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5 Steelers Burning Questions heading into the Preseason opener vs. the Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 1:42pm
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have their first game action of 2019 on Friday night, and there are some questions that need to be answered.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will open up their preseason schedule this Friday night when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Heinz Field in Week 1 action. The preseason is tough for football fans to wrap their heads around. It is football, but only in a round about kind of way.

For the Steelers, who finished 2018 a disappointing 9-6-1 and outside of the playoff race, there are a lot of questions surrounding this 2019 team. The players who have come, and gone, are well-documented, but how will this team gel? How will the product look when they step in between those white lines?

The first step of the process is the first preseason game when former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians brings his Tamp Bay Buccaneers to town. There are some questions which need to be answered, and you can feel free to do so in the comment section below!

Let’s get to the burning questions...

1. Which starters will see playing time?

Mike Tomlin ruled out Ben Roethlisberger, but that was it. Who else will play, and how long will they play? Sean Davis said he won’t be playing due to the injury to his finger, but it will be interesting to see how long players like James Conner and the offensive line are in the game Friday.

2. How will the rookies handle their first NFL action?

The Steelers’ 9 player 2019 NFL Draft class will have plenty of time to make believers out of the coaches and fans, but will they live up to their draft designation? Or will they leave plenty to be desired?

3. The rules changes put in place, how will they impact the game?

There are some big rule changes in the NFL in 2019, none larger than the pass interference rule change. Will this severely impact the game? Or be just another blip on the radar?

4. Exactly how much stock can you put into one preseason game? Especially since there is no longer a cut down from 90 to 75 players?

When I think about any level of excitement for a Week 1 preseason game, I always ask myself how much stock do coaches put into one preseason game. Fans are accustomed to putting a lot of stock into every game, because when you only have 16 games it becomes habit to take every game as do-or-die. Week 1 is just one of four preseason games, but for those on the roster bubble every rep will count.

5. Will a change in style/coaching be evident this early on?

On my Steelers Burning Question podcast last night (you can hear it below this article) I asked what a perfect performance would look like for the Steelers in Week 1? Will a new style/coaching be evident? Will the offense be spread out? Will a fullback be utilized more? Will the defense tackle better and create more turnovers? It might just be one game, and there is no game planning during these games, but you have to wonder if Mike Tomlin is ready to make an impression on his bosses, and the fan base, even in Week 1 of the preseason.

Steelers add yet another cornerback to their roster before the Buccaneers game Friday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 12:08pm
Photo By Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images

The Steelers’ offseason roster continues to change leading up to their first preseason game.

The 90-man, or 91-man in Pittsburgh’s case, offseason roster is a fluid one. Players are added and released almost weekly as teams try to fill out a roster without playing their starters too much.

For the Steelers, who will be resting a lot of starters this Friday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they are adding depth to their secondary heading into Week 1. The depth they have added is in the form of cornerback Trevon Mathis.

This per the Steelers’ official Twitter account:

We have signed CB Trevon Mathis and waived/injured RB Ralph Webb.@BordasLaw TRANSACTION: https://t.co/Q1pZiQI7l9 pic.twitter.com/71SDgYHT1Y

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 8, 2019

Mathis was signed by the Minneosta Vikings as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2018 out of Toledo before being released by the team. To create room for Mathis on the roster the Steelers have released/waived injured running back Ralph Webb.

Mathis will join fellow Toledo players like Ola Adeniyi and Dionate Johnson in black-and-gold in hopes of solidifying his NFL career in Pittsburgh.

As for Webb, he had a promising offseason where he was drawing positive reviews from teammates and media alike, but an injured designation likely means he will be without work until he is healthy and cleared to play again.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for their first preseason action this Friday night at Heinz Field.

6 things to watch in the Steelers vs. Buccaneers Week 1 Preseason game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 11:02am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Steelers are set to take on the Buccanneers Friday night at Heinz Field in the first preseason of 2019. Here is a list of things for fans to look for.

The Steelers are set to take on the Buccaneers in their first preseason game of 2019. Obviously, very few starters are going to play, Friday night, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to watch for.

Below are six of those things.

Devin Bush

I think Bush is a fairly obvious inclusion on any list of things to look for in the very first preseason game. The Steelers took a very unSteelers-like approach to acquiring Bush when they traded three premium draft picks to the Broncos in-order to move up 10 spots in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Can Bush truly be that difference-maker at inside linebacker the defense has lacked since Ryan Shazier was lost with a devastating spinal injury late in the 2017 season? We won’t know that answer by Friday, and you can often read too much into a preseason performance. But let’s just say it wouldn’t hurt the moral of Steelers fans if Bush had a professional football debut on par with that of T.J. Watt, who recorded a couple of quarterback sacks against the Giants two summers ago.

How incomplete passes will be handled now that pass interference is going to be a part of the replay challenge system in 2019

To challenge or not to challenge, that will be the dilemma for head coaches regarding any incomplete pass that does or does not result in a flag for pass interference in 2019. Following some egregious calls and non-calls that may have affected the results of a few very important games a season ago, the NFL decided to give its head coaches the right to challenge any incomplete pass that they feel should or shouldn’t have resulted in a pass interference penalty. Would a coach risk a challenge on such a play, especially early in a game? Coaches will still only have two challenges at their disposal, so it will be interesting to see how aggressive they are with this new rule. What I find really intriguing, however (and, quite frankly, a little alarming), is the prospect of every incomplete pass inside two minutes of each half now being ripe for automatic review. I don’t have to tell you how nerve-wracking that could be for fans, especially those whose favorite team’s defense just came up with a huge stop on fourth down late in the fourth quarter. Yikes.

Chris Boswell

Yes, as I wrote the other day, Boswell performing well in any setting that isn’t a regular season game doesn’t really tell me a whole heck of a lot. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be interesting to see how he responds in game-like conditions to the first true adversity of his career.

Fred Johnson, who the heck is he, and how did he get so tall?

Thanks to some recent buzz, I know who Johnson is, he’s an undrafted guard from Florida. As for how he got to be so tall (6’7” to be exact)? That’s a question perhaps best answered after examining his family tree. I won’t be examining Johnson’s family tree, but I would like to watch him perform against the Buccaneers, especially since, according to the Trib’s Chris Adamski, he’s the only rookie offensive lineman that has gotten consistent second team reps at training camp—and at both guard and tackle. I must admit I’m a big believer in whatever it is the Steelers have been doing with their project-type offensive linemen—Chris Hubbard, B.J. Finney, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, etc.—since Mike Munchak began coaching the hogs several years ago. Does Shaun Sarrett, Munchak’s understudy who took over the unit after the latter departed for Denver, have that same magic touch? If he does, maybe he’ll start by doing some great things with Johnson.

The evolution of Mason Rudolph as an NFL quarterback

I don’t think it’s a huge secret that Rudolph, the second-year man the Steelers selected in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, is expected to win the backup quarterback role this summer. But will he show enough during the preseason to beat out third-year man Joshua Dobbs? There hasn’t been a ton of buzz about Rudolph so far in camp, other than the usual cliches about him feeling and looking more comfortable in the offense than he did during his rookie year. It remains to be seen how the first, second and third-team reps will be divided up between Dobbs and Rudolph during the preseason, but if it’s a true competition for the backup spot, they should be split pretty evenly over the course of the four games. And if it is a true competition, does this mean Dobbs has a legit shot of retaining his role? At any rate, it will be interesting to see how much Rudolph has evolved as a quarterback from his rookie season.

