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Thread: anyone watching AAF

  1. #11
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    Jeremy Fowler
    ESPN Staff Writer

    The Steelers take pride in finding talent from anywhere, and it's showing with their approach to free agents from the suspended Alliance of American Football. Of the 30-plus AAF players who have signed contracts with NFL teams, the Steelers have signed five of them: C J.C. Hassenauer, DBs Jack Tocho and Kameron Kelly, LB J.T. Jones and DT Winston Craig.

    3h
    Steeler teams featuring stat-driven, me-first, fantasy-football-darling diva types such as Antonio Brown & Le'Veon Bell won no championships.

    Super Bowl winning Steeler teams were built around a dynamic, in-your-face defense plus blue-collar, hard-hitting, no-nonsense football players on offense such as Hines Ward & Jerome Bettis.

    We don't want Juju & Conner to replace what we lost in Brown & Bell.

    We are counting on Juju & Conner to return us to the glory we once had with Hines & The Bus.

  2. #12
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    I like the Kameron Kelly signing especially. He's got good size (6'2" 205 lbs.) but not necessarily the straight-line speed you look for in a corner prospect.

    However, I like how his instincts, vision, and aggressiveness in run support match up with what we would be looking for in a potential safety prospect.

    He was a safety for his first 3 years at San Diego State before moving to corner as a senior. Plus, the kid has ball skills after being a dual-threat QB and WR in high school (in addition to DB), and he even played some WR in the AAF early on this season.

    The Cowboys brought him in as an UDFA CB last year, but he did not make the team coming out of camp. I think that the kid could have a real shot in camp here this year if we try to develop him as a safety as opposed to a corner.

    I think he could be a Mike Hilton type of signing for us if we use him the right way (and I loved the Mike Hilton addition when it happened a few years ago; I was on Hilton's bandwagon very early on, singing his praises throughout the non-contact OTA's and minicamp before he even made his impressive showing in Latrobe during training camp).
    Steeler teams featuring stat-driven, me-first, fantasy-football-darling diva types such as Antonio Brown & Le'Veon Bell won no championships.

    Super Bowl winning Steeler teams were built around a dynamic, in-your-face defense plus blue-collar, hard-hitting, no-nonsense football players on offense such as Hines Ward & Jerome Bettis.

    We don't want Juju & Conner to replace what we lost in Brown & Bell.

    We are counting on Juju & Conner to return us to the glory we once had with Hines & The Bus.

  3. #13
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    Steelers sign Casey Sayles
    By Charean Williams | Apr 9, 2019, 9:08 PM EDT

    The Steelers have added another former Alliance of American Football player, announcing Tuesday they signed defensive lineman Casey Sayles to a one-year deal.

    Sayles was with the team in camp last summer.

    He becomes the sixth player from the defunct league to sign with the Steelers, joining center J.C. Hassenauer, defensive backs Jack Tocho and Kameron Kelly, linebacker J.T. Jones and defensive tackle Winston Craig. The Panthers also have signed six former AAF players. The Dolphins lead with seven.

    Sayles, 23, played for the Birmingham Iron.

    He originally signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent from Ohio in 2017. The Rams cut him out of the preseason.

    The Steelers cut him before the start of the 2018 season.
    Steeler teams featuring stat-driven, me-first, fantasy-football-darling diva types such as Antonio Brown & Le'Veon Bell won no championships.

    Super Bowl winning Steeler teams were built around a dynamic, in-your-face defense plus blue-collar, hard-hitting, no-nonsense football players on offense such as Hines Ward & Jerome Bettis.

    We don't want Juju & Conner to replace what we lost in Brown & Bell.

    We are counting on Juju & Conner to return us to the glory we once had with Hines & The Bus.

  4. #14
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    By Josh Alper
    May 9, 2019, 4:56 PM EDT
    Steelers release Matt McCrane, Jack Tocho

    The Steelers are back down to two kickers on their 90-man roster.

    They were up to three after signing Matthew Wright as an undrafted free agent, but Matt McCrane is now out of the picture. The Steelers announced that they released McCrane and cornerback Jack Tocho on Thursday.

