The Pittsburgh Steelers are just a few days away from their “final dress rehearsal” against the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field, and with the team just coming back after their 17-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2 of the preseason, it is time we get fans caught up on all the news surrounding the black and gold.
- Ryan Shazier has had his share of injuries since entering the NFL, and this year is no different that the others. Shazier has been hampered with a hamstring injury this training camp, but has stayed positive despite the setback.
With Lawrence Timmons gone and Vince Williams replacing him at inside linebacker, Williams and Ryan Shazier searched for a nickname to appropriately describe the new Steelers inside linebacker tandem.
They came up with "Shake and Bake" and even cut a team-produced video to introduce the moniker to fans.
Shazier is "Shake" because he's "swifty" and "shaking around" with his speed and athleticism on the field. Williams is "Bake" because of the way he drops — or bakes — runners and receivers with authoritative tackles.
It's a cute title, albeit a not entirely accurate one during training camp. Because, with apologies to the catchy song lyrics, there hasn't been a whole lot of shakin' going on.
- The Steelers are looking for some solid depth behind Bud Dupree, James Harrison and T.J. Watt, and they seem to have found that in Arthur Moats and Anthony Chickillo. They aren’t new to the team, but the production they’ve put on the field the past two weeks is new.
First, it was Arthur Moats with three sacks against the New York Giants.
Then, it was Anthony Chickillo with two against the Atlanta Falcons.
Bud Dupree is in no immediate danger of losing his starting job on the Steelers defense, but if he didn't know any better, he would think his fellow outside linebackers were trying to turn him into the football version of Wally Pipp.
With Dupree standing on the sidelines the first two preseason games, the player manning his left outside position filled in capably. Moats got the nod against the Giants and his sacks were among six tackles and an interception.
It was Chickillo's turn against the Falcons, and his sacks were among four tackles (plus another on special teams) and a pass defensed.
- While there were bright spots for the black and gold on Sunday, the starting defense wasn’t one of those. If you are wondering if it had an impact on the unit...it did.
Seven months after the Patriots dismantled the Steelers in the AFC championship game, the NFC Super Bowl representative met little resistance as well Sunday — at least while the starters were on the field in the second preseason game.
The Steelers, playing their healthy defensive starters late into the first half, allowed the Atlanta Falcons to move up and down the field. Only when both team's reserves were in the game did the Steelers rally for a 17-13 victory before 48,809 at Heinz Field.
Facing a defense that wants to develop a stronger pass rush and play more press coverage, the Falcons got a touchdown and two field goals in three drives against the Steelers' first-teamers en route to a 13-3 halftime lead.
“There were plays we need to get better on, it's as simple as that,” defensive end Cam Heyward said. “We're not a finished product. … There is much that needs to happen.”
- After all the Rodney Dangerfield jokes I’m sure he has heard throughout his life, Jordan Dangerfield is trying to solidify a spot for himself on the team’s 53-man roster. His performance on Sunday was a great step in the right direction.
Jordan Dangerfield had to go all the way back to his days at Royal Palm Beach High School to remember a time when he had two interceptions in the same game. It didn’t happen in four seasons of college football at Hofstra and Towson, and it certainly didn’t happen in his first two NFL seasons.
In fact, the two interceptions Dangerfield recorded against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon were the first two of his short NFL career, preseason or regular season.
Dangerfield’s performance was the one positive in an otherwise dreary day for Steelers defensive backs. The starting secondary gave up 196 of the 211 passing yards the defense allowed in the first half.
For Dangerfield, it was another opportunity to impress the coaching staff. He has been getting plenty of reps this summer at safety with Mike Mitchell missing most of camp with a hamstring injury.
“The journey I’ve been on, I don’t take anything for granted,” said Dangerfield, who played in 14 games and started twice last season. “I just come out here and compete every day, work hard. I’m just thankful for my opportunity.”
- Terrell Watson has become a fan favorite throughout training camp, but his story which got him to the NFL is one fans should certainly read.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin calls undrafted free-agent running back Terrell Watson “Nightmare,” a playful nod to Watson’s alma mater. Watson attended Division II Azusa Pacific, which became famous a generation ago for producing Christian Okoye, the former Kansas City Chiefs running back who became known as the “Nigerian Nightmare.”
Watson plays a little bit like Okoye with his downhill running style, but this “Nightmare” has a story of his own that is worth telling.
Watson was abandoned when he was a few weeks old. His troubled mother left him on the doorstep of a home in Oxnard, Calif., hoping the people who lived there would care for him.
“You see that all the time in movies and on TV shows, but you never, ever think something like that will happen to you,” Billy Watson said.
But the woman didn’t drop off her son at any random home. Billy Watson spotted the woman as she left. It was his 15-year old daughter.
Billy Watson and his wife, Janice, were busy enough raising their own 3-year old son, Billy Jr., but within a few weeks they decided to adopt Terrell and raise him as their own son. In the end, it wasn’t much of a decision for them.
Money was tight on his carpenter’s salary, but they were going to make it work. They knew their daughter couldn’t care for him, and they believed Terrell deserved to be raised by family.
“It was just by the grace of God that we were home that day and did what we did,” Billy said. “The way I feel is no kid should be left behind — black, white, green or blue. They all need a chance.”