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Steelers News: When social media rears its ugly head towards the Steelers, again

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Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how over the weekend Steelers ILB L.J. Fort made waves on social media when he sent this tweet out during following Championship Sunday.

The tweet seemed as innocent as possible, stating a very simple fact, but Steelers fans took it as a direct jab at Chris Boswell and his struggles throughout the 2018 season. While it may have seemed innocent, it is just the latest example of social media putting the Steelers in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Let’s get to the news:

Tim Benz: L.J. Fort’s ‘kicker tweet’ shows Steelers don’t comprehend chaos around them

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

During NFL championship Sunday, Steelers linebacker L.J. Fort sent out this tweet.

(See tweet above)

That’s true. In terms of points scored, Harrison Butker (Chiefs), Will Lutz (Saints) and Stephen Gostkowski (Patriots) were third, fourth and sixth in scoring this season. The RamsGreg Zuerlein was 12th, and he played in only 11 games this season.

Meanwhile, the Steelers have Chris Boswell. He missed 12 kicks this season and could be directly blamed for the team’s loss at Oakland and the tie in Cleveland.

Boswell, as much as any individual player, can be blamed for the Steelers’ absence from the playoffs. The team’s owner was sure willing to point that out.

Many on Fort’s timeline assumed he was making a connection to his own team’s kicking woes by way of passive-aggressively complimenting kickers on the other squads.

Nope. No locker room discord or “culture problem” here.

You know what else those teams had? Defenses that created turnovers. The Rams, Patriots and Chiefs were among the top eight in takeaways in the league. The Saints had the second-best rush defense.

That irony wasn’t lost on Fort’s Twitter followers.

I suppose — suppose — Fort could’ve been blissfully ignorant of how his tweet could’ve been interpreted.

And I suppose — suppose — he could’ve just been making an observation about the four kickers.

After 13 hours and hundreds of responses, Fort tried to spin the comment as if he was merely trying to shower praise on the other teams’ kickers.

If that’s the case, and we are giving the benefit of the doubt to Fort, then he still shouldn’t have done it. Think before you tweet. If you are smart enough to know the quality of the other kickers in the NFL, then you shouldn’t be dumb enough to miss that most folks are going to see this as a backhanded swipe at your own guy.

Sharks are circling the Steelers. Don’t throw more blood in the water.

(For more, click the link in the headline...)

NFL announces its 2019 international games; Steelers not on the list

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

No need for passports in 2019 for the Pittsburgh Steelers or their fans.

The NFL on Monday announced its international schedule for the upcoming season, and the Steelers aren’t part of any of the five games to be played outside the United States.

Although dates were not part of the announcement, the league says the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers will play a game at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City and that the United Kingdom will host four regular-season games.

The four games in London will involve the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Carolina Panthers, the Chicago Bears vs. the Oakland Raiders, the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals and the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Houston Texans.

The Buccaneers, Raiders, Rams and Jaguars are the designated home teams for those games; two will be at Wembley Stadium and two at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium. The venues for each of the four games — as well as the dates for all games — will be announced with the release of the entire NFL schedule in April.

The Steelers were widely speculated (and even erroneously reported) to be slated to play in the game in Mexico. The 2018 game originally scheduled for Mexico was moved to Los Angeles after concerns about the quality of the playing surface at Azteca Stadium.

(For more, click the link in the headline...)

Morgan Burnett’s injury history played a big role in his frustration

By: Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Morgan Burnett’s stated desire to leave the Steelers because he doesn’t want to play a linebacker-type position does not come as a total surprise because the coaches knew he didn’t like his role.

But Burnett, 30, was playing that position because recurring injuries kept him from competing with first-round draft pick Terrell Edmunds at strong safety and made it difficult for the Steelers to rely on him.

Burnett told NFL Network he has asked the Steelers to release him because he wants to go back to playing safety. But he isn’t going to play safety with the Steelers because Edmunds and Sean Davis are entrenched as the starters.

Burnett, who has two years remaining on a three-year, $14.3 million contract he signed in free agency, is scheduled to count $6,466,666 against the salary cap in 2019. If the Steelers released him, he would count $2.8 million in dead money against the cap.

That, though, doesn’t mean they will. The last time a veteran player asked for his release, the Steelers did not oblige outside linebacker James Harrison, one of their former stars, until it became difficult to keep him.

Burnett lost any chance of playing safety when he missed two preseason games and a lot of practice time at training camp with a hamstring injury.

When he missed four of the first six regular-season game with a recurring groin injury, his absence gave Edmunds time to develop and become more comfortable with the defense.

The Steelers then began using Burnett more as a linebacker in their dime defense because teams were taking advantage of inside linebackers Vince Williams and Jon Bostic in coverage. That was best illustrated in the 33-30 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Dec. 2 – a game Burnett missed because of a back injury – when wide receiver Keenan Allen caught 14 passes for 148 yards because the Chargers kept getting him into mismatches against Williams.

Curiously, Burnett was used in a similar role at times in Green Bay when Dom Capers was the defensive coordinator. But Burnett was uncomfortable playing the dime linebacker role and it showed on one of the most critical plays of the season.

On the game-winning drive in New Orleans, the Saints converted a third-and-20 with 1:33 remaining when Burnett vacated the middle of the field to cover running back Alvin Kamara coming out of the backfield. Quarterback Drew Brees completed a 25-yard pass to Ted Ginn Jr., in the open area to set up the winning touchdown.

But the Steelers liked the role Burnett was assuming – and the way he was playing – because they think using six and seven defensive backs is the way to combat the pass-oriented offenses in the league. Especially after losing a player such as linebacker Ryan Shazier, who had the toughness to play down low and the speed to cover like a defensive back.

(For more, click the link in the headline...)