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Posts of category  "Steelers"

Then-Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons celebrated with Vince Williams when they were teammates in Pittsburgh. Timmons disappeared from the Miami Dolphins, according to multiple reports. Williams intends to check in on him. Here, they celebrate sacking Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)(Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers that knew of Lawrence Timmons’ reported disappearance from the Miami Dolphins intended to talk to their former teammate. Those that didn’t know were confused. All were concerned.

“I heard something,” guard Ramon Foster said. “I’m not sure what it is, but I’m going to check and see as soon as I get a chance to clear it up.”

Sunday marked the first Steelers home opener since 2009 without Lawrence Timmons taking the field and the first Pittsburgh game in more than a decade without Timmons as a member of the organization. The Dolphins, who signed him to a two-year, $12 million contract in March didn’t know where he was Saturday before locating him on Sunday, according to reports by The Miami Herald and FOX Sports.

His replacement, four-year understudy and fellow former Florida State Seminole, Vince Williams, planned on finding out what went wrong with Timmons shortly after Pittsburgh’s 26-9 win against the Minnesota Vikings.

“I’m about to call him tonight, though, and see what’s up with him,” Williams said.

He had not heard from Timmons in the past couple days. Williams, who jokes about many topics, kidded that he would try to get Timmons back with the Steelers.

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After opening the season with an exciting 29-19 win over the New Orleans Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium last week, the Vikings fell to 1-1 in Pittsburgh due to a 26-9 loss to the Steelers. Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s loss.

1. Too many penalties gave Pittsburgh too many second chances

Time and again, the Vikings were penalized and many times the penalty negated a big offensive play or extended a Steelers possession. In total, the Vikings were penalized 11 times for 131 yards. Here is a quick sampling of the damage some of the penalties created

— A holding penalty negated an eight-yard run by Dalvin Cook on 1st down; the Vikings punted three plays later.
— An encroachment penalty gave the Steelers a 1st down on 4th and 1 and then moments later a 22-yard pass interference penalty put the Steelers on the MIN 38; Pittsburgh scored a touchdown six plays later.
— A 49-yard pass interference penalty gave the Steelers a 1st down at the MIN 12; the Steelers scored a touchdown three plays later.
— An illegal formation infraction on a missed Steelers field goal gave kicker Chris Boswell another swing at it and he converted.
— An offsides penalty gave Ben Roethlisberger a chance at a free play and he connected with Martavis Bryant for 51 yards to the MIN 12; Pittsburgh scored a touchdown three plays later.
— A holding penalty turned Vikings 2nd and 4 into 2nd a 14; the Vikings punted three plays later.

2. Defense battled admirably, slowed Steelers main threats

The scoreboard shows 26 points allowed and the Vikings left Pittsburgh with a loss. But all things considered, particularly considering how explosive the Steelers offense can be, the Vikings defense battled tough. Roethlisberger didn’t collect his third completion until 13:35 to go in the 2nd quarter, but that completion was also his second touchdown of the game. At halftime, Roethlisberger hadn’t thrown for 100 yards. Le’Veon Bell finished the game with fewer than 100 all-purpose yards and Antonio Brown was held in check to the tune of five receptions for 62 yards. Also, Pittsburgh was a modest three of 13 (23%) on 3rd downs. This was all done at a time when the Vikings were losing the time of possession battle and the field position battle, which put even more pressure on the Vikings defense to perform well. There are certainly things to clean up – penalties, included – but there were also some positives for the defense.

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Martavis Bryant’s 91-yard performance on three catches, including a touchdown, flashed his 2015 form. AP Photo/Don Wright

PITTSBURGH — In the first half Sunday, back-to-back touchdown celebrations involving receivers and an imaginary dice game signaled a much-anticipated explosion for the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ offense.

By the fourth quarter, Le’Veon Bell let out a long sigh after hitting a sea of purple for no gain, the sideline looked sluggish, and promising drives ended in field goals.

Not many expected the Steelers’ rebuilt defense to outshine the other side of the ball through two games, but that’s the reality during Pittsburgh’s 2-0 start and a 26-9 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Grinding out wins isn’t such a bad thing.

