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Answering the burning questions surrounding the 2018 Steelers as they push through OTAs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 6:49am

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field — kind of — and it’s time to answer some burning questions surrounding the Black-and-gold.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports writer Ed Bouchette holds a weekly chat in which he takes questions from the general public. If you're unfamiliar with Bouchette, he's definitely an interesting character. He’s known for breaking important Steelers news and also for his snarky and colorful comments. This week’s full chat session can be read here.

Most of Bouchette’s answers to fans are one-liners. It’s hard to glean useful information from that, so I decided to expand on questions he takes with answers of my own. The chat lasts around a half-hour, so I cherry-picked some of the questions. For a bit of fun with this, if you put BTSC at the end of your nickname there — and your questions get answered — I’ll include your questions in next week’s article. Better make it good — don’t want the BTSC faithful to chide you

Question: After observing Mason Rudolph, do you think he will be the future franchise quarterback or would the team be drafting another quarterback next year?

Bouchette: I have seen him now in one rookie practice and 4 spring practices with the vets. You wouldn’t mind if I wait to see him another day or two before I proclaim him as the next Ben Roethlisberger would you? I will say he looks like a good quarterback from what I have seen.

Flip: How many QBs don't look good in shorts tossing passes to future HOF wideout Antonio Brown, nine-year vet Darrius Heyward-Bey, sixth-year pro Justin Hunter and JuJu Smith-Schuster who led the league in passer rate when he was targeted? I'm holding back most of my judgments for when Mason Rudolph (Rudy is my personal nickname for him.) plays against guys who are trying to tear him apart and throwing against CBs who will secure a roster spot in the NFL in 2018. Rudy faces an uphill battle against history. Only Matt Schaub and Russell Wilson became true faces of their franchise while being drafted in the third round from 2004-2017 — 17 other QBs failed.

Question: Did you hear anything about Martavis in Oakland? Do you still think it was a good idea to trade him?

Bouchette: They got a third-round pick, which sort of turned into QB Mason Rudolph. So we’ll know maybe several years from now. But I thought they could have kept Bryant, still drafted the WR in the second round and they could have had the best-four WRs in the league.

Flip: Could you imagine having AB, JJSS, Martavis Bryant along with James Washington, DHB, and possibly Eli Rogers fighting for playing time? The fear would be Bryant being a squeaky wheel demanding the ball and playing time. The draft pick that the Oakland Raiders sent the Steelers was just too good to pass up and not to pounce on. I would rather see Bryant around then thinking about DHB or Hunter seeing significant playing time due to an injury or Washington having a tough transition period. I mainly didn’t like the Steelers making a hole this year and having to fill it with a high draft pick while not using that high draft pick on another talent.

Question: Will the Steelers run a two-tight-end offense? If not, has Vance overtaken James as the primary TE?

Bouchette: They have often done so in the past and I see no reason for that to change.

Flip: I was hoping to see two-tight-end sets last year with the addition of Vance McDonald in the fold. An oft-injured McDonald will have to show he can stay healthy and not lose the confidence of Ben Roethlisberger with his propensity for dropping passes. Jesse James is not a world-beater with his athleticism but his height and sure hands make him a valued target. However, James doesn't offer a lot in the blocking game. McDonald, on the other hand, can be a tough matchup for defenses due to his athleticism, and he's a superior blocking talent. With the Steelers talent, it's tough to see a lot of two TE sets. Sure Pitt can run this in certain situations — who sits?

Question: Any chance Big Red starts over Jon Bostic? In your opinion.

Bouchette: There’s always a chance, I suppose, but I don’t think that mack linebacker spot is suited for Tyler Matakevich the way it is for Bostic. I believe he's more suited for the buck, played also by Vince Williams.

Flip: I agree with Bouchette here regarding Matakevich. Having a big motor only goes so far in overcoming athletic deficiencies. Below are some of the combine numbers of the two ILBs along with incumbent buck-LB, Vince Williams.

Bostic

40 time: 4.61 seconds

Three-cone drill: 6.99 seconds

20-yard dash: 4.24 seconds

Matakevich

40 time: 4.81 seconds

Three-cone drill: 7.19 seconds

20-yard dash: 4.5 seconds

Williams (Pro day as was not a Combine invite)

40 time: 4.76 seconds

Three-cone drill: 7.53 seconds

20-yard dash: 4.67 seconds

Matakevich, in my opinion, just was not impressive in preseason last year, even playing in the buck-linebacker spot. He was pushed around and blown up in a goal-line series. His poor change of direction makes one wonder if he can handle some of the mid-tier tight ends or running backs in coverage, let alone how much of a liability he would be while trying to cover some of the premier players in the league. Dirty Red is a good special-teamer, but Steelers Nation doesn't want to see him as the starting mack-LB at any point during the season.

