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Distribution Map: Check out if you will get to see the Steelers vs. Bengals game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/11/2022 - 5:30am

The Steelers are playing the Bengals in Week 1. Will you get to see it?

If you were like me, before I decided to sign up for the DirecTV Sunday Ticket package every week I was wondering whether I’d be able to watch my beloved Steelers in the comfort of my own home, or if I’d have to go elsewhere to watch the game.

Before there were websites devoted to this, it meant a lengthy trip on the television guide screen to see which game was scheduled to air, but now it’s just a click away.

So, will you get to see the Steelers and the Bengals go head-to-head in Week 1? Check out which games you’ll see in your local viewing area.

For those who want to know which game they’ll see, check the map below, courtesy of 506 Sports:

RED: Steelers at Bengals
BLUE: Patriots at Dolphins
GREEN: Ravens at Jets
ORANGE: Colts at Texans
YELLOW: Browns at Panthers

So, are you lucky enough to be able to watch the game live in your own home, or are you one of many who will have to find other means to view the game? Either way, today is the day to get pumped!!

HERE WE GO!!

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/11/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

Steelers 2022 is ongoing and we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said or typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

Steelers Touchdown Under: For better or for worse? The Steelers 2022 season is here

The 2022 NFL season is here, with the Steelers kicking off their campaign against in-division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. What can Steelers fans expect from specific players and key positions amongst a refreshed group the Black and Gold? Join Matty Peverell and Mark Davison who will share their predictions for the Steelers’ performances in 2022, as they bring a global perspective to how the Steelers can achieve success and chase a seventh Lombardi.

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • For better or for worse? The Steelers 2022 season is here
  • A BAD guest

Listen to the show below

Tune into the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts.

We Run the North: Who get’s out of the AFC North gate early?

The start of the NFL season is finally here, and teams need a fast start in order ton not fall behind early. Who will get out of the gate quickly? Join BTSC’s Kevin Tate and his AFC North Crew featuring Brandon Herriott, Chay Williams, and Pay Saunders as they break down the division after the two weeks of preseason for the Browns, Bengals, Ravens and Steelers.

Last Minute Thoughts before the Steelers ‘22 Opener in Cincinnati

There’s always a lot of material rolling trough a Steelers fan’s cranium on Game Day. What’s the injury report telling us? Did something happen that I missed? Am I going to even see the game in my broadcast area? What’s the line if I want to bet my mortgage on the game? At BTSC, we’re no different. Join BTSC with our last minute thoughts as you prepare to wave that Terrible Towel. This week, Dave Schofield gives his last minute thoughts right before the Steelers tangle with the Bengals.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Saturday Night Open Thread: The sun sets on the 2022 offseason...

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/10/2022 - 6:00pm
Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Come and join this merry band of Steelers’ faithful for some lively debate about our Steelers, good food, music, and the merits of the odd cold beverage.

As the preseason comes to an end so does summer for most of us. Is that trade off worth it, is a question that I will leave to your passions.

The kiddies are back in school and weekends for many revert running errands like groceries, taxing those kids to practice or games, and after church (?) FOOTBALL!!!!!

Yes, kiss those 90 degree days goodbye say hello to the pigskin. No more fighting over prolonged bedtimes instead you can fight over what to pack in their lunch!

Anyway you slice it, we have a very interesting season ready to play out in front of our collective eyes!

HERE WE GO!

  1. Without Ben Roethlisberger my confidence in late game heroics has taken a huge hit. What will you miss most (or least) about Big Ben?
  2. Speaking of Pittsburgh Steelers QBs... what about Mason? Call your shot now. Do we keep him all season as insurance and a mentor to young Kenny? Do we trade him for a bag of magic beans? More? Does he become a distraction and pull his best impersonation of Deebo?
  3. Outside of the O Line somehow putting it all together quickly what other thing are you hoping will happen to guarantee a playoff birth?
  4. Tomorrow we line up against the team from Cincy. Many of us for years have referred to them as the “bungals”. Did last year convince you that they are for real or do they have to prove it all again to make you a real believer?
  5. We haven’t talked music lately and this question always gets some great debate. What is the best cover song ever?

Have a BAD Week: A look back at the Steelers week from a black-and-gold mind

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/10/2022 - 5:17pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

BTSC’s random-thought renegade is back with his bizarre look at the Steelers week that was.

The Steelers’ season ended over seven months ago and a new one is about to begin with the Steelers prepping for their final preseason game. Of course, there’s plenty of news coming out of Latrobe. BTSC continues their recap of the past week’s events for our readers. So, let’s all take a look at the week in the ‘burgh together.

Saturday 9/3

Congratulations to Chris Boswell & Havana on their engagement! pic.twitter.com/sMSmkzA4Ou

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 3, 2022

I thought only punters out-kicked their coverage. But seriously folks, congratulations to a wizard in so many ways. Here’s to Mr. and the future Mrs. Boz.

Sunday 9/4

The #Browns are signing veteran OL Joe Haeg, source says. With RT Jack Conklin working his way back from knee surgery, Haeg provides depth at tackle and he can play guard, too. Haeg met with the #Raiders last week but heads to Cleveland instead.

— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) September 4, 2022

Joe Haeg hooks on in Cleveland and stays in the AFC North. The versatile lineman proved valuable in Pittsburgh, and will with the Browns. Just don’t throw a pass to Joe in the Super Bowl. Wait a second, we’re talking about “The Mistakes by the Lake”. Nothing to worry about here.

Monday 9/5

We have signed S Andrew Adams, CB Josh Jackson and LB Delontae Scott to the practice squad. @BordasLawhttps://t.co/5nzGCvpX9Q

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 5, 2022

There are so many spots these days on it, the practice squad is going to need their own practice squad,

Tuesday 9/6

An immaculate moment. pic.twitter.com/orSRV2M8N9

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 6, 2022

Well deserved, and against the Raiders the day after the 50th anniversary, is awesome. If they would actually wear block numbers that night, it would be perfect.

Wednesday 9/7

Emmanuel Sanders has announced he has retired from the NFL and will retire as a Bronco.

— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 7, 2022

Congratulations to Emmanuel Sanders. It’s fitting that he’s retiring as a Bronco. It’s the only stop in his career where he was great.

Mason Rudolph on if he wants traded: "Those decisions are between my agent and Omar and the front office. I’m going to leave that to those guys. For now I’m on this team and I’ll do the best I can to help these guys prepare and give everything from a mental perspective."

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) September 7, 2022

Translation: Anywhere but here. Even Jacksonville or Baghdad, if they had a NFL team.

Thursday 9/8

Teryl Austin will be on the sidelines and Brian Flores in the press box. Austin said he hasn’t been in the sidelines since 2013. He tried both in the preseason and decided he liked being around the players.

— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) September 8, 2022

It’s like the defensive coordinator can be in two places at once.

Friday 9/9

The #Steelers will honor their late teammate, Dwayne Haskins, by wearing a “3” sticker on their helmets throughout the year. pic.twitter.com/zaSqAJm1hv

— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) September 9, 2022

I love the tribute to both Dwayne Haskins and 9/11. Neither tragedy is something that won’t ever stop hurting.

Lamar Jackson decided to turn down the Ravens’ offer and bet on himself. He now will make $23 million this season and is expected to be franchise tagged after this season. pic.twitter.com/lAuxYCmnbQ

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2022

Lamar may think he’s betting on himself, but it looks like the Ravens organization is holding all of the cards. I’m thinking that they might be playing a different Tammy Wynette song like “D-I-V-O-R-C-E, and not “Stand By Your Man” at M&T real soon.

Diontae Johnson (shoulder) is “ready to go… good to go” for Sunday vs Bengals pic.twitter.com/l2lRwuZiOp

— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) September 9, 2022

Diontae Johnson is key. His presence elevates Claypool, Pickens, and a host of other receivers. Brian Batko tweeted that No, 18 confirmed that he was a full participant in practice today and that he had a cramping issue yesterday. “Man, my foot locked up on me.” Diontae also said that he was a little scared at first but just needs to hydrate. See when your mom tells you to drink lots of water instead of “all that pop n’at”. You should listen. You would think a guy nicknamed “Juice” would know that.

