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Eagles Release former Steelers LB L.J. Fort, Jeopardizing Potential Compensatory Draft Pick

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Former Steelers linebacker L.J. Fort has been released by the Philadelphia Eagles, potentially putting the team’s ability to get a high-round compensatory draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft in jeopardy.

Fort signed with the Eagles as a free agent this offseason, one of three major free agent departures, along with running back Le’Veon Bell (New York Jets) and tight end Jesse James (Detroit Lions).

The NFL uses a proprietary formula to assign value to players lost and gained in free agency in order to hand out compensatory picks.

The Steelers signed cornerback Steven Nelson and wide receiver Donte Moncrief. Mark Barron does not count toward the formula because he was released by Los Angeles.

When the Steelers had three players on the negative side of the ledger, they were be expected to get a relatively high pick, due to the value provided by Bell being the highest of the group.

The grading process won’t happen until after the season, but Fort’s value to the Eagles was a key component of the Steelers expecting to get a high return for Bell.

The Steelers have traded their first-round and fifth-round picks in 2020 to Miami for free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Miami’s fourth-round pick and their third-round pick to Denver to move up in the 2019 NFL Draft and select Devin Bush. That leaves the Steeler with just one pick on the first two days of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Steelers

Tomlin Bringing Referees into Steelers Practice to Help Penalty Issues

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Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin thinks his team took too many penalties in their Week 2 win over the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field on Saturday, and he’s going to do something about it.

Tomlin said on Tuesday that he’s bringing referees into practice this week in order to help his team remain in compliance with the NFL rulebook on gamedays.

“It hurt our efforts on both sides of the ball,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “It hurt our efforts in terms of possessing the ball on offense. We had two critical holding calls in the first half that put us behind the chains and essentially stopped drives. Ball possession and drives, there’s too much scarcity in that discussion to get major penalties and throw yourself behind the chains. We’re just not good enough to overcome those things at this juncture, and quite frankly, I would imagine not many of us in this game are that good at this juncture.

“On the defensive side of the ball, we didn’t play clean enough on the back end on possession downs. They were able to extend drives through DPI and things of that nature. When you get people to that point to where you have them in a third down situation and you have the ball snapped and you’re executing the rush, there’s just too much ground covered to start over and give them a new set of downs. We have to get better in those areas.”

Special teams were also part of the problem, Tomlin said, as the Steelers had a Diontae Johnson punt return touchdown called back due to a block in the back. In total, the Steelers were penalized 10 times for 89 yards.

“We are not only analyzing and openly talking about the penalties, but we are working hard to rectify it,” he said. “We intend to bring some officials to our practice work this week in an effort to make a point of emphasis in that area. That’s important for us. Again, I just thought that was a catalyst for a lot of negativity in the game for us.”

Steelers cornerback Joe Haden said after the game that the team felt that “some of the calls weren’t going their way,” but Tomlin said they don’t consider whether or not they think a call should have been made when assessing and evaluating team performance.

“We coach. We don’t officiate the game,” he said “We are not assessing judgment based on what’s called. We are simply acknowledging what is called and we are making whatever necessary change in our behavior to make sure that it is not called moving forward. It’s as simple as that for us.”

Tomlin said the team is still working through the procedures to have the officials they want to use tested and able to be on the practice field at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex when the team returns to work on Wednesday.

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Steelers

Video: Kevin Dotson on First NFL Start, Confidence Level

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Steelers rookie guard Kevin Dotson speaks with the media via Zoom after making his first career start in the Steelers second game of the 2020 season against the Denver Broncos.

While DeCastro’s return likely will mean an end to Dotson starting, it’s a testament to his skill and confidence level that he was able to play well in early in a season that lends itself to being more difficult for inexperienced players to fill in.

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Odds

Steelers Super Bowl Odds Improve After 2-0 Start

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Ben Roethlisberger throws during a regular season game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020 in Pittsburgh. -- Jared Wickerham/WickPhotography.com

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl odds have shortened after their 2-0 start to the season.

Opening the 2020 season at 22/1, the Steelers are now 20/1 to win Super Bowl LV, courtesy of BetOnline.ag.

The Steelers were not the only team to see their prospects rise, with the Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers also seeing their odds shorten.

After key injuries and inconsistency to start the year, the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers both have longer odds than where they began.

The Kansas City Chiefs — whose odds remained the same — and the Ravens are currently the favorites to win Super Bowl LV at 5/1.

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