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Steelers not only leave Heinz Field with a Week 1 preseason win, but also nearly injury free

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 6:10am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers remain on the positive side of the ledger when it comes to injuries.

Let’s not read too much into the headline of this article. The Pittsburgh Steelers have their share of injuries to deal with heading into Week 2 of NFL Preseason action. Players like Maurkice Pouncey, Sean Davis, Artie Burns, Diontae Johnson, Joe Haden and Vince Williams were all held out of the Week 1 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to help them heal.

But for the offseason roster this was the first chance for the team to hit an opponent who wasn’t also considered a teammate. With that comes the regular potential of having players get injured.

While the Steelers fans saw several members of the Buccaneers leave with injuries, the Steelers left the game pretty much unscathed. After the game Mike Tomlin addressed the media and listed only Christian Scotland-Williamson among the players injured. Scotland-Williamson suffered a hamstring injury at some point during the contest.

Every other player fell under Tomlin’s “usual bumps and bruises associated with playing the game” tag, including Ola Adeniyi who reportedly limped off the field at one point in the second half. For a player who was sent to Injured Reserve for a hamstring pull in the 4th preseason game in 2018, it was good to hear he wasn’t listed on Tomlin’s report.

The team now tries to heal up and prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs next Saturday at Heinz Field. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers Training Camp and more!

You can see Tomlin’s full post-game press conference below:

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following our win vs. Tampa Bay. https://t.co/d1YPxMbDJS

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 10, 2019

Podcast: Recapping the good, and the bad, in the Steelers preseason win over the Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 08/10/2019 - 5:00am

In the latest episode of “The Steelers Post-Game” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold from the most recent contest.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is just starting, and the preseason is officially underway.

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

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Game Balls
  • Winners and Losers
  • 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.

Knee-Jerk Reactions to the Steelers 30-28 win over the Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 10:25pm
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

One BTSC writer shares his real-time, initial thoughts of the Steelers first real look of the 2019 team.

Here we go! Our first look of the new-attitude Pittsburgh Steelers. No they did not rebuild, but they are starting life without two-thirds of the Killer Bs. There’s a different brand of swagger and a desire to prove from a lot of these guys and I can not wait.

Nonetheless, a simple reminder, a knee jerk reaction is an immediate and unthinking, emotional reaction. It’s basically shooting first and apologizing later. I can safely say that’s a true definition of your’s truly and a good lot of Steeler Nation. Here’s my real-time reactions during the Steelers’ first battle of the new season.

Quarter 1
  • To quote the great boxing ref, Mills Lane, Lets get it on!
  • Bennie Snell Football includes special teams action. Nice.
  • Devin Bush involved early.
  • Seems focused.
  • Another Bush tackle.
  • Going after Layne a lot. Playing off the ball and giving too much of a cushion.
  • Nice to see Byron Sandwich
  • Ola was held there. Bit really got in there.
  • I know this is preseason, not loving the start and the long drive though.
  • A couple of Kam Kelly sightings.
  • Horrible missed tackle on that TD by Layne. He totally whiffed. Rough start for the Spartan.
  • 7-0. Bahhhhhhhhhhhh!
  • Let’s see if Dobbs and Co. can answer.
  • Sorry Bob Pompeani. I will miss “the Unicorn” this fall on CBS.
  • Holding on a kickoff. Is this 2018?
  • Nice ball from Dobbs. Nice protection and great catch by Washington over a good Vernon Hargreaves.
  • I'm excited to see Diontae Spencer.
  • Don’t give up sacks!
  • Bad pass by Dobbs. Too short of a drive.
  • I almost named my son Bobo Wilson.
  • Not a bad punt by Berry.
  • Roughing the passer,,,,rough indeed.
  • Devin Bush justifies the trade right there. He is all over the place. Huge 4th down stop.
Quarter 2
  • Third and 22. I’m not liking this.
  • Dobbs to JWash. Huuuuuuge!
  • Dobbs for 36. His feet do make sadifference.
  • I’ll take the FG.
  • Finally forcing a punt. Lucky they aren’t down more.
  • Mason Time. Here we go.
  • Rudolph is looking pretty solid,
  • Big rip from Jaylen for 22.
  • Gotta get in the end zone.
  • Yesssss!
  • Cowboy connection. Washington came to play. 10-7.
  • Dirty Red not done yet,
  • Nice to see Buggs on the stat sheet. Let’s convert this.
  • Gotta take advantage.
  • Cmon Mason!
  • Lets get the three.
  • 47-yarder. Is Boswell better?
  • Lets shut-em down.
  • 55-yarder, that’s a good kick from the TB rook.
  • 13-10. I’ll take it.
  • Ten tackles. Bush is for real
Quarter 3
  • BSJ turned nothing into five.
  • No. 24 is a load!
  • Nice escape, but Hassenhauer with the hold.
  • Berryman with the big boot.
  • Nice coverage by Spillane.
  • Defense is flying. Spillane again.
  • Spencer got just ten, but looks like he could break one.
  • Johnny Holton is electric. It’s ashame he didn’t get in.
  • Zach Gentry, at 6’8”, is the only guy that could have nabbed that one. Rudy owes the rookie a steak.
  • Dirty Red is answering the critics.
  • Time for Duck Dynasty.
  • Nobody is helping out Hodges. Two catchable and nicely-thrown balls.
  • I questioned whether Ola could do anything other than rush the passer. Good coverage there.
  • Locke lookin’ suspect on this series.
  • Tuzar Skipper. Love that guy. Just missed a sack.
  • Should’ve been a flag.
  • Yep. It is.
  • Spillane is struggling in coverage now.
  • Good hole. Layne needed to make that tackle though.
  • Will we have one overturned?
  • Hassenhauer is hurting himself.
  • Hodges is coming alive.
  • Snell Yeah!!!!
  • End of quarter and looking good.
Quarter 4
  • Nice athletic drive by Hodges. This team has QBs.
  • Tevin Jones got great separation on the TD.
  • Gotta practice challenges. Don’t know if this is winnable though.
  • Not lovin’ the judgement to throw the flag.
  • Layne is getting plenty of action, but his struggle is real.
  • The calendar doesn’t say June 14. But it sure feels like flag day.
  • Tuzar looked dominant on that sack. Love it.
  • That was a sweet punt return by Spencer. That dude has wicked speed.
  • Trey Edmunds is running for his life.
  • Ugly pass by Devlin. Got away with one there. Should have been picked.
  • Got away with a grounding too. Lucky Woods was in the area.
  • Matt Wright getting a chance at three.
  • Power in that kick.
  • Marcus Allen is omnipresent.
  • Ulysses Gilbert saved six with a nice tackle.
  • J.T. Jones with a bad penalty .
  • Mondeaux with a big tackle.
  • That was a tough catch and tough to defend.
  • Ulysses with the key pick on the 2PC.
  • Kevin Rader with a bad fumble there. Can’t go that.
  • Ulysses has some moves. Good pressure.
  • Fourth Down. Let’s end this here.
  • Maybe not.
  • Ulysses Gilbert is a big deal. Nice.
  • Gotta just fall on the ball. That could cost you.
  • i get it. But I wish Arians would give it a rest.
  • I’m confused.
  • Griffin is tearing up the Steelers’ secondary.
  • Gilbert again.
  • Marcellus Branch could get nailed on that tackle. I hate that call.
  • Branch with the big breakup.
  • Not making this easy. Drayvon Askew-Henry with the hold.
  • Short. Is the ball loose?
  • Oh man.
  • Thank you. Huge stop. I think it’s over.
  • Good win and thanks for not going to OT.

