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July 18, 2015
by Chris Adamski

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Adamski: Is Kelvin Beachum next?


With the news that the summer’s No. 1 contract-extension priority for the Steelers, Cameron Heyward, was signed to a new deal late Thursday, now the attention can turn to the player who is the team’s No. 2 priority.

Assuming there is one.

It’s been speculated that the Steelers might – perhaps – be one-and-done this offseason when it comes to extending players who are entering the final year of their deals. Heyward, for any number of reasons (production, intangibles, talented-and-ascending), was the obvious “must-sign.” With that getting done comfortably, what or who is next?

First, a listing of the candidates – “candidates” defined as veteran players who are entering the final season of multi-year contracts in which they will be unrestricted free agents after the campaign ends. Of the Steelers 2016 UFA’s-to-be, backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, defensive lineman Cam Thomas, fullback/tight end Will Johnson, guard Ramon Foster, cornerback William Gay, nose tackle Steve McLendon and left tackle Kelvin Beachum qualify.

That group can quickly be whittled down when you concede backup quarterback doesn’t figure to be a high priority – and neither does fullback, considering it’s a position rarely used anymore (with apologies to Johnson’s improved work when lining up on the line of scrimmage).

Also, Cam Thomas just has to worry about making this season’s team before he can think about any kind of extension.

Then, consider that the Steelers have already let Gay walk once via free agency (he played the 2012 season in Arizona). Although it wouldn’t be surprising whatsoever if Gay is back in 2016 and beyond, just don’t expect it to be a priority over these next eight weeks before the regular season starts.

Finally, the Steelers could probably be content to take a longer look at Daniel McCullers this season before effectively blocking him by signing the player in front of him on the depth chart, McLendon, to an extension.

Who does that leave? Beachum. A fine player (Pro Football Focus rated him the NFL’s fifth-best tackle in 2014) and an even finer young man. But he probably isn’t the slam-dunk extension candidate Heyward was, however.

Beachum is a curious case. He’s been effective, and he’s well-liked. He’s been underpaid – his backup, Mike Adams, has made more than him over these past four seasons (Adams was drafted five rounds prior than Beachum in 2012’s second round). Considering Adams is also an unrestricted free agent-to-be and there is literally zero NFL games of experience behind them (not counting starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert, of course), extending Beachum is a no-brainer, no?

Maybe, but if so, it’ll not come cheaply. Veteran starting left tackles on the free agent market typically are richly rewarded. It’s a position viewed by some as the second-most important on the field.

To wit, per

Twenty-three left tackles carry a cap hit of at least $4 million this season, 21 of at least $5 million, 18 of at least $6 million, 15 of at least $7 million and 10 of at least $8 million. You better believe Beachum – via his agent – will want to be paid at least in the top half of the league’s starters, which easily means $7 million (yes, I know cap hit isn’t the same as salary, but bear with me, this  just as a general guide here).

Of left tackles currently under contract who signed veteran deals of at least three seasons (which Beachum will, at minimum, command) and that kick(ed) in during this season of either of the past two seasons*, the average annual value is $7.5 million and the average guarantee is $17.45 million. (Again, my disclaimer: “guarantee” is subjective, but this is per Spotrac’s definition).

No offensive lineman from the 2012 draft class has signed his “second” contract yet. (Tom Compton was cut before his rookie season began, spending it on the practice squad, so he is exempt). This means a market has not yet been established.

Keep in mind that for those first two bulleted points, the numbers are on the low end of what today’s starting left tackles will command on the market simply because most of those deals were signed in past offseasons, when the salary cap was lower and therefore less money was available. Inflation, in the NFL as in life, is a constant. (Just usually exponentially more in the NFL than in life).

But the overall point stands: A Beachum contract will cost no insignificant sum.

The problem is, where do the Steelers turn at left tackle if they don’t keep Beachum?

Adams – a player their own actions say they believe is inferior?

Alejandro Villanueva – a player who turns 27 soon and hasn’t appeared in an NFL game yet?

A free agent? Who’s to say a comparable player would come any cheaper than a known quantity in Beachum?

