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Pittsburgh Steelers: Panthers Defense Inflated Mike Mitchell’s Free Agent Value

It’s homecoming weekend for new Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell.

Mitchell goes up against his old team when the Steelers play the Carolina Panthers Sunday night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Panthers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery will have a chance to catch up with his former teammates. Carolina signed him as a free agent during the offseason.

It might look like the Steelers and Panthers made a trade, but they just happened to sign each other’s free agents.

If it were an actual trade, it’s worked out better for the Panthers so far.

Through two games, Cotchery has caught eight passes. Meanwhile, Mitchell’s stat sheet has been bare except for 12 tackles.

The Panthers defense was second only to the Seahawks last season. It helped them go 12-4 and make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. It also helped Mitchell look better than he really is.

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens: Steelers Have Rare Chance to Bury Ravens Early in Season

The last two times the NFL has played games on Sept. 11, the Pittsburgh Steelers have played at Baltimore.

In 2011, they lost the season opener to the Ravens 35-7. They again play at Baltimore on the anniversary of 9/11 on Thursday night. The Steelers’ all-time record on Thursdays?


That record doesn’t begin to tell the tale of Thursday calamity that has haunted this franchise throughout its history.

Last year’s Footgate incident on Thanksgiving was just the latest installment in that saga.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 for having his toe on the field and interfering with Ravens’ kick returner Jacoby Jones. The Steelers lost the game 22-20 and Tomlin was lampooned all the over Internet.

For some reason, the Steelers play at Baltimore on a Thursday night for the second straight year. The schedule makers must hate the Steelers. Every NFL team is obligated to play at least one Thursday game, but just like last year, the Steelers’ brutal Sunday-Thursday turnaround involves a trip to their most hostile road environment.

The Steelers (1-0) will try to win on Thursday for the first time since 2011 (but that was a hollow victory, more on that later). More importantly, they have an opportunity to push the Ravens (0-1) into an early-season sand trap that would be tough to shoot their way out of.

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Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios and Predictions for 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers

Spoiler alert.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will not start the 2014 season with an 0-4 record.

Even in the worst-case scenario, the Steelers will win at least one game in September, something they couldn’t do last season. Of course that still leaves plenty of room for doom and gloom for those who look at two straight 8-8 seasons and see the glass as half empty.

Before we get to that, we’ll look at the Steelers’ 2014 season through the eyes of those who see the glass as half full.

In both cases, we’ll provide win-loss predictions for each game. Then we’ll reveal our actual prediction for the season, with win-loss prognostications and explanations for each game.

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Do the Steelers Have Kelvin Beachum 2.0 on the Roster?

The Pittsburgh Steelers seemingly grabbed one of the steals of the 2012 NFL Draft by selecting Kelvin Beachum in the seventh round. I’ve admitted it before that I thought Beachum had no shot at making this team when he was drafted. Then Beachum proceeded to have a terrible Preseason which made him making the final roster even more surprising. Beachum was billed as the guy who could do anything on the offensive line and since being drafted, he’s done just that.
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Ryan Shazier Gives Pittsburgh Steelers High Hopes for 2014 Season

How impressive was Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Ryan Shazier in his pro debut Saturday night?

Well, he might have increased the Steelers’ chances of making the playoffs.

How can that be? How can a rookie boost the Steelers’ playoff stock by playing 37 snaps in a preseason game?

Because it seems that the more a Steelers’ first-round draft pick contributes as a rookie, the better the Steelers do that season.

Shazier made nine tackles in the Steelers’ 19-16 win over the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field. That’s five more than anyone else in the game, according to He also intercepted a pass.

The rookie inside linebacker is likely to start in Week 1. He’d be the first Steelers rookie to start an opener since Maurkice Pouncey in 2010. That’s also the last time the Steelers reached a Super Bowl.

The Steelers’ first-round picks in 2011, 2012 and 2013 combined for 11 starts as rookies. The Steelers were one-and-done in the playoffs in 2011 and missed the playoffs in 2012 and 2013.

A first-round pick is just one cog in the machine. A team’s success rides on a lot more than one player. However, every time the Steelers’ top pick has started at least 10 games since 2001, the Steelers have won at least one playoff game.

If Shazier continues to play the way he did Saturday, that bodes well for the Steelers’ 2014 season.

So let’s test this theory by taking a look at all the Steelers’ first-round draft picks since the turn of the century as well as how the Steelers did the year they were drafted. This will cover all of Kevin Colbert’s drafts, since he became the team’s director of football operations in 2000.

