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  • Banks: Steelers Will Fall Back to .500 in 2015

    Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers

    Last season the black and gold rose up and found themselves atop the AFC North at the end of the season, boasting an 11-5 mark and good enough for their first AFC North title since the 2008 season.

    Sure things didn’t work out as they fell in the AFC Wild Card game at home to the Ravens, but the window is open according to many, and the Steelers could come knocking in 2015 for a chance to play in Super Bowl 50.

    Plenty of sites have the Steelers returning back to the postseason, and you can check the best odds for online sports betting from William Hill Canada for NFL odds and so much more as the 2015 season gets closer.

    One person though that doesn’t appear to be on the side of the black and gold is that of Don Banks, reporter for Sports Illustrated.

    Banks broke down each team in all the NFL divisions, and this is what he has to say about the Steelers:

    3. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers showed me something in terms of resilience last season, fighting their way to an 11–5 record and the division title, but it seemed more of an aberration rather than a return to playoff perennial status. So much has to go right for Pittsburgh to repeat that first-place finish, and I can’t see first-round pick Bud Dupree being the difference-maker on the pass rush, with rookies Senquez Golson and Doran Grant transforming a weak-link secondary. Back to .500 the Steelers go.

    Banks does have some legit thoughts about the Steelers possibly going a step back, but at the same time, the division isn’t as strong as it has been, as it’s hard to think about three teams making the postseason again in 2015 as they did in 2014.

    The Bengals can’t get a playoff win to save their lives, and as far as the Ravens go, there’s a thought that this will possibly be the season that their defense goes backwards after they have been able to hold their own the last few seasons.

    The Steelers have a lot to prove, as always they will have their detractors, but at the same time, don’t count them out, as they will take on a tough slate that will prove if they are worthy for the second year straight to be AFC North champions.

     
  • Steelers Gab “Gab Session” – Friday May 22, 2015

    SteelersGab_Gab_Session_Feature

    On Thursday evening, Steelers Gab staff writer Christina Rivers held a chat (gab) session via social media with Steelers Fans.  The transcript is below:

    MountLebanon:  I don’t understand the new rules the NFL is proposing regarding the extra point. Can you explain that?

    Rivers: The changes were actually a revision to the most recent extra point play.  Owners and the league have been talking about changes for months, but what they decided was that the point-after-touchdown (PAT) that was worth one point will be snapped from the 15-yard line for the 2015 season.  This will make the PAT around 33 yards instead of 20.  It isn’t a major change for sure as most NFL kickers have been able to convert within this range in the past without trouble.  When teams elect to go for a two-point conversion instead, the ball will be snapped from the two-yard line.

    PistolPete:  Did the Steelers pull Devin Gardner off of waivers to be like Kordell “Slash” Stewart?  Stewart really threw off defenses and I hope this is the case.

    Rivers:  Kordell Stewart was drafted by the Steelers to play quarterback and only switched to wide receiver his rookie year because the team needed depth there.  It wasn’t until then coach Bill Cowher saw Stewart in practice against the defensive backs that he created the opportunities Stewart was then given.  Gardner should be considered to be more like Antwaan Randle El – he won’t be a quarterback in the NFL and is really a project due to his size.  Gardner isn’t guaranteed to remain with the team.  With a lot of depth already at receiver, he has a lot to prove to stick around long enough to even attend training camp.

    StuckInBaltimore:  How much did Bud Dupree get for signing with the Steelers?

    Rivers:  Dupree signed a standard rookie contract (four years with the option for the Steelers to pick up a fifth).  Reports have his deal including a $5 million signing bonus as the first-round selection.

    BusFan36:  When a player’s cut, why do they have to clear waivers before being signed.  Why not stick them on the practice squad and save effort?  Seems a bit ridiculous.

    Rivers:  Ed Bouchette recently answered a very similar question.  Are you making the rounds asking this question?  It is to prevent teams from stacking up their practice squad full of guys and keeping them unavailable to other teams.  With the waiver system, the player becomes a free agent and can then choose to sign with any team – not just the team that picked him up initially.