A draft pick? It’s never wise to depend on a rookie – let alone an unnamed, theoretical one who you wouldn’t even know his identity at the time you’d be letting Beachum walk.

At 6-3, 303, Beachum is undersized by NFL left-tackle standards. Maybe that gives the Steelers pause? Perhaps knowing that it’s likely that at least some teams will never considering signing Beachum because of his size will work to suppress his value on the open market, thereby giving the Steelers a reason to lowball? As a seventh-round pick, several teams have passed on Beachum once before.

Either way, tracking the Beachum/Steelers extension saga will be one of the main stories to follow during training camp.

*-Note: For Michael Oher, I used the contract he signed with Tennessee in 2014 instead of the one he signed with Carolina this past spring after getting but by the Titans


July 13, 2015
by Chris Adamski

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Adamski: Where have you gone, Chris Gardocki? Examining a decade of Steelers punting turnover



If you’re a Steelers fan, mark Dec. 13 on your calendars. A big division game on the road at Cincinnati? Yes. But it’s also a day Brad Wing – potentially – could make history.



Under Mike Tomlin, no man has started and finished two consecutive full seasons as the Steelers punter. Should Wing make it to mid-December holding the job – no sure thing whatsoever, considering he’d have to hold off challenger Jordan Berry in camp, stay healthy and avoid getting cut due to performance through 12 games – he will have been the first Steeler since Chris Gardocki (2004-2006) to last at least 29 consecutive games as the team’s punter.



Through a combination of poor performance, bad luck, injuries and a quick trigger finger when it comes to cuts, the Steelers’ punting position has been a revolving door since Gardocki was cut at age 37 in the wake of the team drafting punter Daniel Sepulveda in the fourth round of the 2007 draft.



Gardocki and Josh Miller had handled 716 of the Steelers’ 729 punts over the decade span of 1997-2006 (trivia answer for the remaining 13: one Kordell Stewart quick kick in 1998 and two by Ben Roethlisberger in 2005, three punts by kicker Kris Brown when Miller was knocked out of the 2001 opener in Jacksonville and seven by Tom Rouen when Miller had a shoulder injury in 2002).



In an early statement as to a supposed emphasis on special teams during his first draft as coach, Tomlin (via general manager Kevin Colbert, et al) traded up in the fourth round of the 2007 draft to select Sepulveda, the NCAA’s all-time leader in punting average. (A little more trivia and perspective: The Patriots used the 110th pick in a trade to get Randy Moss; the Steelers used a sixth-round pick to move up to the spot two picks later to nab Sepulveda).



But Sepulveda would neither stay healthy (he was available for only 52 of the Steelers’ 80 games he was paid by them) nor live up to his lofty draft status (a mediocre 43.7 yards-per-punt career gross average).



So the Steelers turned elsewhere. Again and again.



Eight men have held the title of being the Steelers’ punter over the past eight seasons, with the job being passed on to someone else (for one reason or another) 11 times in that span.




Some seasonal examples to wit…

2008: Sepulveda sustained a season-ending knee injury early in training camp. Mitch Berger held the job for eight games but then got cut in favor of Paul Ernster, who held it for all of three weeks before the Steelers cut him and went back to Berger.

2010: A Sepulveda knee injury after the 12th game knocked him out for the season, and the team turned to Penn State grad Jeremy Kapinos.

2011: On Nov. 5 – midway through the regular season – the Steelers again turned to Kapinos after placing Sepulveda on injured reserve because of, you guessed it, a knee injury.

2013: The Steelers spent the preseason with two punters on their roster – incumbent Drew Butler and 37-year-old Brian Moorman – but ended up using neither of them, instead signing Zoltan Mesko the week prior to the regular-season opener. Mesko wouldn’t even last the season, though, and he was cut in late October in favor of Matt McBriar.






The Steelers have tried seemingly everything: From rookies (Drew Butler) and first-year players (Wing) to 36-year-olds (Mitch Berger) and 11-year veterans (Matt McBriar); unsigned first-year players (Berry) to high draft picks (Sepulveda). They’ve tried both right- and left-footed (Sepulveda) punters. They’ve encouraged competition in camp, scanned the waiver wire when camp ended, brought in players for tryouts midseason.



