Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 Season Review – Learning to Win by Overcoming Adversity

When future historians pen the definitive history of the Pittsburgh Steelers, 2015 will be a turnkey season. But in which direction did the key turn? Right now Steelers Nation can only wait for its answer. But today the 2015 Steelers have given us one undeniable truth:

  • Time and time again, Mike Tomlin and his players have demonstrated the resiliency necessary to overcome adversity.

The Steelers began 2015 with mixed expectations. Pittsburgh had closed 2014 unexpectedly strong by going 4-0 with the defense leading the way. Then 2015 began with a home playoff loss to the division rival Baltimore Ravens. Worse yet, the ease with which the Ravens beat the Steelers seemingly exposed Pittsburgh as a pretender rather than a true contenders:

  • Le’Veon Bell’s absence rendered the Steelers offense rudderless
  • The offensive line failed to protect Ben Roethlisberger
  • Pittsburgh’s pass rush couldn’t pressure the passer
  • Joe Flacco victimized the Steelers secondary

With on these underlying flaws laid bare, most pundits predicted Pittsburgh would take a step back in 2015. And the 2014 Steelers were AFC North Champions a year ago, their 2015 successors had to sneak into the playoffs.

No one can argue with those contrasting facts, but do they prove the pundits right?

2015 Adversity of the “Unknown Unknowns” Smacks the Steelers

All NFL teams plan for “what might go wrong.” Sometimes a team projects and plans accordingly, other times they project but take calculated risks and then there are the “Unknown Unknowns.” What’s an “Unknown, unknown?” in the NFL?

Unexpected adversity smacked the 2015 Steelers in the face early and often. Considered numerically, the numbers are daunting:

  • 46 starter games were lost to injury on offense
  • 6 more offensive starter games were lost to suspensions
  • 1/3 of the Steelers games, including the playoffs, saw a quarterback enter the game because of injury
  • 20 minutes 46 seconds – that’s the total time that Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Le’Veon Bell played together
  • 40% of the Steelers starting offensive line finished the season in injured reserve

Those numbers paint a pretty grim picture. Fortunately saber metrics, DOVA numbers and fantasy football stats don’t win football games. Winning comes from somewhere else.

2015 Steelers Learn a Potentially Important Lesson

One of the underlying ironies of the Steelers 2015 season is that while you can quantify the adversity this team weathered, quantifying how the Steelers overcame is near impossible.

Oh yes, numbers abound. Keith Butler’s defense vastly improve Pittsburgh’s takeaway total, and you can even pinpoint no less than 7 times that opponents entered the Red Zone only to have the Steelers take it away.

  • But can you really measure taking the ball away in the Red Zone with a numerical value?

You can talk about how vs. the Chargers, Michael Vick hit a 71 yard touchdown strike to Markus Wheaton, and then followed it with another drive that saw him convert 3 third downs with passes to Darrius Heyward-Bey and Heath Miller while converting another with a 24 yard scramble.

  • But can is act of an aging superstar digging down to find “IT” one last time quantifiable in anyway?

You can discuss how Martavis Bryant took a Landry Jones check down pass simply intended to burn off clock time and transformed it into an 88 yard touchdown win sealing run against the Cardinals, or how Antonio Brown took a similar pass 57 yards in OT vs. Oakland set up the game winning field goal.

  • But do stat lines “88 yards, TD” and “57 yards, TD” really convey the value of these plays?

You can remind someone of how Ryan Shazier sealed victory over the Broncos with an interception or how he stripped the ball away when all looked loss in Cincinnati.

  • But how do you calculate the statistical value of the uncanny ability to force late game turnovers that defines all true great defenders?

While all of these facts and figures should impress, they’re insignificant when measured against the process that each of the represents – learning how to win games.

Make no mistake about it. More is involved in winning football games then throwing more accurately, running a little faster or, Jack Lambert please forgive me, hitting harder than your opponents. Teams learn “how to win” just as they learn “how to lose.”

  • The final minutes of the Steelers playoff win over the Bengals put on a clinic of one team going through the exercise of learning to win while the other demonstrated the opposite lesson.

On paper, by failing to win the AFC North crown, the 2015 Steelers might have taken a step back. But if, IF they can internalize the lessons learned above, any future 2015 Steelers season review will reveal that made immeasurable progress this season.

