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September 17, 2015
by Chris Adamski


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Quantifying how much Sunday’s early-season game means to the Steelers’ playoff/Super Bowl hopes

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It’s a non-conference game against a team that isn’t widely expected to be a Super Bowl contender. It’s only Week 2 of the season, and other than it being the home opener, there’s little about Sunday’s matchup against the 49ers that carries much significance.

 

Don’t tell that to the stat-crunchers at NumberFire.com, though.

 

As Mark Kaboly, Ralph Paulk and Chris Adamski discussed on their weekly Steelers Roundtable Show on TribLive Radio, Sunday’s game at Heinz Field has the feel of a game that, as far as Week 2 contests go, is one the Steelers have to win.

 

Intuitively and anecdotally, the Steelers need to win the games they’re favored in considering they are playing the NFL’s toughest schedule. They also need to win as many home games as possible, and they of course would like to avoid going 0-2.

 

Quantitatively, the good folks at NumberFire can put some tangible measure to how much the 49ers game means to the Steelers. The site uses its internal efficiency metrics to simulate the season tens of thousands of times to determine the most probable outcome for how the season will play out.

 

Here is what NumberFire concluded would be the Steelers’ chances at a playoff berth, AFC North title or Super Bowl win come Sunday night, pending a win or loss against San Francisco:

 

Playoffs-
 *   With Win: 26.36%
 *   With Loss: 15.08%

Division-
 *   With Win: 20.28%
 *   With Loss: 11.92%

Super Bowl-
 *   With Win: 1.52%
 *   With Loss: 0.82%
In other words, the Steelers, mathematically, are almost twice as likely to win their division by improving to 1-1 than they are if they fall to 0-2. They’re also almost twice as likely to win the Super Bowl, and about 43 percent more likely to make the playoffs with a victory Sunday vs. a defeat.

 

 

Incidentally, I’m sure many Steelers fans will take umbrage with what seem to be low figures in all the above scenarios. If so, you probably will like the following even less. Below are NumberFire’s projections for the Steelers as of this moment after Week 1:

 

 

Projected Record: 7.27 – 8.73
Playoffs: 19.96%
Division: 15.88%
Conference Championship: 2.34%
Super Bowl: 1%

 

 

Remember, these are cold, objective, quantitative data projections. Also, please, don’t shoot the messenger; I’m just passing them along. Finally, perhaps this is a reminder that some in the outside world aren’t as sold on the Steelers as maybe some in Pittsburgh are.

 

(Then again, some others are much more bullish on the Steelers).

 

 

Regardless, another reminder to CLICK HERE to listen to the weekly Steelers Roundtable Show – starring Kaboly, Paulk and Adamski – on TribLive Radio. Enjoy.

 

 

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September 14, 2015
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Scobee moves on after taking a mulligan on his introduction to the Steelers

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Scobee's field goal swing

Which form looks better — Josh Scobee’s placekicking, or his 5-wood?

Scobee golf

 

A scratch golfer, it’s no surprise that when new Steelers kicker Josh Scobee discusses his placekicking mechanics it sounds as if he’s comparing it to his golf swing.

 

The same, the 12-year NFL veteran said Monday, can be said about the mental part of the two athletic acts he’s most proficient at.

 

“Oh yeah, absolutely – there are very many similarities,” Scobee said of golfing and kicking in football. “Both physical and the mental part of the game. So that’s why I try to using both of them to my advantage.”

 

Scobee, long considered one of the NFL’s strongest legs, missed his first two kicks for the Steelers in the season opener Thursday – 10 days after being acquired in a trade from Jacksonville.

 

The reasons he missed the kicks, Scobee said, are physical. The reason he was able to bounce back – and isn’t fretting over the less-than-ideal start with a new team going forward – are mental.

 

“I’ve had many bad games; I’ve had many bad kicks,” said Scobee, who missed field goals from 44 and 46 yards out during the first half of Thursday’s 28-21 loss at New England. “But you can’t let it bother you because then you’re not putting yourself in a great position for the next one.”