Nothing – in terms of continuity, at least – has worked.







The Steelers punters, by season, in the Mike Tomlin Era, with team punting NFL ranks



Season             Punter(s)                                             Team gross rank         Team net rank

2007                Daniel Sepulveda                                            18th                                   18th

2008                Mitch Berger (13 games), Paul Ernster (3)    31st                              29th

2009                Sepulveda                                                        22nd                              22nd

2010                Sepulveda (12 games), Jeremy Kapinos (4)    12th                              8th

2011                Sepulveda (8 games), Kapinos (8)                  16th                              9th

2012                Drew Butler                                                    26th                              25th

2013                Zoltan Mesko (7 games), Matt McBriar (9)   31st                              31st

2014                Brad Wing                                                       29th                              26th


AVERAGES IN TOMLIN ERA                                                    23rd                              21st






I couldn’t find the data to back this up, but judging by those numbers the Steelers’ gross average has got to be one of the worst in the league over that eight-year span. Not exactly the legacy Tomlin was looking to establish by spending two picks on a specialist in his debut draft as a head coach.



Maybe Wing can stop the merry-go-round. Other than a couple memorable gaffes last season, he was satisfactorily dependable – and at 24 with a year of experience under his belt, one would bet on him improving and remaining the Steleers’ punter throughout this season and into the foreseeable future.



Then again, after watching what has happened to Steelers punters over the past decade, perhaps the smarter bet is on what always seems to happen: Change at the position.









June 22, 2015
by Chris Adamski

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Adamski: Don’t forget about Fogg, Webb when examining the Steelers’ cornerbacks



From the outside, they’re the forgotten men in the Steelers’ quest to improve their secondary.


Caught in the middle between established veteran and high-pedigree rookie, B.W. Webb and Kevin Fogg might be Nos. 6 and 7 among the seven cornerbacks on the Steelers training camp roster when it comes to headlines. But don’t be surprised come final cuts in September that one and/or the other finds his way onto an opening day 53-man.


“There’s always room for improvement and things to do better at; I’m still trying to get a grasp of some things,” Webb said last week in the locker room following a minicamp workout. “But I think I’m doing a good job of showing them that I’m ready to get out on the field and start playing.”


Everyone knows projected starters William Gay and Cortez Allen, who have a combined 13 seasons with the Steelers. Fans also are keenly aware of rookies Senquez Golson and Doran Grant, who were each drafted within the first four rounds of the draft last month.


Antwon Blake, after late last season showing he could play – even excel – in the NFL, likewise is a known quantity of sorts.


Where does that leave Webb and Fogg?


In an uphill battle to win a roster spot? Perhaps. But each also has an intriguing case to make.


Webb was a fourth-round draft pick just 26 months ago. He played 195 snaps over 15 games for the Cowboys in 2013 (all snap info courtesy Pro Football Focus), and he appeared in 11 games for the Steelers last season (albeit almost exclusively on special teams).


But with the retirement of Ike Taylor and the free agency departure of Brice McCain, combined with the fact rookies are still just a few weeks into learning the playbook and a minor minicamp injury to Allen, Webb found himself on the field with the “1s” with frequency during organized team activities and minicamp.


“I just trying to be a better me so we can win the Super Bowl,” Webb said. “Anything that I can do better, anything that I can help with to put us in the right spot to get to that big game, man.”


For Webb, that’s meant a role in special teams. He said he’s been part of both punt and kickoff coverage and return teams. Standing out for special teams coach Danny Smith certainly wouldn’t hurt his cause.


Webb made a name for himself at an FCS school (William & Mary), intercepting three passes in his collegiate debut in an upset over Virginia in 2009. He also turned some heads at the 2013 combine and Senior Bowl.


But he struggled during his rookie season and was cut late during the ensuing training camp. The Steelers scooped him up via waivers and kept him on the 53-man roster all season.