Is Isaiah Buggs good enough to make the team?

If you Google Isaiah Buggs, the Alabama defensive end the Steelers selected in the sixth round this past spring, you’ll find a lot of positive news about his potential. That’s understandable. Buggs did play his final two seasons at a college football powerhouse—THE college football powerhouse—and performed really well in the process—including 9.5 sacks in his senior year. The smart money is on Buggs finally pushing big Daniel McCullers, who seems to have maxed out whatever potential he may have had when he was drafted in 2014, off the roster. But can he?

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they not only head through the preseason, but throughout the 2019 regular season.

8 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin during his formal press conference on Wednesday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 9:20am
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Tomlin answered questions after his scheduled press conference previewing the upcoming game with Tampa Bay

At the end of his weekly press conference on Wednesday before the Pittisburgh Steelers took the field for practice, head coach Mike Tomlin answered questions from the media. Coach Tomlin was asked questions about specific players in regards to their recent play and their role in the upcoming game. This list isn’t to suggest these players were the only ones who stood out, but highlights players which Tomlin was asked questions.

Devlin Hodges

this time it's Devlin Hodges finding Johnny Holton deep down the field for a big gain #Steelers

— Tony Serino - Locked On Steelers (@steelercountry) August 7, 2019

If it seems as if Mike Tomlin has been asked more questions about fourth-string quarterback Devlin Hodges than Ben Roethlisberger or any of the other Steelers quarterbacks, it’s because it’s true. After struggling early in camp, Hodges has come on strong as of late and is making the push for more playing time on Friday.

After clearing up any confusion by stating Joshua Dobbs will start followed by Mason Rudolph, Coach Tomlin was asked if they will get to Hodges for some playing time on Friday and what all he has seen that he liked.

“The moments out here haven’t been to big for him. Obviously, the confines of a stadium are different. We’d like to get him some play. We’ll see how the flow of the game goes. We’re working with the intentions of doing that, but sometimes things unfold a little bit differently once you get inside the stadium. So those are the intentions. He’s been deserving of the opportunity. I’m sure he’ll get it here this week or the next.”

Chris Boswell

Through 11 practices the Steelers placekicking battle looks like this:
✅Chris Boswell 28 of 29.
✅Matthew Wright 24 of 28.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) August 7, 2019

Many Steelers’ fans believe if Chris Boswell would have had a better 2018 season, the Steelers would have been in the playoffs. The numbers support this conclusion, but luckily the training camp numbers appear to be much improved from last season.

Coach Tomlin was asked how he will distribute the kicking opportunities as it pertains to Boswell.

“Our intentions right now is to go every other kick regardless of circumstance. We’ve done that out here. You guys have felt that, whether it’s punting or kicking, and that’s our intentions as we go into the stadium.”

Tomlin was later asked another question about Boswell and his performance so far this preseason.

“He’s been solid, but we haven’t done anything yet. We’re stepping into a stadium for the first time. That’s exciting. We put him in some situations out here, but we’re just beginning to unfold the story line in terms of the consistency there, not only for him but for all of those guys.”

Olasunkanmi Adeniyi

Ola blows up an attempted reverse. Mason tried to block him but quickly thought better of it #Steelers

— Tony Serino - Locked On Steelers (@steelercountry) August 3, 2019

In the absence of T.J. Watt, Ola Adeniyi has taken his opportunity and ran with it. Even with Watt’s return, Ola has earned a significant amount of playing time for Friday night.

Coach Tomlin was asked if he viewed this as Ola’s second year since he played so little in 2018 due to injury.

“I don’t view this as his second year. He didn’t play enough. He’s done some nice things here and displayed growth and development. Obviously, he’s been a part of the program, so there’s some benefits from that perspective in terms of knowing expectations and understanding environments and know the turns in the road so forth that first-timers don’t. But he doesn’t have enough playing experience- on-field playing experience- for that to be a real asset to him. I think he’s preparing with that in mind.”

Devin Bush

Some thoughts from @steelers camp after my visit there Wednesday:
1. The young WRs are promising, but Donte Moncrief sounds like the front-runner for WR2 at this point.
2. Rookie LB Devin Bush is impressing the… https://t.co/onpgKNHxgr

— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) August 8, 2019

It would be safe to say that the biggest thing Steelers’ fans are looking forward to Friday night is the debut of Devin Bush. After all, he is the highest draft pick the Steelers have selected since Plaxico Burress in 2000.

Coach Tomlin was asked about the excitement around the debut of Bush and how they are planning to use him.

“We’re going to determine that. Obviously, he’s going to play. We’re still in the process of determining how much. It really kind of depends on his overall readiness and health, and the health of those around him. Such is like this time of year. It’s very fluid from a day-to-day availability standpoint. That’s why I’m not going to make and hard and fast determinations about who’s playing and who’s not from a health standpoint. I’m just going to leave the light on for everyone.”

Jaylen Samuels

Ben to Samuels on a slant for a TD #Steelers

— Tony Serino - Locked On Steelers (@steelercountry) August 7, 2019

With all the hype around Benny Snell coming out of training camp, Jaylen Samuels is sometimes the forgotten running back in line to make the 53-man roster, Putting up 142 yards against the Patriots in Week 15 last season. Samuels has shown he is a capable back up.

Coach Tomlin was asked if Samuels has carried over some of the things he was doing well at the end of last season.

“Yes he has. But really it just starts with the overall level of conditioning. There’s a significant difference in his level of conditioning in this setting this year as opposed to least year. And it’s reasonable to expect that. The same could be said about James Washington. But I think it’s a springboard for both guys and others in their class to get an increased level of production and consistency. I’ve gotten that from him.”

James Washington

Dobbs completed a 15 yard out to Washington who showed off a nice toe tap. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 4, 2019

The player who might have the highest expectations to make the largest second-year jump is wide reliever James Washington. It took Washington a long time to get acclimated to the NFL last season, but if he can hit the ground running come Week 1 of the regular season, the Steelers should be blessed to have great options to choose from in receiver-heavy packages.

Coach Tomlin was asked about what he sees from Washington on the practice field and how he can transition that into a game.

“All second-year guys that applies to. He’s done some good things out here. It’s going to be a great opportunity for him on Friday night in the stadium as it will be for others.”

Sean Davis

Sean Davis: “I want to be a full participant by next week. That’s my goal.” #Steelers

— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) August 7, 2019

Trying to fight his way back from an injured finger, Sean Davis is entering a contract year if he does not work out an extension with the Steelers by the beginning of the regular season. With the depth at safety a concern entering training camp, getting Davis back onto the field would be a much-welcomed addition.

Coach Tomlin was asked if Davis is needing more reps or if he’s been held out practice as a precaution.

“It’s not a precaution. He had an open wound on his hand and it had to heal. He’s just starting to work his way back to us. He needs the work- they all need the work.”

JuJu Smith-Schuster

On a broken play Ben lobbed a pass over the middle with Barron tightly on Juju, Juju pulls it down with the ball pinned to his helmet. #dkps #Steelers

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 7, 2019

Although some have be doubting his ability to function effectively as a number one receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster is primed to have a monster season. If other receivers can emerge to help draw off some coverage, JuJu should be able to be in Pro Bowl form again in 2019.

Coach Tomlin was asked if he can replicate the coverage in practice that JuJu is going to see during the regular season.