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Scratch 2 St. Vincent’s Sleepers, Steelers Cut C.J. Goodwin Ian Wild & 11 Others

Scratch two more St. Vincent sleepers. The Pittsburgh Steelers cut 13 players to get to the NFL’s mandated roster limit of 75, and leading the list were wide receiver C.J. Goodwin and safety Ian Wild. Both Goodwin and Wild had been touted as St. Vincent’s sleepers, for their better than expected performance at Steelers training camp in St. Vincent’s Latrobe.

  • However, neither will make the final 53 man roster.

Goodwin had drawn praise early in camp, and was widely expected to be the Steelers 6th wide receiver should the Steelers keep that many. However, as camp progressed he feel behind Tyler Murphy and Shakim Phillips, and not even Martavis Bryant‘s suspension could help Goodwin earn a roster spot.

  • Ian Wild came on late, and drew lavish praise from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

Wild was listed as a safety, but also saw double duty as an inside linebacker. However, Wild could not do enough to impress coaches on special teams where Jordan Dangerfield as been a stand out. Wild’s departure also marks a bit of good, albeit temporary news for Steelers 7th round pick Gerod Holliman who looked good in “football in shorts” but whose name has not been heard during preseason.

Steelers Make 11 Other Cuts

The Steelers also cut 11 other players:

Tight End, Cameron Clear (waived/injured)
Tight End, Ray Hamilton (waived/injured)
Defensive End, Niko Davis (waived/injured)
Guard, Miles Dieffenbach
Wide Reciever, Kenzel Doe
Running Back, Braylon Heard
Defensive End, Joe Kruger
Defensive Tackle, Joe Okafor
Offensive Line, Collin Rahrig
Cornerback, Jordan Sullen
Offensive Tackle, Kevin Whimpey

The Steelers also decided to keep offensive tackle Mike Adams on the PUP list and officially placed second round pick Senquez Golson on injured reserve, ending the rookie’s season.

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Senquez Golson Shoulder Surgery Jeopardizes Rookie Season

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie and second round pick Senquez Golson had surgery on his left shoulder today, jeopardizing his rookie season before it ever begins. The Steelers have confirmed the surgery, but have not many any roster move. Two weeks ago news broke that Golson, who injured his shoulder in OTA’s, might need surgery and today’s events confirm that.

After that the Steelers would have 5 weeks to either allow Golson to begin practicing or place him on injured reserve. However, while information on the exact procedure is unavailable, it is generally assumed that the Senquez Golson shoulder surgery will likely end his rookie season.

Prior to the 2015 NFL Draft Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert talked a good game about “Taking the best player available” or some functional equivalent to such a strategy. He even appeared to follow it when Bud Dupree fell and the Steelers drafted him in the 1st round.

  • But in the second round, the Steelers kept to the script by taking Senquez Golson.

As Colbert admitted after the draft, “There was no way we were coming out of the second round without a corner.” That might have been logical fans, but it was an unusual bit of frankness from the normally tight lipped Colbert.

Senquez Golson played his college ball at Ole Miss, where he had over 10 interceptions. Golson however is short, only standing at 5’9” which is very short for an NFL cornerback. But what Golson lacked in height he made up for in ball honed from his days as an outfielder in baseball:

The ball tracking, coordination, and timing Golson displayed in intercepting that ball away from the 6’6” O.J. Howard, make it easy to see why Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler, and Carnell Lake were anxious to add Golson to a turnover starved secondary.

It appears that the Steelers will need to wait before seeing whether Golson can help quench the Steelers thirst for turnovers.

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Will Steelers Renegotiate Antonio Brown’s Contract? Kevin Colbert Says “No.”

Is Antonio Brown headed to a contract showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers? He is underpaid by any measure andhe  wants a new deal. Will the Steelers renegotiate Antonio Brown’s contract or will Brown make good on his rumored threats of a hold out? Steelers Nation will have to wait until 2016 to find out, but Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert clarified one thing:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers have no plans to modify their contract negotiation policy.

The Steelers policy on contract negotiations is that they do not renegotiate contracts for non-quarterbacks until the player as reached its final year. Hines Ward considered testing the policy prior to 2004, but opted not to.

Antonio Brown made headlines, or more precisely his agent Drew Rosenhaus did, when Brown missed the first week of Steelers voluntary off season workouts. The media immediately labeled it as “hold out” although Brown quickly worked to dissipate those rumors, informing fans he’d been spending time with his sons.

  • Rosenhaus visited Steelers training camp last week, and again leaked that his mission was to renegotiate a new deal.

However, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Mark Kaboly spoke with Kevin Colbert who confirmed that the Steelers simply accommodated Rosenhaus with a courtesy visit. When asked about the posiblity of renegotiating Brown’s contract, Colbert informed Kabloy:

It was something that was here before I got here, and I am sure it will continue after I am gone. It is just the consistency within the organization. It is something that we believe in and it works for us, so I don’t see it changing.

The last two players to get contract extensions while they still had multiple years remaining on their deal were Tommy Maddox in 2004 and Ben Roethlisberger in 2008. Kordell Stewart also got a contract extension in 1999 following a very rough 1998 campaign.

Solution for Antonio Brown Contract Impasse

Antonio Brown is one of the NFL’s top five receivers yet he ranks only 14th in salary and that ranking will drop as receivers negotiate new deals. With three years remaining on his deal and the Steelers unwilling to renegotiate his deal, it would seem like Brown has little choice but to accept that the Steelers will recognize past service in his next contract.

  • Given that the Steelers did something similar for James Harrison in 2009, there is ample precedent for this.

However, the Steelers take an extra step to show good faith and guarantee the rest of Antonio Brown’s contract. The move wouldn’t change how much money Brown is making, but it would state unequivocally that the Steelers will stand behind Brown, even should he suffer a career-ending injury.

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Steelers Designate Jordan Zumwalt Waived/Injured, Former 6th Pick’s NFL Dreams on Hold

Editors Note: The Steelers cut Jordan Zumwalt on August 28th 2016. Click here for that story.

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to make roster moves as dreams end or at least are put on hold for some this summer at St. Vincents. Yesterday The Turk visited Tajh Boyd and, In what amounts to a surprise move, the Steelers cut 2014 6th round draft pick Jordan Zumwalt, who played linebacker at UCLA.

Jordan Zumwalt’s rookie season got off to a rocky start, as he spent most of the summer watching Steelers practice from the sidelines due to an hip injury. Eventually, the Steelers put Zumwalt on injured reserve.

Still the Steelers were expecting big things from Zumwalt in 2015, and they liked his position flexibility. Although he was drafted and primarily played as an inside linebacker Zumwalt, he also had the potential to move to outside linebacker. However, as Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Gerry Dulac informs, the Steelers didn’t see Zumwalt doing enough to realize his potential.

Pittsburgh coaches haven’t given up on the once-promising UCLA linebacker as the Steelers designate Jordan Zumwalt waived/injured. By doing so, any other NFL team can place a wavier wire claim on Jordan Zumwalt and acquire his rights. If that does not happen, the Steelers will have a choice to make. They can either reach an injury settlement with Zumwalt or they can place Zumwalt on the injured reserve.

  • Given Gerry Dulac’s tweet, its likely that Zumwalt’s time with the Seelers has come to an end.

And if Dulac’s reporting is correct, that would amount to a major disappointment. Inside linebacker is easily the deepest position on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster, with Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier as the two starters, backed up by Sean Spence and Vince Williams, both men who could arguably start on the majority of other NFL teams.

And the Steelers also have Terence Garvin, a special teams standout who was working his way into the Steelers 3rd down offense in 2013 before he got hurt. Given the premium on competition at the positon, one would have thought Zumwalt would have been wise enough to give it his all in practice.

  • Apparently he wasn’t and he didn’t.

To take Zumwalt’s place on the roster the Steelers claimed L.J. Fort off of waivers from the New England Patriots.

Fort entered the NFL in 2012 with the Cleveland Browns, where he made 1 start and intercepted a pass which he returned for 10 yards and recorded a sack. That wasn’t enough to ensure him a spot with the Browns on in the NFL as he sat out 2013. HE did suit up for both the Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks in 2014.

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Steelers Cut Tajh Boyd

The NFL’s first mandatory roster cut down to 75 players may be two weeks away, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are already making some final decisions at quarterback. The Steelers began the week by activating back up quarterback Bruce Bruce Gradkowski from the PUP list.

The Steelers started training camp with a four-headed competition for the third quarterback slot pitting Landry Jones against former ACC player of the year Tajh Boyd who had also spent time last summer with the New York Jets, Devin Gardner, and Tyler Murphy (with Gardner and Murphy doing double duty at wide receiver.

  • Apparently the Steelers have reached some conclusions.