Fogg has yet to earn anything more than a practice-squad NFL check. Another small-school product (Liberty), he went undrafted last year. After spending time in the Dolphins’ training camp, he eventually was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad in December (48 hours after Taylor’s final play with the team).


But after the season ended he was quickly signed to a reserve/future contract, and he appeared far from out of place in defensive snaps this spring.


“I’m just blessed just to be here; God has opened up my eyes a little bit of all that He’s given me, so it’s been good to be able to compete and have fun and enjoy the process,” Fogg said. “Sometimes going into your first *true* offseason it can be a little hesitant at first, but it’s been good because I was with (the Steelers) for the last four weeks of the season just to get used to the feel for everybody and click with people for the most part. But it’s fun; I feel good.”


Fogg, who was an FCS All-American returner as a senior in college, said he hasn’t taken any reps at nickel DB this spring. But he has been on the outside covering receivers – and he has repeatedly made plays and raised some eyebrows among teammates, coaches and observers on the South Side over the past month.


A spiritual man, Fogg is doing his best to take his quest to earn an NFL roster spot in stride.


“I felt like when I went through the process of training camp last year with the Dolphins that I got a little too ahead of myself and was trying to, you know, play the numbers game (in regard to available roster spots),” Fogg said. “For a player that’s young and a rookie to play the numbers game, it plays with your head and it messes you up mentally.


“So it’s just been good for me to take one day at a time here, enjoy the process and just give it my best each and every day, and just do what I have to do right now – worry about tomorrow when the time arises, and just continue to have that mindset each and every day… All I can do is just do my best and God will take care of the rest.”


A lot can happen between now and the start of the regular season: Injuries. A new player brought in at the position (seven cornerbacks is not very many for a 90-man roster). Play from the rookies that either far exceeds or is far inferior to what is expected. The point being, it’s too early to tell how the Steelers roster will shake out at cornerback.


But for inspiration on how a so-called longshot can make an impact at the position for the Steelers, Webb and Fogg can look no further than their own meeting room. Blake went undrafted from a smallish school (UTEP), got cut late in his second training camp, underwent a position change from safety, made his initial mark on special teams… and by the end of last season was a key subpackage cog in the Steelers’ secondary.



June 15, 2015
by Chris Adamski

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Adamski: Does Shazier have to ‘beat out’ Spence, Williams for his starting job?



Last season, Ryan Shazier became the rare rookie who started on defense for the Steelers (barring injury). Remember, not even Troy Polamalu did that. Shazier started the season opener – indeed, the first three games of the season, and was in the lineup for the first five in which he played overall. This, after “running with the 1s” throughout most of training camp, too.


But by the end of the season, he wasn’t starting. Yes, injuries played a part in that (he missed four weeks each for knee and ankle ailments), and the Steelers purportedly were “easing Shazier back in” after the second stretch of time he was out. As seen by the chart below, there is merit to that because Shazier’s playing gradually worked itself back up over the final five games (including the playoff loss to Baltimore).


Still, there really isn’t much room for interpretation: By definition, Shazier lost his starting job. Yes, Sean Spence and Vince Williams were performing admirably and yes, coaches are sometimes loathe to make changes when a team is on a late-season roll (the Steelers won their final four regular-season games). And while it’s true that conditioning up to “game speed” can be a factor, consider me highly skeptical that if Lawrence Timmons had missed similar time due to injury that he would not have immediately returned to his former role.



Steelers’ playing time at left inside linebacker late in 2014(after Shazier returned from injury)

Game  (defensive snaps)        Shazier           Spence             Williams

12/7 at Cincinnati (61)            0 (0%)              27 (44%)          34 (56%)

12/14 at Atlanta (60)              4 (7%)              22 (37%)          35 (58%)

12/21 Kansas City (66)            20 (30%)          13 (20%)          33 (50%)

12/28 Cincinnati (71)              38 (54%)          26 (37%)          7 (10%)

1/3 Baltimore (playoffs) (57)  23 (40%)          21 (37%)          11 (19%)

(Source: and Pro Football Focus)



So, what does that mean for 2015? Apparently, not much – at least if reading into organized team activities and what inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky  says means anything, anyway.