RT Chuks Okorafor (back) said he’s good to go for Sunday and didn’t have any limitations at practice today.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 9, 2022

I never thought that I’d be pumped to have Chuks in the lineup. No matter what you think of his ability, the Steelers need him healthy and on the line.

The BTSC Delorean: Looking back at the most memorable Steelers at Bengals contests

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/10/2022 - 2:00pm
Photo by John Sommers/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A look back at the great Steelers, Bengals rivalry with the most memorable games ever to be played between the two in Cincinnati.

Do the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers have a long and storied history? They do now. The rivalry dates back to 1970, and the series includes 105 games. No matter the record of either team, they both always seem to put on a fantastic show with great storylines attached. The Steelers hold a big advantage in the series with a record of 67-38, including 2 playoff victories over the men in stripes. However, the Bengals are defending AFC Champs and have won three-straight in the rivalry.

Here’s a brief tale of the tape:

Points: Bengals 1,855, Steelers 2,309

Wins: Steelers 67, Bengals 38

Home Record: Steelers 35-17, Bengals 32-21

Shutouts: 2 - Steelers 15, Bengals 0 (10/15/00), Steelers 20, Bengals 0 (10/19/92)

Biggest Win Margin: 11/6/1988 - Bengals 42, Steelers 7

Closest Game: Bengals 17, Steelers 16 (10/12/1980), Steelers 7, Bengals 6 (11/19/1978)

Overtime Games: 4 - Steelers 3-1, Bengals 1-3

Postseason Record: Steelers 2, Bengals 0

Now Let’s take a look at the most memorable games that these two franchises have offered up to the football world in games played in Cincinnati only. We will do the home games come Week 11.

November 22, 1970 - Bengals 34, Steelers 7

After losing three weeks earlier in the first game of this great rivalry, the once 1-6 Bengals would win the rematch at home 34–7 during a seven-game win streak and finish 8-6 to capture the AFC Central crown. Virgil Carter’s three touchdowns (two in the air, one on the ground) and Paul Robinson’s 119 yards and a score beat down the not-quite-yet Men of Steel.

October 10, 1983 - Steelers 24 - Bengals 14

The Steelers had lost four-straight in Riverfront Stadium before a Monday Night affair in 1983 in the Queen CIty. Ken Anderson was five-for-five through the air until disaster struck. Keith Willis’ sack of Anderson was by the facemask and forced No. 14 out of the game. In came Turk Schonert who blew a 14-10 lead in the Fourth Quarter by throwing two pick-sixes, one to Ron Johnson and another to Harvey Clayton. The Steelers had no offensive scores as the defense dominate with a then-record 9 sack performance and a 38-yard fumble recovery for a score by Rick Woods.

November 6, 1988 - Bengals 42, Steelers 7

The Bengals defeated the Steelers 42–7, the largest margin of victory for either team in the series. The Steelers were in the midst of one of their worst seasons in the modern era at a record of 2-7 coming into the contest. The Bengals dominated through the air with Boomer Esiason throwing three touchdown passes, two two Eddie Brown who also had 216 yards receiving. On the ground, the home team was equally menacing with three James Brooks scores and 110 yards on 10 carries for Ickey Woods. Ironically, the Steelers didn’t turnover the football once, but the offensive line allowed four sacks. Bubby Brister’s 9-yard run was the Steelers only score in a dreadful game. Chuck Noll’s team would lose two more before winning three of their last four to finish at 5-11. Meanwhile, Cincy went on to enter, but lose, Super Bowl XXIII that season, their most recent appearance in a Super Bowl until last season.

November 19, 1995 - Steelers 49, Bengals 31

This is one of my most-favorite regular season games in the history of the NFL. With 10:31 remaining in Quarter No. 3, the Bengals were dominating the Steelers thoroughly by the score of 31-13. But Neil O’Donnell and the visiting black and gold finally got things together scoring 36 unanswered. No. 14 threw two of his three touchdown passes to Kordell Stewart and Andre Hastings (Ernie Mills caught one in the First Quarter) with Byron “Bam” Morris reaching the end zone three times on the ground.

January 8, 2006 - Steelers 31, Bengals 17 (2005 AFC Wildcard Playoff Game)

It took 38 seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals to meet for the first-ever postseason matchup between the two division rivals and it was absolutely worth the wait. The division-winning Bengals, with their high-powered offense and staunch defense, were favorites against the sixth-seeded visitors. After Steelers defensive lineman Kimo von Oelhoffen unintentionally rolled into Carson Palmer’s knee on the second play from scrimmage, fortunes didn’t immediately change as the Bengals led 17-7, but 24 unanswered points sent Bill Cowher’s team of destiny to top-seeded Indy and an eventual Lombardi trophy at Super XL.

December 31, 2006 - Steelers 23, Bengals 17 (OT)

A year after they won Super Bowl XL, the 7-8 Steelers had no shot at making the postseason in 2006. However, the Cincinnati Bengals merely needed to defeat their division rivals to get in. On New Year’s Eve, the Pittsburgh Steelers took pleasure in “ringing out the Bengals” earlier on in the day. The fourth quarter started with the Steelers leading 7-3, but the game seemed lost with the Bengals leading at the two-minute warning 17-14. But with 1:03 left, Jeff Reed hit a 35-yard field goal to send the dandy into overtime. Then, Bengals fans rode the “esca-loser” in horror after Ben Roethlisberger connected with Ohio State rookie Santonio Holmes for a 67-yard touchdown with 1:33 remaining in overtime. This would be the final game of Bill Cowher’s Hall of Fame career.

January 9, 2016 - Steelers 18, Bengals 16 (2015 AFC Wildcard Playoff Game)

This game is one of the most infamous and satisfying to Steelers fans in the history of the rivalry. The Steelers led 15–0 after a spectacular Martavis Bryant touchdown catch and three Chris Boswell field goals. However, Roethlisberger had left the game after a dirty hit by Vontaze Burfict. But A. J. McCarron, starting for an injured Andy Dalton, led the Bengals back with 16 unanswered. Then it got crazy. Ryan Shazier would force two fumbles, one that knocked Giovanni Bernard out of the game and another when Jeremy Hill was trying to run out the clock after a Burfict interception of Landry Jones. In the most improbable series of events, Roethlisberger returned despite barely being able to lift his arm and led the Steelers down the field. Then forget crazy, it got downright insane. On a pass over the middle to Antonio Brown, Burfict was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a brutal and concussing blow to Brown’s head. To make matters worse, the notorious Adam “Pac-Man” Jones got into an altercation with Joey Porter, who as an assistant coach shouldn’t really have been on the field, but was checking on AB. After 30 yards in penalties, Boswell came on for the game-winning field goal from 35 yards out. The only thing left for the Bengals was the crying and another star in the form of “Crying Bengals Lady” was born.

October 14, 2018 - Steelers 28, Bengals 21

This was the game that cost Vontaze Burfict $112,000 for illegal hits on Antonio Brown and James Conner and pointing to JuJu Smith-Schuster and telling him, “You’re next.” But the biggest storyline of this ball game was the Steelers falling behind when Joe Mixon made the score 21-20 with 1:18 remaining and Ben Roethlisberger answering with a 31-yard pass to AB with 10 seconds left. Smith-Schuster had 111 yards receiving and Conner 111 rushing and two touchdowns for the victorious visitors.

Fan confidence in the Steelers dips after the 2022 preseason

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/10/2022 - 12:30pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

A recent poll shows the Steelers global fan base remains confident in the direction of the team, but not nearly as much as they did before the preseason.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off an offseason to remember, as well as a great start to the preseason. The key word to the previous statement was ‘start’. Following their Week 1 NFL Preseason win over the Seattle Seahawks 32-25 at Acrisure Stadium, the team was able to escape with a win vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars in Duval county. The following week, the Steelers beat the Detroit Lions at home, to finish the preseason 3-0.

Undefeated preseason. Fans were happy, right?