Bouchette’s snarky comment of the week:

Question: When you’re covering OTAs, does the team provide water/coffee or are the media people on their own? Do you have shade? A big floppy hat? What are the conditions for you guys?

Bouchette: They serve us drinks with umbrellas in them out on the patio by the pool.

Flip: This is Bouchette at his best. That zinging one-liner just whipped out there off the cuff left me actually laughing out loud during the chat. Bouchette might annoy me and other readers with his one line answers and snarky comments that leave readers starved for real answers, but no one can say he’s lacking character and wit.

While Bouchette has covered the Steelers going on 45 years, fans would appreciate more valued information. Fans do need to remember that these answers are all off the cuff, which is a tough style to undertake. He has no time to prepare or gather information. Do you read or participate in the chat sessions? What is your opinion on the sessions?

Podcast: 5 ‘Sleepers’ who can make a difference in 2018

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 5:34am

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

The 2018 NFL Draft is over and, believe it or not, there’s lots to talk about heading into a big week of offseason news for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the new show Steelers News:

  • OTAs news and notes
  • 5 “sleepers” who can make a difference in 2018
  • Why fans should trust the Steelers’ organization with decision-making
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, goes over 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 our BlogTalkRadio page. If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below. Be sure to follow us on iTunes by searching The Standard is the Standard.

The show is sponsored by Frank Walker Law, the top criminal defense firm to call in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia and home to one of the nation’s top-100 ranked trial attorneys in Frank Walker. For his PA office, call 412-212-3878 or to reach his WV office call 304-712-2089. You should also check out his website frankwalkerlaw.com to see how he can help you in your time of need. Frank Walker Law: Real Talk, Real Experience, Real Results.

Ron Cook: When Donald Trump fights the NFL, everyone loses

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 4:05pm

The big sports-news story of the week was President Donald Trump’s last-minute decision to rescind his invitation to the world-champion Philadelphia Eagles to visit the White House Tuesday.

NFL Champion Eagles fire first shot in what might be a protracted conflict

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 2:45pm

The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles might have set the tone for what’s ahead this season by refusing to toe Washington’s political line.

If you were wondering how the NFL’s recent decision on game-day observances of the national anthem might pan out, it didn’t take very long to get your answer.

President Trump has canceled the traditional White House visit by the NFL champs, which was to have taken place on Tuesday. The President said he canceled the visit because the Philadelphia Eagles disagreed with his position (and the league’s new policy) compelling players either to stand for the anthem or remain out of sight. Although the Eagles did offer to send a smaller group to Washington, Trump declined. As of this writing, the Eagles organization has issued only a general statement of appreciation for fans' support, but has made no direct response to the President’s announcement.

So there you have it, football fans — the battle lines on this issue have never been drawn as sharply as they are now. You can practically hear the sound of heads banging against the walls in the PR department over at NFL headquarters. Just as the paying customers had begun building their excitement for the start of another season of pro football, a major spat erupts between the nation’s chief executive and the team that most recently showcased everything the league is selling in Super Bowl 52. It’s the ultimate marketing nightmare.

At the very least, this development appears to lend credence to the theory shared by many that the league’s recent action might unnecessarily escalate a situation which likely would have blown over by itself. Well, it’s too late to close the barn door now; that horse is already running wild and free. But before chairs begin flying across the room and tables are overturned, it might help to realize that nobody who loves pro football ever wanted their favorite autumn pastime to be sucked into our ongoing, political maelstrom. But regardless of one’s voting preferences or their position on the anthem issue, this development truly sucks for everyone who enjoys the blessed respite from politics and other worldly concerns we expect when we tune-in to watch our favorite NFL teams.

Typically, in situations like this, fans are inclined to weigh into the debate over who's responsible for the mess and who ought to be on the receiving end of our torches and pitchforks. With the ink scarcely dry on the league’s new policy regarding anthem protests, is the NFL now prepared to impose official sanctions on the defending Super Bowl champs — whose team mascot and hometown represent the very symbols of American liberty? It’s difficult to imagine how any prelude to the NFL’s 2018 season possibly could be more screwed up than this one suddenly has become.