    PittFann75:  The Steelers can’t seem to decide who is going to replace Polamalu.  Why don’t they get a veteran free agent from another team?  Will Allen ain’t gonna cut it.

    Rivers:  The team was reportedly looking at a safety but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were awarded the player.  Sorry, I can’t remember his name.  I doubt the Steelers will not at least try to get another veteran via free agency, but they may wait on a guy that isn’t asking for top-dollar.  I would watch for them to make a move during training camp.  Shamarko Thomas is the guy that is on the hot-seat right now.  He’s going to have to show he’s improved.

    Heinz57:  Why do Steelers fans keep saying that we need to dump Lawrence Timmons now instead of letting him play?

    Rivers:  There has been a lot of chatter about hanging onto veteran players “too long”, but look, Timmons was a Pro Bowl player in 2014.  He’s 29 years old.  He certainly isn’t slowing down.  It would be a mistake, in my opinion, to get rid of the most experienced guy at inside linebacker in favor of untested young guys.  Let Timmons show them how it’s done – then think about making a move in 2016.

    SteelGroupie:  I realize I am just a die-hard female fan, but one chic to another why is there even a conversation going on about the Steelers being cheaters?  It’s not New England!

    Rivers:  Right now rule-breaking is a hot topic and no fan wants to see their team singled out.  Why not cover all 32 teams and every single rule that has been broken from using Stickum to steroids? Bounties?  Deflategate is the sports scandal right now.  Trust me, things will die down and we’ll be on to the next one I’m sure.  What was legal in the past is not part of today’s football, so it’s pretty much something to talk about in the offseason.  So far no one has been stripped of any titles, so it’s basically irrelevant to go digging around in the past.

    BusFan36:  Who is the number 2 rusher going to be behind Bell? And is Bell’s suspension going to bump him from number 1?

    Rivers:  I would say that spot is wide open.  Josh Harris and Dri Archer will be pushing to prove they deserve the roster spot, but I expect OTAs and training camp to really open up some competition.  Bell’s position is not in jeopardy.

    *****

    Do you have questions you’d like answered?  Go to the Steelers Gab Facebook page and send us a message for next week.

     
  • Roster battles will heat up for Steelers during OTAs

    tajh-boyd-landry-jones

    On May 26, the Pittsburgh Steelers will begin their offseason training activities (OTAs).  Although training camp is still several weeks out, the Steelers are close to their 90-man limit on their offseason roster.  There are five positional roster battles that could shape up to be the spots to watch as the Steelers evaluate players they feel should be added not only to the training camp roster, but possibly the season roster.

    Quarterbacks Tajh Boyd vs Landry Jones

    Landry Jones was selected in the fourth-round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma but has done very little as a member of the Steelers’ roster since.  While Ben Roethlisberger has remained healthy for the most part, it has been Bruce Gradkowski who has been solidly counted on to back ‘Big Ben’ up.  Jones showed an inability to be very effective during preseason games and has yet to inject any youth into the position.  The young man’s future is no guarantee as the Steelers brought in Tajh Boyd, last with the New York Jets, to challenge him.  Boyd spent his 2014 season in the Fall Experimental Football League and is looking to renew his position in the NFL.

    The Linebackers

    The Steelers are once again deep at the linebacker position – both inside and outside – heading into OTAs in 2015.  With veteran experience from James Harrison and Arthur Moats on the outside with Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree, Pittsburgh has options with Lawrence Timmons, Vince Williams, Sean Spence, Ryan Shazier and Anthony Chickillo on the inside.  With Jordan Zumwalt, Shawn Lemon, Terence Garvin and Howard Jones (reserve/futures) on the roster as well, it will be interesting to see just how many linebackers the Steelers hang onto.

    It has already been made clear that Harrison will be limited in his snap-count this upcoming season, but his leadership qualities make him a valuable player to have next to some very young guys who can use development.  Timmons has his position solidified after outstanding performances in 2013 and 2014 and gives the interior guys the incentive to play at the next level.