Well, not so much.

Throughout the final two week several warts on the team’s roster were exposed. The offensive line struggled, the running game stalled and questions remained about the defensive’s ability to stop the run.

So, what does this mean for fan confidence heading into the regular season?

As a part of SB Nation’s Reacts poll, sponsored by DraftKings Sportsbook, every fan who takes the poll, which equates to a lot of fans, were asked a simple question:

Are you confident in the direction of the team?

When you go back and look at all that has transpired this offseason, it could go either way. Now throw in a rocky-at-times preseason, and you get a dip in the confidence.

81% seems like a solid number, especially when considering the fickle nature of the Steelers fan base, but when you compare it to the confidence level heading into the preseason it was quite the dip.

Preseason Confidence: 91%
Pre-Regular Season Confidence: 81%

With confidence waning, it felt obvious to ask a follow-up question. This follow-up question pertained to the DraftKings Sportsbook win total line set at 7.5 wins for the 2022 Steelers. Did the majority of fans believe the Steelers will win at least 8 games?

The vast majority of the fan base believes the team won’t fold like a cheap lawn chair this season.

A lot can change throughout the course of a regular season, and we’ll be sure to keep you up-to-speed on the fan base’s feelings of the team. But what say you? Do you have confidence in the direction of the team? Is it too early to tell?

Let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the regular season.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

Predicting the Steelers’ inactive list for Week 1 vs. the Bengals

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/10/2022 - 11:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

No players have been ruled out due to injury, so the choices of who does not get a helmet Sunday are more difficult.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their first game of the 2022 NFL season. As the season rolls on, the true nature of the depth chart will come a little more into focus. But for Week 1, trying to predict who the Steelers will have on their inactive list at 11:30 AM Sunday is much more difficult than it will be in the coming weeks. Regardless, I’m still going to give it a shot.

The rules in the 2022 season when it comes to the players active on game day have been carried over from the last two seasons. As long as a team has eight offensive lineman who will be dressing for the game, they could have 48 players on their active roster rather than the 46 in previous seasons. If the Steelers elevate any players from their practice squad, their inactive list would increase by the same number of players. Until the Steelers announce an elevation, we will assume it is only five players but will adjust the projection if necessary.

Game Status

No players with an injury status

Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Bengals on Sunday:

Definitely:

None (No players have been ruled out)

Most Likely:

QB Mason Rudolph- The Steelers only dress two quarterbacks (I’m not sure why some people this offseason thought they dress three) and Rudolph is listed as the third option.

Possibly:

OT Trent Scott- The Steelers will likely have one of their nine offensive linemen inactive, the only question is which one. Scott offers the least position flexibility so he is a good candidate.

OT Jesse Davis- Although position versatility is a strength, along with extensive NFL playing time, Davis is new to the team so it ultimately depends on if he is ready to go.

WR Steven Sims- Keeping six wide receivers is a luxury, so dressing all six is even more so. If anybody doesn’t get a helmet I suspect it is Sims.

TE Connor Heyward- If the Steelers want all their receivers in uniform then they have to skimp somewhere else. The Steelers have gone with only two tight ends dressed in the past, and Heyward is merely a rookie. Ultimately this comes down to if the Steelers plan to use his versatility on offense.

DT DeMarvin Leal- Much like the offensive line, the likelihood of all seven defensive linemen dressing is very small as they could get by with as few as five. Knowing this, the rookie has to be a possibility to be held out at the start of the season.

DT Montravius Adams- After missing the entire preseason, I was surprised Adams didn’t land on Injured Reserve. Not seeing him in action to know where he stands leaves him open to possibly not getting a helmet.

LB- Marcus Allen- Just like Adams, missing the preseason has Marcus Allen as an unknown at linebacker. If he gets a helmet, it’s all because of special teams.

LB Mark Robinson- If Allen gets a helmet, it would possibly be at the expense of the 2022 seventh-round draft pick despite Robinson being higher on the depth chart.

Unlikely:

G Kendrick Green- I know seeing him on this list would make a lot of fans happy, but leaving only one player in J.C. Hassenauer to back up all three interior positions seems like too much of a stretch.

QB Kenny Pickett- I had to say it. Mike Tomlin said they will only dress two quarterbacks and he said Kenny Pickett is number two, but he did not say directly he was dressing Pickett. Really, I’m only putting him here in case there is another “clerical error” on game day. The Steelers have messed up before and had too many players inactive, so I wouldn’t put it past them to screw up which name was supposed to be on the list.

DT Isaiahh Loudermilk- While the Steelers could go with both Leal and Adams over Loudermilk, his experience in 2021 will likely keep his helmet on.

Projected Inactive List:
  1. Mason Rudolph
  2. Trent Scott
  3. Steven Sims
  4. Montravius Adams
  5. Marcus Allen

The Rudolph choice was obvious and I think Scott is the last guy on the o-line because he was cut and then brought back. I don’t know that having six wide receivers is wise usage of roster spots so I have Sims on the sidelines. As for the last two, I would like to see the rookies of Leal and Robinson, even if Robinson is only on special teams. For that reason I have Adams and Allen inactive this week.

As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.

Next Man Up: An in-depth look at the Steelers 2022 practice squad

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/10/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Most of the players on the practice squad aren’t going to just sit there.

Why the practice squad matters

The practice squad gets a bit of attention when it is announced, but afterwards people largely forget about it. Real football starts, and no one cares about the guys that are two steps away from seeing the field.

And yet every year the practice squad players make an impact, for good or bad, on the season. The one thing they often do is end up playing. That’s even more true under the current NFL rules that allow veteran players to be on the practice squad and allow for practice squad call-ups that don’t expose players to waivers.

With those new rules, the Steelers have played more than half of the players that were on the practice squad for Week 1 the last two years, with eight players seeing the field in 2020, and nine in 2021. Some have played significant parts in games and some have even moved into full time roster spots, such as Robert Spillane.

Over the past three years the Steelers practice squad players have logged a total of 3,679 snaps, with 6 players having played 200+ snaps. Here are the players with the highest number of snaps played after starting the season on the practice squad over the past three years:

Henry Mondeaux: 570 snaps
Johnny Holton: 549 snaps
Derrek Tuszka: 441 snaps
John Leglue: 407 snaps

You probably recognize each of those players, and you should; they ended up playing important roles in a good number of games even though they weren’t in the Steelers plans when the season started.

Some players on the practice squad right now will play a significant part in the Steelers season this year, and others will play a significant part in a future season. The history and nature of the NFL consistently show this to be the case. It’s why Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s “Next Man Up” mantra is such a big deal. We don’t know which player it will be, but it will happen.

I’m not going to cover all 16 players in one article, we’ll start with the names that people will be most familiar with.

The returning players

John Leglue, OL: Leglue joined the Steelers late in the 2020 season, when they signed him to their practice squad. He received a futures contract at the end of the season and after the 2021 offseason, signed him to the practice squad. When B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer struggled filling in at left guard for Kevin Dotson, the Steelers called up John Leglue. He played almost every snap of Week 13, and took over as the starter in Week 14.

Leglue lacks versatility and isn’t a top athlete. He isn’t a great pass blocker, but he has good size and he’s a great inside zone blocker. His best game was in Week 17, when the Steelers simplified the offense and ran a ton of inside zone against the Browns to win their final home game of Ben Roethlsiberger’s career. His limitations showed up in the 2022 preseason. Those limitations and his lack of position versatility has him on the practice squad again. But if there are injuries at guard, John Leglue will likely be back on the roster.

Anthony McFarland Jr., RB: McFarland joins the practice squad for the first time in his career. A fourth-round pick in 2020, he saw little success as the entire run game floundered, and after an MCL tear right before the season started, he spent most of the year off the active roster in 2021.

McFarland looked like he might be putting it together in the preseason this year, but with the rise of Jaylen Warren McFarland and Benny Snell were fighting for the third running back spot on the roster. While McFarland is a solid kick returner, he offered little else on special teams, while Benny Snell has proven himself as a key special teams player. McFarland brings speed to the running back position and versatility as a solid pass catcher, but while he has dynamic speed when healthy, he has been hampered by leg injuries so far in his NFL career and hasn’t been able to break off big gains.