“I’m not worried about what others do, or what others might do from a game-planning standpoint. We just have to put our pieces in place. We’re at the stage of development where we just need to learn what it is that we’re doing and be where it is that we need to be and make the necessary plays. That’s further down the road, to be quite honest with you. I’m not going to make any assumptions about how anyone’s going to play him or us at this juncture. Really, it’s about his and our growth and development.

Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here:

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin previews our game vs. the Buccaneers. https://t.co/cS6F5Ereue

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 7, 2019

Steelers 2019 Training Camp Recap: Fans get final glimpse of Steelers before Buccaneers game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 8:05am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers were back on the gridiron for another training camp practice, and we’ve got the recap for you!

The Pittsburgh Steelers have over a week of training camp practices under their belt now, and while there are times it is still considered “football in shorts”, the team has had plenty of news coming from these workouts heading into the preseason.

With the team’s first preseason game this Friday, the Steelers continued to put the final touches on their preparation for the upcoming exhibition game. Wednesday’s practice was also the final time fans will get to see the team before their game vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday at Heinz Field.

The team will practice Thursday, but it will be closed to the public. Nonetheless, there was news, outside of Joe Haden’s mysterious/not-so-serious injury, and it is now time to dive into that news...

Seven Shots

Offense wins...again. Is this drill just a formality anymore? While there are occasions where the outcome is disputed, a quarterback sack or a player out of bounds, but the Steelers offense has dominated the defense in this goal-line drill. If my memory serves me, the defense has only won this drill one time, and Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t participating on that day. This is an aspect of the team I am anxious to see on Friday night.

Offense wins seven shots, 4-3. Roethlisberger went after Bush three straight times for TDs. But Kam Kelly ends it with an interception against Rudolph on a pass intended for Kevin Rader. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 7, 2019

P.J. Locke sighting

When the Steelers signed former Texas Longhorn safety P.J. Locke, everyone thought he could be a depth piece on a team needing help at the safety position. However, throughout training camp there has been little-to-no news surrounding Locke...until Wednesday. During the Seven Shots drill, it was Locke, and not Kameron Kelly, filling in for Sean Davis. Locke got an opportunity, but whether he seized that opportunity is up for debate.

Undrafted free agent PJ Locke took the 1st-team reps at free safety for Seven Shots today. Sean Davis still out with finger dislocation. Kam Kelly has taken his place with starters every practice since. Kelly was 2nd team today; he had an INT.

— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) August 7, 2019

Boswell remains strong

Chris Boswell is, and should, remain a focal point of training camp. His success, or failure, will determine how the team handles his hefty contract/bonus at the end of the preseason. If the early portions of camp are any indication, Boswell has been rock solid, and he had another good performance on Wednesday.

Mike Tomlin did say Boswell and Matthew Wright will alternate kicks on Friday night at Heinz Field.

Boswell a perfect 6 for 6 including 52

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) August 7, 2019

Lot of pop in Chris Boswell’s leg today, bombing several thru from 53 that woulda been good from 60

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) August 7, 2019

Zach Banner impressing

Leading up to training camp everyone was talking about the right tackle battle between Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor and Jerald Hawkins. But there was another player no one was talking about, but was on the 53-man roster last year, and that is none other than the mountain of a man named Zach Banner.

Wednesday, it was made clear the depth at tackle involves Banner. Banner has drawn positive comments from Mike Tomlin, and with each poor practice Jerald Hawkins has it seems Banner might be paving his way to the 53-man roster for a second straight season.

Tomlin looking what he’s seeing out of Zach Banner. He goes up against Watt and stuffs a solid swim move. “OK 72!” Banner looking really good. #Steelers #dkps

— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) August 7, 2019

Glimpse into QB rotation throughout preseason

If you are a fan who was trying to draw conclusions into Joshua Dobbs starting the game Friday night, think again. Tomlin typically gives his most seasoned backup the start in Week 1. He did this for Landry Jones, and is doing the same with Dobbs. What will be interesting to see is how he handles Weeks 2 and 3 with Dobbs and Mason Rudolph. Nonetheless, Rudolph spoke with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler recently and gave an outline as to what the team might be thinking as the preseason progresses, in regards to the quarterback rotation.

With QB Dosh Dobbs starting Steelers' first preseason game, Mason Rudolph told me recently he wouldn't be surprised if all three backups, including Devlin Hodges, start a preseason game. "Probably somewhat like lsat year but I don't care, I'm ready to play and execute."

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 7, 2019 PODCASTS VIDEOS

#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

He'll still catch it @JamesConner_ pic.twitter.com/pNeAktaspJ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 7, 2019

1️⃣1️⃣@drm_12 pic.twitter.com/hqo5b9KgdH

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 7, 2019

#SteelersNation@Chickillo56 pic.twitter.com/CqoKv5ILek

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 7, 2019 PHOTOS

Receivers getting work in with assistant strength and conditioning coach/camp arm Marcel Pastoor #steelers #dkps pic.twitter.com/XBJJ7WdRHd

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 7, 2019

An updated look at the Steelers 91-man training camp roster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 6:50am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Another roster move on Tuesday created another change for the Steelers in 2019

As training camp continues, there may be some names who are unfamiliar to some Steelers fans. As a guide, here is a breakdown of the Steelers entire roster by position with their jersey numbers. With the Steelers receiving an international exemption, 91 players can be carried into training camp. The number of players kept (in parentheses) on the Steelers initial 53-man roster in 2018 have been noted for reference.

(Editor’s Note: Every time the team makes a transaction, we will update the roster to keep you up-to-date on who is still on the 91-man roster.)

Offense

Quarterback (3)

  1. Ben Roethlisberger #7
  2. Joshua Dobbs #5
  3. Mason Rudolph #2
  4. Devlin Hodges #6

Running Back (3)

  1. James Conner #30
  2. Jaylen Samuels #38
  3. Benny Snell Jr #24
  4. Trey Edmunds #33
  5. Ralph Webb #40
  6. Malik Williams #39
  7. Travon McMillian #35

Fullback (1):

  1. Roosevelt Nix #45

Wide Receiver (6)

  1. JuJu Smith-Schuster #19
  2. Donte Moncrief #11
  3. James Washington #13
  4. Diontae Johnson #18
  5. Eli Rogers #17
  6. Ryan Switzer #10
  7. Trey Griffey #15
  8. Johnny Holton #80
  9. Tevin Jones #14
  10. Diontae Spencer #82
  11. Brandon Reilly #83

Tight End (3)

  1. Vance McDonald #89
  2. Xavier Grimble #85
  3. Zach Gentry #81
  4. Kevin Rader #87
  5. Christian Scotland-Williamson #49
  6. Trevor Wood (also LS) #88

Offensive Line (9)

  1. Maurkice Pouncey #53
  2. David DeCastro #66
  3. Ramon Foster #73
  4. Alejandro Villanueva #78
  5. Matt Feiler #71
  6. Chukwuma Okorafor #76
  7. Jerald Hawkins #65
  8. B.J. Finney #67
  9. Zach Banner #72
  10. Derwin Gray #77
  11. Damian Prince #64
  12. Patrick Morris #62
  13. J.C. Hassenauer #60
  14. Garrett Brumfield #68
  15. Fred Johnson #74
Defense

Defensive Line (6)