I just shot first and I’ll apologize later. Now time to watch it again and see what really happened. Make sure you get your voice heard in the comments below.

Steelers come away with 30-28 win over Buccaneers in Preseason opener

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 10:06pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers squared off in NFL Preseason Week 1 action.

It had been over 200 days since the Pittsburgh Steelers set foot onto Heinz Field for a football game. That clock was reset on Friday night when the Steelers hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1 of NFL Preseason action. While this game lacked the star power of Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, Joe Haden and plenty others, it was enough to satiate the rabid Steelers fan base who have been craving football for months.

The Steelers started the game on defense, and the start was certainly forgettable. While the only starter actually playing for Pittsburgh was Terrell Edmunds, Jameis Winston orchestrated a 12-play drive ending in a touchdown to give the Buccaneers a quick 7-0 lead before Pittsburgh’s offense even touched the football.

Joshua Dobbs had the reigns of the Steelers’ offense to start the game, and announced his presence with authority after he hit James Washington for a 44-yard completion on the second offensive play of the game. However, a second down sack after the big play pushed the Steelers out of field goal range, and forced Jordan Berry on for the first punt of the game.

The Buccaneers’ second drive saw Blaine Gabbert behind center, and after a 3rd down roughing the passer call extended the drive, Tampa Bay went for a 4th-and-short in field goal range and failed. Devin Bush was all over the field throughout the first quarter, and was a main reason why the Steelers’ offense got the ball back in the second quarter down just 7-0, and not 10 or 14-0.

Starting their second drive in their own end, the Steelers needed James Washington to dig them out of a huge hole. On 3rd and 21, Dobbs hit Washington for a 22-yard pick up to get the yardage necessary to receive a new set of downs. After that play, Dobbs started using his feet to make plays, including a 36-yard run to move the offense into field goal range. They would have to settle for a Chris Boswell 33-yard field goal to get them on the board, but still trailing 7-3 with 6:58 left in the first half.

After the Steelers’ defense forced their first punt of the game, Mason Rudolph took over at quarterback with 5:33 left in the half and all three timeouts still remaining. It didn’t take the Steelers’ offense to take control and move the ball down the field. After big completions and a 22-yard run by Jaylen Samuels, the Steelers faced a 1st and goal from the 8-yard line. Following the 2-minute warning, Rudolph hit Washington for the 8-yard score.

Great throw.

Great catch. pic.twitter.com/0Zgz8h58Z1

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 10, 2019

Matthew Wright tacked on the extra point to make the score 10-7 Steelers in the waning minutes of the first half.

On the ensuing drive, Tyler Matakevich came on a blitz, and was able to get a strip sack, causing a fumble, and rookie Isaiah Buggs was at the right place at the right time to recover the fumble.

Matakevich will take that‼️ pic.twitter.com/2tdoov78ov

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 10, 2019

Rudolph and the Steelers’ offense failed to gain positive yardage on the next possession, and had to settle for another Chris Boswell field goal, this one was a 47-yard kick to make the score 13-7 with 1:03 left in the first half.

The Buccaneers weren’t about to kneel out the remaining time left in the half, and it set up a 55-yard field goal attempt which was good as time ran out, making the score 13-10 Steelers heading into halftime.

Pittsburgh started the second half on offense, but Rudolph and company failed to register a first down before Ian Berryman punted the ball away for the first time of the game. Tampa Bay followed suit and had to punt the ball back to Pittsburgh. On the first play to start the next possession, Rudolph hit Johnny Holton for a 59-yard catch and run to take the ball inside the 10-yard line. On second down, Rudolph hit rookie Zach Gentry in the back of the end zone for his second touchdown pass of the game.

Rudolph ➡️ Gentry pic.twitter.com/w7XjZTt4C4

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 10, 2019

Zach Wright hit the extra point to make the score 20-10 with 9:25 left in the 3rd quarter.

Pittsburgh’s defense continued to improve as the game progressed, and when Pittsburgh got the football back again it was Devlin Hodges who took over at quarterback. However, Hodges’ luck wasn’t as good as the two previous quarterbacks and the football was punted back to the Buccaneers with 7:26 left in the third quarter.

The Buccaneers found their groove towards the end of the quarter and were able to drive down the field and eventually punched the ball in for their second touchdown of the game. The Dare Ogunbowale 10-yard run led to a 2-point conversion try which failed, making the score 20-16 with 3:21 left in the third quarter.

Hodges started to find his groove towards the end of the quarter, and moved the Steelers offense into the red-zone as the third quarter came to an end. Two plays into the fourth quarter and Hodges found Tevin Jones in the end zone for the third Steelers touchdown of the game.

Devlin Hodges finds Tevin Jones for the score‼️ pic.twitter.com/sSNpHBK1fW

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 10, 2019

Boswell added on the point after to make the score 27-16 with 14:15 left in regulation.

After exchanging possessions, Dionate Spencer was able to take a punt return deep into Tampa Bay territory, but Hodges and company failed to put another touchdown on the board. Instead, they settled for a Matthew Wright 42-yard field goal to make the score 30-16.