The Steelers released Gardner last week and today the Steelers cut Tajh Boyd, whom they signed earlier in the spring. While Tyler Murphy has drawn praise from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Boyd had largely been invisible in training camp and more ominously in preseason. Save for Ben Roethlisberger’s three throws vs. the Jaguars, Landry Jones has gotten all of the snaps for the Steelers at quarterback in preseason.

  • By all accounts, Jones play has been “OK” but nothing more.

But given that Tajh Boyd could not get any real reps in the first of two of five preseason games shows that his release was no surprise.

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Reflections on James Harrison’s Participation Trophies

The biggest Steelers “news” story to break over the weekend had nothing to do with the Steelers preseason loss to the Jaguars or with any developments at St. Vincents, but rather with the fact that James Harrison was ordering his sons to return their participation trophies.

  • Perhaps that is a sign of the times of just how saturated NFL football coverage has become. Who knows?

Either way James Harrison’s decision has sparked a lot of debate in Steelers Nation, and a fair amount of reflection on the part of yours truly.

Despite anchoring a solid blue block on the electoral map, Pittsburgh is a city with a blue collar, dare we say “conservative” reputation where James Harrison’s decision is drawing a lot of praise. Long time Pittsburgh broadcast and print journalist John Steigerwald, known for his gruff demeanor, old school values and bluntly accurate analysis unsurprisingly wasted little time praising James Harrison.

This is hardly surprising. In his book Just Watch the Game (which is excellent) Steigerwald decries the decline of pickup sports among today’s youth and the “Every kid gets a trophy” mentality that has invaded organized youth sports.

  • It is important to keep such sentiments in their proper context.

The motif of “Things were never as good as they were in the good old days” is as old as Western Civilization itself. You can literarily find such sentiments in Greek Mythology. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have merit.

The aim of the way children are educated and socialized must be to prepare youth for the real world. And the real world can be brutal. And that reality comes with an inconvenient truth: A lot of social practices fail to prepare the kids for the real world.

Examples of educators lowering standards in response to achievement gaps are legion. But lest anyone be tempted to view this through the left-right prism of contemporary culture wars, consider how the Boy Scouts of America have progressively made it easier to advance in rank over the last few decades and you can see that the problem spans the spectrum.

While standard should not remain carved in stone as times change, constant softening disserves youth – unlike high school Algebra, job searches don’t award partial salary for “showing your work.” Agree or disagree with the practice, at the end of the day the “Every kids gets a trophy” practice is at least partially a symptom of a larger more complicated problem.

But does that mean the practice has no value?

Consider the thoughts of Pittsburgh-based blogger Terry Fletcher:


Fletcher is on to something. Steigerwald’s right when he says that there are a lot fewer kids playing pickup sports today than when he was a kid. But part of the reason for that is that kids have so many more entertainment options than they did in his time.

  • The NFL didn’t have its 60 Minutes of Play program in earlier generations because they didn’t need one.

Sadly, today’s teenagers generally prefer to playing Madden ’16 on the X-Box or PlayStation than playing the real pigskin. Considering that, if awarding participation trophies does actually motivate youth to participate in athletics, then perhaps it’s not such a bad thing.

The issue goes beyond the simple importance of physical fitness. Doug Brown, who coached my high school’s open gym wrestling clinics, confided in my shortly before I graduated, “At the end of the day winning and losing wrestling matches is very unimportant. The value comes in what you learn by going out there and giving it your all to win.”

  • Full disclosure. I never got participation trophies growing up.

That’s because I never participated in organized sports until I wrestled in high school. But I was a son of parents who probably would have agreed with the participation trophy philosophy. Indeed, going into my Junior year (as a Generation Xer, my high school only had 10-12th – somehow the concept of Jr. High became “bad” after I got though it) my mom didn’t understand it when I told her I’d probably wrestle on J.V. again. She didn’t think it was fair.

As it turns out, one of the guys who would have been the varsity starter at 130 lbs. quit and another didn’t feel like losing the weight. At the end of the year, I lettered in wrestling for holding down the starting spot at 130 – and make no mistake, on Dave Moquin’s team you earned your letter by starting ½ the varsity matches to get a letter.

  • A year later I not only lettered again, but earned my first and only trophy for Most Improved Wrestler.

I guess that sums up my take on the controversy over James Harrison and his kid’s trophies: There’s nothing wrong with giving them out to younger kids to give them an incentive to be the best they can be. But by the time high school rolls around the practice should stop.

With that said, I will also say I respect the right of James Harrison, or any other parent, to make the decision he made to teach his kids the value of both effort and achievement.