    McCrane signed with the team ahead of Week 17 when Chris Boswell was placed on injured reserve. He went 3-of-3 on field goals and hit his only extra point try that weekend. McCrane also went 5-of-9 on field goals and 5-of-5 on extra points in three games with the Raiders and hit all three extra points he tried in one game for the Cardinals as he bounced around the league last year.

    Boswell struggled in 2018 and will now compete with Wright for the job over the next few months.

    Tocho signed with the Steelers after the Alliance of American Football shut down in April. He was a 2017 seventh-round pick of the Vikings, but has never appeared in a regular season game.
    Steeler teams featuring stat-driven, me-first, fantasy-football-darling diva types such as Antonio Brown & Le'Veon Bell won no championships.

    Super Bowl winning Steeler teams were built around a dynamic, in-your-face defense plus blue-collar, hard-hitting, no-nonsense football players on offense such as Hines Ward & Jerome Bettis.

    We don't want Juju & Conner to replace what we lost in Brown & Bell.

    We are counting on Juju & Conner to return us to the glory we once had with Hines & The Bus.

  5. #15
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    Re-visiting the 2018 NFL Draft, and newly acquired Steelers CB Kameron Kelly

    The Pittsburgh Steelers signed CB Kameron Kelly from the AAF, and it is only appropriate we go back and take a look at some of this strengths and weaknesses.

    By Pittsblitz56 on May 12, 2019 11:45 am

    Kameron Kelly played his college football at San Diego State and bounced around the secondary, playing both safety and cornerback. He had 9 career interceptions, 15 passes defensed, two sacks and two forced fumbles. In 2018, he went undrafted, but was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent, released not long afterward.


    In October he was signed to a contract by the San Diego Fleet of the now deceased Alliance of American Football. He once again changed positions, moving to the other side of the ball as a wide receiver. That didn’t last long. Due to a rash of injuries he was moved back to cornerback. During his time with the Fleet he had 4 interceptions, three of which came in one game, and 9 passes defensed.

    Let’s take a look back at his profile prior to the 2018 NFL Draft:

    Draft Profile

    Height: 6’2”

    Weight: 202

    Arms: 31 3/4

    40 Yard Dash: 4.65

    This was created by Lance Zierlein, of NFL.com:

    “Sources say there are teams out there who are enamored with the idea of playing Kelly at cornerback to take advantage of his length and ball skills. If he gets drafted to play corner, he will require patience as he lacks experience and movement skills to hold up against NFL route-runners. As a safety, teams like his range and ball skills to take it away and flip the field. Kelly’s success could be tied to positional and scheme fit more than most.”

    Strengths

    Long frame and expected to run well for his size
    Former high school receiver with penchant for making plays on the ball
    Has speed to range over the top as a safety
    Finds flight of the ball early and acts as a receiver when attacking the catch
    Opportunistic
    Reacts instantly to deflections, under thrown and overthrown balls to take the ball away
    Has starting experience at cornerback and safety
    Could offer sub-package appeal
    Plays with aggression in run support
    Chops down running backs at the thighs
    Productive kick cover talent with ability to compete for a gunner role on punts

    Weaknesses

    High-cut with upright, labored backpedal
    Looked much more comfortable and natural at safety
    Carries thin legs and a narrow base
    Delayed in his transitions and doesn’t flip hips with any smoothness
    Grabby at the top of the route
    Inexperienced with back to the ball
    Average short area closing burst
    Dig routes and seam throws will require earlier recognition and response
    Needs to get stronger for run support
    Gets wired to bigger blocking receivers and is slow to unhinge
    Too many missed tackles

    This was from Athlon Sports 2018 Draft Guide:

    Strong Points: Kelly took well to cornerback as a senior, and his position flexibility and ability in coverage are appealing. A former wide receiver, he has excellent ball skills, especially tracking down field. His instincts are good in terms of route recognition, and he’ll jump routes and make a play on the ball. He shows good timing when raking across the receiver’s hands. He is also very willing to come down in run support, and he had a reputation as a leader with high football character.