Shazier is back getting starter’s reps. (On a side note, the rest of the depth chart, as it stands now, at LILB clearly appears to be Sean Spence at No. 2, followed by Vince Williams). And not only did Olsavsky sing Shazier’s praises, he seemed to shoot down the notion that there will be any kind of timeshare at his position.


“He played at a pretty fast pace (last year),” Olsavsky said of Shazier. “How he played from whistle to whistle was pretty good. He just has to clean some things up so he can get a little faster on the top end and a little cleaner in the pile. But he missed a lot of time and came back and made some great plays…

“We picked him in the first round, and we expect a lot of our first-round picks. I expect lot of all my players, but when you get picked that high it’s for a reason, and we expect him to fulfill his potential.”


Pretty positive and unambiguous, no? None of that he-has-to-earn-his-spot-like-everyone-does-no-matter-how-talented-or-where-he-was-drafted coachspeak.


Perhaps even more telling was when I asked Olsavsky, without mentioning Shazier’s name, about “the three guys you have at your position other than Lawrence who, I’m sure, all see themselves as starters.” What I was getting at was if he or defensive coordinator Keith Butler would consider using Spence, Williams and Shazier either in some sort of rotation or, more likely, use each in certain specific subpackages (or situations) that might take full advantage of each player’s strengths.


Olsavsky allowed that “I hope all of them see themselves as starters,” but he did say that last season’s playing-time split at LILB (per Pro Football Focus, Shazier played 283 snaps, Spence 531 and Williams 264) “had more to do with the injury situation.”


“I don’t really look at packages and certain things linebackers have to do,” Olsavsky said. “…The guys who react the best are gonna play the most. I don’t really believe in democracy on a football team – every sport you play, there’s some player better than the other one, and if that drives you to be a better player, so be it.”


Add it all up, and to me, it seems as if Shazier is the starter, and Spence and Williams are backups. Period. That’s not surprising whatsoever by any means – it was a matter of time before a first-round pick and extremely talented player (as Shazier is) took over. But it appears as if the Steelers aren’t even offering the pretense of a manufactured competition for the job. Throughout sports, that’s typical protocol, particularly with a young and relatively unproven (at the NFL level, anyway) player.


Then again, perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising; after all, Shazier was in the same position last summer – when he had even less of a professional resume. Shazier’s pure athleticism and ability and playmaking skills are apparently just too overwhelming to ignore. Put that way, that’s probably good news for the Steelers.





May 28, 2015
by Mark Kaboly

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Kaboly: Jarvis Jones still dealing with wrist injury


Rehabbing a wrist and being a pass-rushing linebacker in the NFL is a tricky proposition.

If Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones didn’t figure that out last year when he came back from a dislocated wrist that required surgery only after 10 weeks, he sure does now.

The Steelers finished the first week of organized team activities on the South Side on Thursday and Jones revealed afterward that he is still dealing with some minor issues with his wrist.

“It was a serious injury and I am still rehabbing it and everything but I still have some strength and motion and mobility stuff I am working on with it,” Jones said.

The Steelers are counting on Jones to take over the full-time role as right outside linebacker even though James Harrison was re-signed in the offseason.

Jones appeared to be well on his way of having a solid second year in the league a season ago. Jones had two sacks in 56 pass rushes and also forced a fumble before dislocating his wrist on possibly his most disruptive play of his career.

Jones sacked Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and forced a fumble early in the third quarter of a 9-3 game. The Steelers turned it into a touchdown and went on to a 37-19 road win.

Jones spent the next 10 weeks on the injured reserve/designated to return list before coming back for a Week 14 game against the Bengals, where he split snaps with Arthur Moats.

After Harrison returned in Week 16, Jones rarely got on the field. Jones played 16 snaps over the final three games to cap a second unproductive season.