My folks wouldn’t have taken the same approach because they had other ways of instilling those same values. The important thing is that, at the end of the day, those are the lessons that kids learn.

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Steelers Activate Bruce Gradkowski

To the surprise of many in Steelers Nation, back up quarterback Bruce Gradkowski opened Steelers training camp on the PUP list. The move keeps Gradkowski from practicing and allowed the Steelers to use his roster spot with someone else.

  • The Steelers also would have been able to keep Gradkowski on the PUP until the middle of the season, and then activate him.

It is not something that happens often, but the Steelers did just that with Heath Miller in 2013. Miller of course tore his ACL at the end of the 2012 season, and was kept on the Steelers PUP list, until being activated before the debacle in London.

In his absences, the Steelers have been giving most of Gradkowski’s reps to Landry Jones. Landry Jones entered training camp with a target on his back, showed improvement during practice, but reviews of his performance in the Steelers Hall of Fame Game loss to the Minnesota Vikings and their preseason loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars have been mixed at best.

  • While Landry Jones HAS improved from previous outings, he clearly hasn’t show himself as a viable number 2 NFL quarterback.

In contrast, Gradkowski fits that mold perfectly, following in the footsteps of Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich who have held distinction of “QB Number 2” for much of Kevin Colbert’s tenure as Steelers General Manager.

Gradkowski has been nursing an ailing shoulder, although reports indicate that he began throwing on his own while at St. Vincent’s. However, Ed Bouchette reported on video following the Jaguars game that the Steelers weren’t looking to activate Gradkowski until the 4th preseason game.

  • Perhaps Bouchette was mistaken or perhaps Jones’ struggles have forced the Steelers hand.

Three summers ago both Isaac Redman and Johnathan Dwyer were nursing injuries in mid August prompting the Steelers to activate Rashard Mendenhall ahead of schedule (although Mendenhall did not play until after the first month of the season.)

Although Gradkowski has never thrown a regular season pass for the Steelers, did briefly relieve Ben Roethlisberger in the Steelers playoff loss to the Ravens, and completed 2-3 passes and looked quite sharp doing it.

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Steelers Jaguars Preseason Video Highlights and Nostalgia for Preseason’s Past

Its August, which means that here at Steel Curtain Rising we begin feeling nostalgic over missing the joys of preseason football.

  • You just read an honest minority opinion and not a not a misprint.

Preseason doesn’t count, and it is true that coaches play starters and other first line players less and less than they used to (starters would almost play the entire preseason 4th game as a “dress rehearsal” under Chuck Noll). But preseason is the only time that average fans get to evaluate young talent on their own, without the filter of a beat reporter and/or the Steelers PR media staff.

  • And living down here on Buenos Aires prevents me from seeing preseason action (note to NFL – requiring people to pay for preseason via NFL Game Pass is simply dumb.)

So there’s no chance to do any talent evaluation here which is a shame as Lethon Flower’s story illustrates (if we may be permitted to repeat it.)

The Steelers drafted Lee Flowers in 5th round of the 1995 NFL Draft and fans neither saw or heard much about him for the next two seasons. Yet when it was clear that Donnell Woolford couldn’t cut it at cornerback in 1997, yours truly had seen enough of Lee Flowers in three preseasons to suggest to the faithful at the Purple Goose Saloon that Bill Cowher could shift Carnell Lake over to corner and start Lee Flowers.

The Steelers went on to make it to the AFC Championship that year, and Lee Flowers went on to start at safety for the Steelers until 2002.So there’s my annual “eat your broccoli, brussels sprouts, lima beans and remember NFL preseason is good for you” speech.

The Pittsburgh Steelers played their second preseason game two days ago, and the Steelers lost to the Jaguars 23-21. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, here are some Steelers Jaguars preseason video highlights (note, Roger Goodell’s YouTube police won’t let this stay up too long, but it is available as of 8/16/15):

There you have it. Ben Roethlisberger only needed six plays to put 8 points on the board while getting Martavis Bryant, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and Markus Wheaton involved in the game. On defense Ryan Shazier looks good and James Harrison got a strip sack in limited work.

The video highlights confirm the narrative presented in the press coverage of the main Steelers beat writers. Dig a little deeper into their work, and you’ll see that Shamarko Thomas allowed a deep touchdown, Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree did little, and that Michael Mitchell didn’t play much.

