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That smile will never go away News - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 1:10pm
Make-A-Wish recipient Jerardo Lopez was all smiles after meeting Steelers players.

Injured Steelers Stephon Tuitt and Bud Dupree take part in Friday practice - Steelers/NFL - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 12:56pm

Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt has seen improvement in his injured biceps this week, but he didn’t sound optimistic about playing against the Vikings Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.

Ryan Shazier fined $25,000 for late hit on DeShone Kizer - Steelers/NFL - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 12:54pm

Linebacker Ryan Shazier said he was fined $25,000 by the NFL for his late hit on Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer. Three other Steelers players received personal foul penalties against the Browns.

Steelers Injury Report: Bud Dupree and Sean Davis slated to play Sunday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 12:51pm

The Steelers released their final injury report leading into Week 2, and there will be several game-time decisions for the black and gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings are set to square off at Heinz Field this Sunday, and after practice Friday the team has released their last injury report leading up to the inter-conference matchup.

The team had several players on the injury report throughout the week, and none bigger than Stephon Tuitt, who suffered a biceps injury early in the Week 1 game, and Bud Dupree, who missed Week 1 due to a shoulder injury.

Although the news was good for Tuitt’s initial diagnosis, the nature of his injury doesn’t make it seem as if he will play this week, despite Mike Tomlin stating this week could be an option for him to return to play.

Despite Tuitt likely missing this Sunday’s game, the team did deliver some good news, and that would be how both Bud Dupree and safety Sean Davis were full participants in practice, and left off the injury report. In other words, the two defenders will likely be in their respective spots on the defense against the Vikings.

Other than those aforementioned players, the Steelers remain a very healthy unit heading into Week 2. Check out the full injury report below.


Jerald Hawkins (knee)

Vance McDonald (back)
Stephon Tuitt (biceps)
J.J. Wilcox (concussions)

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on the Vikings injury report, and other reports surrounding the black and gold.

Tuitt: 'We made a tremendous step' Videos - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 12:34pm
Stephon Tuitt on his injury and his status for Sunday's game against the Vikings.

Steelers LB Ryan Shazier fined for late hit on DeShone Kizer

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 12:03pm

The NFL came down hard on Steelers ILB Ryan Shazier, as he was heavily fined for his late hit on Browns QB DeShone Kizer in Week 1.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will be a little light in the wallet this week, considering he was just fined $25,000 for his late hit on Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer in Week 1 action.

Ryan Shazier was fined $25,000 for his late hit on DeShone Kizer

— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) September 15, 2017

The hit, which was also flagged by officials for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for roughing the passer, was viewed as dirty to some spectators, and the NFL league office clearly agreed with that sentiment.

However, anytime a player is flagged for roughing the passer in any way, they can expect a letter from the NFL league office stating they won’t be getting a full paycheck this week due to the infraction on the field.

If Shazier likes his money, he will be extra cautious of quaterbacks who are giving themselves up and sliding on a play. Whether you, or he, likes it or not, the rule is in place for a reason — to protect the faces of franchises. Looks like Shazier is learning this the hard way.

Scouting Report: Vikings News - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 11:45am
Minnesota bringing an attention-getting pass rush to Heinz Field.

Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes and Antonio Brown’s “brotherly” relationship will be put on hold in Week 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 11:30am

Players from the Miami area carry a unique bond with one another, and that bond will be on display when Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes will go against Antonio Brown in Week 2

You can watch any number of documentaries on the Miami-Dade area, and know how it is an absolute hot bed for football talent. A direct pipeline to the NFL, if you will, and the players who come from this area are spread all around the league. Coming from Miami isn’t uncommon, but the bond which connects the players from this area certainly is.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown hails from the Miami area, and so does Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes. The two players who will be going head-to-head this Sunday at Heinz Field have a bond which goes beyond football. One Rhodes calls “brotherly”.

"We grew up in the same neighborhood. We went to the same school. It's more going to be a brotherly type thing." Rhodes told Pittsburgh media, via the Steelers official website.

But don’t mistake a little brotherly love as a lack of competition. The two athletes usually train together in the offseason, and will be trying to do their best to one-up the other on the field when it counts.

“Every offseason we find time to work out. He loves the game. He loves playing the game. He is always smiling. He goes out there and does what he does best, catch the ball and try and score touchdowns.”

Of all the matchups between the Steelers and Vikings, this might be the most electric, and fun, to watch on Sunday. Rhodes, a Pro Bowl player in 2016, will likely follow Brown around the field on Sunday, and there are only a handful of cornerbacks who have slowed Brown’s production on game day.

Will Rhodes be the next?

