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Conner, Roethlisberger among Five Steelers Injured in Loss to Seattle

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PITTSBURGH — The Steelers fell to 0-2 on the 2019 season with a 28-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

But the bigger loss than the home-opening setback to the Steelers may have happened on the sidelines, where five Steelers players, including star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, finished the game.

Roethlisberger exited the game late in the second quarter with a right elbow injury that head coach Mike Tomlin said is still being evaluated.

Second-year backup Mason Rudolph replaced Roethlisberger on the first drive of the second half. Roethlisberger finished 8-of-15 passing for 75 yards. Rudolph was 12 for 19 for 112 yards and two touchdowns.

Tomlin did not blame his team’s loss on the absence of his star quarterback, or any other players.

“We lost a number of guys in this game, but that’s not the reason that we didn’t win this game,” he said. “We were fully capable with the guys that were on the field. We didn’t make enough plays, to be honest with you. … We’re not looking to make excuses.”

A host of Steelers stars followed Roethlisberger to the training table. Linebacker Vince Williams left the game in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. Running back James Conner, linebacker Anthony Chickillo and safety Sean Davis all left in the second half.

Conner has a knee injury and did not return to the game. He told Steelers Now that he’s not sure of the extent of his injury, but he doesn’t believe that anything is torn.

He had tough sledding early in the game, gaining 33 yards on 11 carries and three receptions for 12 yards. He punched in the Steelers’ first touchdown from 1 yard out in the second quarter. He was replaced by Jaylen Samuels, who finished with 18 yards on three carries and one catch for 13 yards.

Williams started the game at inside linebacker, and appeared to be in line to get the bulk of the reps with Seattle featuring a run-heavy attack. He was assigned the Steelers’ green-dotted radio communication helmet, which is generally reserved for a player that is expected to see a good amount of time on the field.

He left the game in the first quarter and was initially reported to be questionable before being downgraded to out. Williams finished with two tackles. He was replaced by Devin Bush, who had seven tackles and a fumble recovery.

Davis injured his shoulder after a stiff-arm from Seattle wide receiver DK Metcalf in the third quarter. He briefly returned to the game before going back to the sideline. He was making his first appearance this season after missing the season opener with an ankle injury. Davis recorded five tackles and was once again replaced by first-year safety Kameron Kelly.

Tomlin said Chickillo is dealing with plantar fasciitis. He left the stadium in a walking boot on his right foot/ankle. Second-year linebacker Ola Adeniyi got the reps that Chickillo usually takes later in the game. Adeniyi had one tackle.

Steelers

Center J.C. Hassenauer Officially Signs with Steelers

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Center J.C. Hassenauer has officially signed his new one-year deal with the Steelers.

This deal was initially reported last week and confirmed by Hassenauer’s agent, but has now been announced by the Steelers.

An exclusive right free agent, Hassenauer was almost a lock to return to Pittsburgh in 2021. His new deal with the Steelers is worth $780,000.

Hassenauer proved a vital piece along the Steelers’ offensive line a season ago, seeing action in 15 games and making four starts. He was on the field for 23% of the team’s offensive stats, while also appearing on 50 special teams plays.

Prior to Pittsburgh, Hassenauer signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2018, spending the first seven weeks of the season on their practice squad.

He played for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football in 2019.

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Steelers

Mic Drop: JuJu Smith-Schuster’s Free Agency is About Business, Not Personal

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Ever since the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger decided the future Hall of Fame quarterback will return for the 2021 season with a restructured contract, the attention has shifted to free agent wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. On this episode of Mic Drop on Pittsburgh Sports Live, host Mike Asti explains why fans need to learn that not every JuJu take is a personal attack and why it’s best for the Steelers business if the franchise and the 24-year-old receiver part ways.

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Steelers Scout Mark Bruener Shares Insight into Unique Draft Process

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The COVID-19 pandemic has altered many aspects of the NFL landscape, especially the scouting leading up to the NFL Draft, making an already unique, tedious process even more challenging.

Pittsburgh Steelers college scout Mark Bruener joined The Standard, the club’s behind-the-scenes web series, and provided some insight into the past year’s unprecedented scouting process.

The pandemic has presented Bruener with his fair share of challenges, but he has not allowed those circumstances to become excuses.

“My first approach was is I’m not going to make an excuse for the situation that I’m in,” Bruener said. “I’m going to figure out a way to do my job to the best of my ability and know that Kevin (Colbert) is not going to tolerate any excuses. And I needed to get my job done.”

Much like every aspect of our life over the past year, Bruener has had to resort to virtual discussions with coaches, as he was largely barred from scouting and meeting players at facilities.

“The ability for us to make contact with the schools, the individual coaches, all had to be done via Zoom,” Bruener said. “There was no personal interaction that we normally would get. And then you would follow up individually with the coaches to gain the information that you needed.”

Without those in-person evaluations, Bruener has had to watch on film more than ever before to ensure his assessments are accurate.

“But the bulk of my fall was spent in my office, watching film on my computer,” he said. “Instead of just watching three games on an athlete in particular to try to bring the evaluation, I tend to maybe watch five or six games, if that’s available. And because I can’t see that live look in some aspects.”

That being said, the virtually, at-home conditions have granted Bruener more flexibility in his scouting process than ever before.

“If you’re at a school, you have to get to the next school the next day. So you have to make sure that you get all that work done that day,” Bruener said. “Whereas now being home, you’re a little more flexible. So if you’re not able to finish that third game or fourth game by two o’clock, then you can get to it later on that evening.”

Bruener, who resides in Washington state, was able to attend a few games in person last college football season, but admits the atmosphere was bizarre at times.

“I went to a handful of games here in Seattle and in Oregon that I was allowed to attend, but it was so eerie Andy weird because there wasn’t any fans there.”

Selected in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft out of Washington, Bruener played 14 seasons at tight end. He spent the first nine seasons of his career in Pittsburgh, catching 137 passes for 1,197 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Bruener began scouting for the Steelers organization in 2018.

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