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Steelers News: Matt Feiler might not be guaranteed a major role on the 2019 roster

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

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-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 whether the surprise of the season in 2018, offensive tackle Matt Feiler, might not have a huge role on the 2019 roster. This all despite having a tremendous 2018 season filling in for oft-injured Marcus Gilbert.

Whether he should have a bigger role, or not, nothing is guaranteed as the 2019 season approaches.

Let’s get to the news:

Steelers’ Matt Feiler awaits role after establishing himself as a viable starter

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

As Matt Feiler entered his fifth NFL training camp and after four seasons as part of organizations in the league, he’d had all of five regular-season games and 75 offensive snaps to his credit.

So it had to be gratifying to Feiler that in 2018 for the Pittsburgh Steelers he proved he was a viable, effective NFL starter-caliber player.

“It’s nice to see the hard work pay off,” Feiler said at the end of this past season. “But there’s still a lot more work ahead.”

Feiler started 10 games for the Steelers this past season – and he started them at right tackle. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound native of the Lancaster area who played Division II college football at Bloomsburg had previously practiced mostly at guard during his time in the NFL as a practice-squad player for the Houston Texans (2014) and Steelers (2015-16, with 2017 a season mostly spent as a Sunday inactive).

Yet when Marcus Gilbert suffered what would become a season-ending knee injury in October and with the Steelers short at tackle because of injury to Jerald Hawkins and a desire to bring along 21-year-old rookie Chuks Okorafor slowly, Feiler became the man at right tackle.

“It is kind of crazy to think about,” Feiler said in how far his career came during 2018, “but I haven’t spent much time looking back at it. I was in camp to just prepare for whatever, and that’s what I did.”

By all indications, Feiler performed well in his first regular NFL action. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 14 th -best right tackle in the NFL, giving him an overall “above average” grade as well as an “above average” designation in pass blocking and an “average” mark in run blocking.

But that won’t assure him any role in 2019. Gilbert could return to health and regain his starting job (though neither of those is a guarantee, and the Steelers might elect to cut him). Hawkins also figures to be healthy, and Okorafor would seem be in line for an increased role.

(To read more, click the link in the headline above...)

The blame-shifting for — and enabling of — Antonio Brown

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

As you probably have heard by now, Antonio Brown was reportedly involved in a domestic dispute .

As you have also probably heard, it’s the media’s fault.

To be clear, Brown was not charged . No arrests were made as result of the police inquiry.

Which is exactly what the media entity that first reported the story — TMZ — stated in its post Tuesday.

Multiple times.

Which is what made the response from Brown’s attorney so curious.

”The allegations are baseless and false,” said Darren Heitner. “It’s unfortunate that the media is trying to use distractions like this and prior stories in an effort to tarnish my client’s name and reputation.”

First of all, the media isn’t trying to tarnish Brown’s name or reputation. Brown is doing that all by himself.

And it’s time for his lawyer, his friends, and his family to tell him that. Because blaming the public for discussing it won’t slow the process.

It’s not the media’s job to promote Brown’s brand. It’s his job to protect it. And no amount of “work ethic in practice” will offset the road he is traveling right now.

It’s entirely possible that the domestic allegations really are “baseless and false.” At the very least, they weren’t deemed significant enough to warrant an arrest or charges of any kind.

But the Hollywood (Fla.) Police Dept. confirmed to TMZ Sports that Brown “was involved in a domestic dispute.”

Whatever prompted the police to investigate the case didn’t involve a member of the media. Similarly, no one from TMZ was alleged to have helped Brown throw patio furniture off a balcony near bystanders. That’s something else he is accused of doing.

No one from the Trib was driving him 100 mph down McKnight Road. None of the Pittsburgh TV stations hit “send” on Brown’s phone when he made a physical threat to a reporter on Twitter.

Someone should remind Brown — and his lawyer — of those situations.

Brown is responsible for being accountable to society. The media isn’t responsible to bury these allegations once they become public record.

What we’ve got here is a macro version of Brown’s illogical meltdown back in June when he blamed the press for attention that was being paid to him via posts on his own social media accounts.

Or a macro version of when he got frustrated with the media for asking him questions about his own “Trade me let’s find out” tweet back in September.

Steelers owner Art Rooney II once described these occasional AB news dumps as “minor annoyances.” We’ve graduated beyond that description.

The Facebook Live stream simply made Mike Tomlin look bad. Celebration penalties only cost 15 yards at a time. Going AWOL this December just impacted football. Throwing a cooler merely wasted $10 of Gatorade.

Now the safety of others is potentially being compromised.

(To read more, click the link in the headline above...)

Analysis: These advanced stats say Antonio Brown slipped sharply in 2018

By: Adam Bittner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Antonio Brown’s stats were as solid as they’ve ever been in 2018. He finished among the NFL’s top 11 in catches (104), yards (1,297) and touchdowns (15), numbers that square nicely with his reputation as one of the game’s premier receivers.

Still, it felt like his “WiFi” connection with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was just a bit off at times. The explosive plays that seemed so effortless for the pair in the past would go missing for noticeable stretches. For every vintage performance — 185 yards on 14 catches against New Orleans, for example — there was a dud like his five catch, 35-yard effort in an embarrassing loss at Oakland two weeks prior.

Your eyes weren’t deceiving you. Advanced statistics from analytics website Football Outsiders suggest Brown did considerably less with his opportunities this season than he has in the past.

If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve probably heard wins above replacement, or WAR, tossed around a lot in recent years. The stat is the product of a complex calculation aimed at estimating a player’s offensive and defensive value in one number, expressed as wins contributed to the player’s team compared to what an easily-acquired “replacement” player might produce over the course of a season. If you’re unfamiliar, you can read more about the methodology here.

Football Outsiders produces a similar number: defense-adjusted yards above replacement, or DYAR. With consideration given to the quality of opposing defenses, its goal is to estimate how many yards — or equivalent value in first downs, touchdowns, and turnovers — a player produces for his team beyond what a run-of-the-mill backup might in similar situations.

You can read more about the methodology here, but the important thing to know is that DYAR attempts to separate quality from volume. Any receiver can be targeted 160 times in a season, for example. DYAR is an estimate of how much more the best receivers produce with their opportunities.

Brown had been among the NFL’s best in this category before 2018, ranking no worse than seventh in the league in any year from 2013 to ‘17. He topped the ranking with 554 DYAR in 2014, 517 in 2015 and 430 in 2017.

In 2018, his 191 DYAR was good for just 19th. Not only was he beaten out by teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster (235 DYAR), he also produced less than half of top receiver Tyler Lockett’s total of 464 and came in behind second-tier names including Detroit’s Kenny Golladay (250) and Green Bay’s Davante Adams (246.)

(To read more, click the link in the headline above...)