  1. Cameron Heyward #97
  2. Stephon Tuitt #91
  3. Javon Hargrave #79
  4. Tyson Alualu #94
  5. Daniel McCullers #93
  6. Isaiah Buggs #96
  7. Lavon Hooks #95
  8. Conor Sheehy #61
  9. Winston Craig #64
  10. Casey Sayles #74
  11. Greg Gilmore #65
  12. Henry Mondeaux #72

Outside Linebacker (3)

  1. T.J. Watt #90
  2. Bud Dupree #48
  3. Anthony Chickillo #56
  4. Olasunkanmi Adeniyi #92
  5. Sutton Smith #42
  6. JT Jones #40
  7. Tuzar Skipper #51

Inside Linebacker (5)

  1. Vince Williams #98
  2. Mark Barron #26
  3. Devin Bush #55
  4. Tyler Matakevich #44
  5. Ulysees Gilbert III #54
  6. Robert Spillane #49
  7. Tegray Scales #46
  8. Ryan Shazier (PUP) #50

Cornerback (5)

  1. Joe Haden #23
  2. Steven Nelson #22
  3. Mike Hilton #28
  4. Artie Burns #25
  5. Cameron Sutton #20
  6. Justin Layne #31
  7. Brian Allen #29
  8. Marcelis Branch #39
  9. Jermaine Ponder #33

Safety (6)

  1. Sean Davis #21
  2. Terrell Edmunds #34
  3. Jordan Dangerfield #37
  4. Marcus Allen #27
  5. Kam Kelly #38
  6. Dravon Askew-Henry #41
  7. P.J. Locke #24
Specialists

Placekicker (1)

  1. Chris Boswell #9
  2. Mathew Wright #16

Punter (1)

  1. Jordan Berry #4
  2. Ian Berryman #8

Long Snapper (1)

  1. Kameron Canaday #57
  2. Trevor Wood #88

Offense: 44

Defense: 42 (not including Shazier)

Specialists: 5 (not including Wood)

Total: 91

Podcast: What would a perfect performance in Preseason Week 1 look like?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 6:05am

The Steelers’ 2019 season is officially upon us, and it makes me wonder what a perfect performance in Week 1 of the preseason will look like?

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 preseason is officially upon us, and this begs the question...what would a perfect performance in Week 1 vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look like?

This is a tough question, and one where they can be multiple responses/answers to. This is going to be the talking point in the latest podcast.

Plenty has to be deciphered here, and I lay it all out there for the listeners in the latest show...

Check out the show below, and be sure to comment what you think in the comment section below!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out the YouTube clip here, and be sure to subscribe to our channel by clicking HERE:

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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: Mason Rudolph outlines how he has improved from Year 1 to Year 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 4:54am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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 training camp starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Mason Rudolph discusses how he has improved form his rookie season to his second year.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Mason Rudolph is a very polarizing figure among Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Many view him as the next QB to take the reigns when Ben Roethlisberger retires, while others view him as just another backup. Either way, he has a huge preseason ahead of him.

Steelers’ Mason Rudolph talks about improving his deep ball, teammates’ growth

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

As Pittsburgh Steelers training camp continues, Wednesday’s guest in our “Letters from Camp” podcast at “Breakfast With Benz” is Mason Rudolph.

Perhaps no Steeler will be as scrutinized by the fans during Friday night’s preseason opener as he will be.

Essentially, Rudolph was a redshirt during his rookie season. But after being drafted in the third round out of Oklahoma State, it’s time to see if he can at least grab the backup quarterback job from Josh Dobbs.

Neither Rudolph nor Dobbs have lit up the practice field at Saint Vincent College. But as Rudolph explains, that’s not from a lack of mental growth in the pocket. He says the secondary has had a noticeable jump in competitiveness this year.

One area where Rudolph has focused is refining his footwork — that has been evident this summer.

He also talks about his approach to throwing the deep ball. Rudolph appears to have more zip on deep passes, throwing more on a line, and relying less on that accurate deep ball arc he came to master at Oklahoma State.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Devlin Hodges is making an impression with the Steelers, both on and off the field.

Steelers Inside the Ropes: Devlin ‘Duck Dynasty’ Hodges making plays

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“Let’s go, ‘Duck Dynasty,’ ” coach Mike Tomlin yelled toward his offense on the sidelines before the final drill of Tuesday’s Pittsburgh Steelers practice.

So Devlin Hodges ran into the huddle and took over the hurry-up, late-game simulation between second-teamers.

Earlier in practice and for the second time in recent days, Hodges guided the No. 2s on offense in the seven shots 2-point conversion simulation that opened practice. The No. 4 quarterbacks over the years at Steelers camps don’t always get such opportunities, particularly during a practice in which Ben Roethlisberger and the two others at quarterback are healthy and participating.

That might best exhibit how Hodges is opening eyes. The NCAA’s reigning Division I passing yards per game leader from Samford has shown an accurate arm and a pizzazz in his playmaking ability.

The final play of Tuesday’s practice, for instance, was a sidearm fling to Diontae Spencer in the middle of the field, a deft improvisation for a 6-foot-1 passer who was under siege from a fleet of large pass-rushers.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Antonio Brown is still in the news, this time for freezing his feet to a disgusting point.

Raiders finally acknowledge that Antonio Brown froze his feet in a cryotherapy chamber

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

NFL Films, owned and operated by the NFL (including the Raiders), had nothing to say on Tuesday night’s debut of Hard Knocks regarding the reason for receiver Antonio Brown‘s inability to practice due to foot/feet problems. NFL Network, owned and operated by the NFL (including the Raiders), finally has confirmed that which first was revealed more than 24 hours earlier by Chris Simms on PFT Live.

Unnamed Raiders representative/players/whoever told Ian Rapoport of the NFL that, indeed, Brown injured his feet by entering a cryotherapy chamber without proper footwear.

Rapoport seems to hedge a bit with the report, explaining twice that the Raiders sources are “saying” that’s the reason for the foot/feet problem instead of just saying that, indeed, this is the issue. Maybe he just wanted to create the not-so-subtle impression that the reason for the foot/feet problem wasn’t already reported more than 24 hours earlier. Either way, there should be no skepticism about such a bizarre and specific reason for an injury — especially since the report had surfaced more than 24 hours earlier.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • JuJu puts in work after practice

The NFL Network was in attendance at Saint Vincent College recently, and Michael Irvin had a one-on-one with JuJu Smith-Schuster after practice. Check out how JuJu describes his growing role on the team as a player and a leader.

.@TeamJuju getting in that extra work

: @nflnetwork | @michaelirvin88 pic.twitter.com/clsw0qwBsm

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 7, 2019

James Conner, like JuJu, also spoke with NFL Network’s Michael Irvin, but his talk was more about motivation. As expected, Conner kept it humble.

What's @JamesConner_ 's motivation going into 2019? #SteelersNation @michaelirvin88 finds out pic.twitter.com/KRAoPBPAmP

— NFL Total Access (@NFLTotalAccess) August 6, 2019
  • Social Media Madness

.@francoharrishof days until #SteelersKickoff. pic.twitter.com/mWpWyRwvRM

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 7, 2019

How to watch Steelers vs. Buccaneers: Time, TV Schedule, and game information

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 4:00am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

All the information needed to watch or listen to the Steelers first preseason game this Friday against the Buccaneers at Heinz Field

It may not be football that counts, but exhibition football is better than no football. The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to kick off their 2019 preseason on Friday night when Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers invade Heinz Field in Week 1.