May 28, 2015
by Chris Adamski

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Adamski: Even in retirement, Troy still hands-on in mentoring replacement Shamarko



Outwardly, there hasn’t been a more humble guy in the Steelers’ locker room – or maybe on the planet – than Troy Polamalu. Funny, though, what the likely future Hall of Fame safety’s primary football advice is to the young player set to be his heir apparent.


“‘Have your expectations bigger than everyone else’s,’” Shamarko Thomas said from the Steelers practice fields Thursday, relaying Polamalu’s second-most important piece of advice to him. “‘People might have these expectations for you, but your’s have got to be higher.’”


Perhaps that’s part of what Polamalu so great yet so beloved by teammates and fans: Supreme confidence internally; unassuming modesty on the outside.


By now, you know that Polamalu has retired from football, and that Thomas – set to enter his third season – is the odds-on bet to replace him as the Steelers’ starting strong safety. What you might not know is that Thomas says he’s “definitely closer to (Polamalu) than anybody” he’s played with and that the two still regularly communicate via text or phone.


“My second year, I came to him in the offseason, I just asked him, ‘I want to be great,’” Thomas said Thursday following the third of 10 Steelers’ OTAs. “And he just told me ‘Being great is not just being a great football player; being a great football player is putting God first and your family, and everything else will fall into place.’”


It’s clear that a penchant for big plays isn’t all that Polamalu and Thomas share – their deep spirituality also binds them. Remember how “make your expectations for yourself greater than what those around you expect from you” was the second-most important piece of advice Thomas said Polamalu gave him? Well, No. 1 was, “Put God first, idolize God.”


“He keeps my mind right,” Thomas said of Polamalu, “mentally and spiritually. Physically, he always tells me what to do. It’s definitely weird (not having Polamalu) out here, but we’ve got young guys and we’re trying to compete and try to take the job.”


It will be an upset – not to mention, a disappointing reflection on Thomas – if he’s not the one who succeeds Polamalu in the starting lineup.


“I know I will never replace Troy,” Thomas said, “on and off the field.  Godly man, fatherly-like man, great mentor. I just want to be half the man he is, you know, off the field. And on the field, just learn what he taught me and just carry it into my gameplan.


“I’m not worried about the job right now. I’m out here trying to compete… and just work hard.”


It’s no secret that the play of Thomas figures to be one of the most pivotal aspects of the Steelers defense’s chances at success this season. Polamalu won’t be making plays anymore himself, and he, of course, can’t make Thomas make plays, either. Still, his continued mentoring of such a key player on the roster certainly can’t hurt.


That means that even from afar, even after he’s left the game for good, Polamalu still can have an impact on the Steelers this season.


Asked what he still has to prove to his coaches, Thomas gave an answer that checks all the boxes out of the Polamalu playbook: Confident-yet-humble, but spiritual above all.


“I feel like I ain’t got to prove myself to nobody,” Thomas said. “I know how I work. God has a plan; I’m just out here to compete. That’s the biggest thing for me – just come out here and compete.”



May 20, 2015
by Chris Adamski

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Adamski: Heyward says of Tuitt, ‘He’s definitely got a high ceiling; we’re just going to see how high it is’



Like Cameron Heyward three years before him, Stephon Tuitt last season entered the NFL has a highly-touted, early-round defensive end draft pick from a major program. Heyward has since developed into a mushrooming star – and early signs indicate that, perhaps, Tuitt could be, too.


Ask Heyward himself.


“Tuitt has definitely got a high ceiling,” Heyward said Wednesday from the Steelers facility. “We’re just going to see how high it is.”


Barring injury or a training camp and preseason that approach catastrophically bad levels, Tuitt figures to enter his first season as a full-time, 16-game starter this fall. This despite the fact he hasn’t even turned 22 yet (that happens Saturday).


Consider it took Heyward until he turned 25 — and his fourth NFL season – to accomplish the same thing, and it could be said that Tuitt is well ahead of the curve. He started at right defensive end for the final four regular-season games and the Steelers’ wild-card playoff loss to Baltimore as a rookie last season.