 

Scobee made field goals from 44 and 24 yards later on during Thursday’s game. He also boomed three of four kickoffs thereafter for touchdbacks.

 

“In this profession, you really have to be able to have good self-talk,” Scobee said. “Instead of hearing your mind wandering and going in negative places, you have to be able to tell yourself the right thing – and that’s what I was trying to do.

 

“Obviously, new team, new situation, first game of the year, there’s a little bit of anxiety that you want to get off to a good start. So when I didn’t, I was little anxious about that, so that’s why I was excited about getting some more kicks there.”

 

As for the WHY he missed the two initial kicks (which were from medium-long-range), Scobee relayed that the first kick was, to paraphrase, a slice hit off the heel of his driver – er, foot. The second was more of a miscalculation based off of the wind that was present during pregame warm-ups.

 

“The first one, the ball shot off to the right really awkwardly,” Scobee explained, “and the only times that ever happens are if you catch one a little closer to your ankle, and the ball will just kind of shoot off the like that – or (it was) a sudden wind gust. But that one was more of a case of catching it toward my ankle a little bit. I’ll take that one on me.

 

“And the second one, I just started a little too far right because all pregame, the wind was bringing the ball right to left. So this one I started out outside the upright… and it never moved. So when I hit it I’m looking like, ‘Yeah it’s gonna be good’ – and it just stayed there.

 

“So obviously, it’s frustrating. I hate missing one kick, let alone two. Good thing I got a couple after that – and made them – so now I can build off that. And I’m not the type of person who dwells on bad kicks or bad games because if you do, then you’re not putting in a good position for the next kick. Because I can’t control the distance of kicks, or how many kicks I get; I just have to control the next kick, and my mindset is to be ready for that next one.”

 

The next one figures to come at Heinz Field on Sunday in his home Steelers regular-season debut.

 

 

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September 10, 2015
by Chris Adamski


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Steelers “fired up” for opener; Steelers Roundtable panel not quite as enthusiastic, but entertaining/informative nonetheless

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Here’s what Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen says about Thursday night’s NFL season-opening game in New England:  “Fired up. Everybody is just fired up and excited, especially playing these guys just because they provide so much of a challenge as far as the things they run in terms of schemes and things that. We like these types of challenges because we like to test ourselves.”

 

Here’s what defensive end Cameron Heyward has to say about opening a season against the Patriots: “What better way to do it than on a Thursday night. I think everybody appreciates being in the kickoff game… with everyone watching. We want to start off fast; we wanna run out of these gates.”

 

 

 

Mark Kaboly, Ralph Paulk and Chris Adamski won’t be running out of gates – literally, at least. Figuratively? Perhaps. I don’t know how “fired up” this group is, either. But they pledge to give the best regular-season Steelers coverage possible.

 

 

 

Along those lines, LISTEN HERE to the regular season-opening edition of TribLive Radio’s Steelers Roundtable Show to get you ready for kickoff. Please.

 

 

 

Enjoy the day. And the season.

 

 

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September 9, 2015
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Can the highly-decorated Barrett Jones help the Steelers at some point down the line?

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BarrettJones

 

The good part of Barrett Jones’ resume is very, very good:

 

 

The other parts of Barrett Jones’ resume are, well, not-so-good:

  • -Fell to the fourth round of the 2013 draft
  • -Appeared in only 10 games his first two NFL seasons, starting none and taking just 23 regular-season snaps on offense
  • -Lost out in a three-way battle for the Rams’ starting center job this summer, and the players he lost out to are a journeyman fifth-year player who has four career starts (Tim Barnes) and a seventh-round pick from last season who spent all of his rookie year on injured reserve so, of course, has zero NFL experience (Demetrius Rhaney)
  • -Was given up on already by the Rams, who released him last week

 

 

 

The Steelers signed Jones to their practice squad Monday, apparently hoping that respected offensive line coach Mike Munchak can work some magic with a player that was so highly-regarded in high school and college but has struggled over 28 months in the pros.