Since this already represents such a huge “cluster” in its own right, there’s hardly any need for one more ink-stained wretch to leap into the scrum. So, without further comment, I’ll simply settle back (preferably with some hot buttered popcorn) and watch the BTSC faithful work your special brand of magic in the comment threads.

The Steelers' defense is working on its communication skills. Pants or no pants.

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 1:44pm

There are easier tasks than trying to extract themes from “football in shorts.” Beyond that, anyone watching organized team activities — and we’re on Week 3 at the Steelers’ South Side practice facility — needs to guard themselves from reading too much into ... anything, really.

Starkey’s mailbag: Are the Pirates closer to contention or a fire sale?

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 12:30pm

Welcome to Joe Starkey’s mailbag, where the Post-Gazette columnist and 93.7 The Fan radio host answers your questions about sports, life, Bob McAdoo and everything in between. If you want to ask Joe a question, tweet him @JoeStarkey1 or email him at jstarkey@post-gazette.com. On to the questions …

In 2017, JuJu Smith-Schuster was money for the Steelers on go routes

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 12:20pm

JuJu Smith-Schuster shocked a lot of people in 2017, but one area where he excelled was on the simple go route.

The Pittsburgh Steelers surprised many with their second round selection of JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but Smith-Schuster did more than just prove the Steelers selection right — he turned heads as a rookie in the NFL.

Not only did Smith-Schuster almost have 1,000 yards receiving last year, and if it weren’t for his one-game suspension for his block of Vontaze Burfict he likely would have achieved that milestone, the former USC wideout proved he is more than just your typical slot receiver who moves the chains on third down.

Smith-Schuster proved he has more routes in the route tree than most realized, and what might be surprising to many, is how Smith-Schuster, who was criticized for his lack of breakaway speed, was money on go routes in 2017.

Check out this statistic from Pro Football Focus:

.@TeamJuJu made the most of his go routes last year. He was targeted 10 times in the regular season on the route and hauled in 8 of them for 336 yards and 2 touchdowns! #SteelerSpotlight

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) June 3, 2018

Of course most will remember the 99-yard catch and run he had against the Detroit Lions on Sunday Night Football, but Smith-Schuster took advantage of his situation.

What was his situation? Having Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell on the field to take defenders away from him. While Brown and Bell always draw the attention of the defense, it moved more one-on-one coverage to Smith-Schuster — and he took advantage of this.

In 2018, Smith-Schuster likely won’t have it as easy as 2017. Gone is Martavis Bryant, and although Bell and Brown return, the team’s wide receiver depth chart has changed dramatically. Eli Rogers is anything but a certainty to return after tearing his ACL in the season ending loss to the Jaguars in the AFC Divisional Playoff game, and rookie James Washington isn’t going to attract any extra attention until he starts to perform at the game’s highest stage.

Will Smith-Schuster pick up where he left off after his rookie season? Or will he become a player who experiences the sophomore slump? Let us know in the comment section below!

Fox News apologizes for mischaracterizing video clip on Eagles

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 11:11am

Fox News is apologizing for airing footage that wrongly suggested Philadelphia Eagles players knelt during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.

The Steelers ABCs: Mike Hilton, Halfbacks, Cam Heyward, and Joe Haden

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 10:43am

In this installment, we discuss a pair of pleasant surprises at the cornerback position last season, Cameron Heyward’s breakout campaign, and a gaggle of running backs.

Last time, we discussed some of season’s most exciting plays in order to cut through the summertime ennui. Today, we’ll dissect Pittsburgh’s notorious peculiarities and assign blame to the appropriate parties whenever applicable.

Joe Haden

Joe Haden signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers last August is among my most salient episodic memories. I can recall, with vivid detail, the peculiarities of that day: where I was (work); what I was doing (refreshing Twitter every five seconds); how I felt (cold—my office is always so cold); what I smelled (it was late afternoon, and a coworker had just started brewing a pot of coffee to fuel our post-lunch rally).

On the morning of August 30, 2017, the Cleveland Browns released Joe Haden, but not before appealing to Haden’s sense of loyalty, playing the hometown discount card and asking him to accept a $4 million pay cut. Haden refused, so they cut him. He was now an unrestricted free agent, free to take his services to the highest bidder or whichever team provided the best fit. Around noon, it was revealed that the Steelers—who were one of the league’s most porous secondaries in 2015 and 2016—were not only in the running to acquire Haden, but the frontrunners. When I found out Haden intended to sign with Pittsburgh, I was overjoyed.