This will be the first chance Steelers fans will have to see their beloved black-and-gold since they capped off the 2018 regular season with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17. While the team that takes the field on Friday night will be a shell of what will be playing in Week 1 of the regular season, there is plenty to be excited about!

Ben Roethlisberger has been the only player ruled out for the upcoming game, but several players, like Sean Davis, are expected to be held out for precautionary reasons. Maybe the most exciting aspect of the upcoming preseason will be the play of the team’s 2019 rookie class. Will Devin Bush rise to the occasion and be a playmaker from Day 1? How will players like Justin Layne and Diontae Johnson get acclimated to life in the NFL?

All of these questions will be answered throughout the team’s four-game preseason. Get all the information you need so you can enjoy the Week 1 showdown below:

Preseason Week 1:

Game: Pittsburgh Steelers vs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Date: Friday August 9

Kickoff: 7:30 P.M. ET

Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

Weather: Live weather update

TV Channel: Broadcast locally on KDKA-Channel 2 with Bob Pompeani and Charlie Batch as commentators with Missi Matthews as the sideline reporter. Check the national broadcast map to see if the game is on in your area.

Outside of the Pittsburgh are: Broadcast LIVE! on NFL Network

Online: NFL Game Pass offers live out-of-market NFL Preseason games and replays of every game during the season with a paid subscription. NFL Game Center will update the action on a play-by-play basis. The Watch NFL Network mobile app on Apple or Andriod will carry the game live for anyone who is subscribed to the NFL Network channel. A login through you TV provider will be required.

Radio: Steeler Nation Radio with Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin, and Craig Wolfley. The broadcast will be live on WDVE 102.5 FM and WBGG 970 AM in the Pittsburgh area or check the list of Steelers Radio Affiliates. Viewers can listen anywhere in the world online via Steelers.com, but the Steelers Official Mobile App does have geographical restrictions.

You can also follow Behind the Steel Curtain on Twitter or in the game thread article to catch all of the highlights. Be sure to check back with BTSC after the game for our post-match roundup, and subscribe to BTSC Steelers Radio on YouTube to catch The Steelers Post Game Show with Jeff Hartman and Lance Williams.

Report: Joe Haden injury labeled as “minor” ankle injury

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 4:11pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered a scare at practice on Wednesday with Joe Haden, but it seemed to be nothing but a false alarm.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, and their fans, avoided a scare Wednesday at training camp when Joe Haden limped off the playing field to be carted up the hill to be further evaluated.

But this is what fans saw from Missi Matthews on Twitter:

Not a good sight: Joe Haden is being carted off the practice field.

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 7, 2019

When you see a main player like Haden’s name and “carted off the practice field”, you immediately fear the worst. Throw in Haden’s unfortunate injury history and it only increased the stress level of the black-and-gold faithful.

Time passed, and few details were released on Haden’s status, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter chimed in with news of the injury being considered a “minor ankle” injury.

Steelers’ CB Joe Haden, who was carted off the practice field today, suffered what is being described as “a minor ankle” injury, per source. Looks like major injury averted.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 7, 2019

If an injury like this is going to happen, before the team has even played a preseason game would be the time for it to happen. Why? Because it might take the injury a week or so to fully heal, and a player like Haden likely won’t be seeing the exhibition field much until Weeks 2 or 3 of the preseason.

The Steelers have remained a relatively healthy team throughout the preseason, and an injury to a vital player like Haden would certainly dampen the growing excitement surrounding the team heading into the 2019 season.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news, notes and injury updates on all things Steelers as they prepare for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night at Heinz Field in Week 1 of the NFL preseason.

Sean Davis’ absence from practice has been precautionary due to an open wound

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 2:24pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t had their starting safety much this preseason, and it has been solely out of precaution.

The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t had their starting safety tandem on the field much this preseason due to Sean Davis being held out of practice due what was originally labeled as a finger dislocation.

This isn’t to suggest Davis’ finger wasn’t dislocated, but during Mike Tomlin’s press conference leading up to the Week 1 Preseason game vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tomlin acknowledged how Davis being left off the practice field was a precaution due to an open wound on his hand.

This per Missi Matthews of Steelers.com:

Coach Tomlin said Sean Davis (finger) hasn't missed time as a precaution..."He had an open wound on his hand"

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 7, 2019

This should calm a small group of Steelers Nation who felt Davis should have been on the field, and it will be a huge detriment to the team not having Davis on the field. While the defense will likely be better with Davis and Edmunds getting as much time together as they can this preseason, it also doesn’t mean Davis was sitting out because he was nursing the injury.

Tomlin didn’t rule out Davis for the preseason game, but Davis told KDKA’s Richie Walsh he isn’t going to play.

Sean Davis said he’s not playing Friday but is ready to get back on the field and start practicing with the team @KDKA

— Rich Walsh KDKA (@RichieWalsh) August 7, 2019

The first step for Davis is to get back on the practice field, not necessarily worry about playing in a meaningless Week 1 preseason game.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Buccaneers to invade Heinz Field this Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Steelers Training Camp 2019: Live news and updates 8/7

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 1:26pm
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and training-camp practices are underway! Follow along with BTSC as the players start to hone their skills and prepare for the 2019 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, and the rabid fans awaiting their chance to watch the Black-and-gold, are prepared for training camp, and that comes with the first day of actual practice. The Steelers are finally back to practicing, and Practice 11 of camp is here!

If you’re stuck at work, or at home, follow along with those on the scene at Saint Vincent College for the best pictures, video and news coming straight from the practice field in Latrobe, PA. Don't miss a minute of the action!

Today's practice is at 2:55 p.m. EST, and is open to the public. Take a look at the training camp schedule below and, as always, follow along with live updates in the Twitter feed below.

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Mike Tomlin: Only Ben Roethlisberger ruled out vs. the Buccaneers Friday night

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 10:56am
James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tomlin addressed the media prior to the Steelers’ first preseason game, and discussed who will, and won’t, be playing Friday night.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now preparing for their first preseason action of 2019 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night at Heinz Field. While fans are excited about seeing the Steelers back on the field for the first time since their 2018 Week 17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, there is a strong chance the team will be a shell of the one you will see when they travel to play the Patriots in Week 1.

Head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the media Wednesday to talk about the upcoming game, and in doing so detailed who will, and won’t, be playing on Friday when Bruce Arians and his team come to town.

To the surprise of many, the only player who was officially ruled out was quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Instead, it will be Joshua Dobbs to get the start under center, with Mason Rudolph following and Devlin Hodges to bring up the final leg of the quarterback team.

Last year not only did the Steelers rotate starts between Dobbs and Rudolph, but they also split time in the first half. Dobbs would play the first quarter, Rudolph the second. With this being a highly contested camp battle, these parameters might change on Friday night.

Other than that, Tomlin stated no player will be excluded from playing due to injury.

Tomlin says nobody will be “excluded” because of injury Friday night #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 7, 2019

However, there is a good chance several starters who have been banged up won’t see the playing field. Some of those would include:

Sean Davis (finger)
T.J. Watt (hamstring)
Maurkice Pouncey (undisclosed)
Alejandro Villanueva (shoulder)
...and possibly others.

In other words, other than Roethlisberger, you will have to tune in Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET to watch the Steelers and Buccaneers kick off to see who is, and isn’t, playing. If you want to see the likes of James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Vance McDonald, you might want to watch the game early because they likely won’t be on the field long, if at all.