With 9:14 left in the game, the Buccaneers refused to just go off into the night. Instead, Ryan Griffin took the Tampa Bay offense down the field and put up another touchdown to add to the Tampa Bay total. Bruce Arians went for the two-point conversion, again, and failed, again, making the score 30-22 with 4:45 left in regulation.

After a Kevin Rader fumble, Tampa Bay had the chance to add more points to their total, and Griffin and the Bucs offense was able to drive down and score a touchdown. After Ogunbowale plunged in for a TD, Tampa Bay went for their third two-point conversion of the game, and failed once again to make the final score 30-28.

The Steelers’ preseason record moves to 1-0 on the season, and will host the Kansas City Chiefs next Saturday in Week 2 of NFL Preseason action. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold leading up to the next game on the schedule.

Steelers vs. Buccaneers Preseason Week 1: 3rd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 9:02pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

2nd Quarter In-Game Update

Pittsburgh started the second half on offense, but Rudolph and company failed to register a first down before Ian Berryman punted the ball away for the first time of the game. Tampa Bay followed suit and had to punt the ball back to Pittsburgh. On the first play to start the next possession, Rudolph hit Johnny Holton for a 59-yard catch and run to take the ball inside the 10-yard line. On second down, Rudolph hit rookie Zach Gentry in the back of the end zone for his second touchdown pass of the game. Zach Wright hit the extra point to make the score 20-10 with 9:25 left in the 3rd quarter.

Pittsburgh’s defense continued to improve as the game progressed, and when Pittsburgh got the football back again it was Bucky Hodges who took over at quarterback. However, Hodges’ luck wasn’t as good as the two previous quarterbacks and the football was punted back to the Buccaneers with 7:26 left in the third quarter.

The Buccaneers found their groove towards the end of the quarter and were able to drive down the field and eventually punched the ball in for their second touchdown of the game. The Dare Ogunbowale 10-yard run led to a 2-point conversion try which failed, making the score 20-16 with 3:21 left in the third quarter.

Hodges started to find his groove towards the end of the quarter, and moved the Steelers offense into the red-zone as the third quarter came to an end.

Steelers vs. Buccaneers: Second-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 8:05pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2019 preseason is here with the Steelers and Buccaneers locking horns in Week 1. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field for the first time in the 2019 preseason as they prepare to face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1 of the preseason.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Steelers vs. Buccaneers Preseason Week 1: 2nd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 7:59pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

The Buccaneers’ second drive saw Blaine Gabbert behind center, and after a 3rd down roughing the passer call extended the drive, Tampa Bay went for a 4th-and-short in field goal range and failed. Devin Bush was all over the field throughout the first quarter, and was a main reason why the Steelers’ offense got the ball back in the second quarter down just 7-0, and not 10 or 14-0.

Starting their second drive in their own end, the Steelers needed James Washington to dig them out of a huge hole. On 3rd and 21, Dobbs hit Washington for a 22-yard pick up to get the yardage necessary to receive a new set of downs. After that play, Dobbs started using his feet to make plays, including a 36-yard run to move the offense into field goal range. They would have to settle for a Chris Boswell field goal to get them on the board, but still trailing 7-3 with 6:58 left in the first half.

After the Steelers’ defense forced their first punt of the game, Mason Rudolph took over at quarterback with 5:33 left in the half and all three timeouts still remaining. It didn’t take the Steelers’ offense to take control and move the ball down the field. After big completions and a 22-yard run by Jaylen Samuels, the Steelers faced a 1st and goal from the 8-yard line. Following the 2-minute warning, Rudolph hit Washington for the 8-yard score. Matthew Wright tacked on the extra point to make the score 10-7 Steelers in the waning minutes of the first half.

On the ensuing drive, Tyler Matakevich came on a blitz, and was able to get a strip sack, causing a fumble, and rookie Isaiah Buggs was at the right place at the right time to recover the fumble. Rudolph and the Steelers’ offense failed to gain positive yardage on the next possession, and had to settle for another Chris Boswell field goal, this one was a 47-yard kick to make the score 13-7 with 1:03 left in the first half.

The Buccaneers weren’t about to kneel out the remaining time left in the half, and it set up a 55-yard field goal attempt which was good as time ran out, making the score 13-10 Steelers heading into halftime.

Steelers vs. Buccaneers Preseason Week 1: 1st quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 7:03pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

It had been over 200 days since the Pittsburgh Steelers set foot onto Heinz Field for a football game. That clock was reset on Friday night when the Steelers hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1 of NFL Preseason action. While this game lacked the star power of Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, Joe Haden and plenty others, it was enough to satiate the rabid Steelers fan base who have been craving football for months.

The Steelers started the game on defense, and the start was certainly forgettable. While the only starter actually playing for Pittsburgh was Terrell Edmunds, Jameis Winston orchestrated a 12-play drive ending in a touchdown to give the Buccaneers a quick 7-0 lead before Pittsburgh’s offense even touched the football.

Joshua Dobbs had the reigns of the Steelers’ offense to start the game, and announced his presence with authority after he hit James Washington for a 44-yard completion on the second offensive play of the game. However, a second down sack after the big play pushed the Steelers out of field goal range, and forced Jordan Berry on for the first punt of the game.

The Buccaneers, this time quarterbacked by Blaine Gabbert, were aided by a roughing the passer penalty on a third down play which kept their drive alive. They are on the cusp of field goal range at the end of the first quarter.

Steelers vs. Buccaneers: First-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 6:02pm
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2019 preseason is here with the Steelers and Buccaneers locking horns in Week 1. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field for the first time in the 2019 preseason as they prepare to face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1 of the preseason.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Which Steelers are you most looking forward to watching vs. the Buccaneers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 3:28pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers make their preseason debut Friday night, and it begs the question who you are excited to watch vs. the Buccaneers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers finally get back on the football field in live game action for the first time in over 200 days. To say there is excitement from the fan base is an understatement. But with the excitement comes the reality this is just a preseason game, and the players who will truly make up the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers will be doing more watching than playing.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t players fans are excited to watch!

There are plenty of players to get excited about watching, and if you have followed the team’s offseason roster, you should be interested throughout the entire game. Players are playing for their professional lives starting tonight, and with that brings plenty of pressure.

Here are the players I’m looking forward to watching Friday night, but I want to know who you are excited to watch? Let us know in the comment section below and be a part of the conversation!

