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.
He’s a Hall of Famer best known for playing for the Lions and coaching with the Steelers. But Dick LeBeau, the soon-to-be 80-year-old assistant head coach of the Titans, identifies with a team that cut him, and with another that fired him, multiple times.
“I’ve always been really a Bengal and Brown guy at heart, like I am a Buckeye, because I am from Ohio and I like the Ohio teams,” LeBeau recently told Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
LeBeau initially spent 11 years with the Bengals, helping the team to a pair of Super Bowls and climbing to defensive coordinator. Fired after the 1991 season, he landed in Pittsburgh as defensive backs coach, again making it to the role of defensive coordinator. He returned to the Bengals in 1997 as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, later becoming head coach in 2000. He was fired after three seasons.
The return to Pittsburgh in 2004 started LeBeau’s most successful decade in coaching, with a pair of Super Bowl wins. Nudged aside for Keith Butler in 2015, LeBeau joined the Titans, where he’s been for two seasons and counting.
With many making Tennessee a trendy postseason pick, LeBeau could still get to another Super Bowl before calling it a career. Regardless of what happens, he’ll likely still see himself as a Bengal and a Brown, despite those two gaudy Super Bowl rings that celebrate their despised rivals from Pittsburgh.
On days during organized team activities when the Steelers brought the Juggs machine to the practice field, rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster made sure he stayed late and caught his share of passes.
At least 240 of them, by his estimation.
Smith-Schuster would catch them in sets of 20, from distances far away to up close and practically right in front of the machine. It was a way of toughening his hands and seeing passes come at a variety of speeds.
How many passes zipping out of the machine would Smith-Schuster handle successfully?
“All of them,” he said. “If I mess up, I start the whole set over again.”
Smith-Schuster likes the challenge of being perfect on the practice field, which he hopes carries over into his first season with the Steelers.
“It's easy to catch the ball 10 feet away, but when you're playing inside and the ball is coming a lot faster (out of the quarterback's hand), you have to be ready for those catches,” Smith-Schuster said.
The early reviews on Smith-Schuster have been positive. From rookie minicamp to OTAs to regular minicamp, the 6-foot-1 receiver and second-round draft pick from USC was a steady presence on the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex practice fields.
“We haven't had pads on, but JuJu looks like he has a chance to compete,” said offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who is reluctant to heap praise on any rookie until training camp begins July 27 in Latrobe.
Even after a minicamp practice in which he scuffled post-whistle with the team's newest first-round pick, Jerald Hawkins was smiling.
Even while discussing what would could be an uphill climb to secure a 53-man roster spot this season, Hawkins was upbeat.
Answering what could be a downer of a question about spending his rookie NFL season on injured reserve? Yep, Hawkins was still in a good mood.
“Always got a smile on my face,” the Steelers' young offensive tackle said at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex during minicamp last week. “I'd rather always be smiling, right?”
The affable, 6-foot-6, 305-pound Hawkins is the classic big, cuddly teddy-bear type — at least, that is, when he's not rolling around in a mild pushing-and-shoving match with rookie T.J. Watt, as he was at the end of a padded 11-on-11 drill at the final minicamp practice last week.
“Just spur or the moment,” Hawkins said afterward. “Guys getting after things. It happens in football sometimes. But you know it's your teammate, and we shook hands and hugged it out after.”
July 17th is just around the corner, and in the NFL that time will literally fly by.
Why is July 17th is an important date? It is the last possible day for any player who received a franchise tag to get a long-term contract extension done before the 2017 season.
One of those players in this position is Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell, who has developed into the NFL’s most complete, and versatile, running back, would be set to make $12 million dollars in 2017 if he played under the franchise tag, but every player would rather have the security of a long-term deal before heading into a new season.
News on Bell and the Steelers’ contract negotiations have been minimal this offseason, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter released this bit of information Tuesday in relation to the progress, or lack thereof, between the two negotiating teams...