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5 Takeaways from Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2014 Preseason Opener

It’s getting to the point where if preseason games counted, the Pittsburgh Steelers would have the No. 1 draft pick every year.

After going winless in the preseason last year, the Steelers opened the 2014 preseason with a 20-16 loss to the New York Giants Saturday night at MetLife Stadium.

The Steelers got through the game with no major injuries and the coaching staff came away with a somewhat clearer picture of the talent on the roster.

That’s all that really matters in preseason games.

Now that the Steelers have gone from the friendly fire of training camp to hitting players in different uniforms, here are five takeaways from Saturday’s game.

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5 Players To Watch In The Steelers’ First Preseason Game

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a disappointing past two seasons with repeat 8-8 performances. The team begins to put all of that behind them when their Preseason begins against the New York Giants on Saturday August 9th. I’m just ecstatic that football is back at all but there are a bunch of players I’m excited to see take the field this weekend. For the purposes of this article however, I’ll narrow it down to five.
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Can The Pittsburgh Steelers Rely On Only Three Running Backs?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been in camp for about one week now as we inch closer and closer to the regular season. There are position battles up and down the roster and it’s time for players to either step up or not have a job. One of the more interesting positions to watch in camp will be the running back position.

There has been pretty much a consensus among Steelers’ fans that the team will probably only carry three running backs plus Will Johnson in the regular season. Personally, I think there more than just a strong chance that they will keep an extra running back in case of injury.
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Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Burning Questions Heading into 2014 Training Camp

For the second year in a row, Pittsburgh Steelers fans were subjected to a longer offseason than expected.

That’s what happens when the Steelers don’t make the playoffs and the season ends in December.

Nearly seven of those eight excruciating months have passed, and the appetizer to the Steelers’ long-awaited 2014 season will be served beginning Friday, when the team reports to training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.

After two straight 8-8 seasons, the Steelers will try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011. That would shorten the 2015 offseason by at least a week.

For that to happen, however, the following questions must be answered in the affirmative.

1. Will There Be Enough Depth Behind Antonio Brown at Wide Receiver?

There’s Antonio Brown, who had 110 receptions for a franchise-record 1,499 yards last season. Then there are four players who could fall anywhere from a No. 2 receiver to a total flameout.

Markus Wheaton was hampered by a broken pinkie and caught just six passes in his rookie season. Lance Moore, signed as a free agent from New Orleans, had a down year with 37 catches last season. But he’s ranked in the top 10 in catch percentage when he’s targeted in three of the last four seasons, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). The speedy Darrius Heyward-Bey, a former top-10 draft pick by the Oakland Raiders, is an enigma. The Steelers will be his third team in the last three seasons. The 6’4″ Martavis Bryant, a fourth-round draft pick in May, is the tall receiver Ben Roethlisberger has yearned for, but he has to prove that he has the work ethic to succeed in the NFL.

Derek Moye will have to fight off challenges from Justin Brown, Danny Coale, C.J. Goodwin, Lanear Sampson and Kashif Moore to keep his roster spot.

Lance Moore, who will be 31 at the end of August, could provide a steadying veteran presence as a 5’9″ possession receiver. Wheaton could make a big second-year leap. Bryant could use his length to become an effective red-zone weapon. Heyward-Bey, 27, could return to his 64-reception form of 2011 and use his 4.3 40-yard-dash speed to become a deep threat.

The Steelers need at least two of those scenarios to come to fruition. If not, Antonio Brown will see a lot of double coverage.

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Pittsburgh Steelers’ 53-Man Roster Projection

Summer vacation has begun for the NFL and the 90 players trying to make the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2014 roster.

The Steelers coaching staff got a look at those players at organized team activities and minicamp. Now there’s a respite before training camp begins July 25 at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

The picture will become clearer when these guys start practicing in pads and hitting for real. But those spring workouts provided a few hints. Based on what the Steelers have shown practicing in shorts, here’s a prediction for their final 53-man roster in 2014.

QB (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones

Nothing shocking here. Jones, a fourth-round pick last year, will hold off a challenge from undrafted rookie Brendon Kay and keep his roster spot. Gradkowski remains the top backup, but he’s 6-14 as a starter. If Roethlisberger misses any significant time, the Steelers will scan the waiver wire.

Roethlisberger played all 16 games last year for the first time since 2008. If the offensive line protects him the way it did in the second half of the 2013 season, Gradkowski and Jones again could be highly paid spectators in 2014.

That’s the way the Steelers want it.

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