Marcus Allen, Safety

Allen was injured almost all of the 2018 preseason, and I am excited to see what a healthy Allen can do. The team sure could use the depth at safety.

Ola Adeniyi, OLB

The hype surrounding Ola has been palpable so far throughout training camp. Can Adeniyi put an exclamation point on his work in Week 1?

Chris Boswell, K

Boswell had a horrible 2018 season, that is well documented, and there is a lot riding on this preseason. His job with the Steelers, a hefty bonus — yeah, there is pressure on Boswell to perform. I’m excited to see how he handles it all.

Joshua Dobbs, QB

He will get the nod with any starters who will be playing, and his solid play, or lack thereof, will be half of the battle for Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges to claim the backup spot. If Dobbs has a poor outing, it opens the door for the other two signal callers.

James Washington, WR

Washington had a rough rookie season, but will he learn from those experiences and turn them into big plays in 2019? Week 1 is a big stepping stone for the Oklahoma State product.

The 2019 Rookie Class

There were 9 drafted rookies by the Steelers in the 2019 NFL Draft, and I am excited to watch all of them play in Week 1. Devin Bush, Benny Snell Jr., Isaiah Buggs...all of them. Keep them on your radar the entire game to see how they represent themselves on the professional stage for the first time.

Predicting which Steelers will sit out Week 1 of the preseason against Tampa Bay

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 2:44pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Although there is no set number of players who must sit out, there are certain to be a number of Steelers players who will not play Friday night

With no injury report in the preseason, the best gauge for predicting which Steelers will sit out Week 1 of the preseason is a combination of practice participation and years played. While only one player has been ruled out, there are bound to be several players not dress against the Buccaneers.

Here are the possibilities of players you might get the night off against Tampa Bay:

Definitely:

QB Ben Roethlisberger- Coach Tomlin already ruled Roethlisberger out for this week. If he wanted to save his breath, Tomlin should have gone ahead and ruled him out next week as well.

Most Likely:

C Maurkice Pouncey- The last time Pouncey was on the field was when he left practice last Sunday evening during Family Fest. While no injury has been reported of any significance, Pouncey missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday so he is very unlikely to play.

G Ramon Foster- Much like Pouncey, Foster did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday either. With ten years under his belt, Foster has no need to dress this early in the preseason.

LB Vince Williams- Since he hasn’t practiced since Friday Night Lights due to a hamstring injury, it’s difficult to envision a reasonable explanation for Williams to suit up.

S Sean Davis- After leaving the first padded practice with an injured finger, Sean Davis has gradually been working his way back. Rather than tear open the wound, Davis is better off waiting another week.

CB Joe Haden- Steelers Nation got a scare on Wednesday when a report surfaced about Haden being carted off the field. Although it appears to be a minor injury due to having his foot stepped on, there is no reason to push him back for this game.

Possibly:

CB Artie Burns- Another injury casualty from Family Fest, Burns is more likely to try to play than the other veterans even though he has missed the week of practice.

WR Diontae Johnson- There may be some “broken record” syndrome going on as Johnson also left the Family Fest practice early due to an injury and has yet to return. If he is recovered at all, he could dress and see very limited action.

LB T.J. Watt- Coming off of PUP on Sunday, Watt has been progressing back at a moderate pace. With only a few practices under his belt, Watt would be better off staying out of action.

OT Alejandro Villanueva- Cutting practice short both Tuesday and Wednesday, Villanueva was seen with different body parts wrapped each day. If he’s dealing with multiple ailments, Big Al should just take it easy.

Unlikely:

Any player with less than one year of experience will most likely take the field against the Buccaneers unless they were drafted in the first three rounds. All other young players are in danger of being waived/injured if they are unable to play.

Final Thoughts:

With no limit to who can dress, I would not be surprised if players like T.J. Watt, Artie Burns and Sean Davis are dressed and go though warm ups in order to get some extra work but do not play in the game. If Diontae Johnson is well enough to be in uniform, he should get at least a few plays just to get his feet wet. Other players who weren’t listed such as James Conner and David DeCastro may very well be held out as well.

Who do you think will sit out Friday? Was there someone missing from the list? Feel free to leave a comment with your list of players we won’t see this week.

BTSC Contest Winner: A first time trip to Heinz Field, Part 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 1:43pm
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The winner of two game tickets form the BTSC giveaway used the opportunity to make the long journey to Pittsburgh

When I was given the opportunity to give away 2 tickets to the Steelers first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one stipulation both editor Jeff Hartman and myself agreed on was the winner had to be willing to go to the game. With it being a preseason contest where several Steelers superstars were likely to sit out, we never expected the winner to come from somewhere outside of the general Pittsburgh area.

Boy, were we wrong.

BTSC user Derek Chadwick, known on the site as Dchad72, was the first person to correctly identify the exact stat we were searching for with an answer of “88.” While Derek was one of many users who submitted a correct stat which totaled 88, he used his second chance each person was given to dig a little deeper and find the number. For those of you who are interested, the correct answer of 88 was the number of receptions by Steelers running backs in 2018.

When I contacted Derek to make sure he had a BTSC user ID and was eligible to win the contest, I was surprised to find out he lives in Canada! Even with a 5-hour drive to the game, Derek thought it was a great chance for him and his wife to come spend a weekend in the Steel City.

I asked Derek to give me some information about himself and a little history about his Steelers fandom.

“I heard about contest through the BTSC site, I’ve been following the site for at least 5 years now and have found it to be a great all-in-one spot for all things Steelers. I’ve been a Steelers fan since 1977-78. The Steelers were always on TV in the area and because I was a young kid I recognized a lot of players from my morning kids shows. Good or bad, its Steelers always.”

Like many others who entered, Derek had been reading the site for a long time but never signed up for an ID until he heard about the contest.

Derek also offered up some information about his trip. “I would just like to thank BTSC for the contest, and I’m looking forward to my first visit to Heinz Field and a chance to eat an authentic Primanti Bros. sandwich!”

Discovering this would be his first trip to Heinz Field, I naturally asked Derek where he was from. “Windsor, Ontario. Across from Detroit,” he answered. “We had NFL events for Superbowl XL. Windsor and Detroit were little Pittsburgh that whole week. It was great.”

Although it is Derek’s first game at Heinz Field, it wasn’t his first scheduled trip to see the Steelers.