Carlos Davis, DL: The Steelers seventh-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Davis brings excellent athleticism to the defensive line, and showed flashes of potential in his rookie season. He injured his knee in Week 1 of the 2021 season, and didn’t play again until December. Davis joins the practice squad over several other players the Steelers had in their very deep defensive line group this offseason, including his twin brother Khalil Davis and Henry Mondeaux.

Davis will look to get back to building on his promising rookie season, and Steelers history has shown he is very likely to see the field as defensive lineman are one of the more likely players to get called up.

Delontae Scott, OLB: Scott joined the Steelers as a practice squad signing after he was cut from the Green Bay Packers at the end of the 2021 offseason. He was active for one week of the season, playing 7 snaps on defense and 2 on special teams against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Scott makes the practice squad after a full offseason with the Steelers. He joins starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith as the only outside linebackers to last the entire offseason and still be working for the Steelers. We’ll see if that pays off as the season progresses.

Cody White, WR: White isn’t a player that most Steeler fans are familiar with, even though he saw snaps in 15 of the Steelers 17 regular season games of 2021. White spent most of his time on special teams where he recorded 4 tackles. White only saw 77 snaps on offense, but caught 5 passes for 33 yards in that time. He has good size and reliable hands and brings special teams play the Steelers can trust, so he’s a pretty good candidate for a practice squad spot.

Mark Gilbert, DB: Gilbert was an undrafted free agent signing for the Steelers in 2021, and made the practice squad. He was signed by the Detroit Lions before Week 8 and was on their active roster for most of the rest of the season. When the Lions cut Gilbert, the Steelers signed him to their own practice squad.

While he didn’t play in any games for the Steelers, he played a good bit against the Steelers in Week 10. Gilbert showed off his physicality and hustle in that game, specifically in one play where he did a really good job showing both his strengths and weaknesses.

Lions vs. Steelers, OT, 6:56.

Mark Gilbert (#40) is covering Diontae Johnson.

Gilbert is a physical defender, and uses that physicality to stick with receivers well. He isn’t the best at tracking and playing the ball in the air, especially on over-the-shoulder throws. He gives up a catch here when he can’t find the ball, and gets shook by Johnson. But Gilbert stays with the play and strips the football. Gilbert isn’t an elite athlete or a technician, he’s a fighter and the Steelers liked him enough to bring him back.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series when we look at the rest of the players on the Steelers practice squad.

2023 NFL Draft Preview: Alabama, Texas prospects the spotlight in Week 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/10/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images

These college football players in action this weekend may be wearing Steelers uniforms next year.

The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at potential Steelers draft targets to pay attention to during their respective games.

Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis, especially early in the season.

Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.

As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the top prospects and games to keep an eye on this Saturday.

#1 Alabama vs. Texas | Noon ET on FOX

Alabama Spotlight: Eli Ricks — CB; Jordan Battle — S
Texas Spotlight: DeMarvion Overshown — ILB; Isaiah Neyor — WR

We could go a number of ways with Alabama, but their defensive backs will actually be tested this week, making them the point of focus in Week 2. Ricks is a potential first-round pick who possesses great length for the position. Listed at only 195 pounds, he will want to add weight to his frame, as one of the major questions on his resume is his ability to get physical with bigger receivers.

For Texas, I have my eye on DeMarvion Overshown. He possesses speed, reactive quickness, and a frame that can hold more weight. Do not lose sight of a sleeper in yet another deep class of receivers, either. Isaiah Neyor is a height/weight/speed athlete who could skyrocket on draft boards with a big game on a stage as big as this week’s game.

#24 Tennessee vs. #17 Pittsburgh — 3:30 ET on ABC

Tennessee Spotlight: Darnell Wright — OT; Jerome Carvin — IOL
Pittsburgh Spotlight: SirVocea Dennis — ILB; John Morgan III — EDGE

Much of the attention for the Volunteers is dedicated to quarterback Hendon Hooker, but the offensive line protecting him should be looked into as well. Darnell Wright is a massive tackle who, despite lacking elite mobility, has held his own and done his part in protecting Tennessee’s prized quarterback. He also possesses excellent power in the run game.

SirVocea Dennis made several key plays in Pitt’s opener against West Virginia, but becoming more consistent for an extended period of time will be the biggest challenge as it pertains to boosting his draft stock. The traits are there. He can cover, blitz, and defend the run all at high levels when at his best.

#9 Baylor vs. #21 BYU — 10:15 ET on ESPN

Baylor Spotlight: Siaki Ika — NT; Connor Galvin — OT
BYU Spotlight: Clark Barrington — G; Keenan Pili — ILB

I am intrigued by many of Baylor’s draft-eligible prospects, but my favorite player on that Bears team has to be Siaki Ika. At 6’4”, 350 pounds, Ika is a behemoth who moves incredibly well for his size. The most intriguing thing, however, is Ika’s ability to create pressure from the nose tackle position. With Tyson Alualu set to be a free agent following the season, Steelers fans need to pay close attention to this guy. He passes the eye test and could make for an intriguing choice in the early rounds of next year’s draft.

For BYU, I would not mind taking a closer look at Clark Barrington, an interior lineman who lacks bulk (just a shade over 300 pounds) but displays good mobility and footwork. A technically sound athlete, Barrington projects best as a guard in a zone-blocking scheme at the next level. He does have a tendency to play over his feet in pass protection, but he is definitely a guy who could be considered by NFL teams on Day 2 of the draft.

Which NFL Draft prospects do you have your eye on this weekend? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!

Team in the Mirror: Who are the 2022 Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/10/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

Taking a look at the 2022 Steelers, and what fans can expect this season.

What is this year’s Pittsburgh Steelers identity? Will they maintain their composure after getting hit in the mouth? Will they be a punch first/score first offense? Will the defense need to grind out low scoring wins in games a la the 2000 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens?

Well let’s take a team look into the mirror to reflect, if you will, on the state the Steelers on the cusp of the 2022 NFL campaign.

The Steelers are transitioning from a team with a never-say-die franchise quarterback legend in Ben Roethlisberger, to a team led by Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky is a gamer, with mobility and athleticism who not only won in Chicago, but took them to the playoffs twice during the 2018 and 2020 NFL seasons. How he rolls in the Black and Gold during the regular season remains to be seen.

It seems as if Kenny Pickett is fitting in well and has done nothing to diminish his standing as the team’s quarterback of the future. He’s provided solid performances this preseason and also looks to have lived up to his instant readiness label. He starts the season as QB2 on the depth chart.

If the mirror breaks when the Steelers look into it, and neither Trubisky nor Pickett are ready to lead the offense, will it lead to a similar 7 iteration (or 7-year in regard to mirrors) QB run of bad luck—like the unremarkable run of QBs after Terry Bradshaw called it a career? For example, this seven quarterback sample-cluster of Mike Tomczak, Cliff Stoudt, Mark Malone, David Woodley, Kent Graham, Jim Miller, and Todd Blackledge that gave Steeler Nation quite more than a 7-year itch?

The failure to draft Pitt Panther Dan Marino in 1983 helped to fuel this run of inconsistent quarterbacks. I hope the drafting of Kenny Pickett is not just a day late and a dollar short make-up call. Many will point to preseason statistics, but they are only preseason statistics. They have to show us what’s up when the games count, starting September 11 against the division rival Bengals.

The Steeler’s offensive line was out of pocket at times

Mitch’s pocket was pushed, breached, assaulted and collapsed. In other words, Mitch with at least the preseason game 2 starting offensive line was under consistent and heavy duress from the Jaguars’ front seven.

There were times in which the offensive line could not get push for effective running. Tomlin recently called out the offensive line, Kendrick Green in particular, for sub-par performances. In the words of rapper Pusha’ T, “how will they respond.”