    The pressure will be on Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shazier to demonstrate why they were chosen in the 2013 and 2014 NFL Draft.  Both spent time nursing injuries and many feel both men have yet to show their true potential.  Williams, Spence, Zumwalt and Garvin would love to keep their spot solidified, but will likely be the guys on the bubble for the most competition to do so with Lemon, Jones and Chickillo looking to prove their own worth.

    Blanchflower, Johnson and James

    The number three tight end position is truly up for grabs, and at this point it is going to be an uphill battle for Rob Blanchflower and 2015 fifth-round selection Jesse James to unseat Will Johnson who has also been used at the H-Back position and tight end.  Blanchflower spent part of the 2014 NFL Season with the Steelers on the scout team.  Where James has an advantage is in his size.  Cameron Clear will also be in the mix.

    Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth are the veteran guys that aren’t likely to give up their spot barring injury.  The third tight end spot may be one of the more hotly contested areas at camp as the Steelers look for their replacements.

    The offensive line

    The Steelers aren’t worrying about who is going to be seated in the starting positions along their offensive line.  Pittsburgh did a nice job of bringing in depth via free agency and undrafted rookie agents to compete for backup roles.  This is one of the deepest groups that will attend OTAs and camps for the Steelers this offseason.  Offensive tackle Mike Adams may be in a vulnerable spot after being called out for slow feet and not finishing blocks, but he did improve his play in 2014.  That leaves Cody Wallace and Chris Hubbard competing with Kevin Whimpey, Miles Dieffenbach, Reese Dismukes, B.J. Finney, Collin Rahrig and Micah Hatchie.  The focus will be on consistency and the ability to move into a role immediately should one of the starters be ineffective or unable to play.

    Replacing Polamalu

    As it stands today, the Steelers have veteran Will Allen, Shamarko Thomas, Jordan Dangerfield, Alden Darby, Robert Golden, Gerod Holliman, Mike Mitchell, Isaiah Lewis, Ross Ventrone and Ian Wild on the roster at safety.  The biggest issue that must be ironed out during OTAs and camp will be who will step up and fill the shoes of the departed Troy Polamalu.  Not one of the names mentioned above equates to the style or aggressive play that Polamalu embodied, making this a critical battle for roster spots.  It is likely that the Steelers will keep four to five safeties on their roster.  The early favorites are Allen, Thomas, Mitchell and Ventrone – but that is always up for debate.  Mitchell did not have a spectacular outing in 2014 and Thomas has yet to prove that he is ‘starter’ material.  That leaves this battle wide open.

    Final Thoughts

    While it may not be an area where a ton of focus from fans will be, the wide receiver position continues to be intriguing.  The Steelers have brought in several receivers making the question of whether Antonio Brown had intentions to holdout or not even more relevant.  The Steelers will have their requisite four wideouts, but who will they hang onto for special teams and the scout team? Who will step up and challenge starters Brown, Wheaton and Bryant?

    The running back position should be interesting as the number two spot will be up for grabs as well.

    The Steelers’ Roster (as of May 20, 2015)