“I expect a lot from Tuitt (in 2015) because he’s been in certain situations that most rookies don’t get to be in,” Heyward said. “He started a playoff game for us, he helped accomplish winning the AFC North; he’s been in dogfights. I think for me, I was behind guys like Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel (as a rookie) where they were the guys going through dogfights. If they weren’t playing, then I would get probably have gotten my opportunity. But we’re expecting Tuitt to be ready to go from Game 1 (in 2015).”


Heyward has obvious physical talents, is known for his intangibles and has enough football IQ to succeed. He’s probably got a Pro Bowl (or three) in him. But despite all that and the fact he played in a similar system at a big-time college in Ohio State, it still took him, he said, between a half a season and a full season to assimilate into the Steelers’ scheme to the point that he didn’t have to think and could play full-speed in the NFL.


The Steelers were not afforded any sort of “redshirt” season with Tuitt, partially because of the depleted depth at his position and in part because of injury. Still, even though he played only three years of college ball, Tuitt was able to make the most of his early opportunity.


At least, he was because it came later in the season. If it had been early in the 2014 campaign, it might not have worked out so well.


“Tuitt’s got all the talent in the world,” Heyward said, “but I think early on (in 2014) it was like he was a chicken with his head cut off. So he had to learn a little bit because he was all over the place thinking too much. ‘What am I doing here? What am I doing here?’


“When it becomes second nature where you’re just stepping and you already know where you’re going and you simplify it, it becomes a lot easier for you to move and a lot easier for you to make plays. And you saw that in the Kansas City game (Week 15) where he really matured where it almost came second-nature where it’s like, ‘Oh, I already went to the ball; I don’t really need to think about it.’ And he makes a big play for us and we recover a fumble. It’s just stuff like that where you start to gain as you go through a season.”


In addition to the forced fumble of All Pro running back Jamaal Charles on Dec. 21, Tuitt also had his first career sack that day.


The Steelers are hoping it is a regular sign of things to come for Tuitt this season and beyond.




May 19, 2015
by Mark Kaboly

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Kaboly: Steelers OL Ramon Foster endures ‘Boot Camp’ … and likes it


FosterRamon Foster has survived his share of training camps over his six-year NFL career.

Now, Foster can say he has also survived ‘boot camp’ … as in the NFL Sports Journalism & Communication Boot Camp – a four day program this past weekend offered by NFL Player Engagement that focused on preparing players for their careers after their playing days have ended.

“The reason I wanted to do it is because I have an interest in it,” Foster said. “I had my radio show this past fall and I enjoyed it and I enjoy talking to the media. It is nice to have guys know what they are talking about and can voice their opinions thoroughly and be able to talk on the radio or talk to reporters.”

Foster, along with more than a dozen former and current NFL players, took part in the program at Bowling Green University.

Foster, an undrafted free agent from Tennessee in 2009, just turned 29 and is in the final year of a three-year, $5.5 million contract he signed in 2013.

“Everybody thinks it is glitz and glamour but you only have this for 10 years of your life,” Foster said.

Foster took part in a press conference with NFL referee John Parry and had to report on it. Foster also was required to write an opinion piece that he entitled ‘FantasyLand.’ It will be published at at a later date.

“This camp had a bunch of writing in it too and the journalism part was something I was a little intimidated about,” Foster said. “I actually enjoyed writing this weekend which is funny to hear an NFL player say.”

Foster said his ‘FantasyLand” piece focuses on the reality of playing in the NFL. He said the piece finished third out of 18 entries.

“I think it is a good read,” Foster said.

You can hear Foster talk about the boot camp and much more (including the state of the Steelers offense) on the Kaboly Show Podcast.

Take a listen right here:






May 4, 2015
by Mark Kaboly

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Kaboly: Doug Williams Jr. among tryouts at Steelers rookie minicamp


The Steelers will hold a three-day rookie minicamp May 8-9 at the South Side practice facility that will consists of rookies, undrafted free agents, first-year players and tryouts.


The most notable may be Grambling quarterback Doug Williams Jr, son of former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams Sr.


Here is the breakdown, but before that, take a listen to the Kaboly Show Podcast on TribLive Radio.


These are subject to change.