Against the Lions the line gave Steelers’ quarterbacks more time to pass. Recently named starter/captain, Mitch Trubisky, went an impressive 15/19 outing for 160 yards with no picks. His 38-yard sideline strike to Diontae Johnson and his 32-yard, down the middle connection with Pat Freiermuth were most impressive. The run game left much to be desired with only 57 ground yards on the day, this after a paltry 24 rushing yards the previous game against the Jags.

As a result of inconsistent, erratic offensive line play, the Steelers made a move on roster cut down day to snag Vikings OL Jesse Davis. The offensive line remains a work in progress and starts two offseason acquisitions— C, Mason Cole and G, James Daniels—but if it congeals it could put the Steelers offense into the upper third of the NFL.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

If the NFL knows one thing about the Steelers, its their propensity for identifying, drafting and developing Steelers-type receivers. We’re talking about talented, productive, physical receivers like Plaxico Burress, Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson etc. Just ask Ed Reed and Vontez Burfict about the physicality. They mirror each other in their key contributions to high performance playoff/Super Bowl offenses. It appears the Steelers have struck gold again in this regard with rookie receiver George Pickens. He’s a starter on the season-opening depth chart.

With a simple YouTube or Google search you’ll see how Pickens rag-dolled a Georgia Tech DB when he played for the University of Georgia. He played big-time ball in the SEC and came back from a knee injury to help the bulldogs win the NCAA football championship last year. His brand of toughness is custom-built for the Steelers and the AFC North.

Diontae Johnson has seemed to have cured his case of the drops and has earned a lucrative contract extension. He’s the top dog in this receiving corps. I’d like to see him bulk up a bit to bolster his durability, because it seems that every time he hits the ground, he gets up slow.

We know what Chase Claypool sees when he looks in the mirror: “A top 3 receiver!” I’ve got two words for that—“we’ll see.”

Pat Freiermuth is definitely the real deal, and is ready to build on a productive rookie season in which he made major contributions to the offense in terms of receptions and touchdown. His trajectory should continue to climb.

Vitamin D (-Line) Deficiency

The Steelers’ defensive line needs to continue to work on stopping the run. They brought in Larry Ogunjobi from the Bengals and drafted DeMarvin Leal in the third round of his year’s draft to work towards that goal. They’ve again, looked in the mirror and seen this area as one that could use improvement to some degree. Of course this is true in part to Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt’s absence last year, as well as Tuitt’s subsequent retirement.

When this unit is healthy and has depth it puts an intensified bite into the team’s vicious front seven. Cam Heyward was ranked the NFL’s 27th best player and anchors this unit. He, with 10 sacks, contributes mightily to the Steelers defensive line playing a major role in the unit’s NFL leading 55 sacks last year. Going into the 2022 season, this group is not to be slept on. Regarding this Steelers’ defensive line, I believe the Steelers see a unit that’s on its way and ready to rock when they look in the mirror.

What makes the special teams relevant?

Mr. Danny Smith. A quick look in the mirror says it all, consistency to the tune of 9 years as the coach of this group. He’s coached kicker Chris Boswell through mostly ups and through one of his worst slumps and back to prominence. Boswell has rebounded so well from the slump of a few years back that he’s now one of the highest paid kickers in the league.

The Steels added kick-returner/wide receiver Gunner Olszewski who flashed speed and toughness this preseason. Overall this group is ready and steady.

How resilient is this team?

Mike Tomlin has raised the bar and set a new organizational standard for the Steelers. No losing seasons and mostly playoff appearances in 15 years. He is the first head coach in NFL history to establish this standard right out of his career’s starting blocks.

News Flash: This is not Tomlin’s first season coaching without Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers fans. Don’t act “brand new” (coy, naive, uninformed). This resilience was firmly tested during a season with Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges at the helm. As you recall, Tomlin and the Steelers made a valiant push toward the playoffs and acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick in the process. Tomlin’s Steelers teams adjust on the fly in a myriad of ways, all in the name of leaving NFL stadiums with wins.

As this young Steelers team begins to establish their identity, they will need to tap into resiliency, establish consistency and trust in each other. There will be ups and downs and they will delve into unchartered water. this is called life after Roethlisberger. Plain resilience is a character-trait of the Steelers organization. The 2022 Steelers will need to embrace and embody it to the full extent.

All teams want to find about themselves in the preseason while avoiding major, long-term injuries. Other than a few camp injuries and the devastating loss of veteran safety Karl Joseph the Steelers are doing just that.

Ground and Pound Offense?

With Najee Harris coming up with strong rushing and all-purpose yardage last season, he is the chief offensive weapon, make no mistake. The Steelers invested in the aforementioned offensive line free agents to bolster that unit. Consequently, Najee, and perhaps Jaylen Warren and Benny Snell, will get high volume touches.

Harris is coming off a dominant rookie campaign in which he clearly established himself as a committed, consistent and extremely tough and durable contributor. He’s back for more in 2022.

Trubisky will just need to get his play-action-fake game together and mix in some bootleg and jet sweep looks out of the offensive bag. As a result, this attack will be more ground and astound with a deep array of misdirection options out of Matt Canada’s offensive bag.

Undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren supplanted incumbent Benny Snell as Najee’s chief understudy. His tough running and receiving skills elevated him to such a status, however Snell could still play a key role in the backfield.

T.J. Watt looked good and he has help

Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the NFL Top 100 No. 7 player, Watt went out and added high Wattage to the defense. He did what he does and harassed the opposing quarterbacks. A healthy Watt and hopefully an active sack total from his OLB counterpart Alex Highsmith will make this defense one of the most dominant in the league.

The addition of Myles Jack to the Steelers defensive interior adds boom, passion, skill and an improvement from Joe Schobert.

Devin Bush, now two years removed from a season-ending knee injury has something to prove. He needs to show the reckless abandon needed for a middle linebacker to dominate. He did not have his 5th year option exercised, thus he could either play his way out of the Steelers’ price range or play himself off the Steelers’ roster. I believe that he will have a strong bounce-back season given the time his knee has had to heal and the fact he had no major injury setback last year. I believe having Jack alongside him in the interior defense will help Bush as well.

Safety Dance?

Not so much; however, if they did dance, they’d be doing “The Bump!” Fitzpatrick led the team in tackles and Edmunds always thumps opposing players that dare to enter his domain. The Steelers had a few injuries that led to Kazee and Joseph ending up on the IR, but the overall experience and tenacity of this group will keep them focused and effective.

This team, as noted in a recent Behind the Steelers Curtain article, is one of the NFL’s youngest. They will need to grow up, and do so expeditiously.

Final Reflections

This team is Rooney run and Tomlin coached. Those constants give every Steelers team a strong chance to compete for a playoff spot. We saw that even with Mason and Duck running the show a couple of years back.

The Steelers brass will have the 2022 Steelers ready to compete. When this team looks in the mirror right now, less than a week before the start of the season, they see a team that’s ready to do whatever it takes to get win.

Men, women and even numbers can lie. Mirrors tell the truth!

The mission for the Steelers 2022 regular season: To write less clickbait stories

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/10/2022 - 6:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There’s nothing worse that writing clickbait articles, stories that compel the readers to click on links against their will, and it’s a practice I plan on curbing all throughout the Steelers 2022 regular season.

The Steelers are set to kick off yet another campaign this Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati, and I simply cannot wait to cover them with honor, integrity and pride all throughout the 2022 regular season.

That’s forever been my mission, of course, but I don’t always hit the mark. What areas do I struggle in? I won’t list each one, but I do know that publishing clickbait articles is one of my weak points. I never thought of myself as someone who would stoop to such levels, but the feedback I often get speaks to the contrary.

The fact that there are innocent Steelers fans out there just minding their own business—walking their dog, doing their laundry, concentrating hard on work—who feel compelled to click on an article against their will...because of me...well, that’s the kind of thing that makes a person reevaluate his or her priorities.

Why do people often charge me with the crime of clickbait? They say I'm motivated by clicks. They say I do it to drive up numbers. They say it helps me make money. That’s right, even though I’ve explained to readers a million times that I get paid a flat fee for my articles—$10,000 per week—they still accuse me of writing sensationalized headlines for profit.