“The only time I had tickets I had to give them away. November 1995 a buddy and I purchased Bengals-Steelers tickets in Cincy for a trip with our dads. My oldest daughter was less than 2 months old and my wife at the time was sick. That was the huge second half from “Slash” game. I watched on TV seeing the fans take over Riverfront Stadium. My buddy comes back and couldn’t believe the number of fans there and all the Steeler tailgating.”

While Derek is grateful to get the tickets, he’s hopeful this will not be his last game.

“I’ll still look to get in a regular season game soon.”

Make sure you check back to Behind The Steel Curtain to see the rest of Derek’s journey to Heinz Field.

Crunching the Numbers: Steelers Preseason Week 1 goals vs. the Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 12:29pm
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When winning the game isn’t the most important task, what other outcomes would make for a desirable result?

It’s only the preseason.

As much as Steelers fans are itching to see a win Friday night, wining the game is merely an added bonus in the eyes of the coaching staff. Instead, there are so many other results they are looking for other than the score. In the regular season, a player’s fantastic performance can be overshadowed by a loss. In the preseason, individual and team performances take precedence over the scoreboard.

So if winning isn’t everything for the preseason, what should fans look for to determine if the Steelers were successful against the Buccaneers?

I compiled some statistics from the 2018 preseason in order to have a baseline of comparison. The Steelers went 3-1 last preseason, so the statics led to a successful (but not perfect) record. Using those stats, let’s look at a few categories to help determine our expectations for Friday’s game.

30.0

The Steelers averaged exactly 30 points a game last preseason, eclipsing the mark in three of the four games. Surprisingly, one of the 30+ point games was a loss to the Green Bay Packers. If the Steelers can put up 30 points or more against the Buccaneers, I will be more than satisfied with their point output. Frankly, I believe 24 or more would be a good night.

9

The Steelers averaged nine penalties a game in the 2018 preseason. They were actually pretty consistent with three games with eight penalties and one (their loss) with 12. If the Steelers can have less than 9 accepted penalties, the play will not be considered too sloppy, even at this early stage of the season.

19

The Steelers averaged 19 first downs last preseason, with their lowest being 17 and the highest being 20. While scoring on long plays can distort this statistic, being able to grind out a long drive at various points in the game would be very telling. If the Steelers can get to 20 or more first downs, the offense as a whole will most likely be considered a success,

1/+1

The most likely way the Steelers can reach 20 first downs but not be considered a success is if they don’t finish drives by turning the ball over. It’s probably too much to expect a team who only had their first practice 2 weeks before the game to play mistake-free football. But in 2018 the Steelers avearged exactly one turnover each preseason game while finishing with an average of a plus-one turnover margin. Being the first game, I’m fine with a couple turnovers, just as long as the turnover margin stays at zero or slides into the positives.

97.75

One thing Steelers fans are looking forward to against Tampa Bay is the squad of young running backs who should see action. While they didn’t average 100 yards rushing, the Steelers were pretty close last preseason with 97.75 yards. Seeing the team go over the century mark would be great, but don’t be surprised if no one back gets more than 60 yards in the game due to restricted carries. While looking at each players yardage is good, if any individual rushes for over five yards per carry they should be labeled as having a great night.

So there are some numbers to use as a measuring stick for the Steelers first game of the 2019 preseason. Which number would you most like to see the Steelers reach? Is there another one you’re looking for? Please leave your answers in the comments below!

Bold and Bizarre predictions for Steelers vs. Buccaneers, Preseason Week 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 11:05am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Much to the chagrin of most, BTSC’s Nostradumbass predicts the Steelers’ initial preseason game of 2019 vs. the Buccaneers.

The Steelers return after an excruciatingly-long lay-off to return home and battle the Bucs. Will James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster play more than a series? Will Sutton Smith make noticeable impact? Did Mike Tomlin alter his coaching philosophies at all?

With these questions, storylines, and more, I’ve compiled a list of predictions (some basic, and some utterly idiotic) to look for in this preseason contest:

  • Unlike the offspring of Oakland’s new No. 84, Ben Roethlisberger’s kids don’t ask where Antonio Brown is.
  • Along with Roethlisberger, Joe Haden, T.J. Watt and Maurkice Pouncey do not see action Week 1.
  • Just like Ryan Shazier’s 2014 Heinz Field debut, Devin Bush intercepts a pass and electrifies the home crowd.
  • Newly-minted shades pitchman JuJu Smith-Schuster scores a TD and repels up to the press box to hand out Oakley sunglasses to members of the media. Ed Bouchette seems unimpressed with the new PRIZM technology.
  • Benny Snell Jr. and Jaylen Samuels both score on touchdown runs. Well neither rusher gets the upper hand, Snell racks up more yardage.
  • Since his Jets played on Thursday at MetLife Stadium, Le’Veon Bell takes an Uber to the Steel City and performs his latest single “Miss me yet?” for confused patrons at Pizza Fiesta just trying not to get sauce on their sombreros.
  • A revitalized Steelers defense racks up four sacks.
  • Both James Washington and Terrell Edmunds significantly improve from their rookie campaigns and shine in a big way. Washington makes five grabs, while Edmunds picks off a pass.
  • A yinzer carries in a sign that has something to do with “cold feet” regarding a certain and infamous Steelers WR from yesteryear and his cryogenic chamber mishaps.
  • In an imperfect but still palatable contest, the Steelers prevail 21-17. During his post-game press conference, Coach T answers every question by refusing to paint with a “broad brush”.
  • Bruce Arians snubs Mike Tomlin during the postgame handshakes because of his sustained grudge against the man that canned him.

Will any of this actually happen? I’ll bet at least one or two. Heck, maybe every one of them. Be sure to post your predictions — basic or bizarre — below.

Pittsburgh Steelers Fact or Fiction: Preseason Week 1 Edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 9:47am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

BTSC takes five bold statements surrounding the current state of the team and labels them as Fact or Fiction.

With members of the Pittsburgh Steelers getting ready to do battle against Bruce Arians and his Tampa Bay Bucs on Friday at Heinz Field, the narrative of the ‘19 campaign continues with speculation and excitement galore. BTSC anticipates big storylines and issues bold statements regarding each one of them. Let’s take a look and deem them as fact or fiction.

Kevin Colbert’s one year at a time contract status is a bigger deal than most people think.

