It is July, which means football is right around the corner. July 27th the Pittsburgh Steelers report to Latrobe, PA for another training camp. Although we still have a few weeks of the “dog days” of the NFL offseason, it doesn’t mean there isn’t news to still be discussed.
We take you around the world wide web to give you your daily dose of black and gold, along with making BTSC your one-stop-shop for all things Steelers.
ILB Ryan Shazier
From a talent perspective, there's no question that Ryan Shazier is one of the better young linebackers in the National Football League. In an era where speed at the position is more important than ever, Shazier might be the fastest player in the NFL at the position.
He's arguably the fastest player on the team.
However, over his first three NFL seasons, Shazier has had trouble staying on the field, missing 14 games over that span. He told Teresa Varley of the team's website that he's well aware he's no good to his teammates watching from the sidelines.
"When I am healthy, I can bring more to the table," Shazier said. "I definitely think my involvement in pass rush and overall coverage game is getting better. In the second half of the  season, and especially the playoffs, I think everyone got to see how well I can play and my capabilities."
With Lawrence Timmons moving on in free agency this year, Shazier, 24, is more than a just a promising young linebacker in 2017. He's a defensive cornerstone. Maybe the best player a team with Super Bowl aspirations has on that side of the ball.
In the NFL, promise brings with it pressure.
Remember when the Steelers’ defensive starters averaged 30 years of age?
That was 2010. Two of those starters remain: cornerback William Gay, who was one of the five who had not yet reached 30. The other is ageless linebacker James Harrison. Of the 11 defensive starters that year, six were 30 or older.
Fast forward to 2017, and the Steelers have seven players — starter or otherwise — who are 30 or older. The average age across the entire team is 25.5, though that number will surely go up some when the roster is trimmed from 90 to 53. Still, it’s no secret they’ve gotten younger in the intervening years. But there are other statistics among this roster that are equally interesting.
Ladarius Green is no longer a member of the Steelers. The “move TE” that the team wanted to incorporate into their offense didn’t pan out. Is there someone on their roster capable of filling that role? Could it be Xavier Grimble, entering his second season with the Steelers? The opportunity for snaps as second TE are certainly there for the taking. Jeff Hartman showcased how Grimble was working out this off season to maximize that opportunity. You can read Jeff’s article here.
I don’t believe Xavier Grimble brings the same type of element to the offense that Ladarius Green did. Grimble possesses neither the height, nor the speed that Green does. So what does Xavier bring? How can the Steelers best utilize his talents? Can Grimble be a weapon for the offense?
In an attempt to answer these questions, we will look at Grimble’s pass targets from the 2016 season. In doing so, we will evaluate their success according to route and personnel grouping. Once we’ve done that, we will then see how the results align with Grimble’s listed “strengths” and/or “weaknesses.”
Less than five months ago, before he signed a contract with the Steelers that meant little more than an opportunity, Mike Matthews was selling soft-shell football equipment.
If ever there were a name that a high school football coach could trust as a salesman, it would be Matthews — that’s Matthews as in Bruce (his Hall of Fame dad), as in Clay (his All-Pro cousin), as in Jake (his first-round pick brother). You’d expect Mike to be wearing shoulder pads, not selling them.
“I can’t emphasize enough how humbling of an experience it was to go from playing in the NFL to having a pee-wee coach tell you, ‘Get out of my face,’ ” he said.
Just months before that, he had been a Cleveland Brown, ready to carry on his family name and become the next great player in a long line of them. Though Matthews went undrafted out of Texas A&M, NFL.com’s Gil Brant had predicted Matthews could be an NFL center “for many years.”