time #86 is blocked, and McFarland gets #25 to bite on an outside fake, and he’s in the secondary before you can blink. This run combines his two best skills I talked about in the first part of this series, he is running laterally, and uses that wicked jump cut to get past the line, but this time he lands squared forward and explodes with his straight line speed. It’s my favorite run of this game.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the wing back to the bottom of the screen.

Look at the defense focused on the RB, and it’s 2 blockers and 3 defenders to the play side. McFarland throws a little fake to get the safety to commit to the first gap, then turns on the speed to blow past Chase Young for 8 yards. Anthony McFarland sees the field and sets up his own success consistently. He doesn’t just follow blockers, he runs defenders into them.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the wing back to the top of the screen.

At this point in the game Anthony McFarland had more carries in 8 days than he’d had the 5 games before that combined. It was noticeable in a few of his runs, he didn’t have the same burst at the end of the game, but with the game on the line in overtime, he delivered again. The end of this run is the best part, he runs straight at the DB, and when he changes direction at the 6 yard line, it lets him carry the momentum, and he gets the ball to the goal line.

After a huge two week run, 508 yards and 2 TDs on 50 carries, doubling his yards and TDs for the season, Maryland would struggle mightily against Penn State,running for just over 2 yards a carry, with McFarland rushing 6 times for 12 yards.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

Penn State’s DE’s were a big factor all game long, on this play the right side gets sealed off by Yetur Gross-Matos (#99 PSU) and McFarland is forced to evade defenders in the backfield, he still gets 6 yards on this play, but he was fighting just to get that much.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

Shareef Miller (#48 PSU) is able to seal the edge while the LB’s take away the inside lanes, and Gross-Matos runs down McFarland from behind.

Anthony McFarland Jr. is the RB.

Yetur Gross-Matos dominated this game, again shutting down a run to the left. This is a phenomenal job of defending the edge. Check it out from a different angle.

Gross-Matos forces the run outside, and has the athleticism to get to McFarland and bring him down for a loss.

The Takeaway

I wanted to focus a little more on the scheme for this part of the series, because the Steelers brought in Matt Canada and Anthony McFarland, and those two combined to dismantle Ohio State and nearly pulled off the upset. The 340 yards Maryland ran for in that game is the second most Ohio State has given up in the last 20 years, the 7.8 yards per carry was also the second most allowed and 4 rushing TDs is tied for the most rushing TDs against Ohio State since 2000.

With Canada on the Steelers staff, we may see some of his influence in the offense going forward. Canada’s run schemes at Maryland were fantastic for attacking teams with pass rush oriented edges like Chase Young, and created big play opportunities against less disciplined defenses. In 2019 the Steelers saw some of the highest numbers disadvantages in the box in the entire NFL. Canada exploited those situations in college, we may see variations show up in the Steelers playbook.

The other takeaway from this film room is that while McFarland dominated when he finally was relied on as a workhorse RB, he also struggled under that kind of load. Late in the Ohio State game and in the Penn State game he didn’t have the same acceleration as he did when his legs were fresher.

In part three we will look at the 2019 season, look at how he was affected by injury, how his game evolved and I’ll give my thoughts as we approach his rookie season.

Steelers fans shouldn’t count out Devlin Hodges just yet

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/14/2020 - 6:30am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh cult hero and quarterback still has a chance to find a spot on the Steelers’ 2020 roster

With the addition of Paxton Lynch to the Steelers’ roster, the No. 3 quarterback spot on the depth chart has become a subject of intrigue for many fans.

Lynch’s athletic ability and powerful arm led him to be a first round draft choice in 2016 by the Denver Broncos, and while his talent hasn’t necessarily diminished, he was never able to put it all together in the NFL, being released by the Broncos, and later the Seahawks, en route to Pittsburgh.

Despite being a consensus first round bust, Lynch’s talent and pedigree has kept him in the NFL as a tantalizing pipe dream of a prospect, with hopes that something will finally click for him and allow him to live up to his first round billing.

Fans have embraced Lynch’s potential as well, with many already penciling him in a spot on the Steelers’ final roster in 2020.

But are we forgetting about Devlin Hodges?

The duck-hunting Samford product had a vastly different experience entering the NFL, missing out on any draft fanfare and instead making his way into the Steelers’ training camp as a undrafted free agent in 2019.

Hodges beat out Brogan Roback for a spot on the 90-man roster and played well in the preseason. However, he was waived during roster cuts in August, only to find his way onto the Steelers’ practice squad, and then 53-man roster, following an injury to Ben Roethlisberger.