    76 Adams, Mike OT 6-7 323 25 4 Ohio State
    28 Allen, Cortez CB 6-1 196 26 5 The Citadel
    20 Allen, Will S 6-1 200 32 12 Ohio State
    13 Archer, Dri WR/RB 5-8 173 23 2 Kent State
    68 Beachum, Kelvin T/G 6-3 303 25 4 SMU
    26 Bell, Le’Veon RB 6-1 244 23 3 Michigan State
    4 Berry, Jordan P 6-5 210 24 1 Eastern Kentucky
    41 Blake, Antwon CB 5-9 198 24 4 Texas-El Paso
    87 Blanchflower, Rob TE 6-4 256 24 1 Massachusetts
    2 Boyd, Tajh QB 6-1 222 24 1 Clemson
    84 Brown, Antonio WR 5-10 186 26 6 Central Michigan
    10 Bryant, Martavis WR 6-4 211 23 2 Clemson
    40 Chickillo, Anthony LB 6-3 267 22 R Miami (Fla.)
    85 Clear, Cameron TE 6-5 277 22 R Texas A&M
    14 Coates, Sammie WR 6-1 212 22 R Auburn
    69 Conrath, Matt DE 6-7 306 25 3 Virginia
    42 Dangerfield, Jordan S 5-11 200 24 1 Towson
    33 Darby, Alden S 5-10 192 22 1 Arizona State
    67 Davis, Niko DE 6-5 285 24 R Liberty
    66 DeCastro, David G 6-5 316 25 4 Stanford
    65 Dieffenbach, Miles G 6-5 303 23 R Penn State
    61 Dismukes, Reese G 6-3 296 22 R Auburn
    48 Dupree, Bud LB 6-4 269 22 R Kentucky
    80 Egnew, Michael TE 6-5 260 25 3 Missouri
    67 Finney, B.J. C 6-4 318 23 R Kansas State
    30 Fogg, Kevin CB 5-10 185 24 1 Liberty
    73 Foster, Ramon G 6-6 325 29 7 Tennessee
    Gardner, Devin WR 6-4 216 R Michigan
    57 Garvin, Terence LB 6-3 221 24 3 West Virginia
    22 Gay, William CB 5-10 190 30 9 Louisville
    96 Geathers, Clifton DE 6-8 325 27 6 South Carolina
    77 Gilbert, Marcus T 6-6 330 27 5 Florida
    21 Golden, Robert S 5-11 202 24 4 Arizona
    27 Golson, Senquez CB 5-9 176 21 R Mississippi
    18 Goodwin, C.J. WR 6-3 190 25 1 California University (PA)
    5 Gradkowski, Bruce QB 6-1 220 32 10 Toledo
    24 Grant, Doran CB 5-10 200 22 R Ohio State
    48 Green, Shayon LB 6-1 255 23 1 Miami
    25 Harris, Josh RB 5-11 210 24 1 Wake Forest
    92 Harrison, James LB 6-0 242 37 13 Kent State
    54 Hatchie, Micah OT 6-5 306 23 R Washington
    79 Hemer, Ethan DE 6-6 282 24 1 Wisconsin
    88 Heyward-Bey, Darrius WR 6-2 219 28 7 Maryland
    97 Heyward, Cameron DE 6-5 288 26 5 Ohio State
    31 Holliman, Gerod S 5-10 218 21 R Louisville
    74 Hubbard, Chris G 6-4 286 24 2 UAB
    81 James, Jesse TE 6-7 261 20 R Penn State
    46 Johnson, Will FB 6-2 238 26 4 West Virginia
    44 Jones, Howard LB 6-4 238 25 1 Shepherd
    95 Jones, Jarvis LB 6-2 245 25 3 Georgia
    3 Jones, Landry QB 6-3 221 26 3 Oklahoma
    65 Kruger, Joe DE 6-6 287 22 2 Utah
    54 Lemon, Shawn LB 6-2 250 26 1 Akron
    37 Lewis, Isaiah S 5-10 211 23 1 Michigan State
    62 McCullers, Daniel DT 6-7 352 22 2 Tennessee
    90 McLendon, Steve DT 6-4 320 29 6 Troy
    83 Miller, Heath TE 6-5 256 32 11 Virginia
    23 Mitchell, Mike S 6-0 210 27 7 Ohio
    55 Moats, Arthur LB 6-2 250 27 6 James Madison
    16 Murphy, Tyler WR 6-2 213 23 R Boston College
    45 Nix, Roosevelt FB 5-11 260 23 1 Kent State
    53 Pouncey, Maurkice C 6-4 304 25 6 Florida
    7 Roethlisberger, Ben QB 6-5 241 33 12 Miami (Ohio)
    17 Rogers, Eli WR 5-10 180 22 R Louisville
    40 Scheuerman, Ross RB 6-0 204 22 R Lafayette (Pa.)
    50 Shazier, Ryan LB 6-1 237 22 2 Ohio State
    89 Spaeth, Matt TE 6-7 260 31 9 Minnesota
    51 Spence, Sean LB 5-11 231 24 4 Miami
    30 Stingily, Cameron RB 6-1 235 R Northern Illinois
    6 Suisham, Shaun K 6-0 200 33 11 Bowling Green
    93 Thomas, Cam DT 6-4 330 28 6 North Carolina
    29 Thomas, Shamarko S 5-9 217 24 3 Syracuse
    74 Thornton, Mike DT 6-1 296 R Georgia
    94 Timmons, Lawrence LB 6-1 234 29 9 Florida State
    91 Tuitt, Stephon DE 6-5 303 21 2 Notre Dame
    64 Van Dyk, Mitchell T 6-7 299 24 1 Portland State
    35 Ventrone, Ross S 5-8 195 28 3 Villanova
    78 Villanueva, Alejandro OT 6-9 277 26 1 Army
    72 Wallace, Cody C/G 6-4 300 30 6 Texas A&M
    78 Walton, L.T. DE 6-5 319 23 R Central Michigan
    60 Warren, Greg LS 6-3 252 33 11 North Carolina
    39 Webb, B.W. CB 5-11 190 25 3 William & Mary
    11 Wheaton, Markus WR 5-11 182 24 3 Oregon State
    71 Whimpey, Kevin T 6-5 295 24 R Utah State
    38 Wild, Ian S 6-0 205 25 1 Mercyhurst
    34 Williams, DeAngelo RB 5-9 215 32 10 Memphis
    98 Williams, Vince LB 6-1 250 25 3 Florida State
    9 Wing, Brad P 6-3 205 24 2 LSU
    56 Zumwalt, Jordan LB 6-4 235 23 2 UCLA

