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Art Rooney II Opens up on Bell, Brown, Tomlin and More

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Steelers President Art Rooney II met with a group of reporters Wednesday afternoon to discuss the team’s potential off-season plans, and to address some pressing questions pertaining to the team.

When a team as talented as Pittsburgh fails to make the post-season, questions begin to arise around the organization in an attempt to figure out a solution. 2018 was undoubtedly disappointing, but decision makers of the likes of Rooney must face the music at some point down the line.

Per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rooney said the 2018 season was tough to swallow, yet it wasn’t as disastrous as people made it out to be. “We didn’t achieve our goal of winning the division but we finished half a game out and had a lot of opportunities to get there” said Rooney.

Rooney expanded on a variety on topics, including the status of Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who is still recovering from a spinal injury suffered in 2017. According to Rooney, Shazier is still working towards the goal of getting back on the field, however the Steelers would need to sign him to a new contract in order for him to do so, if he’s able to successfully recover.

Another topic of discussion became contract negotiations, for a handful of people. Rooney is making it a goal to extend quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s contract this off-season, a goal the organization has held for a while. Another potential extension was expected for head coach Mike Tomlin, yet Rooney isn’t quite ready to make that happen with two years left on Tomlin’s deal, citing the team will handle that later in the off-season.

One issue pertaining to Tomlin in 2018 was his inability to correctly utilize his coaches challenges, losing the last 8/9 challenges he attempted. Rooney spoke with Tomlin about another member of the staff potentially helping him in that area, although no official designations have been made yet.

Rooney’s view on the 2018 season came with a lot of challenges throughout the year, but ultimately the team fell short of his goals. When asked about Tomlin’s performance, Rooney responded “When you miss the playoffs, nobody gets absolved.. I think everybody knows we need to do better, including Mike”.

Playing to the same tune as many fans, Rooney pointed to two factors that needed improvement: The Steelers kicking issues, and the lack of forcing turnovers on the defensive side of the ball. Rooney however mentioned the defense did improve in 2018, yet the secondary still needed improvement.

Absent from 2018’s disappointing season was running back Le’Veon Bell, who held out the entirety of the season due to failed contract negotiations. Rooney said he had no idea Bell would hold out the duration of the season, but said he “feels good” about the Steelers running back situation without Bell due to the play of James Conner and Jaylen Samuels this season, potentially signaling Bell won’t be back in a Steelers uniform.

Last but certainly not least, Rooney furthered his original statements on wide receiver Antonio Brown just a week ago. Rooney updated his situation in regards to Brown, stating he still has not had any contact with Brown. No teams have contacted the Steelers either about Brown per Rooney, stating they have not engaged in any trade talks about Brown.

When asked about Brown returning to the Steelers, Rooney is still keeping the door open for all possibilities, but stated “not that many signs out there that that’s going to happen”.

While no moves have been officially decided, it appears the Steelers front office is well aware of the state of the organization. Now, it’s up to Rooney and General Manager Kevin Colbert to right the ship and gear the Steelers up for the 2019 season.

 

Steelers

Steelers Coaches Return to Team Facility

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With the NFL announcing that coaching staffs can return to team facilities, the Steelers wasted no time getting back to work.

Steelers coaches, including head coach Mike Tomlin, returned to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Friday morning.

With Pennsylvania switching over to the “Green Phase” of its COVID-19 reopening plan Friday, the Steelers were one of the organization permitted to welcome back their staffs, but only if they adhere to local and state guidelines.

The team shared a few photos of Tomlin entering the facility, including an image of the 14-year head coach getting his temperature taken in the lobby. Daily checks are clearly part of the league’s protocols with regards to reopening.

To this point, the bulk of the NFL’s offseason has been conducted remotely, including the Draft and free agency.

Tomlin is most likely excited to return to some sense of normalcy. He discussed how challenging the adjustment had been on a conference call last month.

“We face a lot of challenges, my mentality, and the group mentality is going to be they are challenges that everyone faces,” said Tomlin. “From that standpoint it’s going to be fair and the playing field is going to be level. We have to be light on our feet. There is going to be a period of adjustment from a scheduling standpoint as we gain our footing in terms of logistics of what day-to-day looks like and things of that nature.”

