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Mike Tomlin: Jaylen Samuels Ready for Return vs. Colts

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The Steelers’ injury issues at running back piled up in a concerning way on Monday night, but head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that there is hope for a quick return to normalcy.


There was already one issue enter the game, as second-string back Jaylen Samuels was held out, as he is still working his way back from arthroscopic knee surgery.

In the first half, third-string rookie Benny Snell suffered an knee injury and he did not return. In the fourth quarter, starter James Conner injured the AC joint in his shoulder, leaving just fourth-string practice squad callup Trey Edmunds as the last healthy back on the roster to close out the 27-14 victory over the Dolphins.

But Tomlin said on Tuesday that Samuels is set for a return and probably could have played on Monday after being a full participant in practice as the Steelers came off their bye week.

“Jaylen Samuels’ availability is right on time,” Tomlin said. “Jaylen really got a clean bill of health at the end of last week and was available to us. Because of lack of work and the work of others, we chose not to play him. He will be ready to go in this football game.”

So the Steelers have at least two running backs ready to go for this Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, and despite the short work week coming off Monday Night Football, Tomlin remains somewhat optimistic about the chances for Conner to be able to suit up, even if he doesn’t get a full week of work in.

“It is going to limit him at the early portions of the week,” Tomlin said. “James has played enough ball, starting to get comfortable with him not requiring a complete week of work in an effort for him to play like it does some younger players. So, we will play it by ear. We will check his availability on a day-to-day basis and let that be our guide.”

Snell, on the other hand, would likely need a quicker return from his injury in order for Tomlin to give him the green light for Sunday.

“That may limit him, and he is the type of guy that if he gets limited because of youth and inexperience, it may affect his availability,” Tomlin said. “We will see where the week leads us with two running backs being treated in some form or fashion.”

In addition to Edmunds, the Steelers also have former Oregon speedster Tony Brooks-James on the practice squad and on Wednesday, signed Pitt grad Darrin Hall to the practice squad, as well.

Steelers

Zach Banner Announces Self-imposed Social Media Ban Until he Signs New Deal

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Zach Banner is sending a clear message about his priorities ahead of the 2021 NFL season. Banner, who is a free agent and looking for a new deal with the Steelers, tweeted that he is going to stay off social media until he officially signs on the dotted line.

Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault. He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. Banner now hopes to return to Pittsburgh and be the missing piece the Steelers offensive line desperately needs.

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Rooney: Steelers Plan to Return to St. Vincent for 2021 Training Camp

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There is plenty that remains up in the air about the 2021 NFL offseason, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have plans to resume one of their enduring traditions that was broken by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The Steelers were forced to forgo their trip to the campus of St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2020 due to the NFL’s rules regarding keeping players isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s unclear how much those restrictions will change for the NFL teams this summer, but as things stand as of today, the Steelers are still making plans to return to the Laurel Highlands for the team’s annual training camp this summer.

“As we sit here today, our plan is to have training camp in Latrobe,” team president Art Rooney II said to Steelers.com on Friday. “We still have a ways to go to get there, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that’s going to be able to happen. We’re still hopeful we’re going to have some form of offseason program, and it’s probably not going to start on time but I think it’s important particularly for the young players that we get back to having an offseason program and then a full training camp and preseason games. I think we need to have that to help the young players continue to develop.”

Displaced from their usual bucolic summer home and from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side due to capacity limitations, the Steelers spent the 2020 training camp and preseason at Heinz Field.

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NFL Network Analysts Call Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger 3rd-Best in AFC North

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It appears that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is likely to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers, with both Roethlisberger’s agent and team president Art Rooney II making public statements that each party desires a return for 2021 this week.

But how much of a difference-maker will Roethlisberger be? That depends on his level of play this coming season.

NFL Network analysts and former NFL players Willie McGinest and LaDainian Tomlinson each ranked the quarterbacks of the AFC North and both said they think Roethlisberger is the third-best quarterback in the division, behind Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield.

“I’m not taking anything away from Ben,” McGinest said. “Lamar Jackson is special and I put Baker in front of Ben because of what we’ve seen in the progression of Baker the last couple of years. … I see him getting better and Ben fighting father time, with the skills diminishing just a little bit.”

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Tomlinson said. “We’ve seen, in spurts, Big Ben play well. He started out hot. But he didn’t finish so well. … He looked old and beat up toward the end of the season. I’m just not sure that improves.”

Statistically, Roethlisberger finished first amongst the four AFC North passers in completion percentage, but he was fourth in yards per attempt and third in passer rating and QBR. Pro Football Focus ranked Roethlisberger last of the division’s four starters in 2020.

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