“Good guy. Good in space. He finds ways to get open. You just play your game. You do what you can do.” Rhodes added.

‘You do what you can do’ is such a simple statement, yet so very true against Brown. There have been a multitude of occasions when defensive backs have Brown blanketed, only for Brown to find a way to come down with the football for a big play. Some consider Brown a player you can’t stop, but only hope to contain, and Rhodes will certainly have his hands full on Sunday with No. 84 standing opposite him.

As intriguing a matchup Brown vs. Rhodes is, the matchup on the opposite side featuring Trae Waynes and Martavis Bryant might be just as intriguing. Bryant, who missed all of 2016 due to suspension, has yet to put his stamp on the field in terms of a big play. If the Vikings roll coverage towards Brown on a regular basis, it will be up to Bryant to win his one-on-one matchup and make a play.

Brown will impact the game, as he always does, whether it is with Rhodes covering him, or the attention he draws from the defense. Nonetheless, for one day during the 2017 season, Rhodes and Brown will be a little less “brotherly” and fierce competitors.

Get your popcorn ready...

Steelers Traditions: The Deoudes Family Videos - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 10:58am
In 2016, Steelers Nation Unite member Pete Deoudes and his family embarked on a Steelers journey that most only dream of.

Paul Zeise: The Steelers sack attack is back, just don't call it 'Blitzburgh' - Steelers/NFL - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 10:28am

The Steelers had seven sacks against Cleveland on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they went “Blitzburgh” on the Browns. The Steelers did blitz some, but they also got at least four of their seven sacks without blitzing at all.  And that should scare the heck out of opposing offensive coordinators as they prepare to deal with the Steelers pass rush.

Rookie Review Week 1: Grading the Steelers rookies after their first regular season action

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 9:55am

The Pittsburgh Steelers were victorious in Week 1, and it is time to look back and see just how the rookies did in their first regular season action.

Grading a rookie class in the preseason is easy. Almost all of the rookies, and undrafted free agents, get plenty of playing time in those games where the starters are rested and the backups have a chance to prove their worth on the field.

The regular season is a different beast, and if a team has a significant number of rookies who are playing, it usually equates to a team which won’t be very good, or a team who drafts extremely well.

The Pittsburgh Steelers would fall into the latter of those two categories, and although not all of their draft picks played in the game Sunday vs. the Browns, it is worth discussing the performances of those who did.

Round / Player 1 — T.J. Watt

Can you ask for more from an NFL debut? Watt tallied 2 sacks, an interception, 2 tackles of losses, a pass defense, 7 total tackles, and 2 quarterback hits. For some rookies, that is a season worth of stats. For Watt? Just another day at the office.

Grade: A+

2 — JuJu Smith-Schuster

Smith-Schuster made the stat sheet, but for all the wrong reasons. He had zero catches on zero targets, and the only time his name was mentioned was due to two holding penalties, which put the team behind the chains. Smith-Schuster did register one kick return for 4-yards, so at least he has that going for him. For as great as Watt’s debut was, Smith-Schuster’s was as mundane as ever. Hopefully the former USC Trojan steps up his game in Week 2.

Grade: D-

3 — Cameron Sutton

Placed on Injured Reserve

Grade: Incomplete

3 — James Conner

Conner was behind Le’Veon Bell on the depth chart for the first time since entering the NFL, and his touches took a hit because of it. Nonetheless, Mike Tomlin did put Conner in the game to get him some repetitions in the first half, and he registered 11 yards on 4 carries. Not mind-bending statistics, but in defense of Conner, Bell wasn’t doing much behind the offensive line Sunday either. Conner’s biggest contributions to the team this year, barring injury, will be on special teams.

Grade: B

4 — Joshua Dobbs

Inactive on game day.

Grade: Incomplete

5 — Brian Allen

Inactive on game day.

Grade: Incomplete


Overall, the Steelers rookie class of 2017 didn’t do poorly in Week 1 vs. the Browns. Sure, you would have hoped for someone like Smith-Schuster to play better, but Watt’s overall body of work transformed the entire class’s grade for the day.

Overall Grade: B+

This & That: Watt's motor, Renegade & more News - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 8:30am
Hitting on all the topics as the Steelers head home to Heinz Field.

Improved Vikings pose a significant challenge for Pittsburgh Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 7:55am

After posting an 8-8 record in 2016, the Minnesota Vikings have the look of a team on the rise in the NFL.

For many fans, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ opening-day performance in Cleveland, despite the win and their 1-0 record, indicates the team hasn’t quite shaken off its preseason cobwebs. But in the 2017 edition of the Minnesota Vikings, the Steelers face a substantially greater challenge this week when the two teams face off Sunday at Heinz Field.

