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Mike Tomlin Announces Devlin Hodges as Starter vs. Cardinals

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“Duck” is getting another chance to hunt.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin announced on Tuesday that rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges will make his second consecutive start of the season when the Steelers visit the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday.

The news wasn’t a big surprise, as Hodges played well in his first start at Heinz Field on Sunday, throwing for a career-high 212 yards on 14 of 21 passing.

Hodges entered in relief of Mason Rudolph, leading the Steelers to a come-from-behind win against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12, and Tomlin said he’s continued to be impressed by the undrafted rookie out of Samford.

“Duck will be our quarterback again this week. He’s performed well in hostile environments, but he just doesn’t have a big sample size. I liked what I saw in L.A. I liked what I saw in the second half in Cincinnati. He’ll be moving now into his roughly seventh quarter of road work.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s been perfect. Hodges threw an interception on a miscommunication with fellow rookie Diontae Johnson and also threw the ball away instead of taking a sack late in the game when the Steelers were trying to run the clock out.

“There’s so many things we have to work with Devlin on,” Tomlin said. “Specifically, those moments, certainly, because they’re weighted differently. They’re heavy. That’s when you’ve got to start taking calculated risks oftentimes in pursuit of victory. … It’s just things that he’s going to learn and we’re going to learn in terms of managing him along the way.”

Despite being on the road, Hodges and the Steelers should have a forgiving matchup on Sunday. The Arizona Cardinals are ranked last in the NFL, having allowed 307.5 yards per game.

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 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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