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Steelers Lucking into Easier Schedule With Shocking Retirement News



Andrew Luck -- By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA | CC BY-SA 2.0

Last night, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck shocked the football world by announcing his retirement at the conclusion of the teams’ preseason game versus the Chicago Bears.

Luck has been battered by injuries throughout his career and had not played in any of the Colts’ preseason games this season.

Even playing behind the Colts’ porous offensive line, Luck put up some of the best numbers for a quarterback through his first six seasons in NFL history, trailing only Dan Marino and Aaron Rodgers for most touchdowns according to ESPN Stats & Info.

While the news is obviously a big blow the the NFL at large, especially to lose a talent like Luck and a tragic reminder of the often overlooked humanity of the players, Luck’s retirement could also have a big impact on the Steelers season.

With Jacoby Brissett the presumptive starter in Indianapolis, the Steelers’ November 3rd game at home versus the Colts seems much less daunting. The Colts had been ranked as the 8th best team in the NFL in ESPN’s Preseason Power Rankings and 4th best in the AFC. That ranking is sure to take a hit with Luck’s retirement.

How big is the drop off between Brisset and Luck? Caeser’s Sportsbook had the Colts at 12-1 to win the Super Bowl before Luck’s announcement. It now sits at 30-1. It’s a massive blow for the Colts’ playoff and Super Bowl chances and a boost for every other team in the AFC, including the Steelers.

The Steelers will not only benefit from having to face an untested quarterback when they play the Colts in November. Simply put, that game moves from a toss-up to one the Steelers (barring any trades or catastrophic injures to Ben Roethlisberger) should win. The path to the AFC Playoffs also becomes easier with an additional wild card spot up for grabs. Even if the Steelers don’t manage to win the division, their chances of making the playoffs as a wild card have improved.

The Colts and the NFL at large may suffer with the loss of a quarterback like Luck, who seemed to be on the road to greatness, but it’s not unfair to say that the Steelers may benefit.


Steelers’ Vance McDonald Reflects on Stiff Arm Moment, Relationship with Ben Roethlisberger



Steelers tight end Vance McDonald spoke to the media after officially announcing his retirement from the NFL. McDonald responded to a question about the play he’s most synonymous with by saying he embraces the famous stiff arm moment. He also detailed his interaction with Ben Roethlisberger when he told his quarterback he was planning to retire.

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Steelers TE Kevin Rader Aced Week 17 Audition, More Coming in 2021?



The Steelers have an opening in their tight ends room, as four-year starter Vance McDonald retired on Friday.

That leaves Eric Ebron as the team’s projected starter for 2021, and that won’t be a big change, as Ebron out-snapped McDonald and started nine games to McDonald’s 12. Without another veteran option, it’s likely the Steelers will use fewer two-tight end sets, but the issue of backups will need to be addressed.

Michigan product and former fifth-round pick Zach Gentry has yet to be a factor through two seasons and missed most of 2020 with an injury, but as he’s under contract and the team is facing a salary cup crunch, he seems likely to hold onto that job.

The Steelers have options for a third tight end, securing the services of Dax Raymond and Charles Jones on reserve/future contracts for the 2021 season on Thursday. But the man that seems most likely to step up into that role is third-year pro Kevin Rader.

Rader, a Pine-Richland and Youngstown State alum spent his second season with the Steelers in 2020, but got his first taste of action in Week 17 at Cleveland with the Steelers choosing to rest starters.

He made the most of the opportunity, particularly on special teams, where he played in nearly half of the team’s snaps, made three tackles and drew praise from head coach Mike Tomlin.

“Guys like Kevin Rader had an opportunity to step up and play,” Tomlin said. “I think he had three tackles on kickoff. For an offensive player to have that type of contribution in net, in a coverage unit I think was impressive. That’s good for him. That’s good for us as we move forward.”

Rader is also on a reserve/future contract, with no guaranteed money for 2021, but if he can continue to show the ability to contribute on special teams and help as a blocker, where McDonald excelled and Ebron does not, it seems that he can certainly carve himself out a role in Pittsburgh in 2021.

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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.

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