Now in his eighth NFL season, including one full season lost to injury, Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford seems the very embodiment of the old saying, “If not for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” At 29 years of age, Bradford is beginning only his second pro season not involving a return from injury or working with a different offensive system. A former Heisman Trophy winner (in 2008 at Oklahoma) and No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Bradford initially looked like a can’t-miss selection for the St. Louis Rams. In 2010, his first season in the league, Bradford set the record for most completions by a rookie in NFL history, which helped earn him the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

But the bright promise of his NFL debut began to fade in 2011 when Bradford was hampered throughout the season by a nagging high-ankle sprain and the Rams tumbled to a dismal 2-14 record. Following a bounce-back season in 2012, Bradford tore his left ACL in Week 7 of the 2013 season in a game against the Carolina Panthers, ending his season. Then, in 2014, Bradford injured the very same ACL when he was sacked in a preseason game against Cleveland and he missed the entire regular season.

Largely due to this disastrous turn of events—plus the fact that during his six active seasons in the NFL, Bradford has compiled an annual passer rating exceeding 90 only twice—he was earmarked as an injury-prone quarterback with a spotty resume. The Rams traded him to the Philadelphia Eagles in March 2015 in a deal that sent Nick Foles to the Rams.

But in 2016, Bradford’s career took a turn for the better when the Vikings lost their promising young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a devastating knee injury suffered during training camp. Not only did Bradford manage to remain injury-free last season, but he also posted a career-best passer rating of 99.3. In Week 1 versus the New Orleans Saints, Bradford completed 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards and three TDs, earning him a passer rating of 143.0, in addition to being named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Consequently, when the Steelers and Vikings face off in Sunday’s matchup, Pittsburgh’s defense can expect a markedly tougher challenge than they faced last Sunday in Cleveland versus the inexperienced DeShone Kizer. The Vikings’ passing attack, while not spectacular by any means, has become solid and steady. A key factor besides Bradford’s improved play is his familiarity with the Vikings’ offensive system orchestrated by Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur. Shurmur is Bradford’s former OC with the Rams (2010) and also during his stint with the Philadelphia Eagles (2015).

The results of this collaboration have been impressive. In their victory over the Saints, Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen had nine catches for 157 yards, while his counterpart Stefon Diggs was catching seven passes for 93 yards and two TDs. The ever-dependable Kyle Rudolph, who added three catches for 26 yards and a TD, provides Bradford with a 6-foot-6, 265-pound target quite skilled at making the clutch receptions essential for moving the sticks and converting red-zone opportunities to TDs. As for the player who might be Minnesota’s secret weapon, last year’s No. 1 draft pick, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, is waiting to bust loose after catching only one short pass on Opening Day versus the Saints. Treadwell, it should be noted, had been considered as the top wide receiver available in the 2016 NFL Draft.

In contrast to Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, Bradford’s offense burst out of the gate in Week 1 with a crisp passing attack that kept the Saints’ defense off-balance throughout the game. For anyone watching the matchup, it’s no exaggeration to say that Bradford looked every bit the No. 1 overall draft pick he was when the Rams selected him back in 2010.

That’s why, in addition to turning in another solid defensive effort and getting pressure on Bradford, the Steelers’ offense also will need to kick its performance into high gear on Sunday. While it’s debatable whether the Cleveland Browns will prove to be a team on the rise by season’s end, there seems little doubt regarding the Vikings’ ongoing improvement. And because Minnesota undoubtedly is for real, when the dust settles at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon, we’ll have a much better fix on the true state of these 2017 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Steelers Injury Report: Safety Sean Davis the latest addition to the walking wounded

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 7:20am

The Pittsburgh Steelers injury report is growing, and not at a good time with the Minnesota Vikings coming to down.

The injury bug hits every team, but the severity and timing of the sting is what truly separates most situations and how they impact the football roster. For the Pittsburgh Steelers the injury bug sure did take a bite out of the defense as they prepare for the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2.

Stephon Tuitt, who is nursing a biceps injury, didn’t practice for the second straight day, which makes his chances of playing very slim. Joining him on the sideline were Jerald Hawkins (knee) and safety J.J. Wilcox, who suffered a concussion against the Browns in Week 1.

The biggest question mark for the Steelers is Bud Dupree. Dupree injured his shoulder Wednesday last week, and missed the team’s opening game this past Sunday. Dupree has been a limited participant in both practices so far this week, and his participation Friday will be very important.

What might come as a surprise to many, was the addition of safety Sean Davis to the injury report. Davis reportedly left practice early Wednesday with an ankle injury, and it required him to be limited on Thursday. Davis told reporters he plans on playing Sunday at Heinz Field, but Dupree said the same thing last week and was inactive.

