Daily Archives: July 3, 2012

Antonio Brown has jersey placed in Hall of Fame

While some players have begun envisioning themselves in Canton, Antonio Brown is already there. Sort of.
According to MLive.com, the No. 84 jersey that Brown wore on January 1 against the Browns (how ironic) now resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
What is the significance of this particular piece of apparel, you ask?
Well, on that day, the 24-year-old receiver became the first player in NFL history to amass 1,000 receiving yards and 1,000 return yards in a single season. All in all, he totaled 2,211 yards-from-scrimmage in 2011.
Not too shabby for a sixth-round pick.

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Adams Still Playing Catch-Up After Missing OTA’s

Offensive tackle Mike Adams, the Steelers’ second-round pick in April, was still at Ohio State for most of the Steelers’ organized team activity (OTA) practice sessions in May and June due to an NFL rule that keeps rookies away until their schools have completed classes. With Ohio State on the quarter system, Adams was in Columbus and trying to keep up with what was happening in Pittsburgh, Zac Jackson of FOXSports Ohio reports.

“As a rookie you’re always learning, so I definitely have work to do.”

Adams was suspended for the first five games of his final college season for his role in the memorabilia scandal that led to the ouster of Jim Tressel at Ohio State. He returned and started at left tackle, then performed well at the Senior Bowl. Despite a positive marijuana test at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, the Steelers selected Adams in the second round. And despite missing all 10 OTA practices, he lined up with the first-team offense at the all-important left tackle position in the Steelers’ June full-squad minicamp.

“To start right away is definitely a goal, but I’m trying to just learn and be ready to contribute, help this team any way I can,” Adams said. “We have one goal in Pittsburgh and that’s to win a Super Bowl, so it’s my job to just do whatever I have to do to help that.”

“First and foremost, from what I’ve seen so far it’s an organization committed to excellence,” Adams said. “There are a lot of great people from the players in the locker room to the people upstairs. It’s a good fit for me.”

Source: Steelers Gab

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Antonio Brown’s Record Breaking Jersey in the Hall of Fame

Hard to believe, but Antonio Brown’s jersey from his record breaking 2011 season has been sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

According to the Hall of Fame, Brown toured the museum with Pittsburgh’s draft picks and free agents. He offered to send the jersey he wore when he became the first player in NFL history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards and 1,000 return yards.

His jersey is in the Pro Football Today Gallery in Canton, Ohio.

Brown set the record on New Year’s Day against the Cleveland Browns. He needed just 11 receiving yards. With six minutes remaining in the first half, Brown returned a kick 23 yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark.

Source: Steelers Gab


SB Nation: Steelers Have 10th Best Cornerbacks in the NFL


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SB Nation's Ryan Van Bibber ranked the NFL's best cornerbacks positions by team, and the Steelers finished 10th overall.

His list doesn't break down individuals, but rather, the cornerbacks position top to bottom within the team.

The Steelers had the league's top scoring and pass defense last season, and that was with a maligned pass rush that produced just 35 sacks all season. On the other hand, the defense as a whole produced just 15 takeaways all season, one of the lowest totals for a playoff team in NFL history.

But simply looking at a group of cornerbacks' ability to prevent the ball from moving downfeld through the air, it's tough to say the Steelers had a bad season.

The sum of their whole was greater than the sum of their parts. The marquee cornerback, veteran Ike Taylor, played very well at times and not so great at other times. The youth of the position generated much more positive buzz than negative, as CB Keenan Lewis got on the field often as starter William Gay moved inside to cover the slot. Cortez Allen played a bit in the second half of the year as a rookie, covering well both outside and inside.

The New York Jets are first, with the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles finishing second and third. The Dallas Cowboys are fourth and the Atlanta Falcons round out the top five.

The San Francisco 49ers are sixth, Kansas City Chiefs seventh and Houston Texans eighth. The Seattle Seahawks are ninth and the Steelers come in at 10.

While the list is written based on last year more than where teams are going, it looks pretty solid, top to bottom. I'm not sure I'd place the Steelers behind Seattle or Kansas City, and I'd have Houston much higher than eighth, but I don't think the top three are in question at all.




Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Steelers Salary Cap Figure over $3 Million, 27th in the NFL


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Much ado was made of the Steelers salary cap predicament this offseason, but after several releases, contract restructuring and even a free agent signing or two, a source cited by NFL.com lists the Steelers as having $ 3,734,063 in cap space for the 2012 season.

That figure ranks 27th in the NFL in terms of total availability. Certainly, though $ 3.7 million is enough to take their current roster into the season, with the ability to sign other players in the case of injury.

It does provide some clarity into the No. 1 topic this offseason, WR Mike Wallace's negotiation.

This number represents a position that even with an extension, Wallace is not going to make significant money this season. With the amount of money the Steelers have guaranteed through the form of contract restructures with several players, it's highly unlikely they'd ask anyone else to restructure their contract for the sake of giving Wallace a big signing bonus in 2012.

It does show, however, some complication behind the potential release of OT Jonathan Scott, particularly if the goal is to add Max Starks back to the roster.

The release of Scott has been something called for often by readers of BTSC. The addition of Mike Adams through the draft, and positive reports of Starks' rehabilitation from a torn ACL suffered in January, suggests it's more likely than not Scott makes the roster this season.

Assuming Starks would take a veteran minimum deal this season, Scott's $ 2 million plus Starks' contract would be more costly than just signing Starks and keeping Scott on the roster.

That would cost a roster spot, but at the same time, keeping a veteran like Scott around helps push a rookie like Adams. Even if Adams is named the starting left tackle, experienced players behind him will push him to earn and continue to earn that position.

Starks would be the back-up left tackle, most likely, and Scott would back-up Marcus Gilbert at right tackle.

(nod to SteelerAddicts for pointing this one out)




Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Steelers have dynamic duos on offense and defense

Gary Horton from Scouts Inc. put together his list of the “AFC’s top 10 most dynamic duos” and he must not have run it by Warren Sapp because Horton has the Steelers taking up two of the top-10 spots. That’s not too shabby considering that there were only 10 duos ranked among the 15 AFC teams.
Horton ranked Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown ranked as the AFC’s second-best duo behind the Ambiguously Gay Duo Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, and he had James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley as the No. 7 pair. No other AFC team had two pairings on opposite sides of the ball ranked higher than the Black & Gold.
For Horton’s list to be accurate, Wallace is going to have to actually show up and play otherwise AB is more of a solo act than part of a duo, and Harrison and Woodley are going to have to stay healthy if they want to play more than just Madden 13 together.
Here’s what Horton said about Wallace and Brown:
“Wallace may get more publicity because he is a vertical outside receiver with blazing speed who makes big plays, while Brown is less flashy, working out of the slot and catching a lot of underneath passes — but they both give defenders fits. Between them, they accounted for 141 catches, 2,301 yards, and 10 TDs last season, but only two of those TDs were by Brown. With Wallace stretching the defense deep, it opens up room for Brown to work underneath, and defenses can’t afford to double-team both guys. With new offensive coordinator Todd Haley calling the plays in Pittsburgh, this duo’s production will likely go up in 2012.”
And here’s what he said about Harrison and Woodley:
“There is a temptation here to write off this dynamic duo because age and injuries are starting to catch up to them, as they only played a combined 21 regular season games in 2011 with only 98 combined tackles — low numbers for these proud veterans. However, they remain the foundation of an accomplished defense that is still very tough to make plays against and their combined 21 sacks is still a very respectable number. They are physical edge rushers in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 scheme, but they are also very effective versus the run. Both guys do a great job of setting the edge, making it difficult to exploit either side of the defense or slide protection. If one of them slipped, the Steeler D wouldn’t be nearly as effective.”
Steeler Nation has to be pumped to see the Steelers’ repped so well on the list, especially since Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu didn’t even have to be mentioned for the Steelers to dominate. But you know it’s going to garner even more hate for the Steelers since so many other tandems were left off – except from the Raiders who had their kicker and punter round out the list…seriously. Oh well, get over it, Texans fans.

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Steel Curtain Radio: ‘Don’t Blame Arians’


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Why did the Steelers struggle in comparison to other playoff teams?