No Steelers writer or journalist wants to be accused of clickbait. It’s like a standup comedian who gets accused of stealing jokes about original topics involving relationships and airline food.

It’s a scarlet letter that marks you for life and damages your credibility.

So how do I fix this problem? For starters, I need to figure out what compels readers to click on articles in the first place. What makes them tick? What grinds their gears? Do they want to click on trendy topics or the ones that aren’t popular—like a three-part feature on the history of long-snappers?

Perhaps I need to figure out what the definition of a clickbait article actually is. I used to think a headline like this: “You’ll Never Guess What This former Steelers Receiver Is Up To Now,” followed by a piece about Darrius Heyward-Bey having lunch at a Primanti Bros, was clickbait.

But the term seems to get thrown around so arbitrarily, that the true definition has become lost on me.

If my headline mentions how classless Steelers fans were for booing Mason Rudolph during a preseason game, and then I follow that up with an article about why booing Mason Rudolph during a preseason game was classless, that’s considered to be clickbait.

If my headline alludes to Steelers fans feeling threatened by the idea of Rudolph ultimately earning the starting quarterback job, and my article talks about the same thing, that is also considered to be clickbait.

Apparently, any article involving Mason Rudolph, a figure so polarizing that a straight-up BTSC news piece published on Monday about the Steelers' latest depth chart tallied 184 comments—mostly about Mason Rudolph—is considered to be clickbait.

What’s the solution? How do I proceed from here?

Total transparency in the titles, that’s how.

Here is your typical headline from me moving forward:

“Local Area Professional Football Team, The Pittsburgh Steelers, Would Be Wise To Trade For This Valued Player, (insert the actual name of player here), To Shore Up (list position he plays here). Some Organizations Still Know How Business Is Done”

I honestly think the readers will be more welcoming if I am truly sincere with my headlines and my reporting; that’s how I plan on conducting my business in the future.

Having said all of that, I will still try to stir the pot all throughout the Steelers' 2022 regular season.

You know, for clicks.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/10/2022 - 5:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

Nonetheless, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

Here We Go, The Pregame Show: The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Man in the Box

Steelers Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin will be on the Steelers sideline instead of up above in the box. With Brian Flores being the eye in the sky, what advantages do the Steelers have this week against the defending AFC Champion Bengals? Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Kevin Smith for Here We Go. The BTSC duo break down the Steelers like no one else does as Coach Smith and BAD talk what needs to happen against the Bengals in CIncinnati.

Check out the rundown

  • News and Notes
  • The Flores/Austin dynamic
  • Who the Steelers need to step up against Cincy
  • Who the Steelers need to stop on Cincy
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Friday Night Six Pack with Tony: Steelers set to kick off the season in the AFC’s lion’s den

The Steelers kick off their 2022 regular season against the Bengals this Sunday afternoon at Paycor Stadium. The Bengals have had the upper hand in this matchup in the last three meetings. Can Pittsburgh catch the defending AFC Champions before they come out of hibernation? That and more on this episode of Steelers Friday Night Six Pack!

Checkout a rundown of the show:

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • The 2022 Opener
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!
State of the Steelers: How can the Steelers upset the Cincinnati Bengals?

The AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals are 6.5 favorites at home against the Steelers on Sunday. Can the Steelers beat the Bengals? If so, how? That’s the latest topic of discussion from Daniel Jay on the State of the Steelers. Join Daniel for the latest new offering from the Behind the Steel Curtain family of podcasts in addressing the State of the Steelers.

Checkout a rundown of the show:

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • Can the Steelers Upset the Cincinnati Bengals?
  • and MUCH MORE!

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Week 1 Edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/09/2022 - 5:45pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

There is always something to talk about when it comes to the Black & Gold!

It’s Friday again, so it’s time for the six pack of questions. It seems as if Jeff and Dave come to a consensus in cutting to the chase...

This week, I, Jeff, will be tasked with the questions up for discussion.

The rules are still the same...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

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

Procedural Note: Since the title feature has gone away, please feel free to leave your usual title as the first line of your response and even bold it if you can for the ease of others.

So here we go! With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to jump on in. Hopefully this party is exactly what you’re looking for on a Friday night. Here goes:

1. Let’s have some fun to start things...a lot was made of the “clerical error” on the depth chart earlier in the week. Think of a funny story which could have resulted in said error...

2. Which pass catcher will have the biggest game Sunday?

  • Pat Freiermuth
  • Diontae Johnson
  • Chase Claypool
  • George Pickens
  • Other

3. Time for the OVER/UNDER game. I’m setting the following lines, are you taking the Over or Under?

PIT Takeaways: 1.5
PIT Turnovers: 1.5

4. In your opinion, how important is this Week 1 game vs. Cincinnati in the grand scheme of the 2022 season?

5. Who sees the field more in Week 1?

  • Connor Heyward
  • Jaylen Warren

6. Let’s talk game day rituals. Do you have any? If so, what are they? This could be anything from a gathering, menu, recipe or jersey you like to wear. Let’s hear it!

Stay safe out there!

And it wouldn’t be a Friday night unless we said...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

We added some new shows and a new platform to our podcasts...if you haven’t checked out our full lineup of morning, noon, and evening shows, give them a try by listening below!

Steelers Injury Report: No players ruled out for Sunday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/09/2022 - 2:00pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

All players were able to practice on Friday as the Steelers look to start the season at full strength.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have finished up their preparation for their first matchup of the 2022 NFL season. As the Steelers took the field for their final practice in preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals, there were no players who did not participate. In the final injury report of the week courtesy of the Steelers PR department, all players were full participants and no one carries an injury status for Sunday.

Steelers PR Department

Having two names added to the list on the second injury report of the week was not something Steelers’ fans generally went to see. Defensive captain Cam Heyward missed practice on Thursday due to a coach’s decision and was back on Friday. His status for Sunday was never in question, hence why he carries no injury designation.

What was more concerning was starting right tackle Chuks Okorafor missing practice Thursday due to a back injury. With the Steelers offensive line still trying to find the cohesion they need for the season, having the player with the longest tenure with the Steelers miss time is not ideal. On Friday, Okorafor returned fully to practice and his set to play one Sunday.

The biggest concern coming into Week 1 in terms of injury was the availability of Pro Bowl wide receiver Diontae Johnson. Leaving the Steelers final preseason game with a shoulder injury, Johnson has not been a full participant at practice since, at least that has been reported. After being listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice, Johnson was listed as limited once again on Thursday with an additional injury of “cramps.” On Friday, Johnson returned as a full participant and carries no injury status for Sunday.

Linebacker Marcus Allen was the other player who was limited in practice on Wednesday with a hamstring injury. On Thursday and Friday, Allen returned as a full participant and is good to go for Sunday.

As for the Bengals’ injury report, you can see the names below when available.

NFL Odds and Predictions: Picking all the Week 1 games against the spread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/09/2022 - 12:30pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Several of the BTSC staff pick all the NFL games both against the spread and over/under point totals

It’s the start of a new NFL season! Fans may think they have an idea of how their favorite teams should perform, but until the players get on the field and play regular season games it’s difficult to tell exactly how the season will progress. Every team is 0-0 and hope springs eternal throughout almost every fan base.

Week 1 of the NFL season can also be make or break those placing wagers on the games. Lines will be difficult due to not being able to truly get a feel for teams based on preseason games, so the most attractive bet may not be the safest one.

For the 2022 NFL season, nine members of the BTSC will be picking every game against the spread and the over/under point totals. This feature will show all the games for the week including games on Thursday and Monday. Those specific game picks will be featured in the open thread articles for each game. Please remember we are not experts on betting or any kind of sports gamblers. We are just a group of Steelers’ fans saying who we think will come through each week.

We are using the same program as the last two years called Tallysight. It allows us to show picks in a much more “friendly to the eye” manner. To understand how it works, the default tab is for our picks against the spread. To see the over/under picks, click the “O/U” tab in the upper left. Also, make sure you scroll on the graphic to see all the picks. If there are quotation marks next to a pick, it means the person making the selection made a comment about the game.