     

     
  • Steelers add QB/WR Devin Gardner to offseason roster

    Devin Gardner

    The Pittsburgh Steelers added Devin Gardner to their off season roster on Tuesday.  Gardner (6-feet-4, 216), a former quarterback at the University of Michigan converted to wide receiver, was claimed off of waivers after signing with the New England Patriots as an undrafted rookie.  The Patriots released Gardner on Monday.

    To make room on the roster, the Steelers waived Missouri receiver L’Damian Washington.

    As a receiver, Gardner caught 18 passes for 266 yards and scored four touchdowns for the Wolverines.  Gardner had an up-and-down career in a Michigan program that struggled.  As a junior, Gardner threw for 2,960 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, setting school records for passing yards in a game (503) and total yards in a game (584).  His senior season (2014), Gardner was only able to throw ten touchdowns compared to 15 interceptions and transitioned to the receiver position.

    The Steelers continue to focus on tall targets despite a strong receiving corps in Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant plus recent draft selection Sammie Coates.  Whether their interest is simply to create depth through a systematic build-up or based on concerns that Brown may not remain with the team for the long-term remains to be seen.  The Steelers will have plenty of competition at training camp in Latrobe this year to evaluate.

    Jerome_Bettis_headshot

     
  • Happy Birthday Craig Wolfley! Hear ‘Wolf’ Talk About the 1984 Playoff Game Vs Denver

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    May 19th is former Steelers offensive lineman and now sideline reporter Craig Wolfley’s birthday! Today we celebrate by offering a clip of Craig during an interview for the upcoming book “Game of My Life: Pittsburgh Steelers,” which will be out in September.

    Hear as Craig talks about getting ready for the 1984 AFC Divisional Playoff Game in Denver – and says coach Chuck Noll wasn’t exactly telling the truth when it came to getting ready for the extreme altitude conditions.

     
 
 
 
 
 

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  • pete: Good grief? The Timmons question again? Get a grip people! …
     
  • DaveB.: Agreed . The safety position is in total freefall and the pl…
     
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