Fact

If the Steelers GM was truly dedicated to remaining in Pittsburgh long-term, he wouldn’t be keeping his options open and taking it one year at a time. Sure Colbert could retire, but he could do that without penalty while in the middle of a deal. Bill Cowher did, There have been whispers in the media of Colbert joining the Carolina Panthers under David Tepper’s ownership, but that could be just speculation. But nonetheless, the year-by-year plan seems suspect at this time.

With James Conner entrenched at the position, RB Bennie Snell Jr. won’t ever be a feature performer in the Steel City.

Fiction

Snell has the makings and pedigree to start at running back in the NFL and it very well could be in the Steel City. James Conner is the clear-cut starter and injuries could be a factor in the Kentucky Wildcat possibly emerging. However, No. 30’s contract will be expiring at the same time as those of T.J. Watt and JuJu Smith-Schuster. In this day and age of the NFL, it might be really tough to retain the services of all three Pro Bowlers at the same juncture. If Benny Snell Football is a hit, No. 24 could benefit from that scenario.

Outside Linebacker and not Tight End is the chief depth concern in Pittsburgh.

Fiction

I previously thought outside linebacker was the biggest concern in Pittsburgh, especially when TJ Watt went down early in the preseason. I previously thought outside linebacker was the biggest concern in Pittsburgh, especially when TJ Watt went down early in the preseason. However, Vance McDonald has not always been the most healthy of players. If something happens to No. 89, Xavier Grimble and unproven/unheralded Zach Gentry are the next men up and that doesn’t exactly seem promising. The depth behind T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree is not exactly awesome with the prospect of Anthony Chickillo maybe having to start in case of emergency. But Ola Adeniyi is impressing and some see him starting possibly in the future. I feel we need to see No. 92 do more than rush the passer before anointing him the next James Harrison.

Quarterback Devlin Hodges is not a long shot to make the Steelers.

Fact

This guy from Samford is the most prolific passer in FCS history after breaking Steve McNair’s 24-year all-time passing record last year. 14,566 yards through the air isn’t anything to sneeze at. A small-statured QB from a small school that runs a spread offense surely has a ton of obstacles to face. However, Hodges seems like he has the skills and the heart to overcome the odds. With questions surrounding Joshua Dobbs after last year’s Oakland debacle, Hodges will get the chance to impress in exhibition action.

Zach Banner shouldn’t be a forgotten man on the offensive line.

Fact

The 6’8”/360-pound OT from USC protected Sam Darnold at USC and may have seen less playing time last year after not spending a full camp in Pittsburgh last year. But the son of Lincoln Kennedy has impressed in camp and is now listed second to starter Matt Feiler at RT. He could be a contender on a deep line.

Will these statements identify more as, to quote Bill Murray as John Winger in Stripes, “That’s a fact...Jack!” or will they identify more with the Albert Camus quote “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”? What matters most is your opinions on the matter. Please state them in the comments below.

Off the beaten path: 5 Steelers to watch vs. the Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 8:31am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who should you be watching when the Steelers host the Buccaneers in Week 1 of the NFL Preseason? My list might not be the same as yours...

Devin Bush, Matt Feiler, Donte Moncrief, and the two backup quarterbacks will be the hot takes for most Pittsburgh Steelers fans — not me. Not going to deny I am excited to see how they play, but I want to dive deeper into the roster and look at guys who may play more. Pouring through the stats from the Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles for the first preseason game in 2018, some deeper depth players received substantial playing time compared to players further up the depth chart. James Conner received four carries while Fitzgerald Toussaint and Stevan Ridley accounted for 16 totes total. James Washington had two catches while Damoun Patterson snared six. While two of them did not make the final roster, fans were treated to their first glimpse at Ola Adeniyi. Adeniyi played a lot during the game and totaled two tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble.

So, let’s get to the five players I am going to be watching Friday night:

QB Devlin Hodges

The first of the five players I am excited to view is Devlin Hodges. There is no sugar coating how Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph have struggled in training camp while Hodges has shown some prowess that led him to be the all-time NCAA leading passer. Has he done most of his damage against players who will be out of the NFL in a month? Yes, same as he did when he padded his stats at Samford in college. Hodges at 6’1 211 has not embarrassed himself at training camp. Has he made mistakes? Absolutely, but he has not crumbled after making the mistakes.

Wanting to see Hodges does not mean I am burying Dobbs or Rudolph, more of wanting to see him in the live game action. What I worry about is that head coach Mike Tomlin is going to only want to see what the team has in their former draft picks and not an undrafted player. I really want to see Hodges given a quarter to play. Hard to say if he will play against anyone but camp bodies that late in the game. At least it would give us fans the opportunity to see his mechanics and decision making.

WR Dionate Spencer

A few months ago I wrote an introductory article about wideout Diontae Spencer and his dream to play in the NFL after playing in the CFL the past four seasons. Who does not want to see how a player who stands 5’8 and weighs 163 pounds who owns the all-time game records for all-purpose yards (496)? Spencer has had some concentration drops but has also blazed his 4.34 speed that helped him make the CFL-East All-Star squad the past two seasons. The burning question is can he make the 53-man roster without securing one or both of the return man duties? Where does he sit in the pecking order in both return duties and slot wide receiver? That is what Is on my mind. Right now I project him making the final roster. Will he make you forget that he played in the CFL the past few years or show you he deserved to be playing in the NFL already?

OL Damian Prince

Damian Prince is also another player I did an introductory article on and liked what I saw on tape and other evaluations. Prince has been buried on the depth chart and I have not read many positives on him in camp. The 6’4 and 317 pounder out of Maryland has a tough path not only to meaningful playing time in the preseason but also a chance to make the 53-man roster. Tonight in the time to shine with offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins struggles so far in camp according to multiple reports. Can he keep a clean pocket and open up holes while limiting mistakes that get the coach’s attention in a negative way?

NT Daniel McCullers

Nose tackle Dan McCullers is the first of two defensive players I really want to see. No groaning and growling. Big Dan has remained on the team since 2014 for a reason. Okay, for several reasons but the first is he performs well in training camp and is not a complete liability in limited regular-season snaps. The second reason is Pittsburgh has not seen a reason to upgrade him. The team trusts him and sees his value. That value could be tested at the end of the season when I expect Javon Hargrave to bolt to another team for a substantial raise and over 50% of the playing time.