Landry Jones remains the subject of intense debate in Steelers Nation, as Steelers France’s tweet indicates. It’s gotten to the point where Behind the Steel Curtain’s Dani Bostic questions whether Jones is a victim of cyber bullying.

Either way, Jones is getting a long look with Bruce Gradkowski still on the Steelers PUP list. And, without the benefit of seeing any of his games, Jones seems to be developing into a quality third quarterback. Which is fine, if Gradkowski returns to full health, if he doesn’t the Steelers are in trouble.

But you can’t tell that from the video highlights, nor can you gleam information on the performance of Sammie Coates, Doran Grant or any of the other Steelers draft picks or roster bubble types such as Will Johnson.

So be it. On to the Steelers preseason home opener which will see the Green Bay Packers come to Heinz Field.

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Bud Dupree Learning Steelers Way,the Mike Tomlin Way

“…the guys know that the playing field is level. We don’t care by what means guys get here. Capable guys, guys that prove that they can be positive competitors to our efforts will be given an opportunity to play.” – Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, following the 2015 NFL Draft.

Steelers first round pick Bud Dupree is quickly learning that Mike Tomlin means what he says and says what he means, especially when it comes to rookies.

  • Mike Tomlin’s philosophy on rookies is simple: He does not believe in anointing them.

He went so far as to create a faux competition between Flozell Adams and Jonathan Scott to avoid the appearance of “handing” the starting job to Maurkice Pouncey when Pouncey was a rookie.

It’s true that he immediately installed Ryan Shazier as that starter during Steelers 2014 OTA’s, but that experiment left Tomlin with a bit of buyer’s remorse, as pointedly did not get his starting job back when he returned to health late in 2014 and found himself vying for snaps with Vince Williams and Sean Spence.

Just how serious does Mike Tomlin take his philosophy on rookies? Some of you might remember this little play:

For those of you taking notes, that play came in week 2 when the Steelers upset the Titans in 2010. The play is all the more remarkable because it was Antonio Brown’s first touch of an NFL football.

  • How did Tomlin reward the rookie for his efforts?

He kept Brown inactive for 6 of the next 9 weeks, reminding people that Brown and Emmanuel Sanders were “Two dogs” competing for one bone.

Now fast forward to the Hall of Fame Game. Mike Tomlin held many veterans out. Among those were James Harrison and Jarvis Jones. So naturally you’d think Mike Tomlin’s choice to accompany Arthur Moats at outside linebacker with the first unit would be his first round pick, Bud Dupree?

  • It’s a logical choice. Give your rookie exposure vs. the Viking’s first string.

Guess again. Instead the preseason start when to Shayon Green, who was an undrafted rookie free agent last year with the Miami Dolphins. When the Steelers signed Shayon Green, 1 month prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, it appeared that Green was just “a body.” Someone to fill out the training camp roster.

  • Green has been playing well in camp, and played well in the Hall of Fame game, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.

Bud Dupree didn’t see any action until the 2nd quarter, and by many accounts his performance was uneven – at best. Still, give the Steelers 2015 1st round draft choice some credit – he knows how to say the right things. When asked about his playing time, Dupree admitted “We’ve got good players on the team already. Nothing is going to be given to you, I just have to go out there and take it.”

That is exactly the type of attitude you want to hear from a rookie at St. Vincents.

Dupree’s Debut Draw Mixed Reviews

Once he got into the game, Bud Dupree played almost until the end, and drew mixed reviews from the press. Fowler credited Dupree for showing good speed but described it as a “quiet night.” Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette wasn’t so kind.

In Bouchette’s eyes, Dupree “looked completely lost” and lacked football instincts, asserting that “…he did not look like a natural football player out there.” A day later, however, Bouchette cautioned a reader not to get concerned about Dupree yet.

The Dale Lolley, flat out asserted that Dupree needed to learn to get off blocks, something he struggled with in college. Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider noted that Dupree failed to shed the tight end who was blocking him on an 18 yard run that resulted in a Vikings touchdown, but repeatedly cautioned his readers against judging Dupree too harshly.

Ralph Paulk of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review perhaps provided the most positive assessment of Dupree, crediting him with getting stronger against the run and generally being in position. Paulk however got Dupree on the record complaining (or at least noting) that he was being held more in the NFL than in college.

  • As Dupree explained to Paulk “Once you get held, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

That attitude is slightly more worrisome. As James Harrison can testify, NFL officials are more than ready to look the other way when offensive lineman hold Steelers pass rushers.

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