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Weekend Checkdown: the top stories of the week

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Steelers bring back Harrison, stand pat on rules changes. This and more on this edition of the Weekend Checkdown.

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Deebo is back

The Steelers, who seemed content to rest on their laurels in free agency, have re-signed outside linebacker James Harrison for two years. This certainly brings a bit of comfort moving forward as they build their defense after the loss of retired linebacker Jason Worilds.

The biggest free agency loss of the spring

Things have been basically dead as far as player movement has been concerned for this week. But the Steelers fans that are part of the BTSC community suffered a huge loss this week as managing editor Neal Coolong accepted and offer with USA Today and moved on. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Neal had the unenviable task of having to follow the the outstanding founder of BTSC Michael Bean. He managed to maintain the integrity of what made this site so appealing for so many in Steelers Nation, imprint his own style and facilitate its growth as this place stands head and shoulders above that of it's rivals. When the relationships are right Pittsburgh folk, whether native or adopted, interact like family. So its good to know that while Neal has been lost as an editor, he remains part of the family. Now Jeff Hartman has the unenviable task of following Neal. Best wishes to Jeff as new managing editor.

Rooney II on free agency and proposed rule changes

After closing the deal on Ben Roethlisberger's new contract, signing former Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams and having a flirtation with a couple of veteran cornerbacks, things have quieted down considerably on the Southside. Steelers president Art Rooney II has stated that the team is satisfied with what has been accomplished to this point and would be fine with where they stand at this point of the process. Rooney is also content with where things currently stand with the rules of competition as the NFL owners prepare to meet in Arizona.

Some will be disheartened, even panicked by what they may view as complacency by the team. But Hombre de Acero reminds us that this isn't the close to being the worst situation that Pittsburgh has faced with cornerbacks. And Anthony Defeo makes the case for standing pat as the better path as far as rule changes are concerned.

What will be the fate of past and current Steelers

There has been no movement relative to Troy Polamalu over the past week. But as has been pointed out, there really is no hurry as far as resolution is concerned. Similar can be said for James Harrison. If he is to be part of the Steelers' plans for 2015, then the wise move would be to bring him back later rather than sooner in the manner that Brett Keisel was handled last season. It would be cheaper for the team to wait until late August. Deebo does not need OTAs or to spend much time squandering his energy in training camp. Those who argue that he should be present to serve as a mentor to younger players like Jarvis Jones seem to forget that Joey Porter is more than capable of fulfilling that role. There is some drama related to the possibility that Harrison might choose to join Dick LeBeau in Tennessee rather than rejoin Pittsburgh.

Former Steelers receivers were in the news as Super Bowl LVIII MVP Santonio Holmes would like to return to the team. Meanwhile Mike Wallace is on the outs with the Pouncey twins.

Projecting forward on the offense

The majority of the activity and conversation during this period has focused upon the offense, and particularly with the skill positions. Last week it was Ben's new contract, the addition of Williams and re-signing of tight end Matt Spaeth. This week offensive coordinator Todd Haley asserted that second year wide receiver Martavis Bryant would likely be competing with third year wide out Markus Wheaton for the number two receiver position opposite emerging superstar Antonio Brown. Haley also suggested that second year running back Dri Archer was not yet a lost cause.

This is frustrating for some fans seek reassurance that critical defensive needs are being addressed. I agree with those who would counsel patience. We should remind ourselves that we are about four months from the beginning of training camp, hardly pressed for time or up against it in terms of options. And though the offensive side of the ball is in a more advanced state (hard to believe I'm writing this) you still can't fine tune and strengthen it enough. It is not an extravagance to do so. Ben can't have enough tools to work with. The team is not in a panic mode over the difficulties with the outside linebackers and defensive secondary and you might want to view that as a source of comfort rather than concern. Perhaps they know some things that we don't.

The police blotter

Tis the season. While there are plenty of feel good stories about players during the off season, generally, as a rule, no news is good news. As often as not if headlines are coming concerning a player it isn't very good. Steelers defensive back Antwon Blake was arrested in California for public intoxication. Whether there are any negative consequences remain to be seen. The situation in Baltimore is different. The Ravens have been taking a lot of hits in the personal conduct area lately, enough that it is calling into question whether it impacts the team's competitive posture. Running back Bernard Pearce was arrested this week and was immediately released. He is now a Jacksonville Jaguar.

Borland

Two years ago I wrote that the issues surrounding head injuries were not going away and that the future of the game was at stake. I'm sure that most who read that piece thought I was overreaching. Pro football seemed then (and now) unassailable. Change doesn't always occur quickly or dramatically, but even small things can develop an inertia that is difficult to reverse. Cracks in the facade are beginning to show. Is the NFL likely to collapse in the short term? Very unlikely. The real long term problem is that the league leadership, from Goodell to most of the more influential owners lack the vision or the skill to respond in a manner that would enable to league to ride out the coming storm and emerge on the other side stronger.

Mitchell

A big key to the Steelers potential success in 2015 is likely to ride upon the ability of safety Mike Mitchell to step up. He was interviewed this week.

Maroon

It appears that he will have to perform surgery, as in removing his foot from his mouth.

Free agency update

Status reports on the state of the free agency field and the Steelers salary cap situation.

DeMaurice Smith

Was re-elected as the head of the NFL Players Association.

Your thoughts

How is the community thinking about some of these issues? Hombre's 5 Burning Questions provides some insight.