For several years, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been one of the Steelers’ most prolific blockers.
Not on the football field, where the extent of the 38-year-old passer’s contributions to blocking are the occasional half-attempt at an unsuspecting defender on a reverse.
No, Roethlisberger’s blocking proclivity has been largely kept to social media, where’s he’s become somewhat notorious for his Twitter account — @_BigBen7 — blocking large scores of people, for offenses large, small and sometimes unknown by the party involved.
Roethlisberger said in a 2017 interview with ESPN that he does not run his social media account, but that a woman named Erin Cox does the tweeting — and the blocking — for Roethlisberger.
A May 30 tweet from the account regarding the protests of the death of George Floyd and police brutality was signed “Ben,” a rare indication of his personal interaction with the site.
But all of that may be changing. According to a report by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Roethlisberger will be making a change to his account and unblocking the thousands of folks that can no longer follow him on Twitter.
Florio said the action was due to be implemented on Tuesday. The Twitter account of SteelersNow.com reporter Alan Saunders remained blocked by Roethlisberger’s account as of Wednesday morning after colleague Mike Asti was recently unblocked.
NFL Network Analysts Call Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger 3rd-Best in AFC North
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.”
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) February 25, 2021
“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.
NFL Head Coach: Bud Dupree’s Injury Cause for Uncertainty Entering Free Agency
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree is set to hit free agency in a matter of weeks, but one head coach believes he could be waiting a while to sign.
Speaking with FanSided’s Matt Lombardo, an NFL head coach, speaking anonymously, said Dupree’s season-ending knee injury has made his free agency outlook uncertain.
“Bud Dupree is someone that is a real question mark for me,” the head coach told FanSided. “If he was healthy, he’s easily the top pass-rusher hitting the open market, and teams would pay a king’s ransom to sign him. But, with him coming off a torn ACL, what exactly are you committing to? Does he want to go back to Pittsburgh? Who knows, but he’s someone that I think will wind up having to wait a while to sign.”
Lombardo compares Dupree’s situation to Tennessee Titans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney last offseason.
While he had not suffered a significant injury the season prior with the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks, Clowney signed with Tennessee on just a one-year, $12-million deal. He had been expected to be paid handsomely on a lengthier contract, which obviously did not come to fruition.
Clowney was virtually invisible for the Titans, recording no sacks in eight games before being placed on injured reserve in November.
Due to his torn ACL, Dupree could find himself having to settle on a cheaper, one-year “prove it” deal as well. Ideally he would then cash in during the 2022 free agency period is all goes as planned.
Dupree was having another stellar season before tearing his ACL in the Steelers’ Week 12 win over the Baltimore Ravens. He had eight sacks, eight tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hits and a pair of forced fumbles through eleven games.
After playing last season under the franchise tag, which paid Dupree $15.828 million, the Steelers’ dire salary cap situation will most likely prevent them from bringing him back. Still, the brass of the organization has expressed their desire to do so if circumstances were different.
While the knee injury remains a concern, Dupree shared he was ahead of schedule in his recovery when he joined NFL Network’s Good Morning Football late last month.
Steelers, Giant Eagle Teaming Up for Mass Vaccination Site at Heinz Field
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Giant Eagle are joining forces to establish a mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Heinz Field.
Set to begin on Tuesday, March 2, the initiative will run the length of the week, with plans to have additional vaccination days throughout the month.
“The Steelers have had a long relationship, a long partnership, with Giant Eagle going back decades now,” Team President Art Rooney II told Steelers.com, “and so when Giant Eagle Pharmacy wanted to set up a vaccination site at Heinz Field we thought it was a great idea. A great opportunity to really help them serve the community, and so we’re excited it’s going to happen.”
Giant Eagle pharmacists will be administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Heinz Field. With the vaccine requiring two separate doses of the shot spaces 21 day apart, recipients will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment.
“They need a large venue,” Rooney said. “They’re going to try to vaccinate thousands of people over the course of a week, and so they need a large venue to accomplish that. Obviously, ample parking is available (around Heinz Field) at this time of the year, so it really is a perfect fit for Heinz Field and Giant Eagle at this point.”
Vaccinations at Heinz Field will be by appointment only and administered in the PNC Champions Club. To check eligibility and make an appointment, those interested can do both at GiantEagle.com.
“We’re going through unusual times, to say the least,” Rooney said, “and so being able to help with probably the most important thing we’re doing right now in this community, which is trying to get everybody vaccinated, trying to get everybody that kind of protection, I really can’t think of anything more important that we could be doing right now than to partner with Giant Eagle to do this.”
According to Rooney, Heinz Field will be utilized as long as Giant Eagle’s vaccine supplies last.
“It all depends on the supply to Giant Eagle. I think it’s going to go on for weeks,” Rooney said. “That’s what they have in mind here, but all we’ve been told so far is next week Heinz Field will be scheduled for the whole week and then we expect there will be additional weeks, but we don’t have those specifics yet.”
After a 2020 season largely without fans, the Steelers and Giant Eagle are doing their part to help ensure Heinz Field is packed in the fall of 2021.