“We’re not BCS-pointing it here,” Ben Roethlisberger said. “We’re 2-0. We did what we had to do.”

To be sure, Sam Bradford‘s knee injury and inactive status played a factor. So did the Vikings’ impressive pass rush, which gave Ben Roethlisberger little time to execute his signature evasive moves once the pocket collapsed.

But with the Steelers’ playmakers, the standard is 30 points per game. That’s their yearly goal, especially in Heinz Field, where the points are more plentiful. Instead, the offense has 40 total points heading into Week 3 against the Chicago Bears.

It’s not that the offense is struggling, to be sure. Roethlisberger finished with 243 yards and two scores, but you might as well tack on an extra 70 on two drawn pass-interference penalties off deep-ball attempts.

It’s just not thriving like it should — or eventually will — be. Failing to convert eight of their first 11 third downs won’t be good enough. Emblematic of the day: The Steelers drove 64 yards late in the fourth quarter, missed on a rollout play, missed on an attempt to Eli Rogers over the middle and settled for Chris Boswell‘s 37-yard field goal.

At least no turnovers and fewer penalties is progress.

Asked how long he expects the Steelers’ offense to be in wait-and-see mode, Roethlisberger said “hopefully it’s done.”

“You can say we’re not on the same page, not in sync, but I’ll give credit to that defense first,” Roethlisberger said.

Martavis Bryant‘s welcome-back game also was definitely progress. His 91-yard performance on three catches flashed 2015 form, turning a routine slant route into a 27-yard touchdown in the first quarter thanks to his breakaway speed, which is still very much intact. “Open grass,” said Bryant about the play.

Antonio Brown and Bryant going off at the same time will mean liftoff for this passing attack. In Week 1, Brown went wild for 182 yards while Bryant stayed quiet. Bryant came alive Sunday, but Brown needed a late fourth-quarter drive to eclipse the 50-yard mark.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday practice has now been completed and the team’s recently released injury report for the day now shows six players listed on it.

Tackle Jerald Hawkins (knee), safety J.J. Wilcox (concussion), defensive end Stephon Tuitt (bicep) and tight end Vance McDonald (back) all failed to practice on Thursday. McDonald is a new addition to the injury report.

The Steelers will host the Minnesota Vikings at Heinz Field on Sunday and as things stand right now, it’s not looking like Tuitt will play in that contest. The former second-round draft pick injured his left bicep during the Steelers regular season opener against the Cleveland Browns during the second play of the game and did not return.

As for Wilcox, it’s not looking good for him right now, either. He suffered a head injury late in Sunday’s game against the Browns and was placed in concussion protocol on Monday. Like Tuitt, he has yet to practice this week.

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Quick notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-18 Week One win against the Cleveland Browns.

First Half

– Kick coverage unit. Mike Mitchell-Robert Golden-Roosevelt Nix-L.J. Fort-Vince Williams-Chris Boswell-Tyler Matakevich-Anthony Chickillo-Mike Hilton-Terrell Watson-Darrius Heyward-Bey

– Punt return team. Mike Hilton-Roosevelt Nix-Anthony Chickillo-L.J. Fort-Tyler Matakevich-Terrell Watson-Darrius Heyward-Bey-Robert Golden. Joe Haden and Artie Burns the jammers.

– First 3rd and long of the year…Steelers in man to man. Gave up the completion and first but a welcome sight for fans, I’m sure.

–  Good job by Eli Rogers to square up to this punt. That’s the first key to being a successful punt returner. Getting square and under the ball.

– Punt coverage. Front five: Watt-Fort-Canaday-Matakevich-Chickillo. Nix/Davis the wings, Robert Golden the upback. Hilton/DHB the gunners.

– And your KR unit. Front five. McDonald-Watt-Matakevich-Chickillo-Fort. Golden right behind. Hubbard/Conner/Nix part of the “wedge.” JuJu and Watson the return men.