Do I want to see McCullers starting next season? No, no, and no! But I would not mind having him around to mentor and not have some rookie or free agent have to compete or getting pointers from the likes of Lavon Hooks next season. I do not mind that McCullers is not flashy and will never be. I like the fact that he eats up a huge amount of space in the middle and is somewhat nimble for a man over 350 pounds.

Kameron Kelly/P.J. Locke

I had to rewrite this section as I just read about Kameron Kelly being leapfrogged yesterday by P.J. Locke III in practice. I still want to see Kelly, but I also want to see how Locke performs. I have not read a lot about the former Texas product. I just shy away from wanting to see any defensive player out of the Big 12. Since 2017, only five defensive backs have been drafted from the conference. None in 2019 and the highest one was the 99th overall in 2017. (Rasul Douglas).

The Steelers safety depth is just plain worrisome. Right now how many Steelers fans want to see Jordan Dangerfield or Marcus Allen in sub-packages? Morgan Burnett was in on 37% of the snaps last year, most of which were ineffective. While many will point out that inside linebacker Mark Barron is a former safety, I should also note it the Los Angeles Rams moved him because of his poor coverage skills. Who fills those sub-packages? Devin Bush, an unproven rookie? Cam Sutton or Mike Hilton moved out of their normal position? Can Locke relieve some angst with sub-packages being so prevalent?

...

I was really wanting to see Artie Burns or Brian Allen play, but the cornerback corps are decimated by injuries and not overly thrilled to see any of the longshot guys. Another player I was really excited to see was running back Ralph Webb. Unfortunately, Webb was injured in practice and waived/released on Thursday. Was hearing a lot of good things from camp about him.

I am just looking to dig deeper than the normal players that will get all the media hype. The rookies, Barron, Moncrief and the quarterbacks. Depth, subpackage players, and special teams are important too.

Any of the lesser name players you will keep an eye out for tonight? Please tell us who and why in the comments section below.

The Buccaneers are a good first test for Devin Bush, Mark Barron and the success of the 2019 Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 7:17am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers will face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday night, and it will be a good first test for the black-and-gold.

One of the Steelers biggest defensive weaknesses last year was being attacked over the middle of the field. Vince Williams and Jon Bostic were both limited defenders in coverage and opposing offenses had success attacking both LBs and rookie Safety Terrell Edmunds with TEs.

As Terrell Edmunds improved and L.J. Fort started taking more snaps from the ILBs and Morgan Burnett the targets to TEs decreased.

In the first 5 games opposing TEs were targeted 56 times for 524 yards, over 11 times per game. The rest of the season TEs would be targeted 55 times for 444 yards. The Steelers gave up 90+ yards to the opposing teams TEs 4 times, going 1-3 in those games. The only win was in Tampa Bay, when the defense gave up 106 yards and a TD to OJ Howard and Cameron Brate, but also intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick 3 times and scored a defensive TD in a 3-point win.

But as the defense slowed down the TE yardage by taking out run stopping LBs, teams started running on the Steelers more. The last 7 games of the year show really well that the Steelers couldn’t stop both TEs and the run game. From Week 10 on, the Steelers gave up 666 yards on the ground to any team not named the Raiders. That’s 111 yards per game. The other 10 games the Steelers gave up an average of 87.2 yards per game. At the same time, they held TEs to 116 yards total in those 6 games, less that 20 yards per game. And that includes Rob Gronkowski. In Oakland they ran for only 55 yards, but TE Jared Cook had 116 yards.

Over the entire season the defense proved it could not defend the run and TEs at the same time.

No small wonder then the Steelers signed Mark Barron and drafted Devin Bush. Two fast LBs that are much better in coverage than Jon Bostic, while being able to play the run better than the Safeties used in place of the LBs to try to improve coverage.

Why does all this matter for Preseason Week 1?

Enter the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, OJ Howard and Cameron Brate, who combined for 106 yards and a TD against the Steelers last season, and who now are coached by Bruce Arians and his offense that OJ Howard described as being very TE friendly.

Even better is the vanilla defense used in preseason games, which should give us some very clear examples of how well Devin Bush and Mark Barron can improve the defense’s ability to run defend and cover TEs in the same game.

That is a very important thing. Because last season the Steelers were 1-3 when opposing TE’s gained 90+ yards, and were 2-2-1 when opposing teams ran for over 100 yards. The Chiefs were the only game where both happened, which means the team went 3-4-1 when giving up 90+ yards to TEs or 100+ on the ground. When neither happened, when the defense held TEs to reasonable yards and didn’t give up 100 yards rushing, the Steelers were 6-2.

The path to making the Steelers 53-man roster lies with special teams play

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 6:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

While fans may be focused on offensive output and defensive stops, the coaching staff will be critiquing the special teams in order to fill out the Steelers’ roster

The Pittsburgh Steelers are about to step on to the natural surface of Heinz Field to square off against a new opponent for the first time in over seven months. While the reason the NFL plays four preseason games is to give more players a chance to make the final roster, there are a limited number of plays each game for players to show what they can do in their primary role should they make the team. While many of these players will be spotted on the field Friday night, especially during the second half, it will be the few plays on special teams which will give them the greatest opportunity to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

Don’t get me wrong, players need to show they can perform as capable back-ups at their designated positions on offense or defense in order to be considered to make the squad. But if two players at the same position are fighting for one last spot on the team, special teams will ultimately be the deciding factor. So don’t go grab a beverage every time the Steelers line up to punt this preseason, because you might be missing a key play in determining who is going to earn a number for their helmet.

There are some interesting numbers to help determine how special teams play shapes the roster. In 2018, there were 56 players who played at least one regular-season snap for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Remember players such as Mason Rudolph and Zach Banner where on the 53-man roster all season but do not qualify since they never took the field. Of these 56 players, 14 of them played the majority of their snaps on special teams. This equates to exactly 25% of the players who logged snaps in 2018.

While 14 players with the Steelers where primarily special teams players, they certainly all weren’t used every game. Matt McCrane kicked in one game for an injured Chris Boswell. Players such as Brian Allen, Matthew Thomas, Trey Edmunds, and Nat Burhe were only on the active roster part of the season. On the other hand, Marcus Allen and Olasunkamni Adeniyi did not make this list because they actually played a few more snaps on defense than on special teams in their very limited action. So determining the number of active players who primarily played special teams each game is not an exact science.