Steel Curtain Radio host Lance Williams broke down the Steelers' red zone drives in 2011, and his conclusion is former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is not to blame.

It was more about the transition from the old guard to the new guys becoming "the guys," emphasizing "the."

The development of those guys, on the offensive side of the ball, was the responsibility of Arians. Many in SteelerNation have shredded Arians, particularly for his play-calling in the red zone. My contention with Arians wasn't the red zone calls, but the fact the options in the red zone were limited due to a general strategy to get the ball deep down the field at all costs.

At the same time, that strategy made sense. At this point last year, not many would have said it's a bad idea to get WR Mike Wallace, the game's best deep receiver, the ball 70 times at 18 yards a pop. I wrote the Steelers have a tank to drive on defense, and a Ferrari to drive on offense. I was referring to the big-play ability when they had the ball.

Steelers Hall of Famer Joe Greene put it better than anyone: "...run it when you need to, throw it when you need to." A football team needs to establish itself physically in short yardage situations. Of course the defense expects you to run on 3rd-and-2. Why does that prevent you from running the ball?

Williams says in his show, "great teams smash people." If a team can't line up and exert their will on another team for two yards, they don't deserve to move the chains.

To be fair, New England led the league in most red zone scoring statistics. They didn't run the ball particularly well. But they scored touchdowns two of every three times they were in the red zone.

The Steelers scored one out of every two trips.

To tie this back to what Williams is saying, the execution of a play, whatever it is, ultimately rests on the players. Getting those players to execute, though, is on the offensive coordinator.

Whatever new offensive coordinator Todd Haley does this season, he needs to get this offense moving in a better direction inside the 20s.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Falcons Sign Former Steelers FS Chris Hope, SteelerNation is Excited


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Maybe it was BTSC's interview with former Steelers FS Chris Hope that piqued Atlanta's interest in the free agent safety.

Maybe the interview had nothing to do with it, but SteelerNation took to Twitter excitedly to congratulate Hope on his signing with the Falcons.

The former Titans safety played for the Steelers from 2002-05, winning a Super Bowl, before signing with the Titans.

Hope was revealing in the interview, particularly when discussing the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2002 draft.

Welcome to the 'Steelers Way'
We hear it. We believe in it. What exactly is it? I asked Chris this question and he was more than happy to answer.

"It's totally unselfish," he said. "The guy next to you, the guy behind you, everyone from coaches to players wants you to succeed. If there's an injury, you know your backup is maybe as good as you but you never hope he doesn't do well. It's all about winning. We're brothers.

"Even today, it could be 6 months since I've talked to or seen some of the guys, but we pick up right where we left off."

Hope spent a lot of time talking about his charity organization, the iCHopeFund, and all the good work he's doing through it. Looks as if the Atlanta area will be a benefactor of Hope's presence, both on and off the field.




Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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NFL Eases Off Blackout Rules Due to Declining Attendance


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Steelers fans must understand there's this whole other world outside Western PA. There are actually cities in which NFL teams don't sell out every game.

It's weird, I know.

Because of those other cities, and the lagging attendance the league has seen at its stadiums in the last five years, the NFL is backing down from its previous rule requiring a team to sell out every seat in order for the game to be broadcast locally. Now, they'll just need 85 percent of those tickets.

It's a foreign concept to some of the hugely followed teams like the Steelers, the Green Bay Packers, the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots. But for other markets, like Tampa Bay, San Diego and Minnesota, a dip in the win column usually means less fans will bother buying tickets.

On one hand, it's fun to say we root for a team that will never experience that problem. On the other, the issue itself is rooted far more in technology and comfort than it is wins and losses.

Let's just set aside the price of tickets for now. It's an uncomfortable reality in which every fan must live. The seemingly simple act of getting to and from the game is a bit more hard-hitting.

In Pittsburgh, it's not too difficult (not at all convenient, but what can you do?) to get to and from Heinz Field. It's at an easily identifiable location, and there is tons of parking around the stadium. The ghastly prices for that parking aside, you can get there. With the opening of the North Shore Connector, parking becomes cheaper and more convenient.

Theoretically.

