The Pittsburgh Steelers are a very inconsistent team, and nothing showed this more than the team rebounding from losses to the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders with a huge home win vs. the New England Patriots in Week 15. It doesn’t get any easier for the Steelers though, as the New Orleans Saints await in Week 16.
Today in the Black-and-gold links article, we take a look at how rookie running back Jaylen Samuels exploded on the scene in Week 15, and why does he think he saw a boost in success? Patience.
We’ve heard about legendary patience at the running back position before, right? Maybe Samuels is onto something...
Let’s get to the news:
Patience was key to much better 2nd NFL start for Steelers RB Jaylen Samuels
By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Come Monday morning, Jaylen Samuels was “a little sore,” including soreness in his ankle.
A lifetime-high 21 touches can do that to a football player.
“But I wasn’t bad,” the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back said. “That’s why you’ve got to take care of your body. I came in on an off day to take care of my body. I told coach I was here getting ready to prepare of the Saints because it’s another tough task this week.”
It is appearing increasingly likely that against the New Orleans Saints, Samuels will get a third game as the Steelers’ No. 1 running back. James Conner did not practice Wednesday and did not sound optimistic his ankle will be healed in time for Sunday.
Samuels said his 19 carries Sunday were the most of his life for a game.
“I thought he showed good patience,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “I thought when it was there he hit it hard, he protected the ball. And those are things that you want from a guy that isn’t used to carrying it as much as he’s is going to or did.”
Samuels’ second act as an NFL running back went much better than his first. He had 11 carries for 28 yards in a loss Dec. 9 at Oakland.
“I went back to the Oakland film. I was just reevaluating my game and seeing what I was doing wrong,” Samuels said, “and I just wasn’t being patient enough. I felt like I wasn’t being patient enough. I was just, ‘Hurry up and get to the hole.’ But (in the Patriots) game, I can definitely feel it all sorting out. The holes are just opening, and I just felt more smooth in my game and the way I was playing.”
Steelers prepared for ‘incredibly loud’ environment vs. Saints at Superdome
By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Folks in Kansas City and Seattle like to debate over which fan base creates the loudest environment for a football game.
Arrowhead Stadium and CenturyLink Field each has been recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records for that designation.
Those are open-air venues. Move the game indoors and the fans in New Orleans think they are the loudest in the NFL.
“I co-sign that,” Pittsburgh Steelers guard Ramon Foster said. “They absolutely are. I don’t think there’s any competition with that.”
Foster was a second-year player in 2010, the last time the Steelers played the Saints at the Superdome.
Although he was inactive and never left the sidelines, Foster was treated to an experience that he will never forget in that Halloween night game played eight years ago.
“Insane,” Foster said. “It was a freaking party in there. They don’t go to the game. They go to have a party. They play the music that everybody knows, and it goes all the way from the bottom row to the top.
“It’s by far one of the craziest, coolest environments I’ve ever been around.”
It’s one that Foster and the rest of his teammates will experience again Sunday when the Steelers return to the Superdome, host of the team with the NFL’s best record. And with the Saints trying to lock up the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the NFC, the Superdome figures to be rocking before, during and after the 4:25 p.m. kickoff.
“I think we’ll have our hands full,” Foster said.
Along with Foster, center Maurkice Pouncey and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are the only holdovers from that 2010 game, which the Saints won, 20-10. At the time, Roethlisberger said it was “probably the loudest place I’ve played in.”
He didn’t back down from that assessment this week.
“It’s incredibly loud,” Roethlisberger said. “I’m not saying they pump the noise in like they did at the old RCA Dome (in Indianapolis), but it’s pretty loud down there.”
The Superdome atmosphere has created a true home-field advantage for the Saints. They were 8-1 last season, counting playoffs, in 2017, and they are 5-1 and averaging 38 points a game at the Superdome this season.
For AFC teams such as the Steelers that visit New Orleans once every eight years, the atmosphere can create an initial shock to the system.
Running back Trey Edmunds, who spent last season with the Saints before joining the Steelers, got a first-hand glimpse of how the Superdome crowd noise can affect opponents.
“What their fans bring to the game is something that words can’t really describe,” Edmunds said. “The fans are into the game all the way through. But when teams come to Pittsburgh, our fans are into it all the way through as well. You like to be a part of something like that.”
James Conner: Aaron Donald text ‘my motivation’ to make Pro Bowl
By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner celebrated his first Pro Bowl nod on social media by posting a 2015 text from Aaron Donald, his former teammate at Pitt who encouraged him through his cancer fight.
Donald, a Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle who’s largely considered the NFL’s best defensive player, spoke a Pro Bowl into existence for Conner, who reflected on that special message from his locker.
“It was awesome for that to come to reality,” said Conner after Wednesday’s practice, in which he did not participate while recovering from a high ankle sprain. “That was a screenshot from 2015, that was my motivation. I was talking to him about it last night. (Steelers defensive end) Cam Heyward sent me a text. I just shared the one from Aaron Donald because he said Pro Bowl in it. Since the Pro Bowl came out. So many people reached out. I had that screenshot for a couple of years now.”
Conner overcame Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in time to play the 2016 season at Pitt and get selected by the Steelers in the third round of the 2017 draft. He has 909 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games as Le’Veon Bell’s primary replacement.
Now, he likes the sound of James Conner, Pro Bowler.
”It’s such a blessing. Came a long way. Huge honor,” Conner said. “Happy I’ve got some of my teammates with me. Hopefully we’re in a better bowl. But it’s an honor, though.”
Three of Conner’s linemen -- center Maurkice Pouncey, guard David DeCastro and tackle Alejandro Villanueva -- also made the Pro Bowl, which makes Conner happy.
”Together we eat,” Conner said.