Stay tuned to BTSC for more on Tomlin’s press conference, as well as other news surrounding the team heading into Week 1 of the NFL preseason.

To see the full Mike Tomlin press conference, see the video below:

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin previews our game vs. the Buccaneers. https://t.co/cS6F5Ereue

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 7, 2019

How has Devin Bush adapted to life with the Steelers? “He can do everything”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 10:15am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers prized draft pick is adapting to life in black-and-gold just fine.

When Devin Bush likely walked onto campus at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA for the first time, he probably wondered what exactly he was getting himself into. After all, he just left the college life, and was finding himself back in a dormitory going to football practices.

But those feelings likely quickly faded as he realized his dream of playing in the National Football League was finally here. What he quickly realized Sunday at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Fan Fest at Heinz Field was this wasn’t college life, and this wasn’t the Big House at Michigan.

“It was fun,” Bush told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Just to get the atmosphere, get the feel of the fans in the stadium, get to know your way around, where your sideline is, where you do your pregame warmups, it felt like home.”

Still, this was just practice. He still has quite a few things to check off his to-do list. Next up? His first NFL action against another opponent. This will take place on Friday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to Heinz Field in Week 1 of the preseason.

“I’m super excited,” Bush said regarding his debut at Heinz Field.

But throughout his preparation and practices, many fans just want to know how Bush has developed. Is he living up to the hype of a Top 10 pick? Or is he going to follow the Troy Polamalu mold and take a year to develop into a dynamic playmaker?

Who better to ask than his position coach, Jerry Olsavsky.

“That’s the next step [his first preseason game] you have to take,” Olsavsky said Tuesday before practice at Saint Vincent. “How are you in battle? He practiced Sunday at the stadium, so he got familiar with the surroundings. (Now it’s) ‘Hey, what’s it like when (it’s the real thing).’”

Has he impressed in the short time he has spent with the team?

“He’s pretty grown,” Olsavsky said. “That’s the thing. There’s not a lot. He’s doing a real good job of understanding what we’re doing. Sometimes, we switch from day to day. He’s really adaptable. He can do everything. He’s as advertised.”

Bush’s impressions go beyond the coaching staff and even to some teammates. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt has been impressed with how Bush has handled the transition from college to NFL.

“He takes whatever you put on his plate, and he’s doing a great job with it,” Watt said. “He’s also being very aggressive. I’ve very impressed with him.”

All eyes will be on Bush this Friday night when he will not just go against the Buccaneers, but against Devin White, another inside linebacker who was drafted 5 spots ahead of him, 5th overall, out of LSU. Sure, he might not openly admit any angst towards White, but there is no doubt he wants to prove his worth.

It is early, but all signs are Bush is living up to the hype, and getting comfortable in the Steelers’ system.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Buccaneers Friday night at Heinz Field.

Should the Steelers’ Offensive Line be searching for better cohesiveness, or increased quality depth?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 8:45am
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

So far in in training camp, the Steelers offensive line is operating on minimal work with the entire starting unit

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now ten practices into their 15 sessions before breaking camp for the Week 2 preseason game at Heinz Field on Saturday, August 17. Since their tenth practice saw the most players sitting out or leaving early, lack of cohesiveness could become an issue in various position groups. And since the Steelers have been accused of slow starts early in the regular season due to many believing too little playing time has been used for the entire starting unit, there is a concern about the amount of time players will miss.

While it has been expected Ben Roethlisberger has been held out of three practices so far in training camp along with other specific activities even when he is participating, the number of offensive linemen who have been given veterans days off has been somewhat surprising. It’s not that these players are being given rest, it’s the rotation of their off days which could be creating a problem. Out of the 10 practices, the Steelers have only had their entire starting offensive line participate in four of them. Of those four, only half were in full pads.

An argument can be made on either side as to if this philosophy of resting offensive linemen is in the best interest of the entire team. As we look at the main reason on either side, we’ll begin with the bad news first.

Lack of Cohesion

With the exception of the battle for the starting right tackle position, the Steelers have an offensive line which has started together since 2015. While it is believed this group can step in at any moment and be prepared to play together, it would be beneficial to have the entire unit participating in practice more often. As much as a quarterback and wide receiver need to be on the same page in order to have a successful completion, the offensive linemen need to know what the other is thinking and they’re blocking responsibilities in order to be successful. It only takes one blown assignment to cause and easy sack or even a turnover. If the Steelers do manage to hold onto the ball, a negative yardage play can be a drive killer. So it is imperative the offensive line can work together as a cohesive unit.

Developing Quality Depth

With the Steelers “next man up” philosophy when it comes to injuries, it is imperative the Steelers back ups are prepared to enter the game at a moments notice. With veterans being rotated on various days as to not all miss the same practice, there has been an increase in playing time for many different offensive linemen. While developing the starting lineup as a unit is key, is also beneficial to get first-team reps with back ups of various positions.

There is definitely a delicate balance when it comes to having the starting unit ready for the 2019 season while giving quality playing time to the players who must be ready to step in at a moments notice. At this point in training camp, it would be safe to say a number of Steelers offensive linemen have received an opportunity to showcase their skills in practice. But have the starters played enough time together? Until the Steelers take the field in Week 1 of the regular season, it will be difficult to judge. Hopefully the Steelers can shake off some minor injuries to at least have all of their offensive line men available to practice if they see fit.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Do the Steelers need to get their starting offensive line more days of practice together? Or as long as individuals are getting work, is it beneficial for the back ups to continue to get a large number of reps? Let us know your opinion in the poll below.

5 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin after the Steelers’ Tuesday practice

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 7:33am
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Tomlin answered questions from the media following the Steelers’ tenth practice.

Following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ tenth practice in Latrobe on Sunday, head coach Mike Tomlin briefly took questions from the media. Although he expanded his comments when it came to the offensive line to include additional players, Coach Tomlin was asked questions about specific players in regards to their recent play. This list isn’t to suggest these players were the only ones who stood out, but highlights how Tomlin answered the questions.

Chukwuma Okorafor & Matt Feiler

Zach Banner listed ahead of Hawkins at RT behind Feiler on initial Steelers depth chart. Okorafor the backup at LT. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

With Alejandro Villanueva unable to finish practice on Tuesday, the offensive line saw even more shifting of positions than what they originally had due to Maurkice Pouncey and Ramon Foster sitting out. While the battle for the staring right tackle job is believed to be a two-man race between front-runner Matt Feiler and second-year player Chuks Okorafor, there have been times when both players have been on the field and yet neither were at right tackle. In camp, Feiler has seen action at guard while Chuks is currently listed as the backup left tackle on the Steelers’ initial depth chart.

Coach Tomlin was asked how he would move things around on the offensive line with Feiler and Okorafor if Alejandro Villanueva is unable to play.

“We’ve got some interchangeable parts. We’ve got a lot of young guys that are vying for roles. And part of that is to make yourself versatile. We’ve got tackles playing right and left. We’ve got tackles playing guard and tackle. I think you saw Fred Johnson play guard and tackle today. Versatility is big for situations such as that and we call on guys to show what they’re capable of. It’s no different than a game day for us. Most of the time we’ve got seven or eight offensive linemen suited in a regular in-season game, so those two or three backups got to have some versatility. Someone’s got to be snap capable, they’ve got to be a guard. The tackle’s got to be versatile. Such is life in the National Football League. And opportunities like this really highlights that versatility.”