 

Even though Jones wasn’t ever considered to be a first-round pick because of limited athleticism, he still just two years ago was thought to be a longterm NFL starting-caliber player.

 

That never worked out, for a variety of reasons – injury chief among them (Jones had foot surgery in 2013 and back surgery in 2014). He also wasn’t seen as athletic enough to thrive in a zone blocking scheme and there were also questions about his overall strength in run-blocking.

 

“I was in the running to start… and I guess they decided the other guy won it, and they liked another guy better as a swing inside guy, so they cut me,” Jones said. “So that’s the way it is, and there’s no use pouting about it; you’ve just got to come to work and work hard everyday. That’s all I can do – just focus on learning this offense and, obviously try to make it on the active roster, here or somewhere else.”

 

Jones practiced at guard immediately with the Steelers, but he projects most as a center in the NFL and said he’s most comfortable there (he played right guard, left tackle and center on national championship-winning Crimson Tide teams). Obviously, he’s never going to beat out Maurkice Pouncey at center, but if he proves he can be adequate at guard, Jones is a candidate to be the “swing” interior backup in the future.

 

Right now, that is manned by Chris Hubbard, who did not have the best camp, and Doug Legursky, who was signed off the street late in camp. Of course, the position is Cody Wallace’s but Wallace is starting at center until midseason while Pouncey nurses back to health a broken fibula.

 

Look, there’s a reason Jones got cut, and he’s only on the practice squad. So it’d be foolish to expect anything at all significant to come out of him being here. But he’s intriguing because of his pedigree, because of the reputation of Munchak and because of the fact he hasn’t been fully healthy yet as a pro after being very durable at a high level in college.

 

“Getting cut is obviously something you never want, especially when it was a little bit of a surprise,” Jones said. “But you just kind of have to take some deep breaths and sort of reevaluate what’s going on. It’s definitely a crazy time, but I think that God has a plan for my life and right now it’s being in Pittsburgh with a great organization like the Steelers.”

 

 

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September 3, 2015
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Talking running backs with one of the best RB coaches around

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In today’s special game day edition of the award-winning* Steelers Roundtable program on TribLive Radio, we discuss a variety of topics – some of which in advance of Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers, some of which of broader significance  to the Steelers’ future in 2015 and beyond. Give it a listen – if not for me, than to hear the expertise of the incomparable Mark Kaboly and Ralph Paulk.

 

One of the topics we dive into is the Steleers’ running backs situation, particularly so on the depth chart after Le’Veon Bell. It’s my contention that this is an absolutely huge game for Josh Harris, as I wrote about for Wednesday’s Trib.

 

Anyway, as part of the reporting of that story, I had a chat with Steelers running backs coach James Saxon.

 

As a position coach, Saxon has coached some of the NFL’s best at his given position over the past decade. He’s been the running backs coach for All Pros Adrian Petersen, Larry Johnson, Priest Holmes, Ricky Williams… and Le’Veon Bell. He’s had an All Pro a remarkable eight times in the 15 seasons he’s been an NFL running backs coach.

 

In short, he knows what makes elite running backs. He also knows what makes borderline or backup NFL running backs. Both come in handy on a Steelers roster that has Bell and has a need for fill-in(s) for Bell while Bell serves a two-game suspension.

 

 

Here are some excerpts from our conversation that did not make it into the print or online editions:

 

 

On where Bell ranks among the best he’s seen–

“I heard Jim Brown say once that great running backs are like fingerprints – they’re all good, and they’re different. But he’s special because, one, he works at it, two, he’s very smart and obviously the third is that he is athletically gifted. He can do a lot of different things, and he’s capable. He’s got the common thread that runs between all those guys – their will. Their want to be good. And that’s a common thread throughout the league for good players.”