As stated earlier, Friday’s practice will be big for Dupree and Davis, and the Steelers would certainly benefit from having them both in the lineup with the Vikings come to town.

See the full injury reports below:


T Jerald Hawkins (Knee)
DE Stephon Tuitt (Biceps)
S J.J. Wilcox (Concussion)
TE Vance McDonald (Back)

LB Bud Dupree (Shoulder)
S Sean Davis (Ankle)


LB Anthony Barr (Hamstring)

QB Sam Bradford (Knee)
LB Emmanuel Lamur (Hamstring)
CB Terence Newman (Knee)
CB Xavier Rhodes (Hip)

G Danny Isidora (Knee)
CB Tramaine Brock (Groin)

360 video: Steelers Kickoff 2017 News - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 6:15am
In advance of Sunday’s home opener, the Steelers have released a special 360/VR video that provides a special look at game day in Pittsburgh.

Steelers News: Can Todd Haley keep all the offensive stars happy?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 5:20am

The Pittsburgh Steelers have all their weapons back in 2017, but can they all remain happy?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a legitimate offense—no one is debating that. But several, including myself, have wondered if there’s enough love in the world for Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant to all be happy.

Sure, the players will talk about how, if they’re winning, they’re happy, but everyone still wants his yards and touches. This will come down to decisions made by Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley, but should this even be a talking point?

The answer is no, but then again, here we are talking about it. Time to get you caught up with all the Black-and-gold news swirling around the walls of BTSC.

...Offensive coordinator Todd Haley knows Bell wants to be involved early. But he also has a quarterback, star receiver and others to keep happy.

It’s a delicate balance for a play-caller.

“It’s a fine line,” Haley said. “We do everything possible to try to get the quarterback going, to get the line going, to get the running back going, to get A.B. going. You have a lot of guys to think about. The No. 1 thing is to be efficient and to have success. When you do that the ball gets spread around, guys get into a rhythm. When you don’t, you’re coming to the sidelines quicker than you want to.”

Bell isn’t the only one who wants to get a feel for the running game early. It’s beneficial for offensive linemen too because it keeps defensive linemen guessing about what’s coming next.

“We want to establish it early anyway so we can get the defense on their heels,” right tackle Marcus Gilbert said. “Play-action comes into play. We have to be able to take advantage of that.”

The Steelers didn’t run the ball effectively against the Browns. Bell’s 32 rushing yards were tied for the fourth-fewest rushing yards of his career. The previous time Bell was held to 32 yards was Week 8 a year ago in Baltimore. Shortly thereafter, he went on a tear, rushing for 835 yards over a six-game span.

The Browns were able to clog running lanes by blitzing their cornerbacks off the edge.

“We didn’t do a great job of adjusting to that,” right guard David DeCastro said. “It was a little unorthodox.”

“We wanted to get the ball outside because they kept slamming everyone inside,” Gilbert added. “We couldn’t get our runs to bust up inside. We wanted to get outside, but we kept getting holding calls. That’s why we didn’t run the ball as much. But we can’t point at one particular thing. We have to find a way no matter what because we’re capable of doing that.”

Is it possible Antonio Brown might be better than ever?

Secondary coach Carnell Lake suggested that in training camp when he said the Steelers All-Pro receiver improved his quickness coming out of breaks.

And he showed that in the season opener in Cleveland, catching all 11 targeted passes for 182 yards and also drawing a pass-interference penalty that netted 41 yards.

“That’s unheard of,” cornerback Artie Burns said.

The last player to catch all his targeted passes and have 11+ receptions was New England’s Brandon LaFell on Oct. 24, 2016 against Chicago, according to Elias Sports Bureau. LaFell had 11 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.

“That’s crazy for a 180-something to do,” said Steelers cornerback Joe Haden, who played against Brown when he was with the Cleveland Browns. “A.B. is special. They don’t make ‘em like A.B. all the time.”

It’s hard to fathom Brown being even better because he already has more receptions in any two-year (262), three-year (375) and four-year period (481) than any player in NFL history.

“A.B. is in a class of his own,” Haden said.

It wasn't the ideal way to break in two new acquisitions, plus a returning injured starter, to the secondary with the NFL regular season rapidly approaching.

Cornerback Joe Haden and safety J.J. Wilcox had a week of preparation with the Steelers after joining the team late in the preseason. Free safety Mike Mitchell, after sitting out all of August with a hamstring injury, returned simultaneously with the newcomers, giving them just four practices to bond before the Sept. 10 opener in Cleveland.

