The Pittsburgh Steelers have won three straight games and have finally started to “stack wins”. After their 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 8, the team has to move on quickly as they prepare to face the Baltimore Ravens, on the road, in Week 9.
Something I did last season and I’m going to start again is the Black-and-gold Links article.
This is an article where I take stories from quality news sources across the Internet and add them here for your viewing pleasure. I won’t be posting the entire articles, but I’ll link each story and author so that you can read the full article.
Today we talk about how every single report or rumor which has swirled around the Steelers’ All-Pro running back, Le’Veon Bell, has proven to be pure poppycock.
They said he would report for Week 1.
They said he would report during the bye week.
They said he would report after the NFL trade deadline.
It seems as if the only person who knows when Bell is coming back is Bell himself. Despite this situation, with each additional James Conner touchdown, it seems less and less likely he shows anytime soon.
Could Bell pull a no-show for the entire rest of the season? He could, and I doubt Steelers fans would have any issue with that at this point.
Let’s get to the news:
By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Mike Tomlin was wrapping up his news conference Tuesday afternoon when he was asked the obligatory weekly question about Le’Veon Bell’s delayed return to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Anyyy other questions?” Tomlin said, raising his voice into a high pitch while elongating the first word.
Tomlin smiled and walked away as laughter filled the room.
Nothing had changed. It was another day without Bell at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, although, like most others, this one had extra significance.
It was NFL trading deadline day, the final chance for the Steelers to ship their star running back to another team if Bell reported and signed his franchise-tag tender first.
Since that didn’t happen by 4 p.m., Bell is free to report to the team without fear of being traded once he puts his name on the $14.55 million contract that has been reduced by $6.84 million because of his eight-week absence.
The next date on the calendar to watch is Nov. 13. Bell must sign his contract by 4 p.m. that day. If he doesn’t, he can’t play in the NFL this season.
Bell’s teammates long ago gave up speculating when he might arrive, and they’ve thrown their support behind James Conner, who is third in the NFL with 599 rushing yards. On Sunday, he became the first running back in franchise history to record a third consecutive game of 100-plus-yards rushing with two touchdowns.
“I don’t want to talk about it because he’s not here,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said on his weekly 93.7 FM radio segment. “When he gets here, we’ll talk about it. Until he’s here, I’ll talk about James and the guys that are helping us win now.”
Thanks to Conner’s spiking yardage totals, the Steelers have won three games in a row and take a 4-2-1 record into their game on Sunday in Baltimore (4-4).
Conner was held to 19 yards on nine carries when the Ravens defeated the Steelers, 26-14, on Sept. 30 at Heinz Field. Since then, Conner has rushed for 367 yards on 64 carries, a 5.7 average. He has scored six touchdowns in that span, increasing his season total to nine.
“Keep it going,” guard David DeCastro said. “I think it’s one of the things that is the standard. I don’t think anyone is really surprised by it. No one is over here hooting and hollering and getting really excited about it.
“I think everyone’s like, ‘Let’s keep doing it.’ That’s what we pride ourselves on week-to-week and repeating it.”
By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Just hours before the NFL trade deadline, Mike Tomlin was asked about whether he expected the Pittsburgh Steelers to make any moves.
“I haven’t thought a lot about it, to be honest with you,” Tomlin said, stern and stiff-lipped. “I’m sure the phone will ring. We’ll see what happens. But more than anything, I’ve just been focused on Baltimore.”
Over the next three hours, a handful of deals were completed around the league: The Texans traded for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, the Eagles for wide receiver Golden Tate, the Rams for defensive end Dante Fowler, the Redskins for safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and even the Ravens for running back Ty Montgomery.
The Steelers stood pat.
Like it or not, that’s business as usual for the Steelers in October. Their wheeling and dealing has been done around the NFL Draft and before the start of the season, not at the trade deadline.
The best move is the one they didn’t make.
Le’Veon Bell didn’t sign his franchise tag tender, so the Steelers couldn’t trade the All-Pro running back who has boycotted the offseason and the first seven games. Perhaps this was his plan all along, to wait until after the trade deadline to report so he couldn’t be dealt.
Like him or not, Bell is better than any player who was traded Tuesday and would provide the Steelers the best boost if he ever decides to show up and play. He has until Nov. 14 to report, but it’s a crapshoot to say if and when he will arrive at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Bell just doesn’t play cornerback, the position of need.
The Steelers were smart not to press the panic button, refusing to overreact to the concerns at the corner opposite Joe Haden. Perhaps that will come back to bite them if Artie Burns keeps showing up late to the Saturday walk-through, if Coty Sensabaugh’s toe injury is worse than anticipated and if Cameron Sutton can’t cut it as a cover corner.
Telling from Tomlin was how he answered a question about why the Steelers put a premium on protecting draft picks, instead of playing fantasy football and using them to acquire players with pedigree.
“We believe in homegrown talent,” Tomlin said. “We invest time and resources into the development of players. Players buy into what we’re selling and work their tails off to improve and be reasons why we’re successful. I think it’s difficult to walk away from relationships when people are invested. We’re invested. The players are invested.”
By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN
The fans inside Heinz Field weren’t the only ones chanting James Conner’s name during Sunday’s 212-yard performance against the Cleveland Browns.
Apparently Ben Roethlisberger’s son was, too.
“I texted [Conner] and I told him, ‘James, it must have been pretty cool to have [Heinz Field] chanting ‘Con-ner, but you want to know something that’s even cooler -- when I come home and play catch with my son and every time he catches it he’s you,’” Roethlisberger recalled on his weekly radio show Tuesday. “I said, ‘Thanks for being a good role model and please don’t ever stop understanding that everything you do you have a chance to be an amazing role model.’”
The Conner project is off to a roaring seven-game start, which doesn’t discount Le’Veon Bell’s brilliance on the field over five seasons. But it does raise questions about how the Steelers should handle the running back position when Bell returns.
One obvious question is, should the Steelers ride the hot hand?
If building an NFL team, a full-strength Bell over Conner is the logical pick. The Steelers would probably make that pick. Bell is an All-Pro with a versatile skill set not seen since the days of Marshall Faulk. His raw production -- 128.9 total yards per game from 2013-17 -- is unmatched for a five-year stretch.
But Bell’s two-month absence has complicated matters. Conner has 922 scrimmage yards, the second most in franchise history through seven games -- behind Bell’s 938 yards in 2014. His 367 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns the past three weeks are why it’s “not hard to figure out” why fans chanted Conner’s name, coach Mike Tomlin said.
Bell hasn’t touched an NFL practice field in nearly 10 months. And though Steelers players are intrigued by a killer two-back system, the offense has been a one-back, workhorse attack for as long as Bell has worn the black and gold.