 

On how veteran DeAngelo Williams has fit in—

“The guy’s been nothing but amazing since he’s gotten here. He’s smart, he’s tough – I wish I would have been around him when he was younger. But he’s everything we need. And I’m looking forward to watching him play.”

 

On rookie undfrafted free agent Jawon Chisholm, who’s still on the roster—

“Whatever opportunities he gets he’s got to take advantage of them. We’re very happy he’s here – the kid’s come in here and worked hard. Obviously he’s a little but behind the 8-ball (coming into camp late), but he was here during our rookie minicamp so he was familiar with some of the things that we were doing, and he had kind of get caught up to speed. Jawon is like a lot of guys trying to make it: he’s trying hard, he’s doing everything we’re asking him to do and he’s just got to keep going forward.”

 

On what running backs have to show to make his roster and earn a gameday “hat” and reps—

“There’s more to it than just running the football; everybody who sits in my room, the one thing they can do – with the exception of (converted college defensive standout) Rosie Nix – they can run the ball. I’m not concerned about that. If you’ve made it this far, you can run the football. You’ve got to be able to do the other things, and there’s only one starter, so you’ve got to be able to compete in other phases of the game – you’ve got to be a contributor on special teams. You’ve got to be ready at a moment’s notice. And that’s the life of a backup in the NFL”

 

 

*-The show has (yet) to win any awards.

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the game Thursday against the *hated preseason rival* Carolina Panthers…

 

 

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August 31, 2015
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Steelers well-accustomed to backup QB merry-go-round

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Steelers are breaking in a new backup quarterback after an injury to one of the players behind Ben Roethlisberger on the depth chart.

 

It’s been an all-too-common occurrence.

 

Roethlisberger has appeared in 159 of the 176 regular-season games the Steelers have played since he entered the league in 2004, and he’s been the starter for all but one of them. Entering his 12th season, though, eight different times a Steelers backup quarterback has had a significant injury. Five of those occurred during the preseason, and seven were season-ending (including four of the five from the preseason).  Seven have occurred over the past eight years.

 

The most recent of which was Pittsburgh native Bruce Gradkowski, whose third season with the Steelers and 10th in the NFL was cut short five throws into the preseason because of hand and shoulder injuries. Mike Vick was brought in to replace Gradkowski.

 

It’s just the lastest in a long string of injuries to a group of players who are limited to, on average, less than four halves of preseason football each, and have combined to start just 17 regular-season games over the past 11 years. Yet, time and again, they have found themselves unable to play.

 

A list:

  • In 2004, Charlie Batch underwent knee surgery during the preseason that landed him on season-ending injured reserve. (As an aside: Who knows what would have happened if Batch remained healthy that summer – maybe Roethlisberger, then a rookie, is merely the No. 3 behind Tommy Maddox and Batch to begin the season, meaning Batch relieves an injured Maddox in Week 2, and Roethlisberger therefore never gets the opportunity to have one of the greatest rookie quarterback seasons in NFL history for the 15-1 Steelers).
  • In 2008, Batch sustained a broken right collarbone during a preseason game against the Eagles. The Steelers signed veteran Byron Leftwich two days later, and Batch ended up on IR before the season began.
  • In 2009, Batch made it through the preseason – but he injured a wrist over the course of throwing two passes during a November overtime game, and the resulting surgery ended his season.
  • In 2010, the Steelers were more in need of quality backups than ever before because Roethlisberger was suspended for the first four games of the regular season. Leftwich, who spent 2009 with Tampa Bay, was traded back to the Steelers in April 2010 after Roethlisberger’s infamous Milledgeville, Ga., excursion. Leftwich, though, sustained a knee injury during the preseason finale.  That left Dennis Dixon to start. He did so… until injuring his left knee early during his second game. The Steelers went back to Batch for the next two contests until Roethlisberger returned.
  • In 2011, Leftwich didn’t make it out of the third preseason game unscathed, his left arm breaking while falling to the ground carrying the ball. Batch and Dixon were still around; Batch started the penultimate game of the regular season.
  • In 2012, Leftwich made it through the preseason intact for the first time in three years… but it took less than a game’s worth of regular-season work for him to get hurt. Leftwich replaced Roethlisberger in a Week 10 win, but broke a rib during a game he started the following week against Baltimore.