I live in the suburbs of Minneapolis, and a good buddy of mine, Chuck, was a Vikings season ticket holder for several years, until 2011. He chose not to renew his seats not because of the lack of success of the team, or the dingy confines of the Metrodome. He did it because enjoying the full live event culture for fans is an absolute pain in the posterior in the Twin Cities.

On Steelers bye weeks, or preseason games, or when the Steelers play at night, I went to games with Chuck. Games in the central time zone start at noon. There isn't a specific parking ramp used exclusively for the Metrodome, and without large lots right around the stadium, you, as a motorist, have two options. You can either park in one of a few hundred building ramps, which go for your standard $ 20 or so, depending on distance. Or, you can park at one of a few landmark hubs in the suburbs, and take the light rail downtown.

Chuck usually opts for the light rail. He lives out west, and I live south, so we meet at a central point and I hop in his car. We drive to Fort Snelling (eastern suburb), park and get tickets to the light rail. The route itself begins at Mall of America, but there is no parking at Mall of America. There's a Park 'n Ride at a failed condo project not far from there, which is where 90 percent of the seats on the light rail are taken.

We get in at Fort Snelling, just three stops into the route, and there aren't any seats left. You're packed in, as Chuck would say, "nut to butt" with approximately half of those who will be in attendance at the game.

Because of the general lack of convenience of the light rail. you stop every two to three minutes at approximately 20 locations, meaning it takes you close to an hour to finally get to the Metrodome.

From there, we go tailgate, which, to be honest, is the best part of the game day experience. If we got on the light rail early enough to get a seat, we're in the tailgating lot (of which there are very few, thus damaging the experience for the fans. Pittsburgh is far more open about it due to the parking lots being designated specifically for Heinz Field).

We do that for an hour or two, and file like cattle into the Dome. I've been out there in -10 degree weather, and find those who speak of open air stadiums here amusing. Absolutely no way I'm watching a three hour game in that weather.

In the stadium, they don't show controversial replays, the stats aren't readily available, the between-play commercials are unavoidable and the lines in the bathroom are almost always 10 people deep. Concessions are obviously super expensive, and the lines to those are equally long. The seats are uncomfortable and cramped.

With the ticket, a beer or two, hot dog, and parking, I'm already out about $ 80, I'm uncomfortable and I'm watching the Vikings. At least Chuck roots for the team (to be fair, I didn't pay for the ticket, but you get the idea).

Getting home is an even more disastrous ordeal, as everyone leaves at once. It takes even longer to get on a bus, which are usually less attractive options to the teeming masses exiting the stadium. That takes us all the way back to Fort Snelling, where we get in Chuck's car, and he takes me back to my car, wherever it was.

I get home at probably 5:30 p.m.

So from leaving my house for the game, to getting home from the game, I am out and about longer than my average work day.

The question I want to ask after this long-winded ramble is why the hell would I want to buy a ticket to a game? You know what my time commitment is for a game I'm watching on TV? Three seconds to turn it on. Seven seconds if I have to flip it to CBS.

I got my beer, I got my comfortable seat, I've got a laptop to make smartass comments on BTSC's Open Game Thread (plug).

The point is the NFL is finally recognizing the game experience is far better at home than in the stadium. Sure, everyone should go to a game, but to suggest we can't watch them in the comforts of our home because not everyone wants to go through this whole ordeal is silly.




Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Jonathan Dwyer Says He Isn’t Fat Anymore, Has Lost Weight

Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesJonathan Dwyer has struggled with weight problems since entering the NFL. His stock fell to the sixth round after he came up out of shape in 2010 Scouting Combine. Dwyer then showed up overweight to training camp last year and has failed the Pittsburgh Steelers’ conditioning tests.
The 22-year-old hasn’t seen much playing time due to that reason. Last year, he ran for 123 yards off of 16 carries. However, with Rashard Mendenhall most likely to start the season on the PUP list due to his torn ACL, Dwyer will be seeing a lot more playing time, but he looks to drop the weight.
However, Dwyer claims he has lost 20 pounds this off-season and is in much better shape after pushing up to 240 last season.
“I am just realizing how much it takes to get where you are in this league and how hard you have to work and push yourself,” Dwyer told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “This is my year to prove something to myself, the league, to the organization, that...

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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