– Good job by Joe Haden in zone coverage. 3rd and long. Cover 2 but no need to play the flats – let the offense throw it underneath. Sinks to take away the predictable route by #2 (corner) with #1 short. Then drives underneath, though he missed the tackle.

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I’m not sure for how many this ended up going unnoticed, but by the time the regular season rolled around this year, the Pittsburgh Steelers had not one, not two, but three former first-round picks on their roster from the 2010 NFL Draft. That is by far the most from any single class, as no others have more than one.

Not that that is particularly surprising, considering the fact that the Steelers are not prolific actors in free agency, nor are they known for making many trades. Of course, this offseason has begun to turn things its head. The team has four players on its current roster that they signed in free agency and another two that they traded for—with another on the practice squad.

Those free agents include two of the additions made to their previously-modest collection of talent from the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Everybody following the Steelers knows Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, whom the team selected with the 18th pick in the draft that year.

Pouncey has started every game in which he has played, but he has only played in 77 games through seven seasons, not including Sunday’s start. He only missed three games in his first three seasons, not including the Super Bowl during his rookie year, but he missed 15 with a torn ACL in 2013, and then all of the 2015 season with complications from a fractured fibula. He was fully healthy last season, however, and only missed the finale due to rest.

To Pouncey the Steelers have added a pair of top-10 picks from that draft, starting with the 10th pick, defensive end Tyson Alualu. While he never lived up to his draft status in seven years with the Jaguars, he has been a solid and consistent player over that time, never missing a game due to injury.

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Cam Heyward has entered his seventh NFL season having established himself as his own man.

That doesn’t mean the Steelers defensive end has forgotten his roots.

Heyward’s inspiration to play football came from his late father. Craig “Ironhead” Heyward not only forged an 11-year career (1988-98) as a big-bodied running back. His size and fun-loving personality also helped Hayward become a cult figure whose popularity led to a memorable soap commercial.

Although his father died from cancer in 2006 at age 39, Cam Heyward said Wednesday he continues to hear fun stories about “Ironhead” to this day.

“Just a couple weeks ago, a woman was able to hand me some photos of my dad from when he was in college,” Heyward told co-host Gil Brandt and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “One of them was with him wearing these short, skinny jean shorts.

“I was just like, ‘Wow! If I’d see my dad in that right now, I probably would have freaked out.'”

Heyward has honored his father’s legacy by becoming one of the NFL’s premier defensive linemen. The Steelers will need that strong play to continue with fellow end Stephon Tuitt likely out for at least one game with a biceps injury suffered in Sunday’s 21-18 win over Cleveland.

Heyward praised Tuitt and congratulated him on the new five-year, $60 million contract extension he signed just before the regular-season opener. Heyward, though, also believes the Steelers can weather Tuitt’s absence because of the unit’s depth that includes Tyson Alualu, the former Jaguars first-round pick who notched five tackles in extensive snaps against the Browns.

“It’s not like it’s Tyson’s first rodeo,” Hayward said. “We were very lucky to be able to even get a guy of his pedigree and talent. I think he felt very comfortable playing and didn’t look like a fish out of water.

“When Stephon went down, you expect that drop-off. I thought (Alualu) played with a lot of energy and did his job. That’s what we’re going to need these next couple of games without Tuitt.”

While Pittsburgh limited Cleveland to just 237 yards of total offense, a stiffer test is coming Sunday at Heinz Field against Minnesota. The Vikings gained 470 yards, the second-highest total of opening week, in Monday night’s 29-19 home win over the Saints.

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The Pittsburgh Steelers were banking on T.J. Watt to be a difference maker in the defense, and so far so good for the rookie OLB.

Even without Bud Dupree and Stephon Tuitt for all but two snaps, the Steelers were able to sack the Cleveland Browns DeShone Kizer seven times in the season opener. What was more eye-opening than the box score numbers was the consistent display of pressure generated by the front-seven.

You may say “Oh it was the Browns.” Well, the Browns made a ton of additions to their offensive line during the off-season, including a top guard in Kevin Zeitler and center J.C. Tretter, who proved to be an effective center for the Packers when Corey Linsley missed time.