“The entire National Football League will be going through it and I just think if we perform relatively better than others, we put ourselves in position to be that team at the end of the journey. That is always our mentality regarding the start of a season.”

The only team employees that had previously been allowed in facilities were athletic trainers and rehabbing players.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has not yet announced when all player will be permitted to return, but did note in his memo to clubs Thursday that the league is first attempting to finalize their COVID-19 testing program.

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NFL Announces Coaches can Return to Team Facilities

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NFL

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced that coaching staffs may return to team facilities Friday, June 5 in a memo issued to teams Thursday morning.

Staying consistent with their message throughout the reopening process, coaches may return only if clubs have “received necessary permission from state and local governments.”

Clubs were informed last week that coaches will count towards the maximum number of employees permitted in facilities, but the total number allowed will increase from 75 to 100 tomorrow as well.

While Goodell has not yet announced when all players will be cleared to return, he did add that the league is still working “with clubs medical staffs to implement a program of COVID-19 testing” prior to players coming back.

Injured and rehabbing players were some of the first who received the green light to return to team facilities, and have been back for a few weeks now.

Club facilities were initially closed by the league back on March 25 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While coaches are likely eager to return to their team facilities, they should make themselves comfortable for the long haul.

Goodell’s memo comes a day after multiple reports that the league informed franchises they must conduct training camp from their practice facilities this August.

This would mean the Steelers will be prepping for the season on the South Side, instead of making a 55th-consecutive trip to St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

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Art Rooney II, Steelers Issue Statements on Killing of George Floyd, Protests

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Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II released a statement Wednesday on the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and the ensuing protests seen across the nation.

“Over the last week, we have witnessed the anger and frustration in our city and around the country relating to the killing of George Floyd and the recent deaths of African-American men and women. We have also witnessed the good in so many people who have peacefully expressed their concerns.”

“I am proud to hear the voices of many of our players who have spoken out against racism and injustice and called for unity. As an organization, we will continue to listen to our players, coaches, alumni and leaders in our community and work together to bring awareness and change in the effort to create a more fair and equal community.”

A number of prominent Steelers players also shared statements and comments regarding Floyd’s death and the nationwide protests, including Cam Heyward, Ben Roethlisberger, James Conner, Vince Williams, JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.J. Watt.

Defensive end Cam Heyward:

“A friend, a brother, a father, a son, just someone you meet, these are different ways people might know George Floyd. To know that the color of my skin could be at the discretion of someone who is supposed to protect is truly disheartening. I’m praying for the Floyd family.”

“To know a brother, a friend or someone I care about could be gone due to this just hurts. It’s not acceptable. Thank you for the people who do serve the right way and continue to protect our freedoms. I wish all held up his end and cared for all.”

“We all have people we care about and the fact that we can’t believe in everyone who is in the position of power to keep all safe angers me and tears me up. Change must happen. Our children are inheriting a world that is not improving. Life should be precious.”

“I still can’t find my words to make sense of it all. Too many have died, and not enough has changed.”

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger:

“The cruelty and injustice must stop, racism must end, and love must find a way to prevail. We are all children of God, equal in his eyes, and must hold one another accountable to fair and just standards.”

Running back James Conner:

“If we keep showing hate and violence, we will continue to have hate and violence. If we keep showing peace and love, we will have peace and love. I’ve retweeted disturbing and negative videos to HOPE they understand, but I will only be posting love from here on out. We know what’s been done and know it’s wrong.

“Make the Twitter timeline full of positivity. Like I said, I’ve been guilty of retweeting negative content, but that’s not it. They want the sickening and shameless videos at 100,000+ retweets to keep us divided. Make unity and togetherness the only content we see.”

Inside linebacker Vince Williams:

“Send me the GoFundMe of businesses that have been destroyed by the riots. I’ve done independent searches, but hopefully this helps me to be more thorough.”

Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster:

“Our country is in pain right now, and coming together is the only way to heal each other. No more injustice!”

Outside linebacker T.J. Watt:

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