    Weak Points: He’s a tweener, but does he fit at either spot? At safety Kelly plays with that physical approach but has a relatively thin frame. He is a bit stiff and lacks suddeness as a mover, his range is good enough but not great. He’d struggle to flip his hips and run in press coverage as a cornerback.


    Summary: Kelly might ultimately end up as a sub-package hybrid player with special teams value. The tools are there for him to be developed as a starter with the right coaching.

    My Two Cents

    My thinking remains the same regarding Kelly in that he is best suited facing the quarterback in a free safety role. I like his willingness and effort in the run game. The term “Sub Package” used in the Athlon break down, has been thrown around a while in Tomlin’s approach to the defense.

    Does that approach change with Devin Bush now on the roster? I think so, but to what extent, I’m sure there will be a need for versatile DBs and the Steelers have some spots open at safety which will need filled. The guy has had transition in his career moving from safety to corner, from wide receiver to corner. I don’t think moving back to safety would bother him a bit if it meant making the Steeler’s 53-man roster, or even the practice squad. I liked the signing and hope he brings the necessary competition to that room.
    Steeler teams featuring stat-driven, me-first, fantasy-football-darling diva types such as Antonio Brown & Le'Veon Bell won no championships.

    Super Bowl winning Steeler teams were built around a dynamic, in-your-face defense plus blue-collar, hard-hitting, no-nonsense football players on offense such as Hines Ward & Jerome Bettis.

    We don't want Juju & Conner to replace what we lost in Brown & Bell.

    We are counting on Juju & Conner to return us to the glory we once had with Hines & The Bus.

  6. #16
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    OTA 4: First of Steelers' AAF stars spends day on first team

    By JIM WEXELL

    PITTSBURGH -- The first of the Steelers' four signees out of the Alliance of American Football to spend a full practice with the first team was ...

    Kameron Kelly.

    The long, tall defensive back started Tuesday next to Terrell Edmunds at free safety as Sean Davis continued to rehab an undisclosed minor injury through OTAs.

    Kelly wasn't just a look-see, either, according to a source with the Steelers, who called Kelly "a good-looking athlete who has a chance."

    "I'm trying not to really get too caught up in what they think," said Kelly, who grinned sheepishly when he realized what he had just said.

    "Obviously I want to impress them, but I want to keep my head and focus on what I can control."

    The 6-2, 205-pounder was a high school quarterback in the Dallas area before attending San Diego State as a wide receiver. He was moved to safety and spent three seasons there before moving to cornerback as a senior. He intercepted three passes that season and was named first-team Mountain West Conference.

    In his college career, Kelly intercepted nine passes and broke up 15 others.

    At the 2018 NFL Combine, he ran a 4.66 40 with average jumps (33/10-0) and agility (6.94/4.2, and below-average strength (9 reps).

    Undrafted, Kelly signed with the Dallas Cowboys, and some around the team thought they had found a gem.

    Kelly played in all four preseason games last season as a safety, with an average of 18 snaps per game. He made six tackles but was cut before the season. He signed to play with San Diego in the AAF, which folded after eight games.

    "It was very helpful," Kelly said of the AAF. "Eric Allen was my DB coach. He's a [six-time Pro Bowl] corner, and so having him in my ear, and playing under somebody like (head coach) Mike Martz, really helped me out a lot."

    The league folded, and two days later "a couple of teams called," Kelly said. "Once the Steelers called I felt this was probably the best place for me. I had talked to a couple of people who said they stay on you here, they make you work hard, but the atmosphere and the coaches are really good. And it's everything that everybody made it out to be."

    Kelly was identified early in the process. He confirmed he was the first-team slot/nickel corner at rookie camp, and last week paired with second-year man Marcus Allen as the second-team safeties, while continuing to take reps in the slot.

    Playing quarterback has helped his overall understanding of the game and aids his obvious versatility.

    "I'm not the most athletic guy," Kelly said, "but my IQ kind of trumps all of that."