With one game already played on Thursday night, some of the staff, such as Matty, Mark, Shannon, and myself, are off to 2-0 starts. Others, such as Geoffrey and Bradley, are already 0-2. When the results are given here each week, they before the entire first week and typically not include the Thursday night results. Since there were no games from last week, it seemed appropriate to mention last night’s results.

So here are the picks for the games for Week 1 of the NFL season. Please feel free to list your choices in the comment section below and play along! Odd are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Expert Picks: While it may be close, experts like the Bengals over the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/09/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Time to check in and see who the experts like in Steelers vs. Bengals Sunday in Week 1.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals are slated to face off in Week 1 of the 2022 regular season, and there are a lot of narratives between these two teams. For the Bengals, they are trying to show their 2021 AFC Championship, and trip to the Super Bowl, wasn’t a fluke. To prove they are not just AFC contenders, but AFC favorites. As for the Steelers, they turn the page to a new quarterback, and a new era of Steelers football. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the team, and there remain huge question marks surrounding the team heading into the regular season.

For those who follow the current betting lines, the Steelers opened as 6.5-point road underdogs, and, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, that line hasn’t moved since the schedule was released.

(Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)

At this point, it is time to check in and see who the pundits, who call themselves experts, like in this showdown in Cincinnati this Sunday.

After looking at expert picks, there was a common thread among all of them. What was that thread? Of those who had a full panel picking the games, only one expert thought the Steelers will actually leave Cincinnati victorious Sunday.

All the haters at SB Nation...only 1 believes.

The huge panel at ESPN...only 1 believes.

The Sports Illustrated panel of experts...only 1 believes.

The USA Today crew...only 1 believes.

Those are sites where people just check a box on a website and move on with their lives. However, there are some who spend more time pouring over these picks, and provide some analysis than just a winner and loser.

For those type of experts, one which is talked about a lot is Pete Prisco of CBS Sports. Prisco predicts a close game Sunday, but the Steelers ultimately falling short vs. the Bengals.

The Steelers come in as a division dog, which is a role Mike Tomlin has done well in as coach, going 14-6. There are concerns about the Steelers offensive line, which is why this number is bloated. But Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has been dealing with appendicitis all preseason, which might lead to some rust. The Steelers will hang around in this one, but the Bengals will win it late.

Pick: Bengals 23, Steelers 20

Like Prisco, Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News also goes in-depth on every one of his picks heading into Week 1 Sunday. Iyer also sees a close game, but like Prisco sees the Steelers starting the season 0-1.

The Steelers present a tough immediate challenge as the Bengals try to avoid a Super Bowl-losing hangover in the brutal AFC North. But Cincinnati gets a break with Pittsburgh starting Mitchell Trubisky over the better QB choice, first-round rookie Kenny Pickett.

The Bengals’ offense should come out confident with an improved line, but Joe Burrow is facing a dangerous pass defense coming off a preseason layoff. They will survive late with Burrow delivering better than his counterpart, but the Steelers stay in it with plenty of Najee Harris and other key QB help.

Pick: Bengals win 24-23 but fail to cover the spread.

These are just a few sites who make weekly NFL picks. When you think about all those sites not listed above, this is when we turn to our friends at NFL Pick Watch, a site dedicated to tracking NFL expert picks by the week. They take all expert picks and put them into an easy-to-read graph for fans to enjoy. When it comes to the Steelers vs. Bengals game, a whopping 95% of NFL experts like the Bengals to hold serve and win on Sunday.

What do you think about the upcoming game? Will the experts have it right? Or are they way off? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Bengals in Week 1.

2023 NFL Draft Stock Report: Top Tackles were tremendous in Week 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/09/2022 - 10:00am
Kyle Robertson-USA TODAY Sports

Time to break down the latest NFL Draft updates after Week 1 of the college football season!

The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this past week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at draft prospects who improved their stock based on their performance.

Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis, especially early in the season.

Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.

As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the highest of highs from Week 1 of college football!

Paris Johnson, Jr. | OT | Ohio State

Many NFL scouts were watching Saturday’s game with great anticipation, waiting to see what Ohio State’s reshuffled offensive line would look like. Come to find out, the unit looked incredibly strong, allowing only one sack as a whole. The player projected to be the best lineman on the unit played like such against the Irish, and that player is none other than Paris Johnson, Jr. Johnson has finally became the full-time left tackle, and his first performance in 2022 was stellar, as he displayed solid footwork, great balance, and a consistent pad level. If Johnson’s play is consistently strong against big-time competition, he will have a chance to become the first tackle off the board in April.

Broderick Jones | OT | Georgia

Jones was already respected as a strong run-blocking tackle, but after starting only four games at left tackle in 2021, there were concerns as to how well he would hold up in pass protection. Nevertheless, Jones, sent a strong message to his doubters after Week 1, as did the entire Georgia Bulldogs team. Jones displayed great mobility and swift feet, getting out of his stance smoothly and mirroring Oregon pass rushers consistently. He is still a little choppy in his stance at times, but overall, his stock is trending in the right direction after Week 1. With a strong season, expect to see Jones in the first round of most, if not all, mock drafts this spring.

Ivan Pace, Jr. | ILB | Cincinnati

All three of the players discussed today were mentioned in last week’s Week 1 preview article, and all three of them lived up to expectations on Saturday. Although it was in a losing effort, Pace was a wrecking ball, amassing 12 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. Pace gave the Bearcats defense a spark of electricity, and that will be much needed this season, as Cincy is still learning to cope after losing Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Coby Bryant, Darrian Beavers, and Myjai Sanders. Pace may lack elite length, but he displays tremendous closing speed, and his ability to diagnose the play quickly will bode him well moving forward.

Others Who Improved Their Stock

DJ Turner | CB | Michigan (2 TCKL, 1 TFL, 2 FUM REC)
Mazi Smith | NT | Michigan (4 TCKL, 1.5 TFL, 0.5 SCK)
Bryce Ford-Wheaton | WR | West Virginia (9 REC, 97 YDS, 2 TD)
Charlie Jones | WR | Purdue (12 REC, 153 YDS, 1 TD)
Joey Porter, Jr. | CB | Penn State (8 TCKL, 3 PD)
Joe Evans | EDGE/LB | Iowa (3 TCKL, 2 SCK, 2.5 TFL)
Anthony Grant | RB | Nebraska (23 CAR, 189 YDS, 2 TD)
Keylon Stokes | WR | Tulsa (11 REC, 169 YDS, 1 TD)

What are your thoughts on the aforementioned prospects? Do any of them make sense for the Steelers? Which draft prospects caught your eye this weekend? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!

Steelers will honor their late teammate Dwayne Haskins with helmet decal in 2022

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/09/2022 - 9:38am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers will be remembering Dwayne Haskins in 2022 with a helmet sticker for the entire season.

There are those who say the game of football is the ultimate team sport. How teams are bonded together like a family, or brothers. This bond is unlike many in professional sports, even other team sports.

With that said, you can imagine the hurt and heartache players must feel when they lose one of their own. When someone in the family is lost.

This is exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers endured this offseason when their teammate Dwayne Haskins was killed in Florida following a workout with teammates. To honor Haskins, the Steelers have announced they will wear a No. 3 helmet decal on the back of their helmets for the duration of the 2022 season.

This per Burt Lauten, director of communications for the Steelers:

The #Steelers will honor their late teammate, Dwayne Haskins, by wearing a “3” sticker on their helmets throughout the year. pic.twitter.com/zaSqAJm1hv

— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) September 9, 2022

The accident which resulted in Haskins’ death in April will still hit home with many players, especially those who were with the former Ohio State quarterback during the trip to Florida. Haskins had traveled down south to workout with new teammate Mitch Trubisky, and to throw with the pass catchers on the 2022 Steelers roster.

An investigation into the accident showed it was just that, an accident. But it doesn’t make the loss any easier to handle for the players who were used to seeing Haskins at the facility on a day-in and day-out basis.