This was the move, I thought, that would give the Steelers just enough defensive firepower to defeat the Patriots. Haden, who dealt with a range of injuries in 2015 and 2016, wasn’t that far removed from his last Pro Bowl season and was still only 28, making him a prime candidate for a supreme career revival. I considered the possibility of pairing Haden, an established veteran, with promising youngster Artie Burns, who showed flashes of being a legitimate shutdown cornerback in his rookie season. The Steelers, the NFL’s third-worst secondary in 2016 — I thought — would boast an actually pretty solid cornerback duo!

For a while, I wasn’t wrong. During the first half of the 2017 season, the Steelers were the league’s best pass-stopping outfit, holding opponents to somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 passing yards per game. This unit, which in the two seasons prior was known for “bending but not breaking” (not so much an actual style of play as it was a left-handed compliment — but I digress), was now actively winning games for the Steelers. They even looked capable of hanging with—if not stifling outright—Tom Brady and the Patriots. Then, in Week 10, Haden broke his leg and Pittsburgh’s secondary crumbled as a result, as if Haden himself was the very lynchpin that held the whole outfit together.

Based on the secondary’s success with Haden last season, it’s easy to imagine the Steelers finishing the 2018 season as a top-10 pass defense; provided, of course, that Haden remains healthy and productive.

Mike Hilton

While I immediately placed a considerable amount of faith in Joe Haden, I had no such expectations for Mike Hilton. I was very wrong! Hilton was good! Hilton registered four sacks last season, attacking the line of scrimmage with singular focus and reckless abandon, which was the result of Mike Tomlin and Keith Butler regularly deploying him as a blitzer. This adds a very unique dynamic to the Steelers’ defense, and it makes Hilton legitimately one of the most exciting defensive players in the entire NFL.

I’m interested to see, not only how the Steelers utilize Hilton this season to accentuate his impact as a pass rusher, but how he develops in coverage.

Cameron Heyward

Heyward was recently ranked no. 48 on the NFL Top-100, which, like, who cares, but also this is way too low come on guys. Heyward was generally an unstoppable menace last season, accruing 12 sacks in 15 games and being one of the lone bright spots on a front-7 that caved like a straw hut down the stretch last season. I thought he had a fairly bona fide case for Defensive Player of the Year.

Using sacks as some sort of measuring stick for individual defensive competency is kind of missing the point, especially for 3-4 defensive ends, who are usually relied on to clog running lanes and draw double teams, allowing the linebackers to fly around and make plays, but Heyward’s career-best season neatly demonstrated that, when given the opportunity, he can be just as productive as any pass rusher in the NFL. He’s established himself as a legitimate game-wrecker — someone for whom opposing defensive coordinators need to specifically game-plan around.

Halfbacks

Ugh! This is probably gonna be it for Le’Veon Bell’s Steelers tenure. I’d hope that by now both sides would have reopened their dialogue and begun discussing the various particulars of a lucrative contract extension, one commensurate with Bell’s topmost status on the league’s running-back totem pole. But as of this writing, neither side appears to have budged much on the respective parameters they established back in the spring. Bell wants a long-term deal that pays him at least $14.5 million annually, while the Steelers are apparently unwilling to come up that high.

So we’re pretty much exactly where we were a year ago. Bell has and probably will continue to release rap songs in which he explicitly outlines his general discontent with his contract situation. Blogs will continue to post hit pieces and flowery narratives (both are fine). Bell will skip training camp and his teammates and coaches will provide semi-scripted “dur he should be in camp” responses. He will stay in tremendous shape and show up in early-September looking like a sculpted, glistening god.

Bell’s forthcoming departure (I’ll pause briefly to say that I hope I’m wrong and that the Steelers do sign Bell and that Bell stays in Pittsburgh forever) means that the preseason could provide a glimpse into the future of the running back position in Pittsburgh. James Conner, who the Steelers selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, could be in line to secure the No. 1 role down the line, although rookie Jaylen Samuels is generating a bunch of noise due to his durability, productivity, and Bell-like versatility. Obviously, hitching the cart to a third-round pick whose skill set is strikingly one-dimensional — or a fifth-rounder who some scouts weren’t even sure of how to characterize — is a foolhardy prospect, but there’s some quality depth and intrigue at the position currently.