Devlin Hodges

Devlin Hodges gets a shot at same circumstances as Rudolph. But working against the 2s. Completes 8 straight passes, including a nice 15-yarder to Kevin Rader. But his final pass to Diontae Spencer from the 8 doesn't get into the end zone and time runs out #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

The last time Devlin Hodges was brought up in Mike Tomlin’s press conference, he had yet to get an opportunity to participate in the “seven shots” drill. Since then, Hodges has seen an increase in playing time in all quarterback activities. With the nickname “Duck Dynasty,” Hodges is hoping to impress enough to carve out enough playing time in the Steelers’ preseason games to showcase his talents across the league.

Coach Tomlin was asked if Hodges had been showing him something in order to get more practice time than the typical fourth-string quarterback.

“He’s getting some opportunities. He’s going to get some opportunities I think you refer to him as a fourth arm but every man here is a man that has a legitimate opportunity. Particularly so when Ben (Roethlisberger) is the quarterback because you know there is going to be regular scheduled days off and increased opportunity for others. So we’re not taking his presence for granted, and neither is he.”

B.J. Finney & Company

No Pouncey today along with Foster. So Okorafor at RT, Finney at C, Feiler at LG #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

During the 2019 off season, many believed it would be extremely difficult for the Steelers to keep both Ramon Foster and B.J. Finney. In a surprise move, the Steelers retained both players and Finney has returned to his role as a backup for the interior of the offensive line. Getting the occasional spot start, Finney has showed his value in stepping in wherever he is needed whithout the rest of the line missing a beat.

Coach Tomlin was asked about the the value of Finney’s versatility along the interior of the offensive line. Tomlin expanded his answer to include a large portion of the linemen.

“I think that just comes with the territory. B.J. is valued in that way, but you know you can mention a lot of guys. Matt Feiler has been playing both guard spots along with his tackle position, Fred Johnson I mentioned earlier. A lot of the tackles are rolling right and left: Hawk (Jerald Hawkins), Zach Banner, Chuks (Okorafor). Versatility is big in the offensive line. It has to be.”

Kameron Kelly

Mason Rudolph leads 2-minute offense. 1:47 remaining from his own 38. One timeout. Got the ball to the 25, but clock runs out on three straight incompletions. One to James Washington. Two to Eli Rogers. Last pass broken up by Kameron Kelly #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

With Sean Davis just beginning his return from an injured finger, Kam Kelly has been the biggest beneficiary of the void in Davis’ playing time. While Kelly has run with the first team a lot in Davis’ absence, he was surprisingly listed as third on the depth chart at free safety behind Marcus Allen. Perhaps it is a gentle reminder Mike Tomlin puts no value in the preseason depth chart he is required to release since he typically lists the players in terms of experience.

Coach Tomlin was asked about how Kelly has jumped out at him with the extra playing time he’s been given.

“It’s due to the injury to Sean Davis. He’s getting an increased opportunity. It’s kind of what I was talking about. The thing I will say about him is he’s proven to be ready for the opportunity. He’s highly conditioned; he’s making good use of it. That’s just an example of what I was talking about when you get an opportunity to step up due to others.”

Mike Tomlin’s full media session can be seen here:

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following today's practice. https://t.co/VhMGpu3NJj

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2019

Steelers 2019 Training Camp Recap: Steelers get one last physical practice in before Friday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 6:27am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Steelers were back on the gridiron for another training camp practice, and we’ve got the recap for you!

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had over a week of training camp practices under their belt now, and while there are times it is still considered “football in shorts”, the team has had plenty of news coming from these workouts.

Tuesday’s practice marked the last time the Steelers likely don pads at practice before they play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field this Friday night. Wednesday the team will practice, likely in shells, and then Thursday will be their walk-through before the game Friday night.

In other words, Tuesday’s practice was the last bit of hitting the Steelers will get in before they finally get to hit someone not wearing a black-and-gold uniform.

With that said, there was plenty of news coming from training camp, so let’s take a look at what went down.

Highlights of 11-on-11 play

The Steelers had plenty of 11-on-11 play during practice, and here were some highlights, for players like Benny Snell Jr., and lowlights, for players like Jerald Hawkins. Thanks to Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports for keeping fans informed as practice went on.

Benny Snell with a nice 20-yardish run off left guard tackle on inside run drill. Kevin Rader follows with a long catch down the sideline #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

Tuitt just put a bull rush on Hawkins that drove him past the QB and to the ground #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

Isaiah Buggs just threw a punch at Patrick Morris is the second noticeable in the trenches confrontation of Steelers camp.

— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) August 6, 2019

Hawkins run over again, this time at left tackle by Dupree #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

Dangerfield and Haden with nice pbus, but Teryl Austin yelling that he wants the pick #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

Two-Minute Drill

The Steelers didn’t just go 11-on-11, but finished practice with the ever famous 2-minute drill. Take a look at how quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges fared in this last minute situation.

Mason Rudolph leads 2-minute offense. 1:47 remaining from his own 38. One timeout. Got the ball to the 25, but clock runs out on three straight incompletions. One to James Washington. Two to Eli Rogers. Last pass broken up by Kameron Kelly #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

Devlin Hodges gets a shot at same circumstances as Rudolph. But working against the 2s. Completes 8 straight passes, including a nice 15-yarder to Kevin Rader. But his final pass to Diontae Spencer from the 8 doesn't get into the end zone and time runs out #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

Walking wounded update

The injuries continue to mount, but as stated the other day, there is no cause for concern...yet.

Sutton Smith out today. He has a wrap on his midsection #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

Conner and Nix out today. Probably for last day in full pads #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

No Vince Williams today, either #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

No Pouncey today along with Foster. So Okorafor at RT, Finney at C, Feiler at LG #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

Artie Burns and Diontae Johnson our today. Sean Davis back in uniform #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

Short day for Davis. He’s in tennis shoes now. Also, Rookie Diontae Johnson (groin) is not practicing today.

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 6, 2019

Seven Shots

For those scoring at home, this means the Steelers’ defense has won just one of these drills since the start of training camp. I’m not sure if this is more of a ringing endorsement for the offense, or poor performances by the defense. You be the judge...

Offense dominated seven shots. Wins 5-1-1. Got an offsides but Roethlisberger couldn’t find a receiver and threw it away. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

Feiler gets a nice little pay day

A little known fact occurred for right tackle Matt Feiler. Due to him starting 10 games in 2018, he earned an extra $555,000 on his base salary. A nice little bump in pay for the man most are expecting to anchor the right side of the line in 2019.

This per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Because he started 10 games while earning $555,000 in base salary in 2018, RT Matt Feiler received an extra $285,600 in performance-based pay from the NFL last season. The payout is part of the CBA that compensates players based on their playing time and salary level.

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) August 6, 2019

JuJu and Santonio

Throughout training camp the Pittsburgh Steelers organization has had some of their alumni come back every day to meet and greet with fans, and to sign autographs. Most former players mingle with the team before and after practice, and on Tuesday it was Santonio Holmes sharing some pointers with JuJu Smith-Schuster after practice.

