PITTSBURGH, Pa – Don’t tell head coach Mike Tomlin a win during the pre-season is meaningless. “It is going to be a good learning video for us. It is good to win in the process of that,” said Tomlin after Pittsburgh held on and managed to kickoff their preseason schedule with a win over the Buccaneers.
With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sitting this one out, which is to be expected for the future Hall of Famer only a few days after the conclusion of training camp, it was yet another opportunity for Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph to lay claim to the backup job. While both young quarterbacks played well, it was Rudolph who threw two touchdown passes.
Dobbs spoke about getting the start, and if he feels the backup job is his to lose.
Regardless who was under center, James Washington showed why many expect him to step up as the new second receiver option. “I would say the game has slowed down a little bit. I know the playbook and being more of a well-rounded player,” Washington said in response to if he feels different heading into the 2019 season. Washington finished the game with 4 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown, including extending a drive with a 21 yard catch on third and long.
Even though the Steelers need more from Washington this season, he’s not obsessed with where exactly he ranks on the death chart. Washington said, “you know, it really doesn’t matter. I just want to be on this team and do whatever I can do,” when asked how important the number two receiver spot is to him.
In the preseason, the individual victories are more important than even the final score. Will Rudolph receive a preseason start? Can Benny Snell, who only finished with 26 yards on 13 carries, get going? And will Donte Moncrief have an opportunity to show that maybe he’s the better option behind JuJu Smith-Schuster? Those are just some of the many questions that still surround this Steelers team with three more preseason games left until the real journey begins.
Steelers to Host ex-Vikings OT Aviante Collins for Visit
The Steelers will host free agent tackle Aviante Collins for a visit, according to the NFL transactions page for Thursday.
Collins, 27, spent the last four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings after joining the team as an undrafted free agent out of TCU in 2017.
Collins played in three games in 2017 and two in 2019 for the Vikings, and spent all of the 2020 season on the practice squad, except for a one-week elevation in Week 11, in which he did not play.
The 6-foot-4, 292-pound tackle its a free agent after the Vikings decided to allow his practice squad contract to expire at the end of the season.
The Steelers have several free agents at the tackle position, including longtime starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, 2019 starting right tackle Matt Feiler and 2020 starting right tackle Zach Banner, who are unrestricted free agents, and backup Jerald Hawkins, who is a restricted free agent.
The Steelers have Chukwuma Okorafor under contract and Anthony Coyle, Jarron Jones, John Leglue and Brandon Walton signed to futures contract.
Steelers, Zach Banner Donate to Tree of Life Synagogue
Offensive lineman Zach Banner and the Pittsburgh Steelers have pledged a donation to the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill as part of the Steelers 2020 Social Justice Grant program.
The congregation was attacked during a mass shooting own Oct. 27, 2018 that killed 11 people and wounded six others, the deadliest attack ever on a Jewish community in the United States.
The shooting stuck with Banner, who was a rookie on the team at the time. After Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson made an anti-semitic post on social media, Banner responded with a video post.
“We need to understand that Jewish people deal with the same amount of hate and similar hardships and hard times,” Banner said in the video. “I want to preach to the Black and brown community that we need to uplift them and put our arms around them just as much when we talk about Black Lives Matter and talk about elevating ourselves.”
This video is to transition from the incident, and move forward as a community. Not to harp on @DeSeanJackson10 mistake, but to progress by educating ourselves. We can’t move forward while allowing ourselves to leave another minority race in the dark.#Equality pic.twitter.com/MnLnCCYzQL
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) July 8, 2020
The video led to Banner becoming something of a fan favorite to the Jewish community.
“Mr. Banner spoke up when others didn’t and we appreciate that,” Barb Feige, executive director of Tree of Life, said to Steelers.com “The fact that he mentioned Tree of Life and the horrific shooting that happened there and how much it impacted him was very meaningful. We are very aware the shooting had an impact beyond our congregation, our Jewish community. The ripple effect was felt. Everybody felt something about it. For Mr. Banner to articulate that, and join our fight against anti-Semitism, was very, very special, very meaningful.”
Report: Steelers to Interview Los Angeles Chargers QB Coach Pep Hamilton
The Steelers have requested to interview Los Angeles Chargers quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton for their vacant offensive coordinator position, according to a report by Josina Anderson.
Hamilton, 46, just finished his first season as quarterbacks coach with the Chargers, where he helped develop rookie quarterback Justin Hebert, who was named the PFWA NFL Rookie of the Year.
Hamilton has previously been an offensive coordinator at the NFL level with the Indianapolis Colts from 2013-15, where he led a resurgence around quarterback Andrew Luck.
Hamilton was the head coach of the DC Defenders of the XFL in 2020, the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator for Michigan in 2017-18 and was assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2016. He has also been an NFL assistant with the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears.
Hamilton is the third person confirmed to have interviewed for the position, along with former Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson and Steelers quarterbacks coach Matt Canada, who is expected to earn the position.