    The three other AAF players are also performing well thus far with the Steelers this spring:

    * Casey Sayles, a former pass-rushing interior lineman at Ohio, came close to making the Steelers roster last year. He played for the Birmingham Iron in the AAF and Pro Football Focus graded him as the league's No. 3 interior defensive lineman.

    A muscular, thick (6-3, 289) and quick (11.5 sacks at Ohio/24 pressures in the AAF) 3-4 end, Sayles also worked last week as the second-team nose tackle.

    He called the folding of the AAF "disappointing, but I think a lot of guys knew that they were going to get at least a shot somewhere. But, yeah, it was definitely disappointing being with that many guys you get close to and it just kind of shuts down like that."

    The league folded with two games and the playoffs remaining. Sayles was with the Steelers-affiliated and playoff-bound Iron, but he could've signed anywhere.

    "I got a few calls from a few teams that were interested," he said. "We basically ran the same defense down there with Tim Lewis. He was the coordinator here, what, 15 years ago and basically had all the same plays. He was a good coach, definitely. But, yeah, it was nice coming back here and knowing the system."

    * J.C. Hassenauer (6-2, 295) was the top interior reserve at Alabama in 2017 and made three starts, including the National Championship Game, at left guard. He played center for the Iron and is presently alternating with Patrick Morris at center and guard next to rookie guard Derwin Gray on the second-team line.

    "He's been doing pretty well from what I've seen on film," said Sayles, Hassenauer's AAF teammate.

    "He's good," All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey said of Hassenauer. "He's smart, knows what he's doing, understands the playbook, has good hands. He has good technique overall. All of those Alabama linemen have good technique. I like him."

    * Winston Craig (6-4, 291) has taken three shifts with the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad the last two seasons after leaving Richmond as, like Sayles, a pass-rushing 5-tech. Craig recorded 13.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles-for-loss at Richmond.

    In the AAF, the Greensboro, N.C. native played 3-4 end under coach Mike Riley for the San Antonio Commanders, the runaway league leaders in home attendance at nearly 28,000 per game.

    "I got a couple of calls but I just felt like this was the best organization, a place that I wanted to be," said Craig, who's been rotating into the second-team defensive line.

    "I love it here. I absolutely love it here - the organization, the coaches, the players, and then outside the surrounding area with the mountains. It's just beautiful, a beautiful, nice place."

    Craig described the short-lived AAF this way:

    "You have a league full of guys that were either already on active (rosters), practice squad, got a minicamp tryout, a couple guys were older and at the end of their careers, 30, 31, 32 year-olds. It was just a fun little thing. You got your reps up. You got to play football. All these guys, all they wanted to do was get back to playing. I just think it was a good opportunity for everybody."


    Craig, like Sayles, isn't worrying about wearing down this summer.

    "We have one of the hardest positions," Craig said, "but at the same time if you play with good technique you can last a long time. Here, there's definitely a mutual respect on offense and defense, even with the coaches, knowing how to work and work the right way. That's how you stay safe and keep your body up."

    The AAF had high hopes as a league that could not only help players develop, but had hoped to improve the game with, according to Sports Illustrated, faster and safer games, live looks at officiating devices, and interactive gambling technology.

    But, the league folded on April 2 due to lack of funding and declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy two weeks later. Players were evicted from hotels, had to find their own ways home, and lost insurance for any medical issues sustained during the season. But none among the Steelers group complained about any such issues.

    "Overall I thought it was a good idea to get a fundamental league like that," said Sayles. "I thought the reps helped a lot of guys, including myself, especially throughout the season, the eight-game season. But I think it definitely could work out. It was a money thing. It was just tough to kind of finish off."

    NOTES -- David DeCastro and Stephon Tuitt began a second week away following the births of their children. ... Joe Haden was also absent along with Davis from the secondary. ... JuJu Smith-Schuster watched from the sideline. ... Anthony Chickillo continues to rehab a minor injury. ... Undrafted rookie Damian Prince returned to work with a new number, 64. ... Undrafted rookie cornerback Alexander Myres changed to No. 33 after Sutton Smith was changed to 42 last week in case he takes snaps at fullback.

    https://247sports.com/nfl/pittsburgh...eam-132385306/

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