Paul Zeise: Le'Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are right to skip OTAs

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 10:09am

The most recent criticism of Le’Veon Bell is that he is sitting out of the Steelers’ voluntary organized team activities of the past few weeks. Bell’s defenders, though, have noted that it’s unfair to single him out because both Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have skipped some of the practices, too.

Random Thoughts from a Black-and-Gold Mind: Offseason Hijinks Edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 8:44am

BTSC’s resident looney is off his rocker and sharing his deepest Steeler thoughts with anybody brave enough to endure the madness.

Organized Team Activites (OTAs) are the NFL fan’s equivalent of “blue balls”, you get just enough of a teaser to think that gratification is guaranteed — but all it amounts to is a long, excruciating wait. But unlike Cleveland, Steelers Nation knows that an orgy of pigskin delight and satisfaction is just around the bend. But as the great Tom Petty once cautioned, “the waiting is the hardest part”.

With that being said, my black-and-gold brain is swirling like a whirlpool of wonder. As always, I’m passing on the ravings to you. But first, I should summon a sack full of sorries to, and for, the following transgressions last time out.

  • Comparing Landry Jones and Josh Dobbs to Larry, Darryl and Darryl from Newhart. The Vermont trio surely has a better QBR.
  • Making the Wonderlic sound dirty.
  • Making you think about your ex-wife and (even worse) Mel Kiper.
  • Comparing James Washington’s body to that of E.T.
  • For shaming anybody that searched for their dad’s nudie mag stash.
  • For those of you who hummed ABBA all day at work

Now that those unpleasantries have been reversed, welcome to the latest inception of Random Thoughts From a Black-and Gold Mind

  • If the NFL thinks their National Anthem “kneeling” problem is solved, they’re as sorely mistaken as me at 16 thinking I’d get action on prom night. Unless they keep the media from announcing notable no-shows to the star-spangled sidelines, the fan outrage will be worse. I don’t have a solution, I’m just thinking that theirs is ticking like a time bomb.
  • Maurkice Pouncey has intimated that the entire team will be present and accounted for when Francis Scott Key’s work is on display, but I’m not convinced. Players like Antonio Brown have voiced displeasure regarding the directive from New York and might spend extra time in the locker room. This could be as uncomfortable as taking a date to a Meatloaf concert and seeing your girlfriend in the row in front of you. Unfortunately a true story.
  • Speaking of time-bombs — the all-quiet on the Western PA front, as far as drama goes, should be heating up with regard to Le’Veon Bell. Shenanigans should start up in another month as camp beckons. Le’Veon Watch will be much like Groundhog Day, as idiotic media-types speculate on what will happen. We all know that No. 26 is just like Punxatawney Phil — ”just around the corner” or “six more weeks” we can anticipate a bunch of unpredictable, verbal vomit.
  • Speaking of verbal vomit, Ben Roethlisberger’s proposed silent treatment towards Mason Rudolph was just Ben acting ten. Reports out of OTA’s had the veteran cordial and cooperative with the rookie — on the one day he attended.
  • I don’t care if Martavis Bryant has an All-Pro season Oakland, he had to be dealt. The dude was a lot like Roseanne on ABC — he wasn’t going to be back in 2019.
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
  • As far as replacing Martavis, James Washington looked amazing with his very first catch of a Big Ben bomb. He may be the Chris Farley of the NFL. He has an unorthodox body type for a superstar, but he’s got great moves and is entertaining beyond belief.
  • Former OT Mike Adams is trying to resurrect his career as a tight end. The dude is down 60 pounds and looks more like Chris Hemsworth than Chris Farley. Invite him to camp and see what happens. It’s gotta go better than the first go-around — certainly can’t be worse.
  • History shows a lot of guys with character issues that slide late in the draft, or don’t get drafted at all, are apt to struggle. But I’ve got money on Matthew Thomas from Florida State. He could earn his keep and then some...if he keeps his head.
  • I love the Steelers’ choice to go with block numbers, but not as a throwback. That look needs to be, to quote Mickey from Rocky 2...”Poimanent”.

And finally...

Until next time, if you haven’t yet learned your lesson and heeded the words of the Heartbreakers, here’s a refresher.

Oh baby don’t it feel like heaven right now

Don’t it feel like somethin’ from a dream

Yeah I’ve never known nothing quite like this

Don’t it feel like tonight might never be again

We know better than to try and pretend

Baby no one could have ever told me ‘bout this

The waiting is the hardest part

Every day you see one more card

You take it on faith, you take it to the heart

The waiting is the hardest part

So take that for what it’s worth, Go Steelers and Don’t Stop Shalievin’.

