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Steelers Daily News & Links: AB Opens Up, More QB Smoke



Former Steelers wideout Antonio Brown
JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 18: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) during the first half of an NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars on November 18, 2018, at TIAA Bank Field. (Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire)

Steelers Daily News & Links: Your daily stop for all of the news and links from the Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL and around the Sports Now Group.

🏈 ranked the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2023 rookie class as the second-best in the NFL, behind just the Houston Texans.

“Jones began the year backing up Dan Moore at left tackle, starting twice, and then stepped in on the right side when veteran Chuks Okorafor was benched for some comments that apparently irked coach Mike Tomlin. (Okorafor was recently released.) As expected, Jones was an athletic and feisty blocker for the Steelers down the stretch and should be a long-time starter at either tackle spot, depending on how the team approaches the offseason,” Chad Reuter wrote.

“Porter was no legacy pick as the son of the famed Steelers pass rusher of the same name; the team saw great value sitting there with the first pick of the second round. After a few weeks, Porter became a starter, and he gave up just one touchdown the entire season, according to Next Gen Stats, earning a spot among Defensive Rookie of the Year finalists. I expect he’ll be joining his dad among the ranks of NFL Pro Bowlers in the near future.”

🏈 Former Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva downplayed his two Pro Bowl appearance during an interview on The Team House podcast, which is co-hosted by former Army Rangers Jack Murphy and Dave Parke.

“No, the Pro Bowl is not prestigious at all, it’s about awards, everything becomes subjective,” Villanueva said. “Nah nah nah nah. One of the things about American culture that I’ve always admired and loved has been debates about Kobe [Bryant] and [Michael] Jordan. Who is better? Even now, the media for American football is just that, or sports in general, is exactly just that, the argument as to who’s better, who’s this, who’s that, this subjective conversation.”

“If you know football, and you’re just not lying to yourself about what it is, then you start realizing that the offense, the quarterback, the magic that’s in the room makes the players better,” Villanueva continued. You cannot put a player on a terrible defense and expect him to get sacks. It’s just not going to happen. I played with incredible players. I was with Le’Veon, I was with Antonio Brown, I was with Ben Roethlisberger, we had an incredible offense and that’s what happens. You shine because everyone around you is so good. All of my career, I’ve had very talented people around me who made my story a little unbelievable at times. The fact that I went to the Pro Bowl is silly. It’s the weirdest time, the insecurities of the players of whether they are worth it to be there, just very, very funny.”

🏈 Former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown revealed during an interview with VladTV that general manager Kevin Colbert used to give him a boost of confidence by acknowledging in front of the entire team that he was in fact the franchise player.

“Usually when I’m having a big game, you know, I always like to feel full of confidence, so I used to go to Kevin Colbert, GM, you know, in front of the locker room, and just ask him in front of everybody, like out loud, ‘Like, yo, am I the franchise player or what?’ And, you know, sometimes he, you know, he gave me that confidence, like shaking his head, you know,” Brown said.


🏈 Ben Roethlisberger said on Bruce Gradkowski’s Alpha 5 Method podcast that Ohio State wanted him to play tight end instead of quarterback.

“Some teams like Ohio State…it was rumored that they wanted me to come play tight end because I had the size and I had played receiver before. They thought that would be a better fit for me,” Roethlisberger said.

The coaches son was the quarterback during Roethlisberger’s junior year at Findlay High School, so he played wide receiver instead. Roethlisberger broke out during his senior year at quarterback, setting state records with 4,041 passing yards and 54 touchdowns. And that’s when the offers from across the country came in. He committed to Miami of Ohio because head coach Terry Hoeppner was one of the first coaches to express interest.

🏈 Kevin Patra of wonders how new Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith will divvy up the carries for Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren.

“New offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has two solid backs in Harris and Warren, so he’ll probably call plays for Alfonzo Graham all season — kidding, kidding. In truth, Smith’s system should mesh well with the backfield personnel,” Patra wrote. “Harris is a volume runner who can find pay dirt, but his career per-carry mark (3.9) speaks to an inefficient, 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust runner. Meanwhile, Warren offers far more explosion (averaged 5.3 YPC in 2023) and big-play ability. Together, they make a solid tandem. The previous staff resisted giving Warren a ton of Harris’ snaps, and it’s anyone’s guess how Smith plans to divvy the carries at this point.”

🏈 Jared Dublin of CBS Sports listed former Steelers offensive tackle Chuks Okorafor as the eight-best offensive tackle in free agency.

🏈 Mina Kimes and Field Yates of ESPN both think Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields would be a fit in Pittsburgh.

🏈 Ari Meirov of the 33rd Team thinks Steelers wide receiver Allen Robinson will be a cap casualty. The Steelers would save $10 million by releasing Allen and the move would have only $1.91 million in dead money.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers would like to retain Allen Robinson, who had 34 receptions for 280 yards in his first year with the team. His $10 million non-guaranteed salary will need to be adjusted for that to happen,” Meirov wrote. “Pittsburgh is expected to make changes on both sides of the ball, with pressure mounting after another season without postseason success.”

🎂 Happy Birthday to former Steelers wide receiver Dan Chisena, born on February 25, 1997 in Paoli, Pennsylvania.

The former Penn State product signed a one-year deal with the Steelers in the 2023 offseason after spending his first three NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, where he did not catch a pass, but locked down a role as a member of the special teams units.

Chisena was unable to do that in Pittsburgh. In three preseason games, he played just four snaps of special teams, three in kickoff coverage and on kick return. He saw more playing time on offense, where a pair of injuries moved him up the depth chart for the preseason finale in Atlanta. He played 27 snaps against the Falcons on offense, after having just eight in the first two weeks combined. He was targeted twice and made one catch for 16 yards.

Chisena played for Baltimore throughout the postseason but landed a reserve/future contract with the Arizona Cardinals earlier this month. Chisena spent multiple weeks on both the Vikings and Cardinals’ practice squad during the 2023 season.

🎥 Former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz thinks the Steelers will win the AFC North in 2024 if they land soon-to-be former Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.


Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Pittsburgh Penguins stopped their skid with a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

Pittsburgh Baseball Now: Starting pitcher Mitch Keller has agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pittsburgh Sports Now: New offensive line coach Jeremy Darveau is fired up to be at Pitt.

West Virginia Sports Now: The teams have been announced for EA Sports College Football.

Nittany Sports Now: Penn State is ranked 13th — a bad place to be — in early 2024 rankings.

Pittsburgh Soccer Now: The Pittsburgh Riverhounds have new home and away kits.