As stated earlier, the Steelers will wear the ‘3’ decal on their helmets for the entire 2022 season, and maybe the team can make it a special season in memory of Haskins.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their Week 1 regular season opener vs. the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday.

3 games to watch in Week 1 which give perspective on the Steelers future opponents

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/09/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are several NFL games this week which will help get a better understanding of teams the Steelers face later in 2022

With the Pittsburgh Steelers kicking off their season on Sunday, there will be a multitude of games going on at the same time. When the smoke clears and Steelers Nation looks to see what else has gone on around the NFL, there are a few matchups between two teams the Steelers will face later in the season.

In the future, we’ll recap these game during next week’s article. For Week 1, here are the three games which could give the most perspective on what the Steelers can expect with some of their future opponents. When it comes to the betting lines for the game, the following information is the current consensus spread this week as reported by DraftKings Sportsbook.

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets Sunday at 1:00 PM on CBS
Spread: BAL (-7)

Even though the Steelers do not face Baltimore until December, they will be squaring off twice the season and the results of their games will be important in the AFC North standings. More importantly, the Steelers hosts the New York Jets in Week 4. Although there is the possibility of Zach Wilson returning to face the Steelers, for now the Jets are captained by Joe Flacco as he goes against his former team. The result of this game will likely show the strength of one team, the weakness of the other, or possibly both.

Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers Sunday 1:00 PM on CBS
Spread: CAR (-1.5)

This is a tough game to call. The reason the line is so close is because it’s difficult to see how this will play out. Is Christian McCaffrey back? Will Baker Mayfield be able to pull off the game against his former team? Can Cleveland overcome their 1–21–1 record in Week 1 since they returned to the league in 1999? With the Steelers facing the Browns in Week 3 and the Panthers in Week 15, this will be an interesting one to watch.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Sunday at 1:00 PM on CBS
Spread: MIA (-3.5)

With two of the next three opponents by the Steelers already covered, it made sense to look at the team who they play merely a week from now. Some may be surprised to see the Dolphins are favored by more than a field goal hosting the Patriots. But New England has struggled in Miami even when there is a large disparity between these two teams. Some people are sold on New England, while others are sold in Miami. I’m not sold on either one of them. There will be more time to figure out what’s going on with the Dolphins by the time the Steelers travel there in Week 7, the bigger team to watch is New England as they come to Acrisure Stadium next week.

So there are the three main matchups which can give Steelers fans an indication as to the quality of upcoming opponents in 2022. Not always knowing what to expect for Week 1, the first glimpse of teams playing a full 60 minutes may change some narratives.

Obviously the Steelers game itself will tell fans the most about the season. But which of these other games will be the most telling as it pertains to the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers? Make sure you vote in the poll and give your thoughts in the comments below.

Behind Enemy Lines: BTSC’s Q&A with Cincy Jungle

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 09/09/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Preparing for the Steelers and Bengals Week 1 showdown, I asked Cincy Jungle some burning questions leading up to the AFC North showdown.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their 2022 regular season opener with a trip to Cincinnati, OH to play the Bengals in Week 1. A tough task for the Steelers who have lost three straight to Cincinnati dating back to the Monday Night Football fiasco in 2020.

With this being such a big game, not like every game isn’t a big game, I was able to ask Anthony Cosenza of Cincy Jungle, SB Nation’s Cincinnati Bengals website, five questions leading up to the game.

Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.

How do the Bengals’ fan base overall view the Steelers in 2022? This is the first year without Ben Roethlisberger since 2003, and the Steelers’ win total is set at 7.5. Are Cincinnati fans seeing this as the beginning of the end, or just the start of a serious rebuild?

Personally speaking, I never count the Steelers “out” of anything. Even without their Hall of Fame quarterback, losing one of their top wide receivers and most pundits being lower on them than usual, they’re still the Steelers. Last year was interesting to watch from a Bengals perspective though, as they just didn’t seem to have as much of that trademark edge or confidence that they usually hold.

Some of that swagger seems to have been potentially recaptured with a blend of local favorites (Kenny Pickett) and those with fierce attitudes (George Pickens). Cincinnati fans are pretty in tune with the happenings around the league and the division, so they are aware that Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season with Pittsburgh. It’s somewhat hard to imagine, even with the roster turnover they’ve had the past couple of offseasons, that he’d buck that trend in 2022.

As a more direct answer to your question, I think Bengals fans are much more confident going against Pittsburgh than they have been. Not only is this because of some of the lingering questions at quarterback and the offensive line with the Steelers, but the fact that Cincinnati has seemingly hit on a lot of top picks in the Zac Taylor era.

Who is a player on the Bengals offense who could be an impact player Steelers fans might not know much about? Everyone knows about Burrow, Mixon, Chase and Higgins. Who is another weapon to keep an eye on?

I’m sure Steelers fans know about Tyler Boyd and what he can do because of past performance, his years in the league and his being a hometown Pitt guy. So, we won’t go there.

One guy I think could become a thorn in Pittsburgh’s side over the next couple of years is backup running back Chris Evans. He will get the occasional carry, line up as a receiver and return kickoffs to begin the year in 2022 and has shown a penchant to be electric.

He might be WR4 for the Bengals this season at times and could prove to be a great outlet for Burrow—particularly if/when things break down on a play.

Sticking with the offense, if there is a weakness on the Bengals’ stout team, what would it be?

One could argue Eli Apple played the best football of his pro career last year and was a nice fallback option after the Trae Waynes signing blew up in the team’s face. Still, there are spells of inconsistency and/or his looking like the guy who had struggles in New York and New Orleans—they are just way fewer and more far between because of his longtime relationship with Lou Anarumo.

Aside from that, figuring out how to get consistent pass-rush help from rotational players is a must. The good news is that Cincinnati appears to have the able players to do so in Joseph Ossai, Zachary Carter, Khalid Kareem, Cam Sample and others. It’s just that those players are young, have had injuries and/or are inexperienced to varying degrees.

The Bengals had the opportunity to pay safety Jessie Bates big-time money, but the team franchise tagged him instead. How do you see this playing out in the long run? Also, are fans confident they’ll get a long term deal done next offseason?

Most are resigned to the fact that this is likely Bates’ last year with the Bengals. His agent (David Mulghetta) is an aggressive negotiator and he wants to see his client get paid towards the top of his position. And, for largely good reason.

However, I’ve always held the notion that, at least statistically, Bates has been a “tale of two seasons within a season” kind of guy. He seems to have great portions of a season, while disappearing for stretches. And that, combined with their traditional devaluation of the position, has caused the contractual stalemate.

Regardless, his teammates love him and those on the Bengals’ defense consistently gush about his value to the unit. It will take a subpar year from Bates, the Bengals pivoting on their stance, or a combination of both for them to re-sign him in 2023, as the Bengals try to shore up long-term deals with their core players a year before they are set to hit free agency.

They’ve had two years to get something done and the franchise tag is what has come of it. It’s also doubtful a second franchise tag is on the table.

Currently, Cincinnati is a 6.5-point favorite at home in Week 1. Are you confident the Bengals will win AND cover? Or do you think this game will be a close one? How do you see this game playing out?

I don’t have the specifics at hand, but, if memory serves, even the poorer recent Bengals teams were decent at covering the spread. This looks as good of a time as any for Cincinnati to host the Steelers, given their quasi-state of transition and potentially feeling out new players.

Still…it’s the Steelers. Getting nearly a touchdown as the favorite is something that is uncharted in this rivalry. As I said above, I never count Pittsburgh out of anything, but it’s also hard to overlook the two dominant wins by the Bengals last season.

The finality of this game will be decided in the trenches. Which team did enough offensive line revamping to stymie the other defense? Did both do quality work in that regard?

Cincinnati has barely lost any key players (really just C.J. Uzomah and Larry Ogunjobi) from last year’s Super Bowl squad, so they’re primed. Pittsburgh has to hope Mitch Trubisky finds new life in a new situation and thrives (Tommy Maddox, anyone?).

I’d say Bengals win, but maybe just miss covering. I think it’ll be more competitive than last years outings.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their season opener vs. the Bengals this Sunday in Cincinnati.

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