Hodges found himself starting after an Earl Thomas hit knocked Mason Rudolph unconscious versus the Baltimore Ravens in early October. The rookie quarterback impressed in limited playing time despite the loss, and started the next week at the Los Angeles Chargers in place of an injured Rudolph. Hodges led the team to a win, and resumed backup duties to Rudolph in the following weeks against the Dolphins, Colts, Rams, and Browns.

Mason Rudolph was benched against the Bengals in week 12, and Devlin Hodges made a reappearance - rallying Pittsburgh back to a victory and two straight wins in the following weeks.

“Duck” Hodges’ strange blend of underdog, redneck, quarterback, and the newfound savior of Steelers football made him an instant cult hero, and “Duck Mania” was at full strength leading up to a prime time home game against the Buffalo Bills in week 15.

Unfortunately, Hodges’ signature poise came crashing down against a stingy Bill’s defense in a low-scoring loss, and he didn’t recover, being benched for Mason Rudolph the following week versus the Jets.

The NFL wasn’t done with Hodges, however, as Rudolph injured his shoulder against New York, thrusting Hodges back into a starting role. Duck played slightly better, but failed to make an impact, leaving Pittsburgh winless in their final two games against New York and Baltimore.

Hodges’ abysmal end to the season left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths, but his brilliance earlier in the season shouldn’t be forgotten. Duck sparked some life into what had become a dull team under Mason Rudolph, and managed to lead the Steelers back into playoff contention. He had his share of struggles near the end, but many quarterbacks had a difficult time against the Bills and Ravens in 2020, and the Jet’s defense certainly wasn’t a joke, either.

2019 was Hodges’ first year in the NFL, and he was still learning to play on the NFL level like every other rookie signal-caller. However, due to Hodges’ below-average athleticism (for an NFL quarterback, that is), the fact that he is still developing seems to have been lost on many fans, but Duck hasn't reached his ceiling quite yet.

We may see a much-improved Devlin Hodges in 2020.

Paxton Lynch, on the other hand, entered the league four years ago as the 26th overall pick by Denver. Over a three year stint with the Broncos, Lynch slowly fell further and further down the depth chart, being overtaken by the likes of Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Case Keenum, Chad Kelly, and Kevin Hogan.

Throughout his career in Denver, Lynch enjoyed the occasional start, mainly due to the injuries of those ahead of him. He played in his last regular season game in 2017, but underwhelmed for the most part, leading to his release less than a year later.

The Seahawks swooped in and signed Lynch a few months later, and despite a solid preseason, he was cut in favor of Geno Smith during final roster cuts.

Lynch found his way to Pittsburgh’s practice squad in 2019 following the Roethlisberger injury in September, and then was promoted to the active roster after Rudolph’s injury.

What’s interesting to note is that Lynch, who had been with the team for nearly 15 weeks, might of had a chance to overtake Hodges on the depth chart during December, but never did. Hodges’ poor showing against the Jets, paired with Rudolph’s injury, could have led the Steelers to start Lynch versus the Ravens in their week 17 game, but they stuck with Hodges.

There’s the possibility that the Steelers were trying to save their offense from yet another quarterback change, or maybe Lynch wasn't fully acclimated to the system yet, both of which are valid reasons - however, after nearly an entire season, were the Steelers still higher on Hodges than they were on Lynch entering a pivotal game at the end of the year?

We may never know, but it’s clear that the Steelers had enough confidence in Hodges to lead them into one final game that season.

It’s ironic that Lynch and Hodges, who are the polar opposites of one another, are both in the same spot job-wise at this point in their careers. Lynch is a tall, athletic first round pick who has never been able to assimilate into the next level, while Hodges, the undersized UDFA with questionable arm strength, has managed to defy the odds thanks to his mental game, not necessarily his physical gifts.

Both of their career paths will converge this year as they battle for the #3 quarterback slot behind Mason Rudolph.

There’s no doubt that Lynch’s athleticism will be a tough opponent for Hodges, but Lynch has been beaten out by less exciting prospects before. Chad Kelly was 2017’s Mr. Irrelevant (the closest you can get to being a UDFA without actually being one), and managed to beat out Lynch in Denver, while the Bronco’s signing of Kevin Hogan, a fifth round pick who hasn't done much in the NFL, was what ultimately pushed Lynch off of the Bronco’s roster.

All of this isn’t to slight Paxton Lynch, but to show that he isn’t some unbeatable obstacle for Devlin Hodges in 2020. It won’t be surprising in the least if Lynch manages to claim a spot on the roster this year over Hodges, but it’s important to remember the fight is far from over.