LB – Bud Dupree, Kentucky

CB – Senquez Golson, Mississippi

WR – Sammie Coates, Auburn

CB – Doran Grant, Ohio State

TE – Jesse James, Penn State

DL – LT Walton, Central Michigan

LB – Anthony Chickillo, Miami (Fla.)

S – Gerod Holliman, Louisville



QB – Doug Williams Jr., Grambling

RB – Josh Bell, UTEP

RB – Jawon Chisholm, Akron

RB – Cameron Stingily, Northern Illinois

OL – Josh Walker, Texas-San Antonio

DL – Marcus Cribbs, Ferris State

DL – Mike Thornton, Georgia

LB – Anthony Gonzalez, Pitt

LB – Drew Misita, SE Louisiana

LB – Aaron Roane, Richmond

LB – Justin Shirk, Bloomsburg

LB – Mike Taylor, Florida

DB – Dior Mathis, Oregon

PK – Kyle Clinton, Ohio State



QB – Tajh Boyd, Clemson

RB – Roosevelt Nix, Kent state

TE – Rob Blanchflower, Massachusetts

OL – Mitchell Van Dyk, Portland State

OL – Alejandro Villanueva, Army

DL – Ethan Hemer, Wisconsin

LB – Shayon Green, Miami

LB – Howard Jones, Shepherd

LB – Shawn Lemon, Akron

DB – Jordan Dangerfield, Towson

DB – Alden Darby, Arizona State

DB – Kevin Fogg, Liberty

DB – Isaiah Lewis, Michigan State

DB – Ian Wild, Mercyhurst

P – Jordan Berry, Eastern Kentucky

P – Richie Leone, Houston

K – Brandon Hartson, Kentucky



RB – Ross Scheuerman, Layfayette

WR – Tyler Murphy, Boston College

WR – Eli Rogers, Louisville

TE – Cameron Clear, Texas A&M

OL – Miles Dieffenbach, Penn State

OL – Reese Dismukes, Auburn

OL – B.J. Finney, Kansas State

OL – Collin Rahrig, Indiana

OL – Kevin Whimpey, Utah State

DL – Nigel Crawford-Kinney, St. Augustine’s

DL – Dominique Davis, Liberty

DL – Bradon Pate, Illinois State






May 2, 2015
by Mark Kaboly

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Kaboly: Grading the Steelers through 2 days


Tossing together some quick grades through the first two days of the Steelers draft.


1st round – Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky

I love it. Sure, everybody would’ve loved the Steelers to grab one of the top corners in the draft, but, you know what, they were all gone (not a fan of Byron Jones). Steelers felt thrilled that a talent like Dupree was able to slip through the cracks and fall to the Steelers at 22. For that, it was a pick that was made for them. Dupree needs some work, sure, but what rookie doesn’t need some work? Considering how the draft suddenly broke bad for the Steelers midway through the first, this pick was a home run.



2nd round – Senquez Golson, CB, Mississippi

It’s hard to deny Golson’s playmaking abilities with 10 interceptions last year. To put that into perspective, no Steelers cornerback has been able to collect more than three interceptions in a season since Deshea Townsend got four in 2004. Golson’s size is an issue, but let’s see if it becomes a terrible issue. The entire Steelers’ secondary other than Cortez Allen is under six-feet tall. I am OK with calling it a reach, because that is what it was. It’s hard to imagine that Golson was the highest player left on the Steelers’ board at 56. The Steelers really wanted Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams and even tried to trade with Cincinnati to move up and get him. That didn’t work out and the Ravens swooped in and traded with the Cardinals to pick Williams. Oh well, right.



3rd round – Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn

Another player that has some questions surrounding him. He can provide a deep threat, but is limited in some of the other things he can do. But what he can do – catch the deep ball – he does well. He had nine touchdowns of 30 yards or longer the two years he started at Auburn and averaged 20 yards per catch. That’s very Martavis Bryant-like. You would think that receiver isn’t a big need with Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Bryant on the roster, but the Steelers aren’t going to pass up a skill player that they think might be able to help them.




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