 

 

 

 

At least Gradkowski and Landry Jones left the Steelers backup quarterback situation stable in 2013-14, when both made it through the two full seasons healthy. Neither, however, was asked to throw a regular-season pass.

 

 

Looking at the Steelers’ recent history with bad luck for their backup QBs, maybe Vick should sit out Thursday when they close out the 2015 preseason at home against the “preseason rival” Carolina Panthers.

 

 

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August 21, 2015
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: ‘Real chill person’ Bud Dupree says practice fracas ‘going to make us closer as a team’

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Bud Dupree was back to being the self-described “real chill person” after practice Thursday. He stood in the early-evening sun and spoke calmly and pleasantly, often cracking a smile.

 

A far cry from the maniacal, enraged ball of fire he was late in Wednesday’s practice, when he touched off a mini-melee during a team drill – needing multiple players to pull him away and work to calm him down – and then, apparently no less livid even after a few minutes had passed, getting thrown out of a drill after exchanging blows with Marcus Gilbert before the two had even engaged in a rep.

 

“Everything is good now,” Dupree said warmly on Thursday.

“It’s going to make us closer as a team.”

 

Dupree, the rookie pass-rusher, couldn’t suppress a chuckle when asked if he and Gilbert, the Steelers’ veteran right tackle, had, to paraphrase, hugged it out.

 

“Coach T made us do it anyway. But it’s all good, though. It is football, just an aggressive game… We’re good now. As soon as it was over. You can’t let something like that keep going in the locker room, because at the end of the day, we’re all a team.”

 

It was a good look for Dupree, who as a first round pick both faces external pressure to succeed and can perhaps be (even subconsciously) treated differently by veterans than any of the other rookies.

 

Dupree was contrite without looking weak. Accountable while still sticking up for himself.

 

Asked if he agreed with the adage that some veterans were heard saying in the immediate aftermath of the Wednesday histrionics that “Rookies should know their role and their place,” Dupree said: “I don’t believe in that. I’m on the team trying to make plays, just like everybody else trying to make plays.”

 

Were there any positives to come out of an incident that likely – in some ways, positively – changed the way Dupree’s teammates look at him?

 

“(The offensive linemen) stuck together – everybody stuck together. It’s good to see the defense stick with the defense, and the offense stick with the offense. Because in the game, you’re going to need that. You don’t want to back down from people.”

 

Dupree laughed off the obvious – no, he won’t let himself get out of control like that during a game. “You’ll get fined, you’ll get kicked out of the game. So when it comes to the game, you’ve got to walk away.”

 

 

Speaking earlier in the day, Gilbert likewise shrugged the incident off: “The game of football is physical. It’s nothing personal; we’re just out there competing, having fun and just finishing guys. And that’s what we want to continue to do.”

 

Gilbert echoed the thoughts of the media – and, apparently, the rest of his teammates – when he said of Dupree’s temporary temper tantrum, “Obviously, that’s the first we’ve seen it from him.” But he also said it was “what we like to see – not the fighting, but bringing nastiness to his position.”

 

 

Forget the Wednesday Fight Day. It’s over. And it won’t have any lingering locker-room effects. Of much more important to the Steelers is the development of a player who is a big part of their future. Here is more of what Dupree had to say Thursday…

 

Dupree, assessing his own camp: “I feel like I’m doing my job, but I feel like but I feel like I haven’t been in position to make many plays. I feel like as the season goes on, I’ll be right where I want to be.”

 

Dupree, on his learning of the scheme and the NFL level: “I’m way more comfortable than I was in July – now it’s just to the point of finding out exactly how to attack other teams.”

 

Dupree, on his improvement since OTAs: “I’m definitely starting to play faster – just because I’m getting more reps. I think that’s helped out a lot.”