This per Mark Kaboly of The Athletic:

JuJu Smith-Schuster spent a good 20 minutes getting tips from Santonio Holmes after practice. Then he went down to the Juggs machine to get in his catches

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) August 6, 2019 VIDEOS

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following today's practice. https://t.co/VhMGpu3NJj

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2019

.@Missi_Matthews sends it down to @BobLabriola & @CraigWolfley for a practice report, where they talk about how today went for the offense & defense, Matt Feiler and more. pic.twitter.com/Wweo1bnDac

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2019

Matt Feiler speaks about competition, continuing to focus on his technique and more. pic.twitter.com/aThvAGHR45

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2019

.@Switz with the snag pic.twitter.com/1ux5izmHy7

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2019

Putting in that work

@justfollowZae23 pic.twitter.com/Y6nxo1szTF

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2019

What he said @TeamJuJu pic.twitter.com/4w2MzQ5ikb

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2019

.@_TJWatt checking in pic.twitter.com/EwUNWgyHH0

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2019 PHOTOS

The linebackers are ready for action #Steelers #dkps pic.twitter.com/tmQq6hGp4U

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 6, 2019

Lucas, age 4, at @steelers training camp today passing out Terrible Towels to other kids as Random Acts of Kindness in memory of his brother, Toby❤️ Can he get a shout out, @TeamJuJu @JamesConner_ @_BigBen7 @WTAE @RyanRecker @mikeclarkWTAE ? #thelittlefoxfoundation #PGHPa pic.twitter.com/k3wfipmLeq

— Katie Stern (@ktystern) August 6, 2019

Same thing every day - @JamesConner_ and @TeamJuJu delivering smiles. pic.twitter.com/Rufvjc7GS1

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 6, 2019

Podcast: Goals for the Steelers in Preseason Week 1 vs. the Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 5:30am

In the latest BTSC podcast, our Steelers ‘Stat Geek’ breaks down the numbers surrounding the black-and-gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is just starting, and the news is just starting to heat up. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Stat Geek. On this show deputy editor Dave Schofield breaks down all things Steelers stats, and also answers questions from fans!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Training Camp Notes
  • Statistical goals for the Steelers in preseason Week 1 vs. the Buccaneers
  • Steelers Q&A

Dave walks 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: Versatility the name of the game for the Steelers’ offensive line

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 4:26am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/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 training camp starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line, versatility is the most important factor among the group.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers are known for drafting wide receivers, but let’s not forget their ability to turn offensive linemen into versatile tools in their tool shed.

Kevin Gorman: Steelers place a premium value on versatility of B.J. Finney on O-line

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

B.J. Finney doesn’t describe himself as a starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers, even if his offensive linemates include him when talking about their top six instead of front five.

Then again, Finney doesn’t even describe himself as a center or a guard. Why bother when there is a chance that he could play any of the three interior positions?

“You can’t really focus on it,” said Finney, who started two games at right guard last season but played in all 16. “When you’re not a starter, the more things you can do the better chance you are of having a job. So you do everything that’s asked of you and then some to try and make sure if an opportunity comes out of left field, you’re ready for that opportunity.”

Instead, Finney just describes himself like this: ready to roll. He takes pride in being a player who won’t hold the Steelers back, one who prevents a drastic drop-off when a starter goes out. And there is a chance Finney could start in a pinch at center, left guard or right guard sometime this season.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • When it comes to what has stood out so far at Pittsburgh Steelers’ Training Camp, there is a common theme with the answers from the players.

A look at what’s stood out

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

But when asked what has stood out to them through the first wave of training camp, and they were given the option to make it about an individual, everyone pointed to one thing – the team. And with the way this training camp has been going, that is no surprise.

There is definitely a theme in the answers below to what stood out.

Receiver James Washington:

“I would say the team aspect. Offense and defense, we are a lot closer this year. You see us chatting it up in between periods. Offense and defense messing around with each other. We had it last year, but I am seeing a lot more of it this year. That makes you want to be here with those guys, joke around all the time. Even sitting around outside after snack, everyone talking, sharing stories, rapping. It just makes it fun.”

Defensive end Stephon Tuitt:

“Everybody worked out hard before they got here, and everyone came to work.”

Center Maurkice Pouncey:

“It’s the chemistry. Everyone seems like they are enjoying football right now. The daily grind gets to you sometimes, but whenever you are having fun with the guys it’s always good.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • HBO’s Hard Knocks show debuted last night, and a sneak peek of the first episode showed a situation where Antonio Brown’s kids were asking their dad, “Where’s Roethlisberger?”

At Raiders practice, Antonio Brown’s son asks, “Where’s Roethlisberger?”

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

Thanks to a case of frozen feet, Raiders receiver Antonio Brown hasn’t been at practice much during training camp. On one of the days he participated, he had three young sons present.

As revealed in a clip disseminated by HBO from tonight’s debut episode of Hard Knocks, one of Brown’s sons asks his dad an important question: “Where’s Roethlisberger?”

“He plays with the Steelers,” Antonio Brown says. “Our quarterback [is] Derek now. We don’t play with Roethlisberger no more.”

Brown then tries to ensure that all three of his sons know the name of his current quarterback as well as they know the name of his former one.

“We play with Derek Carr,” Brown says. “That’s my quarterback. You know his name? What’s his name?”

“Derek Carter?” another one of them says.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Looking for a new home? How about Ben Roethlisberger’s $2.3 million dollar Pittsburgh mansion??

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s Hampton mansion for sale for $2.3 million

By: Emily Balser, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

If you’re in the market for a new mansion and have about $2.3 million to spend, Ben Roethlisberger’s house in Hampton could be yours.

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is selling the gated, 5-acre estate that includes eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a six-car garage, home theater, wine cellar and game room, according to the realty listing on the Berkshire Hathaway website.

The mansion features a two-story kitchen, children’s library, a high-definition golf simulator and playroom with a slide. A spiral staircase leads to a lookout on the third floor.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

.@Missi_Matthews sends it down to @BobLabriola & @CraigWolfley for a practice report, where they talk about how today went for the offense & defense, Matt Feiler and more. pic.twitter.com/Wweo1bnDac

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2019

Matt Feiler speaks about competition, continuing to focus on his technique and more. pic.twitter.com/aThvAGHR45

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2019

That helmet looks great on you, Lucas! https://t.co/xjADQV7LAc pic.twitter.com/a1rpuygGc1

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 7, 2019

.@Switz with the snag pic.twitter.com/1ux5izmHy7

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2019

Same thing every day - @JamesConner_ and @TeamJuJu delivering smiles. pic.twitter.com/Rufvjc7GS1

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 6, 2019

Steelers Depth Chart: Few surprises heading into Preseason Week 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 5:18pm
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers released their first depth chart of 2019, and there were few surprises on the latest list.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are well over a week into training camp, and are preparing for their first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field this Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. One of the moving parts for all NFL teams starting prior to Week 1 of the preseason, and every week after that, is to release a depth chart.

Preseason depth charts should be taken with a giant grain of salt, but there are a few things we can glean from the first depth chart of 2019. But before getting into the details, it should be noted Mike Tomlin openly has stated he doesn’t take these charts too seriously. In fact, it is more of a formality than a real gauge of a player’s progress with the team thus far.

With that said, let’s get to the depth chart (you can see the complete depth chart by clicking HERE):

Offense Defense Specialists

Just to reiterate, the Steelers, and more importantly Mike Tomlin, don’t take the first preseason game depth chart very serious. However, Mike Tomlin will address the media Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. ET and will likely discuss this depth chart more in depth at that time.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field this Friday.

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