Given that they were joining two second-year players, including strong safety Sean Davis, who missed portions of training camp, the potential existed for some major communication breakdowns in the secondary.

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler noticed a few communication flaws but generally was impressed with how the secondary responded in a 21-18 win at FirstEnergy Stadium.

“That's going to happen when you haven't practiced together,” Butler said on Thursday. “Even though you might know each other well and have played with each other in the past, it's not the same if you do it every year.”

“You've got to get used to a bunch of new guys, and the communication is important. For the most part, it was good, but there are some parts of it that we need to clean up.”

It's a place he spent four years worth of home game-days while at Pitt, and it's a place where he has logged 100 yards from scrimmage in a pro game (albeit during the preseason). But for James Conner, his first regular-season home game in the NFL is all the more special because it's at Heinz Field.

The Steelers open their home schedule Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

“I can't wait,” the Steelers rookie running back said.

“I expect a great crowd and a great atmosphere.”

As a Pitt Panther, Conner had more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 35 touchdowns in 21 games at Heinz Field. He also appeared in two preseason games there for the Steelers last month.

There are more than 2,000 players on the rosters of NFL teams — none has the easy access and proximity to his alma mater that Conner does. The Steelers and Pitt are the only NFL and college programs that share a practice facility, and Conner is the lone Pitt alumnus on the Steelers' active roster or practice squad.

“I get to go over there and see my guys,” Conner said. “Great relationships over there, and I'm thankful to still be close to them.”

“This facility is one of a kind, on both sides. And I'm fortunate to have those guys who I am close with, still close (by).”

But do the Pitt players and staff treat him any differently now that Conner is in the NFL?

“No — and that's why I like going over there,” Conner said. “People from outside look at you different, that you've got a different title, but my position coach, my strength coach, I'm still just regular old James to them. And that's how I like it.”

After the Steelers’ offense managed to score only two touchdowns against the Browns last week, questions linger about whether the offense still has rust to work off and how they might perform moving forward.

The Browns’ defense was missing Joe Haden, its most recognized star in recent seasons who’s now with the Steelers, in addition to their No. 1 overall pick in Myles Garrett. But still they managed to limit the Steelers’ offense to just two touchdown drives.

If there was ever a time for a quick turnaround, the Steelers could use it now as they prepare to face a defense featuring five players that have played in the Pro Bowl and several other young stars working into their prime.

We take a look at how the Steelers might exploit this talented defense.

Labriola on penalties, 'Scabskins,' DMR News - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 5:00am
A theory as to why there are so many penalties at the start of every NFL regular season.

Ron Cook: Steelers' Todd Haley tunes out critics - Steelers/NFL - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 5:00am

It’s always a good day when you can quote a line from one of the Godfather movies.

The Steelers want a 'loud and crazy' Heinz Field on Sunday - Steelers/NFL - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 5:00am

Is Heinz Field still an intimidating place to play for Steelers opponents?

Steelers vs. Vikings Week 2: Game time, TV schedule, streaming, distribution map and more

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 4:00am

The Steelers are preparing for their second regular season game against the Vikings. Get all the information to enjoy the game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will play in their first home regular season game of the 2017 season when they host the Minnesota Vikings at Heinz Field Sunday. The meaningless games are done, and the march to Super Bowl 52 resumes on Sunday.

The Steelers and Vikings have had their share of memorable games throughout the years but, as an interconference opponent, a win over the Vikings doesn’t carry as much weight as their Week 1 victory against AFC North opponent, the Cleveland Browns.

Get all the information you need to enjoy the first home game of the regular season.

Remember to follow us on Twitter (@btsteelcurtain) as well as in the open threads on game day to talk with Steelers fans just like you — you know, diehards!

Injury Report: Pittsburgh


T Jerald Hawkins (Knee)
DL Stephon Tuitt (Shoulder)
S J.J. Wilcox (Concussion)


LB Bud Dupree (Shoulder)
S Sean Davis (Ankle)


LB Anthony Barr (Hamstring)

QB Sam Bradford (Knee)
LB Emmanuel Lamur (Hamstring)

G Danny Isidora (Knee)
CB Tramaine Brock (Groin)

Online Streaming: NFL Game Pass and Game Center

Announcers: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber

TV: Local Viewing Only (FOX)

Distribution Map:

  • Blue = Steelers vs. Vikings

Tickets: For tickets fans can visit the NFL Ticket Exchange

Twitter: @btsteelcurtain

Facebook: Please like us on Facebook

Date/Time: Sunday, September 17, 1:00 p.m. EDT

Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

Game Odds: Pittsburgh (-4.5)


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