Rendell, Phila. mayor and other fans react to Trump disinviting Eagles

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 7:06am

Ed Rendell, a diehard Eagles fan and former Pennsylvania governor, called President Donald Trump’s decision to disinvite the Eagles from the White House “bordering on idiotic.”

Trying to decipher the meaning of this strange Antonio Brown Tweet

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 6:53am

Antonio Brown has been all sorts of weird on social media recently.

It’s 6:44 pm EST and I’m still thinking about this tweet Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown posted five or six hours ago:

Pee on me tell me it’s raining

— Antonio Brown (@AB84) June 4, 2018

What does this mean?! I’ve ascertained that this is a derivative of the “Don’t pee on my boots and tell me it’s raining” colloquialism (or possibly Don’t Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining by Judge Judy)—which basically means hey, please don’t be all shady and deceptive and then pretend like you aren’t—but I’m struggling to determine the context. Is this about Le’Veon Bell?! Do we have beef?!

More probably this is just some kinda of perfunctory #branding effort, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Please leave them in the comments below.

Ron Cook: Regarding Mike Tomlin, fans should be careful what they wish for

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 6:00am

Mike Tomlin has something in common this spring with Bill Belichick, the only NFL coach who is better than he is. Each has been attacked by critics, Tomlin for failing to win a playoff game last season with a 13-3 team and Belichick for having the nerve to not win the Super Bowl.

Report: Steelers bring in a pair of free agents after injuries at OT and TE positions

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 5:28am

The Pittsburgh Steelers had some injuries at both offensive tackle and tight end, so they went out and brought in some new faces.

Last week during Organized Team Activities (OTAs), the Pittsburgh Steelers suffered some injuries along their offensive front. The team lost both offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins and tight end Jake McGee for the season with a torn quadriceps (Hawkins) and Achilles Tendon tear (McGee).

While McGee might have been a long shot to make the roster, Hawkins was considered to push for the top backup tackle spot on the team’s offensive line. A spot held by Chris Hubbard the past two years before he departed as an Unrestricted Free Agent.

With a vacant spot at tackle, Eric Edholm is reporting the Steelers have signed journeyman tackle Bryce Harris to fill his spot on the 90-man offseason roster.

#Steelers have signed OT Bryce Harris, per source

— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) June 4, 2018

This wasn’t the only move made by the team on Monday. According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, not only did the team sign Harris, but also added tight end Ryan Malleck.

Per Bouchette:

According to the NFL, they [the Steelers] signed tackle Bryce Harris and tight end Ryan Malleck, both of whom have been on the rosters of a number of teams. They placed tackle Jerald Hawkins and tight end Jake McGee on injured reserve. Each was injured in spring practice Thursday.

This also per the Post-Gazette:

Harris, 29, had three stints with the Saints, most recently for five weeks last season. Since he signed with Atlanta as an undrafted rookie from Fresno State in 2012, Harris has been on the rosters of six NFL teams before signing with the Steelers, including two turns with Atlanta and three with New Orleans.

Malleck spent time on the Steelers’ 90-man roster for three months last February through May before they waived him. He signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted rookie from Virginia Tech in 2016. After his brief stay with the Steelers, he signed with Baltimore and Houston last year.

These two players are considered long shots, at best, to make the roster, but they have a chance with the Steelers to further their careers. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes from OTAs and minicamp as they head into training camp.

Former 49ers wide receiver Dwight Clark dead at 61

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 7:35pm

Dwight Clark, the former 49ers wide receiver whose reception known as “The Catch” sent San Francisco to its first Super Bowl, has died one year after revealing he had ALS. He was 61.

President calls off Philadelphia Eagles' White House visit over anthem dispute

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 6:35pm

WASHINGTON — Digging deeper into a culture war that he’s repeatedly stoked, President Donald Trump on Monday called off a visit by the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House Tuesday, citing the dispute over whether NFL players must stand during the playing of the national anthem.

Antonio Brown is making cryptic Twitter and Instagram posts. Let's unpack.

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 5:33pm

The Steelers didn’t practice Monday. Antonio Brown may or may not have been there if they did. Regardless, he used a nice chunk of his off-day to post a bunch of cryptic stuff to social media.

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