 

 

Dupree added that he (as well as, on the other end of the experience spectrum, 37-year-old James Harrison) will be rotated in with the first-teamers Sunday against Green Bay. “Definitely going to play a lot,” he said. “That’s a good thing, too.”

 

 

So is the fact that his first practice scrum as a professional is behind him.

 

 

 

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August 18, 2015
by Mark Kaboly


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Kaboly: Steelers will go for 2 more often this year … I think

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It was really a simple question directed to Mike Tomlin by myself following the Jacksonville game.

“Coach,” I said, “obviously, the 2-point attempt was planned. Was that just because you have been working on it so much during camp?”

What I was expecting as a response was something along the lines of “we have put time into it” or “I wanted to see how it works” or something about wanting to be thoughtfully non-rhythmic.

Instead, I got a response, and I am paraphrasing now, “none of your business.”

OK, I wasn’t expecting that.

But after a little thinking, maybe there is a lot in what Tomlin didn’t say to my 2-point conversion question.

To me, I truly believe the Steelers are going to go for 2-points more often than first suspected, and it has nothing to do with Shaun Suisham’s injury or the extra point being moved back.

If you don’t remember, the NFL amended its extra point rule earlier in the year that pushed the ball back 13 yards making the attempt after touchdowns a 33-yard kick instead of 20 yards, which was converted a more than 99 percent last year.

While the numbers doesn’t suggest that there will be much of a difference in conversion percentage with the change in distance (kickers made 32 of 33 field goals from exactly 33-yards out last year), Tomlin appears to be more than contemplating attempting more 2-point conversions.

Tomlin has been quite successful with 2-point conversions over his eight years as Steelers coach. The Steelers are 10 of 13 converting 2-point conversions under Tomlin including converting all four attempts last year.

And if you see how successful the first-team offense has been during training camp while practicing 2-points, I’d consider going for it more often as well.

“You’d have to ask Coach about that,” Darrius Heyward-Bey told me the other day.

I tried, DHB, and Tomlin said he wasn’t going to divulge his “strategy.”

I don’t know, maybe I am reading too much into this, but I don’t think I am.

The Steelers are going to go for 2-points more this year, especially early in games and I am all for it.

 

As always, check out the Kaboly Show Podcast —–> http://files.triblive.com/podcasts/sportstalk/817KAB15.mp3

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August 18, 2015
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: Cam Thomas much more ‘comfortable’ in Year 2 with Steelers

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In a tacit acknowledgment of what was, to put it politely, not the best season of Cam Thomas’ career, the sixth-year defensive lineman couldn’t withhold an uneasy chuckle when asked if 2014 was wrought with frustration.

 

“It was. Pretty much…. Yeah, it was.”

 

In the very (VERY) early going of 2015, though, things are looking much better for Thomas, who became a lightning rod for Steelers fans, who themselves were frustrated having watched their long-dominant defense turn into one of the shakiest in the league.

 

Look, ask Mark Kaboly what he thinks of Pro Football Focus – or at least, of its limitations or of the idea of relying on it as a foolproof, unalienable truth when it comes to evaluating players.

 

Also, we all recognize it’s only been two preseason games. And roughly half of preseason practice before the real games begin — a laughably early and small sample size.

 

WITH THAT ALL SAID… Thomas has enjoyed a total reversal of fortune so far from 2014 (his first with the Steelers after four seasons with the Chargers) to 2015. In 2014, Pro Football Focus not only rated him the worst player on the Steelers defense, it also judged him to be the worst qualifying defensive end in the NFL.

 

Now, through two preseason games, Thomas is not only the highest-rated Steelers defensive player, he’s rated as the NFL’s second-best nose tackle through this (very) early juncture of the preseason.

 

Beyond PFF — and perhaps more importantly — Thomas is passing the “eye test” in practice: pushing centers into the backfield, rarely appearing to get “beat” for a play.