Those additions didn’t seem to matter, though, as the Steelers found ways to dominate in the trenches and certain players really stood out.

It all started on the first play.

Stephon Tuitt

Stephon Tuitt is lined up as a 7 technique

For a 300-plus-pound defensive linemen, Tuitt gets a nice jump off of the snap, he gives a subtle hesitation, then uses a quick swim inside, coming extremely close to sacking Kizer. Pittsburgh had nice coverage on the play. Combine that with the pursuit of Hargrave and Chickillo’s contain (technically he wasn’t playing containment), Kizer wasn’t going anywhere on that play.

Then came Tuitt’s last snap of the game when he definitely went out with a bang:

This looks like a stretch run to me; what do you think? The extra tackle rookie TE David Njoku is tasked with blocking Tuitt, which is just childs play for him. Tuitt easily the sheds the block, fills the gap and re-routes Crowell out of bounds.

Just goes to show how good Stephon Tuitt is and what he brings to this defense. Thank goodness he received good news on the injury front.

Even without Tuitt, the Browns had no luck on the ground, averaging a paltry 2.3 yards per rush.

As for the rest of his teammates:

Javon Hargrave

Javon “J-Wobble” Hargrave has gotten off to a quick start in his sophomore campaign, and it started with terrorizing the Browns’ new center, J.C. Tretter. Hargrave’s pass rush presence was on full display.

Hargrave was known for his deadly swim move coming out college and it was evident here against Tretter. Even though he wasn’t able to get the sack, he flushed him out of the pocket and forced him to tuck it. Unfortunately, Shazier ended up hitting Kizer as he was sliding, so it was penalized.

Hargrave wasn’t done with Tretter yet, though:

I bet there’s nothing more satisfying as pass rusher than just straight bull-rushing an offensive linemen back into the QB. That’s exactly what J-Wobble did as he used his natural leverage (height) and power to walk Tretter right back into Kizer and sack him.

Hargrave is extremely unique for a nose tackle because, not only can he generate a serious pass rush from the interior with his quickness, but he’s truly unique is his ability to flow laterally on run plays, while also being able to anchor through double-teams.

The Steelers are gifted with having a line built for the modern NFL, with their ability to rush the passer while also being able to stop the run. The Browns could do very little when it came to running the ball, and a lot of this had to do with the Steelers’ defensive line.

Having a marquee edge-rusher is crucial for a top pass-rush. Getting pressure with four is something the Steelers have been hoping to accomplish. In a game without Dupree, the Steelers might have found that marquee guy.

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For Joe Haden, he is far from just a football player, he is an ambassador for those who can’t fight for themselves.

I have long admired Joe Haden from a distance. Yes, he played for a rival team, the Cleveland Browns, but he always seemed to be so much more than a football player. He played hard, but had a very classy approach to the game.

Then I found out how being a football player was just one part of Joe Haden. The other part was being an ambassador for people who at time struggle to fight for themselves. In case you didn’t know, Joe Haden is the first NFL player to be a global ambassador for the Special Olympics, something which is very near to his heart.

The Special Olympics is an organization which allows athletes with some type of physical or cognitive disability to participate in sports they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Such a worthwhile endeavor, but Haden’s purpose goes back to his younger brother, who was born with his own cognitive disability.

Haden opened up about his unique situation to ESPN, and you can see this touching video in the clip HERE.

Sadly, when people think of Joe Haden, they only think of the football player, but he has been using his celebrity, and platform, to shine a light on a subject which has been put in the dark for far too long.

In 2015, Haden spoke to ESPN about the ‘Spread the word to end the word’ campaign, trying to eliminate the word ‘retard’ or calling someone ‘retarded’ from everyday language.

“Open up your vocabulary, people,” Haden said. “The R-word is hurtful, hateful and ignorant. Like the N-word, it should not be part of our language.”

You can imagine what goes through Haden’s mind whenever he hears someone use that word, while thinking about his younger brother who struggles with speech and language due to his disability.

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