All Devlin Hodges has done since entering the league is defy expectations: from simply making it into an NFL camp in 2019, to finding his way into the preseason, and then the 53-man roster, and finishing off the year by holding his own as a starter in the biggest football league in the world.

Devlin Hodges has proved us all wrong before.

And he might just do it one more time.

Podcast: Who is the most overrated member of the Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/14/2020 - 5:30am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is over, and although there are no more games, the news is still ongoing. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Who is the most overrated member of the Steelers?
  • Diagnosing the issues with the Steelers using statistics
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

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

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

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

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

Black and Gold Links: 2020 rookies might be special teams contributors more than anything else

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 05/14/2020 - 4:30am
Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 NFL Draft is officially over. After finishing last year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, have another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done 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 the Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 rookie class might be seen more on special teams than anything else this season.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie class might not be very big contributors in 2020, outside of special teams.

Steelers top picks likely to be seen more on special teams than offense/defense as rookies

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

It’s an annual rite of spring for the Pittsburgh Steelers: Coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert sit down for remarks to the media about their newest top draft pick. And while this year’s gushing over superlatives and complimentary scouting reports were not about a first-round pick but a player taken No. 49 overall in the second round, something about their remarks was a little bit different, too.

When speaking about the virtues that stood out the first time they watched Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool in person, it wasn’t Claypool’s proficiency or abilities at his given position that caught their eye.

“The work he did on the special teams,” Colbert said, “really stood out in the (Senior Bowl) practices.”

A few minutes later, Tomlin likewise relayed how much Claypool raised their eyebrows at the winter’s most prestigious college all-star game, played annually in Mobile, Ala.

“His physicality really captured (our) attention… regardless of what drill he was in down in Mobile,” Tomlin said. “Whether it was a special teams drill, or whether it was a wide receiver-DB blocking drill.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Mason Rudolph is now considered a Top 10 backup QB in the NFL. Yes, you read that right.

Rudolph pushing top 10 of the No. 2 QBs

By: Dale Lolley, DKPittsburghSports

As we’ve seen throughout this offseason, most fans only focus on the backup quarterback situation on their own team, failing to take a look around the league to compare other teams’ depth charts.

The bottom line is that there just aren’t many teams out there who can survive losing their starter for an extended period of time as the Steelers did in 2019 with Ben Roethlisberger.

Don’t think that’s the case? Well, we’ll take a look at the 32 backup situations around the league.

I’ve taken the liberty of breaking the backups around the league — as they figure to stand heading into the 2020 season and then ranking them in their groups.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Updating all the changes on the Steelers’ 2020 offseason roster.

Roster Recap: So many changes

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

It’s been a unique offseason for the Steelers and the entire NFL, as well as a unique time for the entire world.

During it, though, the Steelers organization has been keeping busy, with one of the main things building the 2020 roster over the last few months.

The changes have been fast and furious, and sometimes tough to keep up on. This roster recap will bring you a look at changes that have been made to the roster, from veteran free agent signings to the NFL Draft and everything in between.

The Steelers added some new faces to the team during the free agency period, signing three unrestricted free agents and also pulling off a trade for a division rival. The team acquired defensive Chris Wormley and a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft from the Baltimore Ravens in a trade and sent the Ravens their fifth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The team also signed tight end Eric Ebron, fullback Derek Watt and offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski.

A new class of rookies emerged via the NFL Draft and the signing of undrafted rookie free agents. The draft picks include second-round pick Chase Claypool, third-round selection Alex Highsmith, fourth-round picks Anthony McFarland and Kevin Dotson, sixth-round pick Antoine Brooks and seventh-round selection Carlos Davis.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • BTSC articles you may have missed...

Tom Brady already more valuable than Ben Roethlisberger?!

How the Steelers will handle the nose tackle position in 2020

Why is everyone so focused on Big Ben’s weight, and not just winning?

Some young QBs could make the Steelers early 2020 schedule much easier

Mike Hilton vs. Cam Sutton...who wins?

A position the Steelers should target in free agency

  • Social Media Madness

Order #5539. Your is now ready for pickup.@_Dbush11 | @minkfitz_21 pic.twitter.com/qbcQcAfg9W

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 13, 2020

Making good things happen @Juiceup__3 pic.twitter.com/t1bHgnBK8g

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 13, 2020

My @joehaden23 pic.twitter.com/xcuT1RpSC6

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 12, 2020

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