If going with the figure of 25%, approximately 13 positions on the Steelers 2019 roster will be filled by players whose primary role is special teams. After subtracting the three specialists (kicker, punter, and long-snapper), there are 10 positions left, with probably only six or seven being active on game day.

Last season, the Steelers had six players who would be considered “core” special teams guys. These are players who played more special teams than their listed position, and they each logged over 200 special-teams snaps. Of those six players, four are still with the team in 2019.

In Wednesday’s press conference, Coach Mike Tomlin addressed these four players.

“I feel like we’ve got great veteran presence on our special teams units. With guys like Tyler (Matakevich), and Rosie (Nix), and (Anthony) Chickillo, and (Jordan) Dangerfield, and others who have been core components of our unit still returning. Younger players who contributed in a big way last year like (Terrell) Edmunds. I’m comfortable with that unit and I’m looking for some young guys to work their way into the fray.”

To be specific, the Steelers lost their snap leader on special teams in L.J. Fort along with veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey. So while a core group of special-teams players are still in the mix, there is an opportunity for players to make the team and earn a helmet on game day.

“Some guys have displayed some skills that might be in line with that. It will be interesting to see them perform,” Tomlin added.

What has yet to be determined is how players are going to be given an opportunity to show their special-teams ability during preseason games. In the 2018 regular season, the Steelers averaged less than 29 special team plays per game. With so many players fighting for so few plays, Coach Tomlin stated he won’t be giving those snaps to his veteran special-teamers.

“Some of the guys that have been around, like I mentioned earlier, that we know have an established skill set in that area you won’t see playing (special) teams in a game because we’re so interested in what some of those younger guys- some of those unknown guys- are capable of. I know that Tyler can cover a punt. I know Rosie can cover a kick. Et cetera, et cetera. You won’t see those guys doing that on Friday night.”

So what path does a young player take to earn a spot on the Steelers roster? First of all, they’ve got to make the most of their special teams opportunities. If a player hasn’t been given a chance in those situations, they need to shine at their regular position in order to get noticed. If a player is being considered to earn a spot within their position group, you can guarantee they will be given plenty of opportunities to show their special teams talents.

So make sure you are glued to your TV set by 7:30 PM Friday night! If you miss the opening kickoff, it might just be the play which makes or breaks a player when it comes to their future with the Steelers.

Podcast: Previewing the Steelers Preseason Week 1 game vs. the Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 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 upon us!! With the Pittsburgh Steelers now in training camp, 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 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:

  • News and Notes
  • Steelers News
  • Steelers vs. Buccaneers Preview
  • The ever popular Either/Or segment
  • 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.

Black and Gold Links: Is the Steelers’ defense going to be their calling card in 2019?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 4:30am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers returned to the gridiron this week when they reported back to training camp. With practices underway, the news surrounding the black-and-gold is just starting to heat up. As the team returns from their summer break, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the season starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at if the Steelers defense, not the offense, will be driving the team back to the postseason in 2019.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense has been their calling card for years, but is the defense on the verge of taking over the reigns?

With LeVeon Bell, Antonio Brown gone, will ‘D’ again be Steelers identity?

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

For each of the past five seasons, the Steelers have had a better ranking in total offense than in total defense. How rare is that for a franchise far more identified for its defense? The Steelers’ ‘D’ ranked higher than its offense 58 of the previous 74 seasons, according to pro-football-reference.com.

But is the defense ready to reclaim its role? The gap seems to be beginning to close.

The Steelers ranked sixth in yards allowed last season (the offense, fourth), and by far the biggest additions to the roster were on defense: free-agent signings Mark Barron and Steven Nelson and No. 10 overall draft pick Devin Bush.

The offense lost two All-Pro talents in Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.

Can the defense make a leap to one of the league’s best?

“Yeah,” outside linebacker Bud Dupree said, “because of the additions … We’ve kind of all meshed together.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Don’t look now, but Matt Feiler is running away with the right tackle position.

Steelers’ Matt Feiler pulling away with starting right tackle job

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

It was billed as the lone winner-take-all starting position battle during this Pittsburgh Steelers training camp.

But has Matt Feiler’s strong play on the practice fields of Saint Vincent already rendered the Steelers’ starting right tackle verdict moot?

The man with perhaps the most input into that decision smiled when asked that question.

“You know,” new offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett said, “Matt’s done a heck of a job in camp. He’s competed at a high level, and he’s done everything he can do. In my mind right now he’s leading the pack at the starting right tackle position.

“With that being said, the competition is not over yet — we haven’t played a preseason game yet.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • For those expecting to see the team challenge Chris Boswell in the preseason, it seems as if he will just split time with Matthew Wright.

No extended look for Boswell in preseason opener

By: Dale Lolley, DKPittsburghSports

A big part of the Steelers’ struggles in 2018 could be summed up in the issues placekicker Chris Boswell suffered through.

A year after making 92 percent of his field goal attempts and earning his first trip to the Pro Bowl, Boswell was miserable in 2018, making just 65 percent of his field goals. His 12 misses -- including five PATs -- were among the worst in the league and were just one fewer than he had in his first three seasons combined.

The Steelers put Boswell on notice late last season that his job could be in jeopardy by working out three veteran kickers before sticking with the struggling incumbent.

They also have given rookie Matthew Wright solid opportunities to beat out Boswell for the placekicking job throughout the offseason and into training camp here at Saint Vincent College.

Apparently, that will continue into their preseason opener Friday night against the Buccaneers. Mike Tomlin said Wednesday the team will alternate placekickers in the game against Tampa Bay, giving each man presumably equal opportunity to show what they can do in a game setting.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

#LIVE: The crew brings you to #SteelersCamp to talk about today’s practice, preview our game vs. the Buccaneers and more. https://t.co/DU2ZLmmUPm

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 7, 2019

.@KDPomp & @CharlieBatch16 give you all the details on how to watch our first preseason game of 2019. @KDKA pic.twitter.com/7a90HWvNEg

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 7, 2019

Another solid week of work pic.twitter.com/EbqM99N9TS

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 7, 2019

All love for #SteelersNation.@TeamJuJu pic.twitter.com/yNcY25VBbh

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 7, 2019

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers! Ima be just fine

— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) August 8, 2019

#TFW we play football tomorrow pic.twitter.com/VVWNbkxRpy

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 8, 2019

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