 

“It’s been a pretty good so far, but I never try to be too excited with one thing,” Thomas said Monday. “I just try to be consistent with it and keep it going.”

 

Thomas expounded on why things have gone much more smoothly – so far – in Year 2 with the Steelers.

 

“Just more understanding of the plays and stuff, a better understanding of what’s going on, an understanding of what’s going on around me and an understanding of what other guys around me are doing to make my job easier,” Thomas said. “Just understanding the whole scheme of things.”

 

Thomas, who signed a two-year, $4 million contract in 2014 and is set to make $2 million this season, was thought by some to be a prime candidate to be released over the offseason. Conventional wisdom, even as recently as the start of this camp, said that his roster spot was by no means 100 percent secure.

 

That’s seemingly changed in a big way. Clifton Geathers –  his primary competition as a top backup on the defensive line – was placed on injured reserve Aug. 7. Less-major injuries, at times and to varying degrees, to Steve McLendon, Daniel McCullers and Stephon Tuitt have thrust Thomas into more reps and more game action. His versatility – Thomas can play end or nose tackle – has shined through.

 

“Basically, (defensive line coach John Mitchell) always says, ‘Be ready – you never know where you might be needed,’” Thomas said. “…I feel real comfortable at both positions. I just know to be ready when your number is called.”

 

Thomas probably can breathe a little easier that his number will likely be called when the Steelers finalize their 53-man roster in 2 1/2 weeks.

 

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August 13, 2015
by Chris Adamski


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Adamski: ‘They’re going to be some headhunters’ — Steelers teammate on rookie OLBs

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After two episodes broadcast from the hillside overlooking Chuck Noll Field at St. Vincent College, the weekly TribLive Radio Steelers Roundtable Show made it back to Pittsburgh this week. It also included all three of myself, Mark Kaboly and Ralph Paulk for the first time this preseason.

 

Among the myriad of topics covered were Antonio Brown’s agent desiring a new contract, the status of Landry Jones and the other backup quarterbacks, the sudden depth the Steelers possess at cornerback and the present and future composition of the offensive line.

 

Also mentioned were the youngest players at a position that long has been a prominent one for the Steelers, outside linebacker. The team spent two picks over the first six rounds of the May draft there: Bud Dupree and Anthony Chickillo.

 

I mentioned that, for being a first-round pick, there is not an intense amount of pressure on Dupree to perform in Year One — the Steelers have depth at the position, and Dupree’s profile suggests he wouldn’t peak for another year or two.

 

Chickillo received the dreaded “Arrow Down” from Kaboly on this week’s show — not so much because he’s been that bad but because he was the early darling of camp the first week and since has plateaued.

 

What are the people closest to Dupree and Chickillo — their OLB teammates and position coach — saying about them?

 

 

Jarvis Jones: “They’re going to be some headhunters. They’ve got professional type bodies, they’re very smart and Coach Porter is doing a great job of implementing the system to them. And mentally because they got the physical attributes.”

 

Arthur Moats: “They’re not making any mental errors. They’re definitely working on things and getting better everyday. They’re getting off the ball fast and making sure their games are well-rounded.”

 

OLB coach Joey Porter: “I don’t put pressure on them because I know what they are – they’re rookies. Now what they did in college  and what we are going to ask you do to here is totally different; it’s going to be greatly different. What you did in college was good, because it was college. But this is you’re playing for your livelihood now; you’re playing for a whole different reason – we’re chasing world championships here. And they’re going to be scrutinized enough by the media to where I don’t have to. They’ll know where they fit by how they play. And they know the legacy (of Steelers’ outside linebackers) they came into. And they know what the job they signed up for is. And the pressure that you guys put on them is going to be enough; I don’t have to add no extra pressure to them. I just try to tell them, ‘Just play football and play it hard.”

 

 

Make sure you listen to the Steelers Roundtable (if you haven’t already) by clinking here.

 

Kaboly is with the team in Jacksonville this weekend. Plenty to watch for in Preseason Game No. 2. Take care for now.

 

 

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